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Summit Between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin; Deadly Novichok Mystery; Billions of Dollars in Gold; Allowing Moscow to Interrogate U.S. Citizens; Trump Inviting Putin to Washington This Fall; Tiny Balkan Nation Defends Itself And Trump Comments; Did A Fortune Gold In Gold Go Down With The Ship?; Premier Rugby Tournament Taking Place In The U.S. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 20, 2018 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:06] NATALIE ALLEN, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: To cap off a week of chaos following the U.S. President's summit with Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump is inviting Vladimir Putin to the White House. British investigators are starting to unravel the deadly Novichok mystery as they identify suspects in that poisoning.

And essentially, an old warship at the bottom of the ocean could be home to billions of dollars in gold. Get your scuba gear ready. Hello, everyone. Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I am Natalie Allen. And you are watching CNN Newsroom. Our top story, a surprising announcement from the White House Thursday, it has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington.

The planning is already underway for a trip this fall. Mr. Trump says the Helsinki summit was such a success. He's ready for round two. The red carpet may be rather short as spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said quote, there is no invitation from Congress. The announcement also caught many off guard, including the U.S. Director of National Intelligence. Dan Coats heard the news at a security conference. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some breaking news. The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say that again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You -- Vladimir Putin coming...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I hear you? Did I hear you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. That's going to be special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Awkward moment there. The invitation comes as more administration officials are speaking up and contradicting the President about Russia's role in the attack on the 2016 election. For more, CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The divide in the Trump administration growing deeper today, as President Trump's changing narratives about what happened in his meeting with Vladimir Putin, clashed with what his own officials are saying about Russian interference in the 2016 election, following days of changing statements from Trump, his hand-picked FBI Director Christopher Wray making his view clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got his view. He's expressed his view. I can tell you what my view is. The intelligence community's assessment has not changed.

COLLINS: And Department of Homeland Security Chief Kirstjen Nielsen leaving no doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think there's any question in the Intel community or at DHS that Russia's attempt to infiltrate and interfere with our electoral system.

COLLINS: Trump now insisting he holds Vladimir Putin personally responsible.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I let him know we can't have this. We're not going to have it. And that's the way it's going to be.

COLLINS: A statement completely at odds with how he acted when he was standing right next to the Russian leader.

TRUMP: They said they think it was Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia.

COLLINS: Despite the bipartisan outrage following his press conference in Helsinki, Trump telling CBS News.

TRUMP: I don't know what the fuss is all about.

COLLINS: And refusing to label Putin as a liar.

TRUMP: I do want to get in to whether or not he's lying. I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently.

COLLINS: But once again blaming the press. Writing on Twitter, the fake news media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia. They hate the fact that I will probably have a good relationship with Putin. It's a statement strikingly similar to what Vladimir Putin himself said today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see that there are forces in the United States that are prepared to casually sacrifice Russia/U.S. relations, to sacrifice them for their ambitions in the course of an internal political battle.

COLLINS: Time Magazine releasing its new cover today, morphing the faces of the two leaders. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: And President Trump continues to push back against accusation that he is too friendly with President Putin. In a TV interview just released, Mr. Trump declared that he has taken a tough line and he launched into a harsh criticism of his predecessor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Look at the sanctions I have put on. Look at the diplomats I threw out. Look of all the things that I've done. Nobody else did what I have done. Obama didn't do it. Obama was a patsy for Russia. He was a total patsy. Look at the statement he made when he thought the mics were turned off, OK. The stupid statement he made. Nobody does a big deal about that.

[02:05:05] Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive not a negative.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

TRUMP: Now with that being said, if that doesn't work out, I will be the worst enemy he's ever had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Well, let's now get some reaction from Moscow because there's much talk about this here in the United States. Our Sam Kylie joins us now. Hello to you, Sam. Tell us first, Sam, how all of this playing out there in Russia.

SAM KILEY, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, an interesting line there from Donald Trump. I will be the worst enemy he ever had. Now, if we think that -- we have now got this possible invitation for Vladimir Putin to visit Washington. I think really what the Russians are doing is trying to build up the importance (Inaudible) comments of that kind of meeting because of arm's -- to try and offset the arm's race.

Now, the SALT Treaty is due to finish in about 18 months. That was the arm's reduction treaty negotiated in the past. Russia is now re- launching itself as an international super power or at least trying to give that new perception, having been very much (Inaudible) over the 90s and (Inaudible) for the collapse of the Russian economy and a general decline in its military capability.

So just in the last few months and now it's now been announced that it's now going operational. The Russians are saying that they've got three new weapons, much more sophisticated weapons they claim than anything available to NATO. And that includes the United Nations. And they say that they have an operationally deplorable laser weapon, which is capable of taking out enemy munitions very, very precisely, knocking out missiles on board aircrafts, and possibly on ships.

That's called the Paris Vet. A very phenomenal piece of new physics they say is behind this. We haven't gotten any independent verification for this development. And of course, one wouldn't expect if indeed it is this cutting-edge technology. They'll play that (Inaudible) sort of technology (Inaudible). On top of that, they say they've now got the Avant Garde super

intercontinental hyper sonic missile capable of deployment. Now this is a missile they say that flies many hundreds of kilometers into space. It is capable of evading all an every kind of counter missile technology available to the west, has a glide capability and maneuverability.

Flying 20 times the speed of sound, and is really -- in the past they've even demonstrated that it's capable of reaching targets on the United States mainland. And then of course, they've also come up with the (Inaudible) which is an air launch version of the missile, smaller, capable of 10 times the speed of sound.

And all of this context of course, that gives energy to Donald Trump's claim that this is an absolutely necessary meeting to offset what could become a major arm's race, because Ronald Reagan was able to bring down the Soviet Union arguably by simply outspending them on weapons.

ALLEN: It's almost bizarre to see all of this occurring there in Russia right after this summit to try to bring out more security in the world between these two countries. We'll have to wait and see what the United States' response to this. And whether indeed, Vladimir Putin comes to the White House in the fall. Sam Kiley for us there in Moscow, thanks so much.

For more now, earlier I spoke with Shawn Turner, the former Director of Communication for U.S. National Intelligence about the fall out from the Helsinki summit. And I asked him why President Trump is not on the same page as the U.S. intelligence community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN TURNER, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: It was clear that Dan Coats was stunned when he sat there next to Andrea Mitchell and learned via Twitter that the President had invited Vladimir Putin to the United States. And I think that while we all got a good laugh from the reaction of Dan Coats, this speaks to a broader issue of the President's relationship with the intelligence community.

It's a relationship that I think is fair to say is broken. You know, look, I worked for the former director of national intelligence for almost five years. And I simply cannot imagine a scenario in which you would have the President go into a meeting with the leader of a country that's an adversary of the United States, and not have anyone else in that meeting.

[02:09:52] And then to invite that individual to the United States without consulting with his director of national intelligence. So these are truly unusual times. And I think we'll have to watch the relationship between the President, the administration, and Dan Coats very closely over the coming days and weeks.

ALLEN: Right. People whose job it is to deal with Russia, the military, diplomats, intelligence, they don't know what if any agreements were made. Is this unprecedented in American diplomacy?

TURNER: It is unprecedented. I mean let's think about this for a moment. Here we have the U.S. national security apparatus. That is the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, all the people who make up the national security apparatus. They are learning from Russia and Russian officials and from Vladimir Putin what promises, what agreements the President of the United States made in his meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Think about that for a minute, not from the United States -- from the U.S. President but from the Russians. That is truly unprecedented. And I think that you know this is a time for all Americans to kind of stand up and say this is not OK.

ALLEN: What if Russia continues to control the narrative here.

TURNER: Yeah, I think that if Russia continues to control the narrative, and if there's every expectation based on what we're seeing in the intelligence community and what we're seeing in their public discourse. They will continue try to do that. This is the time when I think members of Congress and the public you know need to stand up and speak out against this.

But you know the President of the United States has been critical of a lot of different groups during his time as President. He's been critical of immigrants, of the intelligence community, of our partners and allies. But when he stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, for the first time we saw him being critical of the United States.

And I think that that kind of crossed the threshold here. So I think it's a degree that Russia wants to continue to control the narrative. Every American needs to look back at that moment and realize that that's not the kind of thing that Americans should be OK with.

ALLEN: Yeah. You know many of his supporters still support to his meeting that took place. It boggles the mind, doesn't it, how a U.S. President would stand next to the Russian President and cozy up to Mr. Putin, more so than representing the United States. It's mind boggling. And when and if we'll get clarity on that, we don't know.

TURNER: Yeah. We really don't know. And this is very stressful for our partners and allies around the world who are accustomed to a situation in which the United States is leading and providing stability and providing a degree of leadership that gives comfort to the rest of the international community. So you know if you watch President Trump standing there next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, you know he was -- I think for the first time.

I have said this to people many times. For the first time, you know we saw the President you know looking meek, looking demure. It looked as if Vladimir Putin was the alpha male. And I think what -- those of us who live and breathe national security are concerned about is that there has to be a reason that the President relates to Vladimir Putin this way.

And whether or not that reason is something that the President knows or something that he thinks Vladimir Putin may have on him. It's important to all of us. It's important to our national security. So this is the kind of thing that's unsustainable. Something has to happen here sooner than later in order for the American people to truly feel safe and secure, because we know that Russia will not stop being aggressive in its interference in our democracy.

ALLEN: And a State Department official, Shawn, said there's not a reason why she called a climate of crisis from the media and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, saying our relationships with Russia and our positions are the same today as they were on the 15th. What do you make of that response?

TURNER: You know I think it is damage control. Look, I try to give the President credit where credit is due. And I have been very clear went the President makes national security informed policy decisions that I think are in the best interest of the United States, that he deserves credit for that. But I think that whether you are a supporter of the President or opposed to his policies, this is the kind of thing that is objectively concerning.

So I think that you know people at the State Department who the President put in place, they are you know -- they're doing what they need to do in order to keep the boss happy. But I think that we all know that the President likes to surround himself with people who will agree with him. And that is a major concern for us as we -- you know kind of look at the President and ask ourselves whether or not the decisions that he's making are decisions that have the benefit of a multitude of different opinions and ideas and thoughts and perspectives.

[02:14:55] And right now we're not seeing that. And that's why we get statements and reactions like that that simply don't address the issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Well, as the U.S. faces these threats, especially to cyber security, we're learning that three top FBI officials are retiring. Not just any officials, the top two leaders in cyber security, along with the head of the national security branch. The FBI says the retirements are simply because of employees reaching retirement age

A major break in the near fatal poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter, coming up here, British police think they know who did it, plus this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hand me over to Putin is basically to hand me over to my death.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: This (Inaudible) critic's fear for his life if the U.S. allows Moscow to interrogate him. More about that as we push on you're watching CNN newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Welcome back. More backtracking at the White House, President Trump seemed excited during the Helsinki summit about what he called an incredible offer. Allowing Moscow to interrogate a U.S. citizen in exchange for access Russian accused of election interference, the response, outright shock and condemnation, the White House now says it's not going to happen. For more now, here's Alex Marquardt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Another day, another about-face from the White House. Today, responding to the avalanche of outrage over President Trump considering the request from President Vladimir Putin for Russian interrogators to questions a list of Americans, including former ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul.

It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, but President Trump disagrees with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. That's not going to happen.

MARQUARDT: Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo today, also ruling out giving Russia access to McFaul and the others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With respect to the particular question, the administration is not going to send, force Americans to travel to Russia to be interrogated by Vladimir Putin and his team.

MARQUARDT: Putin's proposal made in his one on one meeting with Trump in Helsinki was to allow Robert Mueller's team to interview the 12 Russians indicted for cyber attacks in the 2016 election. In exchange, Russian investigators will get to question n McFaul and 11 others for crimes Russia accuses them of. A deal that Trump at first found intriguing.

[02:19:58] TRUMP: And what he did was an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer.

MARQUARDT: The White House saying Wednesday it was being considered.

SARAH SANDERS (R), WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There was some conversation about it, but there wasn't a commitment made on behalf of the United States, and the President will work with his team and we'll let you know if there's an announcement on that front.

MARQUARDT: McFaul at the center of the firestorm was swarmed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope my government I hope will step up today and categorically swap this back. And what I mean my government, I mean my President of the United States of America.

MARQUARDT: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle angry the proposal was even being discussed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The concept of letting American citizens being investigated for crimes that are just -- that I think are jokes is absurd. And I don't believe there's one member -- I challenge you to find one member in the house and the Senate that believes this is a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No President, no President should have the power to gift wrap American citizens, let alone former ambassadors that our known adversaries.

MARQUARDT: Congress, as you heard right there, found this so outrageous that the Senate voted 98-0 against making current and former U.S. officials available for interrogation by the Russians. After the vote, Ambassador McFaul thanked the Senate in a tweet, saying bi-partnership is not dead yet. And he also took a swipe at the White House, which had called Putin's offer sincere.

McFaul said, quote, I don't consider it sincerity to falsely accuse U.S. government officials of being criminals. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Well, one of the men Moscow wanted to question is American born financier Bill Browder, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin. Browder told CNN if the U.S. turned him over to Russia, it will amount to his death sentence. CNN also asked Browder what his reaction was to President Trump initially calling the interrogation swap a good idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is probably one of the most insane things I have ever heard coming out of his mouth. I mean basically, he wants to hand over me. And I should point out. There are 10 other people who Vladimir Putin is asking to be handed over who are all affectively government officials or former government officials in the U.S. government who have been the foot soldiers in fighting against Russian corruption.

I wrote a letter, an open letter to President Trump before the summit, where I said that Vladimir Putin is a bald face liar. He is a criminal, and he is a killer. And he should know that. And he should also know that to hand me over to Putin is basically to hand me over to my death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin joins me now from Los Angeles to digest it all, or we might say to talk about the indigestion we're having from this story, my goodness. I want to start with this, Areva. On Thursday, the deputy general -- attorney general of the U.S. called Russia's interference in U.S. politics pervasive and emphasized Russia wants to undermine U.S. democracy.

This as the same time that the White House had been contemplating that plan for Russia to interrogate Americans, Donald Trump calling it an incredible offer. What do you make of that?

AREVA MARTIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think, Natalie you have to put in context. Everything that Trump said during that conference, essentially his message was that he believed Putin said that he did not order the meddling into our 2016 elections. And he continued to say there's no collusion and cast doubt on Special Counsel Mueller's investigation.

So when this proposal was made by Putin to you know send law enforcement from the U.S. to Russia to investigate, interrogate the 12 Russian operatives that were investigated. And at the same time, send Americans to Russia. Trump jumped at that proposal, because for him it was all apart of his delegitimizing the Special Counsel investigation and his Justice Department, and our law enforcement determination that Russia unequivocally interfered in the 2016 elections.

So when you look at it in the total context of what was happening, the proposal is completely outrageous. And thankfully, we had this non- binding but this very important symbolic vote today, a unanimous vote by all 98 senators to absolutely put any kind of you know halt on efforts to send Americans to Russia.

ALLEN: Yeah. Again and again and again, the U.S. President sides with Russia. It is bizarre. Could the U.S. -- we know what the Senate did, but could the U.S. President do such a thing? Could he hand over Americans to our adversary?

[02:24:55] MARTIN: There's no legal basis for him doing that. There's no precedent, Natalie, for any American President sending U.S. citizens who have not been indicted or charged with crimes in the United States. They have not been charged with crimes. This is all a conspiracy theory made up by the Russian government.

His anger at former government officials, current government officials who have been critical of Putin, who have advocated for sanctions against Moscow, so this is a personal vendetta that Putin seems to have against individuals who appeared on this list. But there is no legal basis that Donald Trump would have to support sending these Americans who have been charged with no crimes to Russia to be investigated by their law enforcement agencies.

ALLEN: What do you make, Areva, the fact that the White House first seem to contemplate it and then back off of it?

MARTIN: It's really unbelievable, Natalie, that a United States President would legitimize the claims made by Putin. At the same time, undermine the incredible work that's been done by our law enforcement agencies, by the Justice Department. We have the heads of a national security agency, the FBI, the Justice Department.

Every head of law enforcement in this country saying without doubt that Russia interfered in our elections, and President Trump continues to have a very difficult time or unwilling to accept those conclusions, even though the evidence is very clear and uncontroverted.

ALLEN: What do you think this incident will do as far as eroding the confidence that people have in this President?

MARTIN: I think it continues. Every time that he says there is no collusion, every time he undermines our law enforcement agencies, I think American people you know we loose faith. We continue to lose faith in his ability to govern. There's a question about whether his loyalties are with an adversary such as Russia rather than being with the United States.

It's hard to imagine how he can govern the United States, how he can be the President of the United States when he continues to take positions that support our adversary rather than support the good work that's being done by the Justice Department and the law enforcement agents in this country.

ALLEN: You mentioned that perhaps this is yet another way for the U.S. President to undermine that investigation, because that is what seems to be getting him at every turn. And he seems to not worry about anything other than making sure that that investigation doesn't seem legitimate.

MARTIN: And we know, Natalie, from recent reports that Donald Trump was told a couple of weeks before he was inaugurated that Russia was interfering. He was shown text messages, e-mails, and uncontroverted evidence. But yet, despite being told, despite being shown this evidence, he refuses to accept it. Because he somehow equates accepting that Russia interfered in our 2016 election would somehow delegitimize his win.

Because we saw on Monday at the press coverage, he went back again. He talked about Hillary Clinton. He talked about the Electoral College and the number of votes he got from the Electoral College. He seems to equate his winning with having to stand strong, to refuse to accept that Russia interfered in our election.

And the two have nothing to do with each other. He is the President of the United States. He won. There's no denying that. But there's also no denying that Russia tipped the scales in favor of his win, and that they continue to interfere in the U.S. elections. And we need this President to step up. We need him to take action.

We'd love to have hearings about what the U.S. government is doing to prevent them from continuing their actions to interfere in our elections. We have the 2018 elections coming up. We have the 2020 elections coming up. And we need to have some assurance that our government is taking very seriously these threats and taking actions to abate them.

ALLEN: CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin, we always appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for coming on.

MARTIN: Thanks, Natalie.

ALLEN: Nicaraguans are celebrating a revolution as the government cracks down on another uprising. Coming up here, what led to the deadly new conflict?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:32:01] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you now on our top story. U.S. President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington. The White House says preparations are already underway for a trip this fall. It's not known if it will be before or after congressional elections to be held in November.

In the U.S. State of Missouri, at least 11 people are dead after an amphibious boat capsized and sank during a severe thunderstorm. The boat was carrying 31 people, five are still missing. Divers will resume search operations in the morning. The U.S. Secretary of State is pushing back on criticism after last month's summit with North Korea. Mike Pompeo says North Korea has reaffirmed its commitment to denuclearize and the remains of some U.S. troops killed in the Korean War will be returned in the next couple of weeks.

Investigator in the U.K. now believed they know who poisoned a former Russian spy and his daughter last March using a Soviet-era nerve agent. The apparent breakthrough in the case came from old fashion police work with a big assist from cutting edge technology. For more now, here's CNN's Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A break in the mysterious poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter. After months and months of waiting, high-tech answers to the lingering questions, who did it? The police, ground zero in the Skripal's poisoning. Their house four months on, it remains a cordoned off crime scene under active investigation, and a potential danger to the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: The new breakthrough may helped speed investigations using facial recognition technology and intercepted coded Russian messages to Moscow. Police have determined that the pair left soon after the attack, and that neither of them were known to British intelligence apparatus. Clean skins, just days after the poisoning, police said Heathrow briefly impounded a Russian Arab flight to Moscow. But a big breakthrough in the case has been elusive.

Two weeks ago, two more people became contaminated by the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. Believe to have been thrown away following the attack on the Skripals. One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, who sources tell CNN that Novichok agent on her skin after discovering it in a discarded perfume bottle, dying a few days later turning the poisoning investigation into a murder investigation adding urgency to police efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIER PRITCHARD, CHIEF CONSTABLE, WILTSHIRE POLICE: As you're aware last night, the counterterrorism placing network confirmed that they will be taking primary to this investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:35:02] ROBERTSON: In Salisbury, several locations remained cordoned off like this restaurant where the Skripals ate shortly before collapsing. Police say they've scrutinized several thousand hours of security video and recovered hundreds of objects. But what's really slowing them up they say is the dangerous and complex nature of this investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Despite the new revelations, Russia continues to deny British government accusations. They are responsible for the death and the poisonings.

ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO, AMBASSADOR OF RUSSIA TO THE UNITED KINGDOM: This is (INAUDIBLE) unfortunately, we don't have official statements on the British side. I want to hear that from the (INAUDIBLE) from the foreign office.

ROBERTSON: The Skripals are now out of hospital being protected at a secret location where they are recovering from their poisoning ordeal. Charlie Rowley, the other victim hospitalized a couple weeks ago is getting better slowly. Diplomatic relations with Russia however only seem to be deteriorating. Nic Robertson, CNN, Salisbury, England.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: A key anniversary in Nicaragua is being overshadowed by a bloody government crackdown. President Daniel Ortega spoke on a rally marking 39 years since the Sandinista Revolution. He called clashes with protesters that saw hundreds killed, a painful battle, and accused them of having North American funding. An opposition leader denied that in an interview with CNN last hour. For more on the complex, here's CNN's Rafael Romo.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Violence in Nicaragua started in mid-April a little over three months ago with the protest over pension cuts. But when you look at how quickly violence erupted. You get the idea that in Nicaragua, there has been discontent simmering for a long time. President Ortega who has been in power for 11 years, his second time around went back on his proposal to reform pensions but the damage had already been done. Protest became increasingly violent over the following weeks and

months. Human rights groups say the number of people who have died since mid-April and clashes with the government mainly college students is quickly approaching 300. The government says the death toll is just over 50. The Catholic Church launched an effort early on in the conflict to begin peace talks. All parties including the government, church leaders, college students, and the business sectors among others attended the meeting at first.

But since violence continued, the opposition said, the government was only trying to gain time to detain dissidents and anti-Ortega activist and the talks failed. Meanwhile, the fighting has continued. On one side, you have highly trained police and snipers with assault weapons and armored vehicles supported by paramilitary forces and well-armed groups of loyalist that some activists compared to death squads. On the other side, you have mainly college students fighting them with whatever firearms they can get their hands on, but most frequently rocks and firecrackers.

A recent report by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission accuses the government of President Daniel Ortega of grave human rights violations and repression. There's been a -- there's been a bit of irony in this conflict. Daniel Ortega was the leader of the left wing, Sandinista revolutionaries who toppled ruthless dictator, Anastasio Somoza in 1979. Now, his critics say he's becoming more and more like the man he fought against. Rafael Romo, CNN Miami.

ALLEN: Ahead here, a place full of very aggressive people, the potential launch pad of World War III. That's how the U.S. president is describing this country Montenegro. An expert say those words make Russia very happy. We'll have more about that story ahead. Plus, China's currency slides as its trade relationship with the United States. We'll have a live report in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:41:45] ALLEN: Montenegro is defending itself after the U.S. president singled the tiny Balkan country out as a possible threat to world security. Montenegro is the newest NATO member the organization requires all member nations to help defend each other if they are attacked. But Mr. Trump says Montenegro is full of very aggressive people and could lead the U.S. and other allies into World War III. The former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO warns that kind of talk plays right into Russia's hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WESLEY CLARK, FORMER SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE, NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION: So, this is the worst nightmare for the Montenegrins. They thought they were safe. They got into NATO. They rely on NATO to give them the assurance to be able to build a democracy and move their economy forward. And now, the President of the United States, the leader of NATO says, well, maybe we're not going to help you. It's an open invitation to Putin.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: Other news now, China's currency is plunging again dropping

nearly one percent Thursday against the U.S. dollar, its lowest level in a year. The sliding currency could help China's exports given the new U.S. tariffs. But the trade war between the nations does not seem to be improving. Our Matt Rivers is following all this from Beijing. He joins us now with more about it. Hi to you, Matt.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie. Yes. It's an ongoing war of words here between China and the United State, this trade war showing no signs of slowing down. I'll talk about the currency there in a moment. But let's start with what the White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said at a conference hosted by CNCB on Wednesday. He basically laid the blame at the fact the negotiations between China and the United States have stalled at the foot of Xi Jinping, the president of China, basically saying that lower level officials here in China were ready to make a deal with the United States.

But Xi Jinping himself who said he wasn't willing to compromise and so as a result according to Larry Kudlow, the negotiations, three official rounds of which have already taken place have now essentially stalled between Washington and Beijing. Now, if there's one thing, Natalie, that you don't do in China these days is criticized Xi Jinping. And so the normally mild spoken ministry of foreign affairs yesterday here in Beijing kind of predictively came out with very harsh words basically saying the United States flip flopping and promise breaking is recognized globally in front of people all over the world relevant United States official unexpectedly distorted the facts and made bogus accusations.

They called it beyond imbibition of ordinary people and shocking. That's the kind of language you don't usually hear from ministry of foreign affairs. And so it's not really that all that surprising given that Larry Kudlow essentially criticized Xi Jinping.

ALLEN: All right. Matt Rivers for us there in Beijing. Thank you, Matt. The man who inspired the film Good Morning, Vietnam and created its unforgettable signature line has died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Vietnam. Hey, this is not a test. This is rock and roll. Time to rock it from the --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:45:04] ALLEN: Robin Williams, there, portraying U.S. Airforce disc jockey, Adrian Cronauer in the 1987 movie.

The film was based loosely on Cronauer's experiences with U.S. Armed Forces radio during the Vietnam War. After the military, Cronauer became a lawyer and worked for the Defense Department in the George W. Bush administration.

Cronauer's family says, he died Wednesday at a nursing home in Virginia from age-related illness. Age of Cronauer with 79. Ahead here, a ship found more than a century after it sank. Is there a fortune and gold on the bottom of the sea?

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ALLEN: We talked a moment ago about how the tiny nation of Montenegro is defending itself against President Donald Trump's claims that it poses a possible threat to world security.

Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, went to Montenegro to find out what the locals think about Mr. Trump's claims.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to the front line in the collapse of the West as we know it. Menacing militants, Montenegro.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're very aggressive people. They may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in the World War III.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what to say. I think that this is really stupid.

WALSH: No, he said -- he said Montenegro was aggressive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe he makes some mistakes. No, I don't know. Do you look at like I'm an aggressive man?

WALSH: I don't know, you told me. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I think, no.

WALSH: Where are you going now? To stop World War III?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

WALSH: Where are you going, instead?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drink coffee.

WALSH: Yet, that's the drums of war you're hearing there. There made no mistake, nobody's giggling here about Russian ambitions to increase its influence in the Balkans and control this deep-water port.

It's even accused of trying to kill the prime minister of orchestrating a coup in October 2016. Two alleged Russian agents sought by Interpol warrants still for the sophisticated plot.

Well, it was here investigators say that dozens of radicals are supposed to gather, spurred on by Russian intelligence and see some state buildings including this, the Parliament paralyzing the government ruining the elections.

And doing their best to make sure that NATO wanted little to do in this chaos with this tiny aspiring member.

But Montenegro joins NATO all the same just 10 days after Donald Trump go perhaps the closest he ever had to the country but he pushed this prime minister out of the way at a Brussels NATO summit.

And its minuscule army of 1500, less than one U.S. Army Brigade will soon partially be on the Russian border, part of a NATO exercise on the Baltics.

But now, the U.S. commander-in-chief has said he won't necessarily come to their defense they feel safe, still. Was the fight to get NATO's Article Five collective security really worth it?

SRDJAN DARMANOVIC, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MONTENEGRO: We have no intentions whatsoever to start World War III, we are too small for that. But we really believe that Article Five is unconditional and rock-solid.

WALSH: That is not exactly what the Russians wanted to hear.

DARMANOVIC: Maybe, maybe, it might be music for their ears. But still, I believe that we are not less safe.

[02:50:02] WALSH: But here, the most powerful man in the world offhand meetings bring not just laughter but real concrete consequence. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Podgorica, Montenegro.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: A salvage company claims to have found a century-old shipwreck in the waters between South Korea and Japan. The question is, are the stories saying that it carried billions in gold, true?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ha, ha, ha, you're not going to believe it, I have a name, I have a name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's in Russian, I can't read it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe I am approaching the stern. I'm right at the stern mast post. The mast is missing. I have visual on anchor of the eight-inch gun, and it's lying three feet in from the starboard side. Ship's wheel, ship's wheel, over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm forward of the breach by probably 20 feet or so. And there's a small deck gun. I'm not sure. Oh, men, this wreck is just -- it's really wrecked.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: How cool is that? Just how much it's any gold or what it's worth, won't be known until the ship is raised.

Well, the present heat and humidity are pushing people in Japan to the limit. Only days after devastating floods swamped the region. Our Derek Van Dam is following that story for us. Hello to you, Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Hi, Natalie. Yes, indeed. This is the last thing that residents of Japan need.

About 110 million Japanese residents feeling the effects of this long- duration heat event on some of the major populated islands, as well, including Honshu and Kyushu.

It's incredible to see what's happened in Tokyo, for instance, we've seen temperatures for the past 23 days or roughly, seeing temperatures over 30 degrees. So, well, above average. And it's interesting to think what this does to the human body.

We have an incredible mechanism machine as the human body is to in -- actually dealing with the effects of heat. That is, of course, we tend to sweat. But the sweat actually has to be evaporated off of our skin for this to be an effective form of cooling.

So, take for instance, if you're in the desert and you have a high heat day. You sweat, well, anytime you evaporate that sweat off of your skin, you feel a cooling effect on your skin.

But, if you live in a humid environment like Japan, unfortunately, it's going to be that much more difficult to take that and evaporate the sweat off of your skin. Hence, the cooling effect isn't as effective in this particular part of the world.

We get the impacts of the ocean here. This is just off the Pacific, of course, and the Sea of Japan, just to its north and west. And that is why meteorologists have an indices called the Heat Index.

We factor in temperature and humidity, and that gives us the apparent temperature of what it feels like as you step outside.

So, right now in Tokyo, the actual air temperature is 32, but you factor in the humidity, it feels like 40 degrees. You can see similar numbers stretching across much of mainland Japan.

So, just because the mercury in thermometer says one thing, that doesn't mean that that's what it feels like as you step outside. This is a very hot and humid environment.

And unfortunately, when you have such a long-duration heat event like this, it makes it very difficult for people and your body to cope with the extended period of heat, and we have had fatalities being reported.

That looks as if the temperatures will warm up before we start to see a small cooling trend as we head into the early parts of next week. But still, well above average for this region. I mean, just check out these temperatures on as we're expecting daytime highs to be run anywhere from five to seven degrees Celsius above where they should be. Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: All right, Derek. Thanks very much. Well, something new for the Rugby Sevens World Cup, the tournament is being held in the United States for the first time. CNN "WORLD SPORT'S" Christina Mcfarlane, reports from San Francisco.

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CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: One World Cup may be over, but another is just beginning. This year for the first time ever, the Rugby Sevens World Cup is taking place on U.S. soil. And in one of the most iconic ballparks in Major League Baseball.

Welcome to AT&T Park, San Francisco. Over the next three days, 40 teams will compete for one of the biggest prizes in the sport, the Melrose Cup. And as you can see the stadium has been transformed here. From the pitching rounds beneath me to the rugby goal posts and the try-line.

The Rugby Sevens already has 30 million fans here stateside, but organizers are hoping that this week will be another giant step forward for the sport.

[02:55:33] DOUGLAS LANGLEY, OPERATIONS MANAGER, WORLD RUGBY: So, what this is allowed us to do is come into another iconic city in a great potential Rugby market, which is -- which is the USA.

And we've also been able to give it some character. So, by having so many teams and come into San Francisco, come into a baseball diamonds. But it's not a rugby environment, it's -- we've got to be innovative.

MACFARLANE: It's not just the venue that's new. This year new rules have turned this event into a straightforward knockout tournament. Win every game and you win the World Cup, lose at any point, and you're out.

It's a daunting prospect for the players, including New Zealand's men and women's team who are both defending champions, hoping to make history this week.

SCOTT CURRY, CAPTAIN, ALL BLACKS SEVENS: No one's ever won World Cup's back-to-back. So, we want to be the first team to do that.

So, yes, it's going to be pretty tough for us, because it's a knockout tournament, which is different again. And so, we're looking forward to the challenge of trying to be a victorious team either they go back to that World Cup.

MACFARLANE: The stage is set, the teams are ready. And this year, it's a whole new ball game. Christina Macfarlane, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Well, a whale of a new aircraft took to the skies in France, Thursday. The Airbus BelugaXL will be used to transport airplane parts.

It's same for the white large-headed see mammal. The Beluga -- my gosh, it looks just like one, doesn't it? The plane can carry 53 tons of cargo over more than 4,000 kilometers non-stop. For more, BelugaXLs are set to be in service by next year.

I'll be back with the latest on the summit storm engulfing the White House, and there other top stories at this day, right after this. Please stay with us.

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