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Trump's Asia Trip; Saudi Arabia Intercepts Missile Attack; Latest Weinstein Allegations Could Lead to Arrest. Aired 3-3:30a ET
Aired November 5, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. President Donald Trump is in Japan this hour. The first stop of his long trip through Asia. Top of his agenda: the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Plus, a power move in the Saudi royal family. A number of ministers detained or sacked in an anticorruption crackdown led by the crown prince.
And a political vacuum in Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns, saying he fears for his life.
Thank you for joining us, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM here in Atlanta.
VANIER: So U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Japan on the first leg of a lengthy trip through Asia. It's his first trip to the region as president and the longest foreign trip so far of his administration.
Soon after his arrival, Mr. Trump went to a country club near Tokyo to have lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two men then played a round of golf.
However, the U.S. president's first order of business after landing in Japan was to address American troops at the Yokota Air Base. He didn't mention North Korea by name or the nuclear threat it poses. But it seemed pretty clear who these remarks were aimed at.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one -- no dictator, no regime and no nation -- should underestimate ever American resolve.
Every once in a while in the past, when they underestimated us, it was not pleasant for them, was it?
It was not pleasant. We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: Alexandra Field joins us now. She's live from Tokyo.
So, Alex, it didn't take long, and perhaps that is not a surprise, for Donald Trump to send a first warning to North Korea.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, Cyril. The president himself said that this is one of the most important trips that a president has had and that of course, is because he is here to address one of the most important issues that his administration faces. It is an issue of tremendous global concern. It's an issue of global security.
So, yes, you have to expect that, nearly as soon as he touched down here in Japan, the first leg of this five-country tour of Asia, that he would take it on. He did not need to say North Korea explicitly. He talked more broadly about the fact that any regime, any dictator should not underestimate American resolve.
It's very clear who the message was aimed toward. It was a more tempered kind of message than what you have seen him deliver on Twitter, where the rhetoric has been more incendiary.
You have seen the war of words between the president and Pyongyang that's unfolded over the course of the last few months as tensions have mounted on the Korean Peninsula.
But the president is here to clarify his policy when it comes to dealing with North Korea and to make sure he has the support of key partners in place. He does come to Japan on this first leg of the trip, where he meets with his closest partner in this, his closest ally, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. You saw them starting this visit in a somewhat informal way with that game of golf, also signing hats, saying "Shinzo and Donald making the alliance even greater."
So he wanted to get here, get on the ground and show people in Japan and the entire region the U.S.' commitment to this longstanding alliance. It is something people in Japan certainly depend on now more than ever, given the mounting threats in the region -- Cyril.
VANIER: Alex, tell us, how is Mr. Trump perceived in Japan?
FIELD: It is a great question. Look, Cyril, I think on the campaign trail this was a candidate who raised some concerns because you heard him talking about the U.S. needing to reevaluate its defense spending. Of course there are 30,000 U.S. troops posted in South Korea, another 50,000 U.S. troops posted in Japan.
The United States has a treaty alliance for the defense of its allies in the region. So certainly that raised concern. And then on top of that you had this inaugural address, where President Trump laid out a vision of American first. And if left people in this part of the world wondering about the strength of the commitment from the United States.
That said, since the president has taken office, he has sent a number of his highest level administration officials to the region to assure their allies of the strength of the commitment that the U.S. has to them right here.
So that has given people in Japan some peace of mind. The greatest evidence that perhaps, people feel about Mr. Trump now is how they feel about their own prime minister, Shinzo Abe who had just handily won reelection. He has been shown support of voters.
The key issue in that election for so many people was, of course, the North Korea issue. And they know that --
FIELD: Prime minister Abe is closely aligned with Mr. Trump on the issue. These are people who are feeling the pressure from North Korea, now perhaps more than ever.
In the last couple months they've seen two missiles tested by the regime over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. And people were waking up in the country to alarms and messages, telling them to seek shelter. So they want to know that their leader is in lockstep with the President of the United States when it comes to addressing this issue. That's something that the prime minister has repeatedly said that he is.
He called this a grave and a serious concern for the people of Japan. He's trying to work closely with the president. This trip clearly a testament to that -- Cyril.
VANIER: Alex Field, reporting live from Tokyo, thank you very much.
Let's get more on this and bring in Kazuto Suzuki. He's a professor of public policy at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.
So tell me, Mr. Suzuki. When you look at this from the American perspective, when you look at this from here in the U.S., in light of where the Russia investigation stands and the Mueller investigation, you described Mr. Trump's trip as being overshadowed by the Russia investigation.
But is that true actually from an Asian perspective?
People over there, in Japan, throughout the region. Do they consider Mr. Trump a diminished president because of that. Or not?
KAZUTO SUZUKI, HOKKAIDO UNIVERSITY: I don't think there is any effect on the Russiagate issues on the relationship with Japan or other allies in Asia. I think that all most important is the North Korean issue.
And as long as President Trump is taking an action to -- towards North Korea, which was not in the case for the last 25 years, I think people tend to not see the domestic side of the -- of the -- of the power base of President Trump.
VANIER: OK. What about relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Abe?
It's said to be one of the better personal relationship the U.S. president has with another world leader.
How far does that take him?
SUZUKI: I think this is the time where the prime minister has to do a pretty hard work, to work with the president of the United States, which happened during the 1980s, when Nakasone was prime minister and Ronald Reagan was the president. And since then, the alliance has not been in a very stronghold largely because of the political turmoil in Japan.
And prime minister Abe, perhaps Prime Minister Kurizuni (ph) has played the role. But Prime Minister Abe has accomplished the sort of ideal relationship between the Japan and U.S. at the top level.
VANIER: But how does he leverage that?
What does he, what does Japan now want to get out of the U.S. President?
SUZUKI: Of course, Japan has not been -- Japan doesn't have the offensive capabilities, which means that we don't have a card to play against North Korea. So what we need to do is make sure that we are following the U.S. strategy and make sure the U.S. has not make the wrong move toward North Korea.
But at the same type. I think Japan need to take out that -- this contribution to the alliance with ease, the relationship in terms of the trade that President Trump is very harsh on Japan.
And I think this good relationship would make things easier for the Japanese government (INAUDIBLE) President Trump.
VANIER: Yes, Kazuto, I was going to ask you about that. Because of that Mr. Trump did when he came into office is actually end the TPP, the transpacific trade deal that Barack Obama had set up. And Japan, among other regional countries, was disappointed by that.
So how -- now they're moving forward without the U.S., without Mr. Trump.
So what's the conversation they're having on having on trade now?
SUZUKI: Well, the discussion, the focal point has shifted between the relationship between the (INAUDIBLE), the vice prime minister, and the past vice president.
And these two will have the trade box (ph). And I think the issue is whether to establish the bilateral free trade agreement of not.
I think the TTP 11 is something that we already accepted as the fait accomplit. And we need to --
SUZUKI: -- work with the other partners without the United States. But I think, with the United States, we need to have a good agreement with the bilateral FTA.
VANIER: Kazuto Suzuki, thank you so much for joining us on the show, Mr. Suzuki ,professor of public policy at Hokkaido University in Japan. Thank you.
SUZUKI: Thank you for having me.
VANIER: And we were referencing the good personal relationship between the U.S. President and the Japanese prime minister. Their bromance is alive and well. When Mr. Trump landed in Japan, his Japanese counterpart surprised him with customized baseball hats. The white caps have gold lettering that say -- can we see them?
"Donald and Shinzo make alliance even greater." It's an obvious nod to Mr. Trump's well-known campaign slogan, "Make America great again."
The two leaders signed a few before hitting the greens for a round of golf.
Let's head to that Middle East now. Saudi Arabia's defense ministry says its U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system intercepted a missile on Saturday. The missile was headed for an airport in the capital, Riyadh, according to Saudi media.
Saudi Arabia blames Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for that attack and retaliated swiftly with an airstrike on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Yemen rebels have attacked Saudi Arabia before. But this is the first time a highly populated area was targeted.
Let's get some perspective on the conflict between the Yemeni rebels and Saudi Arabia with John Defterios, who joins us from the region. He's in Abu Dhabi.
John, with this missile, how much of a threat to the rebels now pose to the Saudi capital and why big Saudi population centers?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, in fact, Cyril, the fact that this was an attempt on the Saudi capital changes the game. This is a proxy war that's been playing out since 2015, with the Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, on one side ,and the Houthi rebels backed by Tehran on the other.
This is seen as an effort by Saudi Arabia, in the fight, in Yemen, to mark the territory of Iran and its sphere of influence. Beyond Yemen, Iraq, Syria and, I would add here, Lebanon. And we saw the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the last 24 hours. They're directly related.
Now Saudi Arabia suggested they were able to counter the attack with intercepting the long-range missile from the Houthi rebels with a Patriot missile. This was disputed of course by Yemen. But this is a clear test against the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who has consolidated his power in Saudi Arabia over the last six months.
He also serves as defense minister. So he came in to power wanting to ratchet up the battle, not tone it down with Yemen, to mark this territory and Arab land.
But now under Shia influence, of course, because of Tehran. I would also add here, it comes during a period of great transition in Saudi Arabia and why perhaps the Houthi rebels, backed by Tehran, want to challenge this crown prince.
He's put forward a Vision 2030 plan to overhaul society and the economy. And just 10 days after hosting some 3,500 business leaders from around the world to jumpstart that effort, we see an attack, an attempted attack here, on the capital of Riyadh.
Again I think these things are directly related as a result of the events recently in the region.
VANIER: John, stay with us then because, as you said, there are several stories. There's a lot going on in your part of the world.
Another story out of Saudi aria. You mentioned it. A new anticorruption committee there has cost princes and several ministers their jobs. Several ministers have also been detained on corruption charges. The crown prince Mohammad bin Salman that John was just talking about heads up the committee as well as being Saudi Arabia's defense minister.
So, John, back to you. This seems, this latest moves, seems like a pretty transparent attempt by the crown prince to shore up his power.
Where does this leave him?
DEFTERIOS: Well, Cyril, I think that's a fair comment in part. But, again, from a top-to- bottom overhaul of society ,the crown prince marked this in an interview last May that corruption would be a key component. So the first wave of his effort was the Vision 2030 plan, to diversify beyond oil; social change, which includes women and now the third leg of that would be the anticorruption measures.
But this is rather sweeping. We are looking at 11 princes, most of those related to the former king, who passed away in early 2015, King Abdullah. Prince Miteb, who's running the national guard in Saudi Arabia, was the most prominent to be removed and that's widely being reported.
But we're looking at four sitting ministers; at least, a dozen former ministers and some very, prominent names from the business community. I'll just strike off a few because our international viewers know some of them.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who's the chairman of Kingdom Holdings, an active investor in Apple Computer and --
VANIER: One of the world's richest men as well. DEFTERIOS: -- yes, one of the world's richest men. He's not taking phone calls. We have his mobile phone. Nobody on his staff is taking the calls. This is widely reported both on social media and regional media but not confirmed yet.
The formal head of the general investment authority, again, another prominent business man. You know the name of the Binladin family the chairman of the Binladin Construction Group, which has been in the crosshairs of the crown prince since he came into power, is reportedly under arrest.
Even very senior billionaires that stretch back for the last 40 years, names like Saladin Kamal (ph), apparently being investigated as well. Even the former minister of finance, somebody well respected in Washington and within the IMF and the World Bank, reportedly on this list and being investigated at the same time.
So we have to look at it in the broader context. He wants to root out corruption. But at the same time, in a tribal society, he's very interested in consolidating his power, any potential challenges in the future and right now, as he sees it, potential challenges coming from the previous king's entourage, King Abdullah, who passed in early 2015.
VANIER: And his actions in the crackdown, I understand, has raised eyebrows and concerns in Saudi Arabia. His quick rise to power and ascent up the totem pole has raised questions and perhaps jealousies. I don't know how you would put that.
DEFTERIOS: Again, I think you have it in the right context. This is a 32yearold crown prince. He was the deputy crown prince and the defense minister but came up with this Vision 2030. His father allowed him to consolidate power, rise to crown prince.
You're looking at somebody who could be leading, Cyril, for the next five decades, if all goes to plan. There's been a lot of rumors about him moving in as king. King Salman is in his 80s and not in the greatest health. And perhaps abdicating. That has not been confirmed.
We had an off the record briefing 10 days ago during the large investment summit with 10 other journalists. This is a crown prince that does not act his age. He's a very mature, driven and one who absolutely wants to overhaul Saudi society. And I mentioned the social changes, women driving.
But the attitude on the ground has changed quite radically. Now could this be seen as a step too far on the day that he announces the anti- corruption campaign to do a sweeping investigation against some of the more prominent names from the previous ruler, King Abdullah?
VANIER: John Defterios, reporting live from Abu Dhabi, connecting the dots from the region for us there and one were not for you, Lebanon, facing a dangerous political vacuum ,which could spark sectarian tensions. Prime minister Saad Hariri has resigned, saying he fears for his
life. He is Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician and his resignation reflects the rivalry between Saudi Arabia, which backs Mr. Hariri, in fact Mr. Hariri announced his resignation speaking from Saudi Arabia, and Iran, which supports Hezbollah.
CNN's Gul Tuysuz has more from Turkey.
GUL TUYSUZ, CNN PRODUCER: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announcing his resignation in a forceful speech that he issued from Saudi Arabia.
And in that speech, he laid the blame for disunity, not just in his country of Lebanon but across the region, on Iran and the Iranian- backed forces -- specifically, Hezbollah -- saying that they have been having a detrimental effect on Lebanon, as well as other countries in the Middle East -- specifically, Arab countries.
Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAAD HARIRI, FORMER LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I want to say to Iran and its followers that they are losing in their interference in the affairs of their world. Our nation will rise up as it had done in the past and cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUYSUZ: Hariri coming out and saying that Iran will pay a price for its meddling in Arab affairs and internal affairs of Lebanon as well. Iranian officials coming out just a couple of hours later, saying that the allegations put forth by Hariri are unfounded and baseless.
All of this just goes to show you how volatile the region is politically, as Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to engage in power plays across the region -- Gul Tuysuz, CNN, Istanbul.
VANIER: We'll take a short break. When we come back, another actress accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Why a source says her case could lead to the first criminal charges against the movie mogul.
Plus 2 million people are expected to fill New York City streets for Sunday's marathon. We'll see how police plan to keep them all safe. Stay with us.
 (MUSIC PLAYING)
VANIER: Welcome back.
Another actress has come forward, accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. A source familiar with the investigation told CNN Paz de la Huerta's allegations could result in first charges against the disgraced movie producer. CNN's Brynn Gingras has the latest.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are open investigations against Harvey Weinstein in New York, L.A. and London but now the NYPD says it has a case that could actually put the movie mogul behind bars.
GINGRAS (voice-over): A New York police department source says this is the strongest chance of bringing criminal charges against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
ROBERT BOYCE, CHIEF DETECTIVE, NYPD: We have an actual case here.
GINGRAS: 33-year-old actress Paz de la Huerta best known for her role in Boardwalk Empire says Weinstein raped her on two separate occasions in late 2010. Detective say she is credible because --.
BOYCE: The ability to articulate each and every movement of the crime, where she was, where they met, where this happened and what he did.
GINGRAS: De la Huerta tells CNN she first met Weinstein when she was 14, acting in "The Cider House Rules," a movie he produced. So 12 years later when Weinstein offered to give her a ride home from a club, she says she didn't feel uncomfortable until they were in her New York City apartment. She told CNN her story on the phone.
PAZ DE LA HUERTA, ACTRESS: He pulled my slip dress up and he unzipped his pants and he yes. He raped me.
GINGRAS: De la Huerta says it happened again nearly two months later.
DE LA HUERTA: The first time I was in just complete shock. And it just happened so quickly. The second time, it was terrified of him. In a million ways I knew how to say no, said no.
GINGRAS: Weinstein's representative did not responds to CNN's request for comment regarding de la Huerta's allegations. But through a spokeswoman, he has repeatedly denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.
More than 60 have accused the movie mogul of sexual harassment or assault. An NYPD source said the department's hot line has fielded dozens of calls about Weinstein. But de la Huerta's case stands out because it fits within the statute of limitations.
BOYCE: This person was still in New York and it was recent. We would go right away and make the arrest. The no doubt. But we are talking about a 7-year-old case and we have to move forward gathering evidence.
GINGRAS: De la Huerta says she has been working with police and the Manhattan district attorney's office on gathering evidence including account from her friend and therapist who she confided in after the alleged attacks. The DA's office would only say a senior sex crimes prosecutor is assigned to this investigation.
DE LA HUERTA: I would like to see him go to jail. I think he is a rapist. He's gotten away with it for too many years. It would nice to imagine justice exists.
GINGRAS: Earlier this week, I reported the source said they have one other open case against Weinstein here in New York.
VANIER: New York City is boosting security ahead of Sunday's marathon. City police are sending out helicopter patrols snipers and bomb sniffing dogs and they will line the streets with --
VANIER: -- blocking trucks to protect against vehicle attacks.
The marathon is set to go ahead just days after a terrorist plowed a truck into pedestrians in Manhattan. killing eight people and injuring dozens.
The governor says they're not taking any chances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: There will be two or three times as many people deployed. As you heard from the commissioner, you'll have thousands of officers on duty this weekend. But I want to stress, this is just a precautionary measure.
We have no information that points to any issues. This is just a precautionary measure, given the recent events.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: And the 50,000 runners and millions of spectators may get a bit wet this year.
VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Back with the headlines in a moment.