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Trump: "No Longer A Nuclear Threat From North Korea"; Trump Gives Praise To "Tough Guy" Kim Jong-un; Avenatti: Cohen Spending Millions On Legal Fees; Trump Allies Are Concerned Michael Cohen Could Flip; FIFA Sponsors Revenue Down Sharply In 2018. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired June 14, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour. Sleep easy America after one meeting, one handshake and a declaration barely more than one page long, President Trump says the North Korean nuclear threat it's over.

Finally, there's unity between allies, the U.S., Canada and Mexico score a World Cup win as Russia readies for kick off.

And the Grenfell Tower marking a year since the fire that claimed 72 lives, but many questions still remain.

Hello, everybody. I'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause and NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

An extraordinary claim from the U.S. president telling the world there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Hyperbole or not, it's now up to Donald Trump's secretary of state to implement the agreement reached in Singapore.

Mike Pompeo is in South Korea meeting with the president and foreign minister as well as Japan's foreign minister. Pompeo will try to explain President Trump's decision to suspend joint military drills with South Korea.

And then later on Thursday he heads to Beijing. Meantime, North and South Korea are holding military talks in the DMZ. Let's go live now to CNN's Anna Coren live in Seoul.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, John. As you say, Mike Pompeo is here in Seoul. He's wrapped up meetings with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, as well as South Korea's and Japan's foreign ministers, he's now actually at the embassy.

But when foreign ministers, as well as Mike Pompeo made a joint press conference, they certainly were a unified front, no public concerns issued regarding the cancellation of those joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

Let's discuss this further with our panel of experts. Markos Kounalakis, who is visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University joins us from San Francisco as well as Kenneth Choi, the international editor of "Chuson Ilbo."

Hello to you both. Thank you so much for being with us. Markos, if I can start with you. We heard from Mike Pompeo, he has said that a time frame of two and a half years for North Korea to complete major disarmament, that is realistic, what do you make of that?

MARKOS KOUNALAKIS, PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER, "WASHINGTON MONTHLY": Well, it's certainly a political timetable that's realistic. I think President Trump would like to see whatever it is that happens happen before the November election in 2020. Certainly, I think that if the negotiations move quickly, what I'm told is that they can do a certain amount of denuclearization.

I'm not sure that that could complete a demilitarization, which is also something that needs to be discussed. But some of the major issues in denuclearization and threat assessment can be reduced. Maybe the missiles, the ICBMs can be dismantled in time from that timeframe, and for that compressed political calendar.

But I think all I hear from the experts, particularly in the nuclear realm, it's going to take a lot more time to dismantle the nuclear program, the people who have worked on it, the various labs that are collecting materials. So, it's a long process, but maybe the majority can get done within that time frame.

COREN: I get the sense we're really jumping ahead, because we're working off a very scant agreement with few details, no framework, no -- no consideration as to the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal. And as you say, the experts say this could take years, up to 15 years, and that's assuming you've done the ground work.

KOUNALAKIS: That's exactly right. But I mean, the way that the policy has been conducted, you know, traditional diplomacy, you really have a ready, aim, fire approach to diplomacy. As we all know, we've been witnessing this now since January 20th of 2017, President Trump does not take this approach to diplomacy or anything for that matter.

[00:05:03] It is more of a fire, aim, ready or aim, fire, ready, but it's never the traditional approach to diplomacy. So, approaching this issue, this highly sensitive, highly technical issue in the way that it's being approached has not been done before. And there is going to be excessive pressure.

Perhaps not the types of maximum pressure from the military perspective from the United States that we've seen up until recently, but there will be other types of pressures. The pressure to reduce sanctions that are United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

There will be pressures that will be political pressures perhaps from quarters that we haven't heard from in any significant way, Russia, China, or South Korea. It is a multi-facetted approach that I think is going to be necessary to at least get the majority of what can then be considered a political win, a denuclearization win for President Trump and for the world really. If they could pull this off, it's really an astounding thing.

COREN: Kenneth, if I can now bring you into the conversation. Obviously, President Moon appearing before the cameras praising President Trump for what he has achieved in Singapore. Privately, behind closed doors, would he have explained his concerns, his fears regarding the cancellation of those joint military exercises?

KENNETH CHOI, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, "THE CHOSUN ILBO": Well, probably not, because I think President Moon is in the same situation as the rest of the experts. You know, it's going to take a while, long time, and everybody expected the CDID to be in there, the complete irreversible verifiable denuclearization -- that acronym in the agreement, but it wasn't in.

And still we like to believe Mike Pompeo and we like to believe President Trump on, you know, the meeting with Kim Jong-un because, you know, they said it, they're our allies and we trust our allies.

And when they say -- the secretary of state of our ally is saying that, you know, the nuclear thing is going to be solved. So, I think President Moon was very delighted to hear that. And you know, some of the people here and critics, including some of the conservative people, but a big concern, they are just wondering, you know, the United States may be leaving South Korea in a lingering position.

I hope that's not the case. And once the verifiable team goes into North Korea, I think that alone is a big achievement as President Trump has said and hopefully that comes sooner than later and hopefully the inspection team goes in there and once they go in there, they'll give a better estimate of how long the denuclearization process will take. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed on that.

COREN: Kenneth, the cancellation of those joint military exercises, would that not have concerned President Moon considering it did blindside the South Koreans?

CHOI: No. I think President Moon has probably thought about this all along. I understand that you don't want to cancel the military exercise forever. I think President Trump said it's a freeze.

While you're negotiating with somebody who is not trustable, flip flopped long time for the past 25 years, they want to give the benefit of doubt to North Koreans that they are going to implement this denuclearization process. So, they're freezing or maybe reducing the size of the military exercise.

I think, as President Trump said, you know, if North Korea is take -- I mean, getting off the road again like last time, if they're flip flopping again, the military exercise will come right back in. The sanctions, probably putting more sanctions against North Korea.

And I think, you know, North Korea must obey -- not obey, but must follow through this promise that they made to President Trump. Otherwise, the retribution will be really, really huge. I hope North Korea does what it says so.

COREN: Kenneth Choi, Markos Kounalakis, joining us here. Many thanks for your time. John, back to you in Los Angeles.

VAUSE: Anna, thank you. Since meeting in Singapore, President Trump has had nothing but praise for North Korea's Kim Jong-un. During an interview on Fox News, he said Kim is a smart guy, a great negotiator, and he brushed aside the regime's long history of human rights violations.

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BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You call people sometimes killers, he is a killer.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough counted, tough people. You take it over from your father.

[00:10:04] I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you can do that at 27 years old, you -- I mean, that's one in 10,000 that could do that. So, he's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.

BAIER: But he's still done some really bad things.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, but so have a lot of other people done some bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: If that sounds familiar, it's because it is. He said the same thing about Vladimir Putin during an interview last year. Not denying that Putin is a killer, but saying there are a lot of killers and the U.S. isn't exactly innocent.

Let's bring in political analyst, Michael Genovese, and CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin. We have a lot to get to. Good to have you guys with us.

Michael, starting with you. The president, he's right, he said a lot of leaders have done really bad things, but the Kim regime and here we include the father and grandfather, they have a special place in history. The numbers are hard to pindown but one study put the death toll in North Korea from executions, concentration camps, force labor and famine at more than 2 million.

When you start talking about millions, you head up to territory which is occupied by Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, 12 million murdered there. The Soviet Union during the days of Stalin, 9 million murdered there.

So, yes, there are bad guys around the world and then there are really, really bad guys, and the Kim regime is the really, really bad guys.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know, for the last six or seven weeks, Kim Jong-un has been engaged in a Trump offensive that's been very effective. The president bought it hook, line and sinker. Here's a guy who the president says no more nuclear threat, I trust him. He's a fun guy. He loves his people.

He loves them so much he puts them in prison to be closer to them, but I think the president was overly optimistic because he psychologically needs the win so desperately that he basically got snookered and gave the store away before he got anything in return.

It's almost as if what more can we give you and get nothing in return. So, I think it was -- it's hopeful -- we're better off today than we were six months ago and we're at the very early stages, but there's a long, long way to go.

VAUSE: And you know, sort of the evidence that maybe he gave the store away is the criticism of the declaration after the summit that is vague, it's light in substance. In particular when it comes to denuclearization, the words, complete, verifiable, and irreversible are nowhere to be found.

Mike Pompeo, we said he's in Seoul, and he explained why those words are missing. He told reporters, "I find that question insulting and ridiculous and frankly, ludicrous. Suggesting the verifiable and irreversible are implied by the word complete in the agreement."

Areva, I know nuclear declarations are not your particularly area of expertise, but in any type of legal argument, how does implied go down? I'd buy you a car, but I implied I wasn't going to pay you.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's implied because now that's the narrative that the White House needs to spin to legitimate what the president did or didn't do. What's so ironic about this is remember Trump was supposed to be the great negotiator, the man that was known for the art of the deal.

But when we look at this deal, if you even want to elevate it using that term, is so lacking as not to even be credible. It's insulting, I think, to the American people that Mike Pompeo would have the nerve to suggest that that question is insulting. We have every right to ask --

GENOVESE: It's a fair question.

MARTIN: It's a very fair question. Particularly since that's what Trump touted as he was planning the summit to begin with. Those were to be the deliverables that we should expect out of the summit. We got none of them.

So, now Mike Pompeo has to deflect and suggest that somehow, we're being unrealistic to expect that the president would negotiate some verifiable objective, you know, deal points because there aren't any.

VAUSE: And Michael, to your point, Pompeo can be personally insulted all he wants but the reality is those words are missing from the declaration. It does look like the North Koreans played this administration like a cheap fiddle and it's not a good sign for the future. GENOVESE: We also threw South Korea under the bus. Just basically gave away our joint military efforts. We have those efforts with South Korea for a reason, because they help our security. And in the long run it saves us money because if we pull everyone out and then have to bring them back in at another point it is very costly. The president used this as a money saving venture, but it's very bad for national security.

MARTIN: They played that throughout the day on CNN, the GOP's response when Obama, during the debate suggested that he would meet with leaders that --

VAUSE: Their heads exploded.

MARTIN: How could he? He wasn't fit to be president. Now the parade of, you know, Republicans who are praising the president for doing exactly what Obama suggested he would do and he was vilified for making that suggestion. So, the hypocrisy is just stunning.

[00:15:08] VAUSE: Well, regardless of all of that, the U.S. president is basking in his own glory. A lot of tweets about the summit. Like this one, "Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to war with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer. Sleep well tonight."

For a start no one assumed we were going to war when President Obama was in office. We all assumed there was a real possibly of war because President Trump kept talking about nuking North Korea. That's where the tension and fear factor came from.

GENOVESE: But this president thinks he's so clever he can play with words and manipulate his audience. That we're not playing enough attention. That the shiny object is what we're attracted to and as long as he can manipulate the shiny object we'll fall into line. The GOP fell into line because their self-interest is still behind the president.

VAUSE: We will get to that.

MARTIN: We know that the president is so dead set on doing anything to one-up Obama. This tweet is about I got you Obama, you thought you were so great but look what I did. He's trying to prove his greatness by comparing what he's done versus what Obama has done.

VAUSE: I want to get to Michael Cohen. The president arrived home to the news that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who's under criminal investigation is about to lose his legal team, this is about a bill. There's speculation he may flip. Michael Avenatti, he put it this way.

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MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' LAWYER: There's a common progression here when you have individuals that are in the situation that Michael Cohen is in. They start off very defiant then they realize how much a case like this cost to defend. By the way, I estimate that his attorneys were probably soaking him for about a half a million dollars a week in connection with this case over the last two months. So that adds up very, very quickly. You could be looking at upwards of $3 million or $4 million.

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VAUSE: OK, so Areva, (inaudible) Sherman tweeted, "a person close to Cohen says he hasn't flipped yet. He's sending up a smoke signal to Trump, I need help." Given Cohen's situation, you know, from a legal point of view, prosecutor point of view, how likely is he to flip now?

MARTIN: Well, tremendous pressure on him. The Trump team is making the case for him to run into the prosecutor's office and tell whatever it is he knows about Trump and the Trump family's dealings. These disputes you said about some legal fees, these are humongous fees, 15 New York lawyers working what we've been told is around the clock, sleeping on couches, data analysis team, paralegals so I think that number $500,000 might even be modest. The Trump team could be paying them, but they're choosing not to.

VAUSE: The only one getting assistance is anyone named Trump. Here's what one allied said of Cohen, he's facing the end of a barrel, one Trump ally said of Cohen's. This is very disturbing, another Trump all said of Cohen's legal reshuffling. Noting the president has got to be extremely worried about the potential Cohen may cooperate with prosecutors particularly given Cohen's deep ties to the Trump family business. Who the f--knows what Michael Cohen did all those years, a second source said."

Michael, if Cohen flips, he'll be the fourth person close to the president who is now helping Robert Mueller and don't forget Special Counsel Robert Mueller is using a power drill to turn the screws on Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. This is perilous times it seems for Donald Trump.

GENOVESE: And it is said that throughout his career, Michael Cohen took copious notes. We don't know what Mueller has. He has a boat load of material. What's striking is this is a case yet again of another person who got close to Trump who got burned. From Michael Flynn, to Manafort, to Gates, to now Michael Cohen, their lives are ruined, their reputations are ruined, financially they're going to be in ruin. Being close to Donald Trump is a big danger.

VAUSE: It's like a nuclear reactor. Forty four years ago, this coming Monday, the personal attorney for Richard Nixon was sent to jail for his role in Watergate. Here's part of the "New York Times" Report.

"Herbert W. Combach (ph), President Nixon's former personal lawyer was sentenced six to 18 months in prison and fined $10,000 for illegal fundraising activities on behalf of the White House. His sentence followed the general pattern of light penalties imposed on Watergate figures, who have negotiated pleas and agreed to cooperate." So, Areva, light penalties for those who helped, light penalties now. Nothing's changed. MARTIN: What's so similar about the former personnel president to Richard Nixon and Michael Cohen is they both started expressing how frustrated they were, how betrayed they felt, how they expected the president to come forward and to show them some sign o4 support.

[00:20:09] We've watched Michael Cohen say over and over again he'll take a bullet for the president, how loyal he is to this president. But now we're hearing how frustrated he is, angry he is, how he expects the president to be doing more. He's losing his legal team.

And we haven't heard about a replacement law firm or legal team. So, he potentially will be walking into court at the end of this week without legal representation. And this is going to be what we should consider the preindictment phase.

This is the time when he would be talking with prosecutors about whether there is any deal to be struck with him. We don't know if he'll be doing that with high powered lawyers, representing himself.

VAUSE: He's in trouble if he's representing himself. Maybe there's a paralegal somewhere he can hire.

MARTIN: We don't know, but that has to be a scary and daunting feeling.

VAUSE: Because it's a day ending in y, that means there's another Scott Pruitt scandal. According to the "Washington Post," the director of the EPA had a top aide contact Republican donors who might offer his wife a job eventually securing her a position at a conservative political group that has backed him for years, according to multiple individuals familiar with the matter.

And when one donor said he could not hire Marilyn Pruitt because of conflict of interest, Pruitt continued to solicit his help in trying to find other possibilities. Michael, how does this continue? We know the Republicans now are starting to talk about maybe it's time for Pruitt to go, but this has gone on for such a long time.

GENOVESE: Well, in this case the president should be conflicted, but I don't know that he is. He loves the job that Pruitt is doing. He's dismantling the EPA's rules on regulation and environment. So, on a policy standpoint, Pruitt is doing exactly what the president wants. But the president kept promising to drain the swamp and this is the swampiest guy in a swampy administration. The pressure has built up so much I don't know how much more it can stand before the dam breaks.

VAUSE: Areva, I think there's an element for Donald Trump, almost like a screw you, I'm not going to get rid of this guy even though you want me to.

MARTIN: He's being defiant. And look at Pruitt, he knows the scrutiny he's under, you would think he would pull back and cease and desist with the questionable behavior, but he keeps running down this lane and it's, you know, controversy after controversy, unethical decision after unethical decision because I think Donald Trump is giving him a nod saying it's OK I got your back. He's not saying it to Michael Cohen, but he's saying it to Pruitt. It doesn't matter if you want lotion or my used mattresses, your job is secure. That's really appalling.

VAUSE: There does seem to be a significant lack of shame for many within the administration from the president on down. Areva and Michael, thank you very much. Come back next hour. We have more reporting about this new cult which is the Republican Party. Thanks, guys.

Coming up here on NEWSROOM LA, the World Cup just hours away now and we also know the host countries for 2026. And with the global audience in the billions, the World Cup is seen as bonanza for advertisers but for some brands, not this time.

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VAUSE: Well, if you don't know it, you're probably not interested. Just hours from now Russia and Saudi Arabia will meet for the opening match of the World Cup in Moscow. But Mexico, the U.S. and Canada are the winners, on Wednesday, FIFA members in Moscow overwhelmingly voted for North America's united bid to host in 2026.

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GIANNI INFANTINO, FIFA PRESIDENT: The member associations of Canada, Mexico and U.S.A. have been selected by the FIFA Congress to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Thank you.

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VAUSE: The North American bid easily beat out Morocco. The last time it was in the United States back in 1994. Billions will be watching this year's world cup in Russia. The month-long tournament is a potential gold mine for advertisers, but some large companies are giving it a pass. CNN's Anna Stewart explains why.

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ANNA STEWART, CNN JOURNALIST (voice-over): On the streets of Moscow, the finishing touches have been applied. The city ready for the biggest sporting event on the planet. Look at the fine print though and you'll see some unfamiliar names, a slew of Chinese companies sponsoring the event for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've seen the likes of (inaudible) biggest property developers, Vivo, one of the smart phone developers, manufacturers coming in to take those official top tier sponsorships, that's unheard of.

STEWART: World Cup watchers should expect to see ads like this one from Vivo that are tuned to Chinese consumers. China is moving in because western brands are dropping out. Their fears being too closely associated with the host. This week, Nielsen reported that FIFA sponsorship revenue between World Cup is down 11 percent. (on camera): Is Russia a hard sell?

SIMON CHADWICK, PROFESSOR OF SPORTS ENTREPRISE, UNIVERSITY OF SAFFORD: Certainly, in the west, Russia is right now an incredibly hard sell. I'm thinking here around LGBT rights, through issues around the annexation of Crimea, industrial skill doffing right through to the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury.

STEWART: M&C Saatchi has worked on Coca-Cola's World Cup ad campaign since 2006. According to global CEO, Steve Martin, sponsors have stayed away from invoking Russia ahead of the tournament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all about the World Cup but tends to be focused on the preparation for football. What's going to happen on the pitch. Whereas if you cast your mind back to 2002, Korea and Japan, it was culturally. Look at the Zellers that came out, it was really rich.

STEWART: It's not just Russia scaring away advertisers. In 2015, Johnson & Johnson, Sony and Castrol pulled sponsorship in the wake of the FIFA corruption scandal.

CHADWICK: Clearly, FIFA has been through an era where the brand has become rather toxic. What we're also now beginning to see is FIFA sponsorship contract is a highly political decision.

STEWART: And with Qatar next, sponsors may not find themselves on safe ground until 2026.

INFANTINO: Canada, Mexico and U.S.A have been selected by the FIFA Congress to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

STEWART: Anna Stewart, CNN, (inaudible).

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VAUSE: One year on Britain marks the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, but after this tragedy, survivors are asking how their home became the symbol of death and neglect.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN: Welcome back, everybody. You are watching CNN Newsroom Live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. We'll take the headlines at this hour. The U.S. Secretary of State is now trying to solve Donald Trump's North Korea deal to allies in South Korea.

Mike Pompeo has met with President Moon Jae-in and the foreign ministers of both South Korea and Japan. After his summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump declared there is no more nuclear threat from North Korea. And he is holding joint military exercises with South Korea.

Yemeni government forces and their Gulf State allies have launched an assault on the rebel-held port city of Hudaydah. Humanitarian organizations are warning of a catastrophe. Seventy percent of Yemen's food, fuel, and medicine come through that port.

Aid workers fear an all-out assault could cut off vital supplies to millions of people. The World Cup gets underway in Moscow in the coming hours out with a match between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Both teams are near the bottom of FIFA rankings.

Still a white cat there it is in St. Petersburg. He's got to be a psychic. How do we know this? I don't know. I'll pick Russia as the -- to win the opener. OK.

Lava from Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii keeps oozing towards the Pacific Ocean. These new images show a lava fountain from a fissure early on Wednesday, creating a laze plume over the big island. A laze is a potentially dangerous mix of steam, toxic gases and bits of volcanic glass.

The British are paying tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire one year on from the tragedy. Our pictures now the shrouded high-rise in west London. It was lit up overnight to remember the 72 people who died there in the early hours of June 14th last year. The United Kingdom will hold a minute's silence later today.

A public inquiry is underway into this tragedy. Investigators and survivors have been asking questions about the response to Britain's deadliest domestic fire since the Second World War. And Prime Minister Theresa May has been offering a personal apology.

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THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF UNITED KINGDOM: I didn't, of course, on that first visit, meet members community or survivors. And I'm sorry for not having them then. I regret that because I think people perhaps felt they wanted those of us in power to know that -- to know that we had understood and recognize what had happened. And perhaps felt that not meeting them immediately meant that I didn't care. And that was never the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Amid the apologies and the questions are the voices of the Grenfell survivors and the testimonies of bereaved friends and relatives. Here is Nick Glass.

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NICK GLASS, CNN JOURNALIST: Normally, you probably wouldn't give it a second look, just another London tower block, one among many. But under the white plastic sheeting is Grenfell Tower and Grenfell is the stuff of nightmares.

[00:35:00]

Strip away the shroud and as everyone knows this is still an incinerated concrete shell, a 24-story tombstone, the relic of a fire that should never ever have happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom and my sister were murdered and cremated on the 14th of June last year. I had to listen to them suffer. And I had to listen to them die. I had to watch Grenfell Tower burn for a couple of days, but particularly the top floors. If that's not torture, then I'm not really sure what else is.

GLASS: One year on and Grenfell remains a place of profound sadness. How could anyone forget what happened here? There is grief and dignity but also simmering anger and an unquenchable desire for justice.

The photos of the missing ones posted everywhere have begun to fade and fray, but not the memory of the night or the manner of their dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly don't -- it looks to me that was only the outside bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God.

GLASS: For the launch of the public inquiry they stood in silence for a symbolic 72 seconds, 72 people died in the fire. Here was a room full to overflowing with the bereaved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to live with my family ripped apart for the rest of my life. I don't see this as a tragedy. I see it as an atrocity.

GLASS: For seven tearful days, the bereaved paid tribute to their loved ones. Some made commemorative videos.

It made it all the more heartbreaking, so many children, so young, so vibrantly full of life.

The inquiry has already heard about what experts have described as a litany of failures at Grenfell. Everything caught fire much faster than anyone could ever have imagined. Window frames, fire doors, and perhaps most disastrously of all, the exterior cladding installed just a few years ago.

A small fire evidently started in a fridge freezer on the fourth floor, swept up the building in just 19 minutes. The tower will eventually be demolished. But Grenfell will long remain a synonym for the cruelest of human tragedies. We all watched helplessly on. How in this day and age could this happen in London?

Nick Glass, CNN at Grenfell Tower.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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VAUSE: Well, the bitter tariff dispute between the United States and Canada has left Britain's Prime Minister walking a fine line, offering support for her Canadian counterpart but refusing to criticize Donald Trump.

But then in the House of Commons came the most brazen of questions. It was a provocative choice. Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The question came out of left field in the House of Commons, who would Britain's Prime Minister pick?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trudeau or Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

MAY: I'm not sure what activity he's asking me to undertake with either.

MOOS: Prime Minister Theresa May may have laughed off the question, but singer Paul Simon apologized to Canadians at a Toronto concert.

PAUL SIMON, AMERICAN SINGER AND ACTORILEY: That does not speak from the heart of soul of Americans.

MOOS: "We will always be family," Simon said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we also will not be pushed around.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He will not be pushed around by the United States. He learned that's going to cost of money for the people of Canada.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Wow, he is mad. It's like Trudeau stole his girlfriend. Oh, wait, he kind of did.

MOOS: Critics say, President Trump is treating friends like enemies and enemies like friends, captioned one cartoonist, "I'm sorry I called you little rocket man. I already like you better than crooked Canadian backstabber Justin Trudeau."

Americans who are embarrassed by the rift have been sending good vibes to their northern neighbors using the hashtag #Thanks Canada. Thanks for everything from hockey to maple syrup.

Canadians responded with tweets like this maple leaf, thumbs up. Prompting someone to wonder, did anyone else think this was a maple leaf with boobs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you get in a fight with Canada? That's like holding a grudge against a golden retriever puppy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like picking a fight with Nilla Wafers.

MOOS: But Nilla Wafers can't fight back with jokes. If Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were both drowning and you only had time to save one of them, where would you and Justin Trudeau go for lunch? Instead, speaking of lunch.

COLBERT: Our relations have not been as bad with Canada since they stole the word bacon.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos.

COLBERT: Canadian bacon is just round ham, you monsters.

MOOS: CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: A very important update now. Remember the skyscraper-scaling raccoon we told you about yesterday. Here is the good news; the varmint is now safe and sound on the ground after a two day adventure climbing a 25-storey office tower in Minnesota.

The daredevil as he was the, oh, she became an Internet sensation, climbing floor by floor. Oh, we know she's a she, currently stopping on window sills for a brief nap while onlookers took photographs.

When she wouldn't come down on her own, wildlife workers used cat food to lure her into a cage. Oh. And they eventually, after some coaxing, off into the wild she went.

Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom Live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. World Sport is up next. You're watching CNN.

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KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR, CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Welcome everyone to World Sport. I'm Kate Riley at CNN Center. We're going to start with the World Cup, one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

On the eve of the tournament though, two major stories were breaking in Russia. Spain has sacked their coach, an extraordinary sequence of events that we will bring to you later. And FIFA have also picked to host for the competition in 2026 it's going to be played right here in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. They are united, they easily beat out the challenge from Morocco. Many would agree that it was the sensible choice and for FIFA plagued by allegations of corruption during previous votes, it was a transparent and successful process.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The member associations of Canada, Mexico, and USA have been selected by the FIFA Congress to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) RILEY: Well, the winning bid was announced in a meeting of the FIFA

Congress in Moscow after 203 football federations voted individually for the first time to elect the winner. North America will become the first World Cup to host an expanded 48-team tournament set to 80 matches over 34 days, a factor that could have been influential in the decision-making process.

Well, elsewhere today, and a story which has shocked most of us. It involves the Spanish national team, they won the World Cup back in 2010, of course. They were one of the favorites to win this tournament this summer as well, but earlier, they sacked their coach. Previously at World Cups, we have seen teams fall apart. Players have been sent home in disgrace, but we don't think we've ever seen this before. Barely 48 hours before their opening game against Portugal no less. Julen Lopetegui was given his marching orders all because he'd accepted a job with Real Madrid which he wouldn't have started until the end of this tournament. And he didn't tell his employers.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel betrayed. Julen Lopetegui has done an impeccable job. It is a different thing the way it has been done. I don't mean by him, but the people that have done things without communicating with the Spanish Football Federation.

And that is something that we can't let pass. We are forced into this. But I've always said that the best person to guide the national team is Julen Lopetegui.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RILEY: This turn of events meant that the Spanish Federation didn't vote for the 2026 World Cup and the news totally upstaged the vote itself. Those attending that press conference in Krasnodar felt as though it was because the ego of the team president had been pricked. Under Lopetegui, Spain were unbeaten in 20 games. That's the longest unbeaten streak of any team going into this World Cup. They only conceded three goals in qualifying as well. So for what it's worth, accepting another job after the tournament doesn't mean you can't do well before you leave.

Just ask Louis van Gaal with the Netherlands back in 2014 and Italy's Antonio Conte at Euro 2016. They were heading to Manchester United and Chelsea and they both beat Spain in the meantime. Well, Spain's Sporting Director Fernando Hierro will now be the coach for the tournament.

Right. We are all excited about the start of the World Cup aren't we, less so about the home team. And the opening game, it's nothing personal, but why is that? Stay with us for the answer.

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[00:50:00] RILEY: Well, over the next month in Russia, we will be treated to a festival of football. Hopefully, some great games in store. But the opening fixture is not expected to be one of them, unfortunately.

It's between the host Russia and Saudi Arabia in Group A. They are the lowest ranked teams in the tournament and both have considerable problems. Saudi's team seems woefully ill-prepared while Russian football analysts say this is the worst team they've had in years.

Yes, great. Anyway, CNN's Amanda Davis has been to watch Russia train today.

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AMANDA DAVIS, JOURNALIST: The last time I was inside here the Luzhniki Stadium was one of my favorite nights as a football fan. Watching Manchester United claim the Champions League in 2008, but it's fair to say that the Russian team and their fans aren't expecting anything quite as historic either in Thursday's opening game against Saudi Arabia or for their remaining matches in this tournament.

This is a Russian side that hasn't won a match in 2018. They haven't actually won a game since October last year. They've dropped down to 70th in the world ranking. That makes them the lowest ranked side in the tournament and even President Putin has admitted he expects them to struggle.

So that puts this group of players in the relatively unusual position of being a host nation going into their opening match of a World Cup with relatively little expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe all of us would really love it if there could be a bit more positive spirit around our team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we as footballers, we have to contribute to creating this positive atmosphere so this would emanate from the press. And I think we have this chance and we'll try to demonstrate it at the World Cup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying to keep doing what we're doing and the fact that we are getting criticized a bit, well, this is a natural thing in the world we live in today. We have to do everything to deserve praise. And praise is a form of criticism if you really think of it.

So we have to do everything we can to turn criticism into some positive feedback and I think we have everything we need to do it.

DAVIS: The good news for Russia and their fans is that they're up against a team in Saudi Arabia not in that much better a state. They've had three coaches in three months in the buildup and haven't won a game at a World Cup since 1994.

Fair to say it's not expected to be a classic opening game. We would love to be proved wrong, but the good news is the start of 64 matches in four and a half weeks. And that is definitely something to get excited about.

Amanda Davis, CNN, Moscow.

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RILEY: Thanks, Amanda. Well, it's not just the World Cup will start on Thursday, but hugely anticipated U.S. Open also starts too. Dustin Johnson who took back the world ranking this week along with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will battle out for that second major of the year.

Well, the last time Shinnecock Hills on Long Island hosted the U.S. Open in 2004, it came under fire for actually being too hot and almost breaking the players, but despite all of that the players seem to be taking it all in their stride as our Vince Cellini now reports.

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VINCE CELLINI, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: On the eve of the 118th playing of the U.S. Open, many of the players we've spoken to this week are surprisingly relaxed. Perhaps embracing the huge challenge ahead or what 2013 champion Justin Rose calls even par mentality.

Rains falling throughout the day on Wednesday softening the course, but we are expecting wind to be a factor on day one. Past champion Rory McIlroy who has more missed cuts than top 10 since winning back in 2011 has taken chill mode a step further. Playing what he called fun golf since arriving in the area almost two weeks ago.

RORY MCILROY, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: You're relaxed right there and maybe that sort of bleeds into your mindset whenever you're here in a big championship, it's no different. Obviously, there is a separation of the two, but the more you can get into that mindset of being relaxed and enjoying it the better you're going to play.

CELLINI: Now, you don't have to be Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth to play in the U.S. Open. It's open to anyone through local and sectional qualifying and that's the route taken by 30-year- old Canadian Garrett Rank whose full-time job is an NHL referee.

On the ice he's next to superstars and here he's going to be competing against them. It's the first U.S. Open for Rank and after a bout with testicular cancer back in 2011 and his recovery, he has his game and life in perspective.

[00:55:00]

GARRETT RANK, NHL REFEREE: I'd love to make the cut, be really thrilled with that if I finish in the top 25 or even top 40 I'd be on the top of the world and be ecstatic. At the end of the day I just have to go out there and enjoy this

experience, it could be the pinnacle of my golf career and something that I'll remember the rest of my life.

CELLINI: And you were asked, would you rather finish in the top 10 of the U.S. Open or officiate in a Stanley Cup final and you said?

RANK: I said I'd take the top 10 in the U.S. Open this week and I'll hopefully save the Stanley Cup final for 10, 15 years down the road.

CELLINI: You're no stranger to USGA events like 15 previous. But even being out here and participating, I know you're taking care of your own business but do you take a moment to kind of look around on the range, around the course at exactly who's out there?

RANK: Absolutely. Yesterday, I caught myself kind of mesmerized by Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods hitting balls and practicing on the range. And my locker is beside Patrick Reed and Jon Rahm and just kind of to be in the presence of these guys is a huge thrill and something that I'll remember for the rest of my life.

CELLINI: Is it OK to be a fan?

RANK: I mean I think so. I mean I'm not going out of my way to make it awkward or to go talk to the guys, but growing up and watching golf and seeing these guys on TV every weekend, you can't help but become a fan every once in a while.

CELLINI: You're a cancer survivor and I'm wondering how that impacted your life and your love of golf and your profession in the NHL?

RANK: Yes. Dealing with cancer at such a young age was kind of a blessing in disguise to me. It changed my attitude on maybe how bad really a bad golf shot was or even missing a call in refereeing isn't really as bad as it could have been if cancer would have went the wrong way for me.

CELLINI: What a great story. Rank says he's used to having his performance analyzed on the ice and should help with his nerves here. He knows how to move past the bad call and in golf move past the bad shot.

Come 7:18 AM on Thursday, he's one of 156 in the field. It's official. At the U.S. Open, I'm Vince Cellini, CNN.

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RILEY: Thanks Vince, stay with us, the news is next.

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