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U.S. Security Chiefs: Russia Meddling In U.S. Politics; Mnangagwa Declared President Of Zimbabwe; Challenger Chamisa Alleges Rigged Voting; Aid Agencies: Dozens Of People Killed In Yemen Attack; U.S. Concerned Iran May Showcase Strait Of Hormuz Shutdown; U.S. Secretary of State to Address Southeast Asian Leaders; Apple is First U.S. Company Valued at $1 Trillion; BMW Caught Up in Escalating Tensions; The Vatican Officially against the Death Penalty. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 3, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Coming up at this hour, after senior U.S. officials it's going to dire warning about Russian attempts to interfere in our coming elections, the President refers to the investigation as the Russia hoax. Plus, delays, deadly violence and now disputes, officials in Zimbabwe have announced the winner of the first presidential election in the post-Mugabe agave era but the opposition claims the vote was rigged. And from nearly bankrupt to a record market valuation, Apple cracks the trillions dollar mark. Hello and thanks for joining us I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A.
Well, a dire warning came from senior intelligence and security chiefs at the White House on Thursday. They put on a united front to say that Russia continues its attempts to meddle in the upcoming elections, that would be the midterm elections come this November. They put the big guys out there to say they're taking this threat seriously. Jim Acosta has more.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has made it clear that --
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was a show of force as the White House sent out top administration officials from the Director of National Intelligence to the National Security Advisor to the FBI Director to assure the American people they are determined to combat Russian interference in U.S. elections.
DAN COATS, UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.
ACOSTA: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats insisted the order is coming from the top. COATS: The President has specifically directed us to make the matter
of the election meddling and securing our election process a top priority.
ACOSTA: Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen described a grave threat.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and it has become clear that they are the target of our adversaries who seek as the DNI just said to sow discord and undermine our way of life.
ACOSTA: And all of the tough talk stood in stark contrast with the President's own past statements most notably his summit with Vladimir Putin in Finland where Mr. Trump declined to confront the Russian President over Moscow's meddling.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hold both countries responsible and I think we're all to blame.
ACOSTA: The President has often diminished the Russian threat repeatedly saying other unnamed countries could be interfering as well.
TRUMP: I accept our Intelligence Community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place, it could be other people also.
ACOSTA: The officials gathered in the briefing room were asked about the disconnect.
COATS: I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened at Helsinki.
ACOSTA: Then there are the President's tweets accusing top FBI officials of being part of a witch-hunt. A charge echoed by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
SANDERS: He's certainly expressing the frustration that he has with the level of corruption that we've seen from people like Jim Comey, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe. There's a reason that the President is angry.
ACOSTA: Asked about that, FBI Director Chris Wray pushed back with Sanders in the room.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: To assure the American people that the men and women of the FBI starting from the Director all the way on down are going to follow our rules to do our job.
ACOSTA: Each of the top officials at the White House today laid out various task force's and initiatives that have been launched to defend against Russian attacks in the upcoming midterm elections. The big question of course, is whether any of those efforts ultimately will be successful. The answer may not come until well after the November elections. Jim Acosta, CNN the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)
VAUSE: For more on this, let's go to Political Strategists Mac Zilber and also CNN Political Commentator John Thomas. OK, so you know, the big show of force, the big glorified photo-op at the White House briefing room. Everyone surprised. It was a lot -- unannounced, a big, big display of unity. And then just a couple hours ago the President appeared before his supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now we're being hindered by the Russian hoax, it's a hoax OK. I'll tell you what, Russia is very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, he's talking about (INAUDIBLE) in a moment, but you know, again, you know, he's out there calling the investigation into Russian interference a hoax. If not a hoax, it's a witch hunt and it wasn't just a few hours ago. It's you know, this is one of the few topics President Trump has been consistent on. Take a listen.
[01:05:15] TRUMP: I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
I'll go along with Russia. It could have been China, it could have been a lot of different groups.
It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: John, he's been consistent, consistently wrong. So why would President Trump undermine his own intelligence chiefs just hours after they you know, tried to reassure the nation that everything was being done and this is a real threat?
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think he's purposely trying to undermine them.
THOMAS: No, he is in a way but what he's doing is he's conflating the Mueller investigation to Russia collusion between Vladimir Putin essentially and Donald Trump's campaign is saying that's an absolute hoax. That says this classic what Trump does is he conflates issues and then you can pick a part going well, what he doing he's denying that they're hacking. Clearly, he's not denying it because he just sent out his you know, show of force all to say that they're in bed -- they're working to protect our elections. That doesn't happen without the Presidents go ahead.
VAUSE: Let's just fact check what he said there about Russia being unhappy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Yes I do. Yes, I do. because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, Mac, so you heard that. We heard Putin saying we wanted to Trump to win. I heard that. I've heard it a number of times. The President was standing right next to Vladimir Putin when he said that. Why would he think that Russia is unhappy that he won?
MAC ZILBER, POLITICAL STRATEGISTS: Well, because he's lying, of course. And I mean, you know, a few days ago he tweeted a similar lie saying that Russia wants the Democrats to win in the midterm election. The Russia's interfere on other Democrats behalf. He is throwing smoke up in the air. He's throwing dust up in the air and it's because he doesn't like what he knows at the end of this investigation.
VAUSE: And John, you know, it seems almost delusional from the President.
THOMAS: First of all, what exactly is the head of a state going to say sitting next to President Trump on --
VAUSE: Well, what mostly everyone says is we didn't have a dog with that fight. We didn't even have a preference driver-side. We're happy to work with whoever is elected and we respect the result.
THOMAS: Well, he also knows -- he also knows that the President likes an ego stroked so -- but here is the truth. The truth is Russian relations with the U.S. have been terrible and that's what President Trump has been trying to reboot. I think Vladimir Putin is happy that at least you've got a president who's trying to do something rather than just pressing a reset button that does nothing.
ZILBER: There's a difference between rebooting a relationship though and just you know obsequiously standing by Putin and not calling him on any of the interference or any of his other abuses.
THOMAS: I mean, this administration has done many things that hurt Russia so look, I think Trump can do more. I think he's going to do more. I think the idea of securing our elections is a great thing. I said this last hour but I think we should talk Voter I.D. Laws. I think we need to talk about paper ballots because we do need -- it's not just about propaganda. I'm concerned about the voting systems themselves. VAUSE: That's a fair point. I mean, the -- I mean, look, the voting machines are awful and outdated and they're not secure. There's a whole bunch of issues with that. But you know, what we have now is that the President you know, once again, talking about this threat from Russia as being a hoax. And if you listen to him at that rally, we know who the real enemy of the American people is and well, guess who.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Whatever happened to fair press? Whatever happened to honest reporting? They don't report it. They only make up stories but they can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake, disgusting news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yes. OK, so John you know the President's swore an oath to protect the Constitution. Freedom of the press, is a constitutional right. Why won't he uphold his oath?
THOMAS: Well, he's not saying that you don't have the right to say things.
VAUSE: Yes he is.
THOMAS: No he -- no he's saying -- he's not saying you can say whatever you want but he's also saying it's fake, it's wrong, and from his lens what he's looking at non-opinion or base reporting the just general reporting, that's the 90 percent negative coverage of him that he disagrees with, he doesn't like it.
VAUSE: He's also cheating out his supporters to go out and you know, jeer and attack an abuse --
THOMAS: Certainly -- it certainly it's an applause line just like build that wall or lock her up but both partisans on both sides. Maxine Waters, a senior member of the House has said that you need to push back not just on Donald Trump but on anybody who works with a guy. The Democrats are saying don't let Donald Trump sleep. Stand outside his bedroom and scream into his bedroom because he is that bad of a guy. You know, Steve Scalise is shot yet, Jim Acosta gets yelled at and that's also you know a big deal.
VAUSE: We can say though. You know, it gets -- it gets very intimidating when you are in front of a crowd of thousands of people and they're jeering and they're saying stuff and you don't know what's going to happen. Either you're back to them for most of the time and they're saying oh my so -- I would say it is not a pleasant experience. And that happened day after day, after day, while you're trying to do your job.
ZILBER: Right. And historically when enemy of the people is in applause lines as you put it, you're right, he's using it as applause line. But you know, (INAUDIBLE) used it as an applause line and what happened to the Jews? The French during the reign of terror used it as an applause line and people got the guillotine. There's never been a case in world history in which the leadership of a country has used the phrase enemy of the people and it's turned out well.
THOMAS: And you have former intelligence directors calling the president treasonous. You know, it's not like --
ZILBER: Maybe he is.
THOMAS: Well --
VAUSE: OK, these media attacks have come to the attention of the U.N., a number of experts have weighed in. Here's a statement they released a few hours ago. These experts stressed that over the course of his presidency, Mr. Trump and his administration has sought to undermine reporting that had uncovered fraud, abuse, potential illegal conduct and disinformation. Each time the President calls the media the enemy of the people or fails to allow questions from reporters from disfavored outlets. The experts continued he suggested nefarious motivations or animus. However, they pointed out that not even one time was he able to show any specific reporting that was driven by untoward motivations. John?
THOMAS: I think there are some things that the White House and the press can do to de-escalate this fight.
VAUSE: Sure, but to this point, there's not one thing they pointed to that was actually driven out of malice. There being mistakes made which is being corrected, but nothing out of malice.
THOMAS: OK, calling a bunch of Trump supporters having no teeth is that you know, deplorable. I mean, as that -- is that factual --
VAUSE: Any serious story about the Trump White House that was done specifically out of malice which one? There have been mistakes which is being corrected.
THOMAS: I think -- I think the issue is hard to prove intent but you can just look at the tenor of 90 -- of 90 percent of the coverage has been negative because -- any administration deserve 90 percent? Maybe 60, or 70?
ZILBER: Does a weather reporter have to say that Iceland the sunny every day or that North Pole is sunny every day?
THOMAS: 90 percent of the time?
ZILBER: The North Pole is cold all the time.
THOMAS: I think -- I think what you end up doing -- I think -- well, it's when you know, Trump's rolling out his economic agenda and the Republicans are rolling out their economic agenda and you say you cut to a bunch of economics -- economists to say it's impossible. There's no way we could ever see four percent GDP and then we see four percent GDP. It's those kinds of things. I'm not saying it's but it's framing of the story time and time again.
VAUSE: Well, that's a different thing. Look, Ivanka Trump is (INAUDIBLE). You know, she said, you know, they're not the enemy -- the media is not the enemy the people which makes it pretty much you know a lone trigger in the White House. Here's Press Secretary Sarah Sanders with her favorite reporter in the whole world, Jim Acosta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: All the people around the world are watching what you're saying, Sarah, and the White House of the United States of America, the President United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people, his own daughter acknowledges that and all I'm asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.
SANDERS: I appreciate your passion. I share it. I've addressed this question, I've addressed my personal feelings. I'm here to speak on behalf of the President. He's made his comments clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: They really do like each other. They play like (INAUDIBLE) on the weekend.
THOMAS: You know, I don't understand why we're broadcasting White House press releases.
VAUSE: Because we have under Obama and George --
THOMAS: And there have been countless White House press secretaries who said perhaps we take the drama and the heat out of the issue by not broadcasting just coming up with meaningful rather than the exchange between Jim and Sarah.
VAUSE: Well, you just didn't answer the question. But Mac, it does seem that this White House only want stories that are published that are fawning and sycophantic anything that is critical is considered to be fake news and out of bounds.
ZILBER: Yes, well it goes all the way back to when Donald Trump was his own P.R. guy John Barron and used to send out fawning press releases about what a great lover he was. I mean this is nothing new.
VAUSE: He had incredible hair. OK, John and Mac, thank you so much. OK, four days and a deadly protests later and by Thursday. Officials declared Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the first presidential election after Robert Mugabe was ousted from power. His challenger Nelson Chamisa is also declaring victory. The delay in announcing the results has resulted in accusations of vote reading from Chamisa and his supporters but when the opposition filled the streets to protest on Wednesday they were met with a military crackdown. At least six people died in the bloodshed. CNN's David McKenzie has late details now reporting in from Harare.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The ruling party supporters are celebrating outside the building behind me where just moments ago they announced the president-elect of Zimbabwe after this highly contentious vote process winning with more than 50 percent, just more than 50 percent of the vote.
According to the Electoral Commission, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the current president of Zimbabwe.
Now, the president-elect after these violence few days here in Harare, the capital. Now, the opposition has said it will not accept this outcome. Nelson Chamisa is telling me that they will use any legal means possible to contest the decision of the Electoral Commission to announce this verdict that Mnangagwa is, again, the president of Zimbabwe.
Throughout the day, they were military and police on the streets earlier. They were telling people to leave the central business district closing up their shops, a virtual ghost town. The police also raided the opposition head courses and arrested more than a dozen people.
The question will be now is how will the electoral observer missions react to this when this narrow win in terms of being just over the threshold of not having a runoff that Emerson Mnangagwa is now the president-elect of Zimbabwe. David McKenzie, CNN, Harare.
[01:16:07] VAUSE: Dewa Mavhinga is with Human Rights Watch. He joins us now from Harare. Dewa, thank you very much for being with us. Shortly, after the results came out, president-elect Mnangagwa tweeted, "This is a new beginning. Let us join hands in peace, unity, and love. And together, build a new Zimbabwe for all."
So, do you see this as a new beginning here, can he build a new Zimbabwe on the back of the election which many believe was in fact, corrupted, that there are disputes about the results?
DEWA MAVHINGA, SOUTHERN AFRICA DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The serious disputes about the results and the main opportunity rejected those results. So, it is not a new beginning as such. And especially because as we speak, the military is now patrolling the streets, following the shootings. And that left six people dead on the face of August.
So, it's a very difficult space as Zimbabwe is yet again glides into crisis. It is not a new dispensation as we thought, and they'd hoped.
VAUSE: It's good to actually hear your voice this time. So, though when the tanks rolled through the capital back in November after all, that we got, all was ousted. That was seen as a moment of hope and sign of change, and the tanks are rolling again through Harare in recent days.
For many, that is a sign the country is actually returning to the old days. Especially, since it appears, the army was out there -- you know, shooting to kill.
MAVHINGA: Absolutely. In fact, it is really -- that's the true colors of the regime have been exposed. There was a time from last November when it seemed that there could be a real change, but because there was no accountability, no justice for past abuses involving, the security forces we see now clearly that's -- it is the same old regime using the same old tactics.
Now, people are scared, fear has engulfed Harare and other parts of the country. And we hope that the president-elect would move swiftly to ensure that there is justice. And that those invincible forces who killed people on the face of August are held accountable.
That is the only way to help Zimbabwe move forward. And also, a peaceful resolution of the disputes around this election.
VAUSE: Well, was Zanu-PF which is the party once led by Mugabe, it's the party of the president-elect Mnangagwa, won the parliamentary vote here by a landslide, has a two-thirds majority. There are many believe that margin of victory just isn't possible given the popularity of the opposition leader.
Is there any way -- is it possible these results could be actually be independently verified?
MAVHINGA: Yes, with the cooperation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, there is a possibility to independently verify or even recount the votes in areas where there are discrepancies. And the opposition as led by Chamisa and other parties should also be able to come forward with evidence of rigging if they suspected as much.
So, it would help for Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to rebuild confidence and lead a process for a recount. And also have someone independently verify and audit the entire process.
VAUSE: One of the chances the Electoral Commission or E.C. agreed that I'll essentially open the books -- you know, for international observers to take a closer look?
MAVHINGA: Its looks unlikely to me, because, in fact, the head of the Electoral Commission Justice Priscilla Chigumba has said that if anyone has issues and complains, then, they must approach the courts. But the challenge with the court system in Zimbabwe is that a good number of the judges are compromised in partisan towards an appeal.
So, they use also consent that the process would not be independent and impartial because the judges are supportive of some of here.
[01:20:04] VAUSE: There, were thank you for getting up early for us, and letting us know exactly what is going on, and your opinions as well. Dewa Mavhinga with Human Rights Watch, joining us here from Harare. Thank you, sir.
MAVHINGA: OK, thank you.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, Iran has stated -- started naval drills much like these ones here. While these exercises though are so concerning to the United States.
Also ahead is the trade tensions between the U.S. and China ramp-up. The U.S. Secretary of State tries to find common ground with Asian leaders.
VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. To Yemen now, aid agency says dozens of people were killed or critically wounded on attack near a hospital and fish market in the coastal city of Hodeida. As many as 50 people were reportedly killed in a series of air strikes.
The city has been under assault by a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels. But a spokesman for that coalition says it was not responsible for the airstrikes and blames Houthi rebels.
U.S. officials say Iranian naval exercises are under way in the Persian Gulf. And there is concern that Iran is using this show of force as a demonstration it can shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic passage for global oil supplies. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is on his way to the Gulf. He joins us now on the line.
So, there's a number of reasons for U.S. concern here, mostly because of the time that -- the time of year these exercises are being carried out, that's unusual. Also, the U.S. military presence in the region seems fairly minimal.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (via telephone): John, that's right. And this is a concern for the U.S. military. Because oftentimes, particularly, when it would expect in to have these type of military exercises that often come toward the end of the year when the weather is a bit cooler around there.
Then, that, that they would have a larger room -- larger naval presence in the Gulf for this particular time. They don't took the moment, so, that's a points of sensitivity. But perhaps, this is Washington's concern is that Iran is beginning to put the beat of the rhetoric that's been coming over the recent months.
The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, which is -- you know, one of its principal military forces. A month ago, said that if Iran can't export its oil to the world, then, no one else can. That was echoed more recently by Iran's president, by the Supreme Leader.
This, of course, coming at the time last week on increase rhetoric for Washington, as well. President Trump and all cats tweet telling the Iranians -- you know, that there could be very, very serious consequences. But this sort of threat of war has been an escalation of the rhetoric.
So, the question that face in Washington at the moment is, is this Iran and with a warning of some sort or other what the -- what U.S. defense officials are saying is that they're seeing dozens of small boats in this military exercise. And that this is taking place in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Gulf of Oman.
Interestingly, the officials as -- are calling this the Arabian Gulf. And we've heard a tweet respondent for the foreign minister of Iran. Sort of tweeting back at that because it's commonly known. Here is the Persian Gulf, either the U.S. Navy can't seem to find it were around the waters are -- or the region which is what the Iranian foreign minister is saying which seems to be a very pointed message either goading the United States, And perhaps, try again, particularly to goad President Trump into some kind of verbal response.
It's not clear, but there isn't a confirmation from Iranian site of these military exercises underway. And neither has there been any comment from countries in this region, as well.
But, of course, this is a -- this is a strategic waterways, you can say, 20 percent of the world's oil passes through it. So, any constriction there could have an effect on a number of countries in this region.
So, it isn't just the United States that will be watching this closely. You can expect the Emiratis here, the Saudis, and others as well, to be following these developments with a very clean item.
[01:26:46] VAUSE: As well you, Nic. And we'll hear from you in the coming hours. Thank you, Nic Robertson, senior international diplomatic editor. And I gave you a promotion, Nic. Congratulations.
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Singapore for the ASEAN summit. He will be there to address Southeast Asian leaders on North Korea's denuclearization. He's also holding talks with the Turkish and Chinese foreign ministers.
There's a lot of tensions there between all of those three parties. CNN's Ivan Watson is in Singapore with more on this. I guess, the issue here, we know the -- you know, the problems of the U.S. is having with China right now, but there is plenty for comparing to talk about when it comes to Turkey.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, here you have two NATO allies where the U.S. this week, just imposed sanctions on two Turkish cabinet ministers. This over the ongoing detention, now under house arrest of a U.S. Christian pastor named Andrew Brunson, who's been held basically since 2016, facing espionage charges. Put under house arrest just last week.
This has been the topic of multiple rounds of discussions between President Trump and Turkish president Erdogan, themselves, and their top diplomats. I'm outside a hotel where Secretary of State Pompeo and the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, just met. A face- to-face for under a half hour.
We've just gotten a read out from the U.S. Secretary of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert. Saying that the two spoke about a number of issues. It was a constructive conversation, and they agreed to resolve the issues between our two countries.
But the response from Turkey to the sanctions that were imposed on these two Turkish ministers was quite strong. The Turkish Foreign Ministry putting out this statement, John, saying it was profoundly disappointed that this shows, "Disrespectfully intervening into Turkey's judicial system, and to anticipate an equivalent response to this aggressive attitude."
So, this clearly made Turkey angry and very uncomfortable. And it also appears to have contributed to a recent deterioration of the value of the Turkish currency, now, two to less than five Turkish lira to the U.S. dollar.
So, imposing more economic hardship on a Turkish economy that's going through rough straights right now. And also just signs of a real tension between two NATO allies. It does appear that there is an effort to try to negotiate a way out of this.
But this is just the latest crisis in what has been a very rocky relationship between these two countries going back as far as the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2001. There are moments where they kind of find ways to work together, but there are number of grievances between the U.S. and Turkey. And this latest one revolving around the ongoing -- this tension of a U.S. Christian pastor.
And one that the Trump administration has made very clear that it is very important to any possible improvement of bilateral relations between these two countries. John?
VAUSE: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson, live for us there in Singapore with the latest. Appreciate it.
We'll take a short break.
Next here on NEWSROOM L.A. from little things big things grow like Apple. The tiny computer company launched 40 years ago -- it's dark, it's look like -- is now the richest company in U.S. history. They should turn on the lights.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.
Emmerson Mnangagwa has been declared the official winner of Zimbabwe's presidential election. The opposition though continues to allege the outcome was rigged. The military has prevented public protests after six people died in post-election violence on Wednesday.
Several senior U.S. security and intelligence officials are warning of Russia's continued efforts to interfere in the U.S. political system and to try and divide the country. The Director of National Intelligence says President Trump has specifically directed him to make the issue a top priority.
And the company Steve Jobs founded in 1976 is now worth $1 trillion. Apple became the first public U.S. company to reach that milestone after its stock hit $207 on Thursday. Analysts credit strong sales of the latest iPhones.
The important point here about Apple, it is the first U.S. company to hit that $1 trillion mark. The record was set more than a decade ago as "Fortune Magazine" reports Petro China reached the valuation briefly on its first day of trading following its 2007 IPO but the peak coincided with a Chinese stock market bubble. Petro China shares would lose $800 billion in value over the next ten years.
Easy come, easy go.
More for this now science and technology analyst Jacob Ward with us once more. So Jacob -- two decades ago, they were writing off Apple. Take a look at the cover from "Businessweek" in 1996; the headline declaring "The Fall of an American Icon".
JACOB WARD, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ANALYST: Right.
VAUSE: While this trillion-dollar milestone is worth noting, what they're saying though is that Apple's stock buybacks have been a significant factor here in driving up the valuation.
WARD: Well, that's right. The tactic has been basically, you know, showering investors in cash and then buying back stock which drives up the value of those stocks further.
And it's really worked very well. People have been very, very happy and it specially works out in a year where all the tech giants are basically seeing, you know, near record stock performance. Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft -- they're all at near record highs right now. So this is really, you know -- this just makes sense. That is exactly what you can do.
[01:35:06] But I think there is a lot of sort of interest and fervor here around the idea that maybe Apple should do something else with its money. It's got over $250 billion in cash that it's about to repatriate from abroad now that its tax bill is going to be lowered by recent legislation.
So what are they going to do with that money? That's really a big question coming up.
VAUSE: Well, there is also a question too about the company's profit margins and the fact that they're actually shrinking.
This is from Bloomberg. "Apple generates less profit from each dollar of sales than it did in 2010 when it was worth one-quarter as much. The biggest reason for the profit margin dive is Apple's spending its operating costs and increased at twice the rate of revenue in the last five years and the company doesn't detail why."
I guess, you know, investors for the moment at least don't seem to be concerned about that. But should they be worried?
WARD: right. Well, I mean really at this point, you know, you're literally being showered with money all the time when you're an investor in Apple right now. So I don't think that they're that worried about it. You know, there is this question of what is it that they're doing with all of this extra operational overhead.
But I mean with $250 billion in cash just floating, you know, they could be preparing to buy Finland, you know what I mean. They could be like carving reindeers out of ice. It wouldn't really make much of a difference, you know. They have so much cash floating around, it doesn't make us (INAUDIBLE).
So you know the real question is, you know, when you look at -- I mean just to put it into perspective we're talking about an valuation of $1 trillion. And you compare that to the valuations of companies like, you know, Netflix which is like around $100 billion. You know, Tesla's around anywhere from $50 billion to $75 billion. The Disney company is $180 billion.
$1 trillion is so far and away of, you know, a greater number than that, it's sort of -- it boggles the mind. And so I think this question of, you know do they just continue to plug along? I mean the average selling price of an iPhone is $100 more now than it was last year. The sort of the whole business of selling phones has changed. But they have all of this operating margin, all of this extra money floating around with which they could do almost anything.
And so the next couple of years, you know, it's a pretty exciting time to be at Apple right because you could truly be in the business of anything for the next couple of years and you do pretty well.
VAUSE: They could buy Finland? Or they could give everyone I think an iPhone. I wish.
WARD: That's right. Exactly.
WARD: -- the case. That's right. That's right. Exactly.
VAUSE: And the case. Google almost came close to breaking the trillion-dollar barrier as well. It's just over $800 billion at the moment. This is a company that's famously put social good ahead of financial profit eight years ago when it made a moral stand ending self-censorship of all its search results in China. It defied the demands from the communist government.
Here's a flashback to 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The reality is there's no great outrage in China about the closing down of Google.cn and that's because many Internet users here either don't care and those who do, well, there's little they can do to stop it.
Google says the tipping point was cyber attacks originating from China targeting Gmail accounts of human rights activists. And so the company said it would end self-censorship, stop blocking information on sensitive subjects like Tiananmen Square.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ok. That was a younger, better John Vause with a really bad haircut, but you get the point.
So what we're hearing now from is that Google is actually working on a search engine which will, you know, abide by China's censorship rules, you know, seen as kind of a bit of a walk-down. I guess 800 million netizens or Internet users in China -- that's just too big a market to ignore?
WARD: I mean that must be the case right? You have to remember that that pulling out of China came after a very voluntary going into China in 2006, you know. From 2006 to 2010 China had a censored version of Google that Google is putting out and it's just under public pressure here in the United States that they pulled out of that in 2010.
You know, I can't remember who it was but a senator or a representative said, you know, you've gone from your motto of don't be evil to being accomplices of evil.
And so I wonder -- you know, I just found myself wondering, what is the conversation like within the company now around that? I mean the structure of the company has changed a little bit. Sundar Pichai is in charge now and the founders, Sergey and Larry have backed off a little bit. And so maybe somehow the credo has changed.
But you're absolutely right. I mean 800 million Internet users in China. I mean that's like it's literally another Europe and they can't get in there right now. So if you're business is all about selling advertising and Google's business is all about that, then 800 million people is a lot of people to look at.
You know -- but the thing I would say here, John, is you know, that company was "don't be evil" all this time. But in 2015 it changed its motto to "do the right thing" -- a little vaguer here.
[01:39:59] I just try to imagine, you know, a young kid brought in to work at Google, you know, high-minded you know, ethically-minded and then he's told ok -- or she's told you're going to be now working on a censored version of the Android app for China -- go, you know.
I don't know a lot of -- the young people I meet don't want to work in a company that does that kind of thing. So I really am curious what's a little like hundred-person group that it's reported is working on this was like and how did they -- I don't know -- how do they go to bed at night sort of feeling good about that project. I'm not sure.
VAUSE: Yes, you know, do the right thing. It was a catch-line of a sort anti-trash campaign in Australia when I was growing up. And I think that's (INAUDIBLE).
Jacob -- thank you.
WARD: And here we are now.
VAUSE: Thank you. Absolutely. See you soon, cheers. One of Germany's most famous car makers is caught in the crosshairs of the trade war between the U.S. and China. And that's a problem because BMW has its largest plant in the heart of Trump country South Carolina.
CNN's Martin Savidge is there.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It may not look like it but Spartanburg South Carolina is a war zone. A trade war thanks to the President most folks here voted for. Spartanburg is home to the largest BMW plant in the world. Last year they made more than 370,000 luxury SUVs employing 10,000 people, pumping billions into the state's economy.
(on camera): Is it safe to say how well BMW does is how well Spartanburg County does.
JESSE JONES, SPARTANBURG RESIDENT: You might say that because there's a lot of industry in Spartanburg County that are directly connected to BMW.
MARILYN SAUCEDO, SPARTANBURG RESIDENT: Growth, jobs, and I know that that's brought in a lot of families into the area. It brings money into the area.
SAVIDGE (voice over): Spartanburg's also deep red, meaning in 2016, the county voted 63 percent for Donald Trump. But President Trump has threatened to place tariffs on imported BMW vehicles and parts. That could make BMWs made and sold in America a lot more expensive.
The company is already feeling the impact of Trump's trade war with China. Over 80,000 Spartanburg made BMW SUVs are sold in China every year. Now China's striking back placing tariffs on the American-made vehicles.
It's an economic double whammy of Trump's making which BMW says could have negative effects on investment and employment in the United States. In other words, BMW might have to scale back production and lay off workers in Spartanburg.
DAVID BRITT, SPARTANBURG COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I feel like I helped birth BMW.
SAVIDGE: David Britt is the Spartanburg County commissioner and a Trump backer.
(on camera): How concerned are you now about talk of tariffs and trade war?
BRITT: I'm extremely concerned because the impact, the ripple effect -- it goes beyond BMW and the automotive industry.
SAVIDGE (voice over): Britt is one of the few Republican politicians in the country willing to tell Trump he's wrong. BRITT: These tariffs could put the foot on the throat of growth and
stop it. We don't need that.
SAVIDGE: Other Trump supporters we talked to here say they support the President's policies but some are concerned. None wanted to talk on camera.
And they're not the only ones reluctant to speak out. Many South Carolina companies are also concerned but fear if they criticize the President's policies they'll become a target of his Twitter wrath much like what happened to Harley-Davidson.
TED PITTS, SOUTH CAROLINA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT: I think the President has shown that you're better off working with his administration on issues to help them understand and allow them to get to the right answer.
SAVIDGE: Ironically Trump's tough talk on trade was part of his appeal to voters in South Carolina. Now there is growing concern Trump's trade war is about to backfire on them and possibly eventually on him.
BRITT: I don't see this issue changing voters' minds. Now if you look down the road and there are concerns.
VAUSE: And our thanks to Martin Savidge reporting there from South Carolina.
We'll take a short break. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A. a shift in teaching -- Pope Francis declares the death penalty is unacceptable. What does this mean for capital punishment around the world?
[01:44:04] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Well, there are few ethical questions which incite more debate than the morality or lack of morality of the death penalty. And now Pope Francis has changed the official position of the Catholic Church declaring the death penalty unacceptable in every circumstance.
CNN's Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher has more.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Vatican's change in teaching on the death penalty has been some time coming. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI spoke out against the death penalty but Pope Francis has officially changed it on the books.
I just spoke to Vatican spokesman Greg Burke who explained why.
GREG BURKE, VATICAN SPOKESMAN: The key point here is really human dignity. The Pope is saying that no matter how grievous the crime someone never loses his or her human dignity. GALLAGHER (voice over): Pope Francis has also supported eliminating
the death penalty because of the possibility of error in the judicial stems.
BURKE: One of the rationales for the death penalty in Catholic teaching historically was to protect society. Obviously the state still has that obligation. That's not being taken away here but they can do that in other ways.
GALLAGHER: While in the United States the death penalty is still legal, almost all countries in Europe have abolished it. Indeed eliminating capital punishment is a precondition for entrance into the European Union.
(on camera): Of course the Pope's decree is not binding on any country but it is a sign that support for capital punishment is becoming and less acceptable.
Delia Gallagher, CNN -- Rome.
VAUSE: Joining us now for more on this Father Edward Beck, CNN's religion commentator. Father Beck -- good to have you with us here.
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Great to be here.
VAUSE: Good to see you. Ok.
Was this a big burning issue within the Church you know and so didn't realize -- I guess I'm trying to work out the timing. Why did Pope Francis decide that now he would make this decree?
BECK: Well, he's been talking about it for a while -- John. I don't know if you remember when he addressed Congress in 2015. He said "I want to abolish the death penalty worldwide".
So he certainly wasn't just talking about the United States although still there's 31 states in the United States who still have the death penalty. Fifty-three countries in the world still have the death penalty.
So though Delia said in that piece that basically the European Union has abolished it, it is not worldwide abolition.
VAUSE: Ok. So let's look at the countries that actually still have the death penalty. From Amnesty International, they recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries -- that was in 2017. The numbers are coming down. That was down 4 percent from the year earlier; 39 percent from 2015.
So now that Pope Francis has come out and he's made this statement, do you expect it will have much of an impact on countries as they debate this issue within their own governments and their own populations?
BECK: I hope it does. I think what Pope Francis says does have an influence and it's been shown with the environment that he had a great impact. So I'm hoping it has an influence.
Basically what he' saying is that no one is beyond redemption, no one is beyond hope no matter how heinous the crime. So if you kill someone before they have the opportunity to change, how do you ever give them the opportunity to change?
He also says life imprisonment without parole is the same as a death penalty.
[01:50:02] VAUSE: Right.
BECK: It's not acceptable for anyone no matter the crime.
VAUSE: You know, I'm no expert but you know, I'm pretty familiar with the Ten Commandments -- thou shalt not kill. That would have seemed pretty explicit in and of itself -- where's the loophole with that?
BECK: Well again before it was if someone was a threat to society or could do further damage then kind of the lesser of two evils will be to extinguish this life to save the greater mass. Except that now with incarceration and Lord knows there's enough incarceration and for long terms it's not to say that someone is going to be a threat to society anymore that you have to kill them in order to keep them from being a threat.
So again, the reason for it no longer exists in the way it once did. So the Pope is saying it's barbaric to be killing people in the name of justice.
VAUSE: It's interesting because there is a president of the United States --
VAUSE: -- who actually believes the death penalty should be more widely used in cases of drug dealers and other sort of, you know, very heinous crimes. How much does this now put Pope Francis yet again at odds with Donald Trump?
BECK: Well, I think it does put him at odds. I mean recently about immigration, of course, they went head-to-head. And now Donald Trump recently said about drug traffickers that they should get the death penalty. And we should increase the death penalty.
And Pope Francis is once again saying very vociferously no. That is against the dignity of the human person. So I'm not thinking that he's doing it simply to oppose President Trump.
VAUSE: Sure. It's just how it works that way.
BECK: Well, it's working out. I mean I think he has in the back of his mind Trump has a great influence and this country has a great influence. So what about Catholic judges?
BECK: You know, Supreme Court justices.
VAUSE: Well, that's coming up too.
VAUSE: Yes. Kavanaugh, the nominee for the Supreme Court, is a devout catholic.
BECK: Exactly. So are they going to recuse themselves? Are they going to do this separation of church and state while I may personally believe it but I can't legislate for it? How much of your own personal ethics come into the decisions like that I think is a burning question for this?
VAUSE: It's interesting that, you know, where church goers sort of (INAUDIBLE) this issue because the Pew Study 53 percent of American Catholics are actually in favor of capital punishment; 42 against. And the support for the death penalty is harsh among white Evangelical Protestants -- 73 percent in the U.S.
So when you look at that support just here in the U.S. there will be a lot of, you know, regular church goers who may be at odds with Pope Francis on this.
BECK: And there are.
VAUSE: It's happened before.
BECK: I mean I preach on it on Sundays. I worked in federal prisons and state prisons. I've seen the transformation in people. I got up in a pulpit and I'll say this is criminally not acceptable. I mean you can't do this to people.
And a lot of prisoners come up to me and say no, that's not true. What about if it was your family member?
BECK: What if, you know, this person perpetrated a crime against you. And I hope that I would feel the same way.
VAUSE: What do you say? I mean what's the answer to that?
BECK: Well, what I do say is I don't think two wrongs make a right. I don't think to kill somebody justifies that killing or can make it any better. So can you believe that in God's mercy that this person can actually be forgiven if they are repentant? And can you find it in your heart to forgive this person?
I mean isn't that what forgiveness and the teaching of the Gospel is about? Turn the other cheek. Love of enemies. Where does all that fit in, too?
VAUSE: Right. It's an incredible act of faith to get it done. BECK: It is n act of faith. And it's more than just intellect. It has to be felt here too.
VAUSE: Ok. Father Beck -- it's so good to have you with us.
BECK: Good to be here -- John. Thank you. >
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A. Europe may be about to experience its hottest day ever. We'll tell you all about the record-smashing temperatures in just a moment.
[01:53:38] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Well, for our viewers in Europe it's going to be hot, really hot. The experts are right -- an all time high is in the forecast.
Soaring temperatures on the Iberian Peninsula could actually exceed the European record which is 48 degrees. That was set in Athens back in 1977. Spain and Portugal are not the only countries which will be sweltering. Much of Europe is predicted to see a big increase in temperatures on Friday.
Let's go to meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. How hot is it?
IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: So hot. It's going to be very hot.
VAUSE: It's so hot.
CABRERA: In fact, if we hit the 48 -- well, that hasn't happened since back in 1977.
CABRERA: It's a dry heat I must tell you. Come down here in the southern U.S.
VAUSE: It's not a dry heat. It's just miserable.
CABRERA: And you get very humid and they get the heat index.
But nevertheless, this is big deal, right. 1977 Athens, Greece -- I don't know if we're going to hit that 48 but we're going to get close in some areas.
We've already done that. In fact Tuesday and Thursday, we had temperatures into the lower 40s. Keep in mind, areas should be in the mid 30s. And in places like Lisbon the average high for this time of year is 28. My goodness.
So far we're going upper 30s, lower 40s -- a steamer here heading into Saturday and Sunday. Madrid, muy caliente for you as well with temperatures into the upper 30s.
By the way this is a global problem right? We've been talking about this. Look at this. So far this year, 28,068 global daily heat records -- that's a huge deal here. And some of them included, of course, Japan, 41.1 -- that's the all-time record for them.
Seoul also broke it. Pakistan 2018 the May heat wave we had talked about dozens of fatalities there. And in Europe of course, we're now looking at the third longest heat wave in the U.K.
So you get the idea, a global problem. But right now it is focused in on Western Europe and we could be seeing those numbers really climbing up there. We'll see about that 48 if we hit -- that would be something.
Hopefully we won't and hopefully you keep yourself cool. We've been showing you how to do that with the pool scenes there.
CABRERA: Probably something you want to do. I always like a nice beverage on my right side or left as well.
VAUSE: Yes, some kind of cocktail with an umbrella always does the trick.
CABRERA: Absolutely. Oh -- ok. Well, I have the umbrella.
VAUSE: Ok. That's my weekend coming up.
CABRERA: Good to see you.
VAUSE: Ivan -- always good to see you. Take care. Stay cool. It's Atlanta.
I'm John Vause. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
The news continues on CNN after a short break.
[02:00:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A winner had been declared in Zimbabwe's election but the oppositions claims --