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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump: My Son's Meeting with Russian Lawyer Was Legal; Yosemite National Park Closed Indefinitely; Hawaiian Islands Brace For Category 4 Storm; Russia Taps Steven Seagal To Improve U.S. Relations; Another Powerful Earthquake In Indonesia; Iran Nuclear Deal; Korean War; Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Alleged Assassination Attempt. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 6, 2018 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:08] ROSEMARY CHURCH, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: Indonesian islands already on edge get rattled by another powerful earthquake. We have the latest on this deadly disaster. Plus, Iran braces for a renewal of sanctions as the U.S. makes good on President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the international nuclear deal.

And long hopeful reunions may come later this month to some families like these divided decades ago by the Korean War. We will have the details and a live report from Seoul. Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States, and of course, from all around the world. I am Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

For the second time in a week, a powerful earthquake rocked Indonesia's resort islands, this one stronger and deadlier than the last. This was the scene in a store Sunday evening, panic as parts of the ceiling caved in. The epicenter of the 6.9 magnitude quake was on the popular island of Lombok. But tremors were also felt in the neighboring island of Bali.

At least 91 people are now dead and hundreds of others are injured. Our Will Ripley is following this story for us from Hong Kong. So, Will, at least 91 people dead, we report there and hundreds injured in the wake of this earthquake. What more are you learning about the aftermath of this and the damage caused?

WILL RIPLEY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, this is obviously a very frightening scenario for so many people in Bali and Lombok who remembered the 2004 and the horrific tsunami that resulted from a mega 9.3 earthquake back then. It killed 220,000 people. So when there was a tsunami warning after this smaller quake, people understandably were terrified, running up mountains.

We're getting reports of people making a dash for higher ground. And even when the tsunami warning was canceled, there are still a lot of people who are concerned and fearful right now. We have some new pictures that are just coming in from one of the three small tourist islands off of Lombok, where there is a massive evacuation effort underway at this hour.

A thousand tourists stranded on those islands, 200 have been taken away so far. You can see there (Inaudible) boats to get to Lombok, and then to get to the airport, more secure areas. It is a very slow process, and at least count, at least 800 people are still waiting, tourists there waiting to be evacuated. The Red Cross has deployed dozens of teams.

They about 100 teams on the ground right now, 140 more teams en route, handing out everything from blankets and food and water and other emergency supplies, medical supplies as well. But with communication and power outages continuing to be a major problem there on the island, it's obviously creating a very difficult situation, not to mention the thousands of buildings that are damaged, either collapsed or partially collapsed.

And in fact, emergency authorities are saying, Rosemary, that the 91 people who are killed, they died because of pieces of buildings actually falling down on them, roofs collapsing, walls collapsing, that sort of thing. Sadly, even though Indonesia is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, they still struggle, especially some of these brick buildings, you know, building structures that can actually withstand this kind of shaking.

CHURCH: Yeah. And of course, the big worry now is more tremors hitting the region there. And of course, as you explained, we know that the Indonesian government is working with local authorities there in Lombok and across the region of those islands there. But talk to us about how prepared the Indonesian government is in situations like this.

RIPLEY: Well, because they had an earthquake just last week, a 6.4 magnitude quake, where more than a dozen people were killed. There already have been emergency response teams on the ground because it was this same area that was hit. It now appears that this was actually the larger quake. According to seismologists, in that 6.4 quake was a precursor to that.

But there have been a number of powerful aftershocks since. So really it was a sleepless night for a lot of people who afraid to go back into their homes. But there are crews that are on the ground. They are trying to get help to people who need it.

CHURCH: All right. Our Will Ripley bringing us up to date there from his vantage point in Hong Kong, appreciate that. Let's turn now to Meteorologist Karen Maginnis. She joins us from the international weather center with more on this, and Karen, this concern about the aftershocks, and the structures not really in the state to be able to withstand those sorts of tremors. This is the concern for so many people.

[02:04:59] KAREN MAGINIS, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Yes. And it is a concern, Rosemary, because a week ago when they saw that 6.4 shock. We thought that was the major earthquake. As it turned out, that was just -- as Will put it, a precursor to this major earthquake. But buildings that were compromised or in some way unstabilized or destabilized from that particular foreshock are now worried about their homes and the potential for collapse. So that's why this picture of what looks to be a family, or at least

people gathered in the streets who are trying to sleep are staying away from their shelters or their homes, because they are worried that there could be more collapse. All right, we are seeing aftershocks to the tune of dozens of them. I want to point out this particular feature. It's earthquake, kind of a primary focus across the island.

Lots of people go there to trek and indeed in the foreshock that happened ago. There were trekkers, and it took them days to bring them down little by little. There are about 7 or 800 people on that volcano. It is an active volcano. And now we see that the seismic activity has really picked up. So you kind of look at what happens with the earthquake as well, 6.9 relatively shallow, moderately shallow earthquake with 31 kilometers deep.

All right, the two earthquakes, the 6.9 and the previous 6.4 are very near each other. That is not unusual. Now we are going to see this cluster of aftershocks. Most of them are going to be something you probably wouldn't feel but you would be acutely aware of. But we have seen some 4.0 and 5.0 aftershocks that have taken place across the region. People are fearful. They need supplies. And the weather is a factor. We've got about a 10 to 20 percent of showers each day for the next several days, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Thank you so much, Karen. We will talk again next hour about this very topic. Thank you. The U.S. President Donald Trump is steering the story of that infamous Trump Tower meeting in yet another direction. In a tweet Sunday, Mr. Trump admits the June 2016 meeting between his son, Donald Jr. and a Russian lawyer was in fact to get information on an opponent.

At the time, Mr. Trump was facing off against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, but he adds he knew nothing about the meeting. Also interesting, Mr. Trump writes it off as totally legal and something done all the time in politics. Boris Sanchez lays it all out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS SANCHEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In a Sunday morning tweet, President Trump dismissing recent reporting by CNN and other outlets. The President is growing increasingly concerned that the Russia probe could ensnare some of his immediate family, including his son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Sources have told CNN that the President is growing increasingly agitated, and that has a direct impact on his aggressive attacks, his direct attacks against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We should point out that in that tweet, the President made clear the exact nature of that June 26 team meeting between his son, other campaign officials, and Russian nationals promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Previously, we had heard from the President's son and other that this meeting was about adoptions. In that tweet, the President lays clear that it was intended to seek political dirt on his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. We have seen a swift move from this administration. The President going from saying that to the best of his knowledge, no one that he knows has anything with to do with Russia.

But now, he and his political allies and attorneys suggesting that collusion is not illegal, listen to one of his attorneys Jay Sekulow on a Sunday morning talk show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says the meeting totally legal, done all the time in politics. But according to the e-mail that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has, this was a meeting to get information from (Inaudible) of Russia on Hillary Clinton's campaign. How would that be legal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the question is how would it be illegal. I mean the real question is would a meeting of that nature constitute a violation, the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law.

SANCHEZ: Now critics have pounced on this, suggesting that the President and his attorneys are moving the goal posts so to speak. We should point out that despite repeated calls from the President and his teams for this investigation, this witch hunt, as President calls it, to come to an end, it is moving forward. And sources indicate that Robert Mueller intends to interview one of the key figures in that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.

Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star whose father is an oligarch with deep old ties to Vladimir Putin. We have learned that for more than a year now, Robert Mueller has been working to secure an interview with Agalarov and his legal team. Of course, whether that interview happens or not, is still unclear.

[02:09:58] But the information that could be gathered from that may spell trouble for Trump and allies. Boris Sanchez, CNN traveling with the President outside Bedminster, New Jersey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: James Davis joins us now from Munich, Germany. He is the Dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Gallen. Thank you so much for being with us.

JAMES DAVIS, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALLEN: Good morning, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So let's start with President Trump's Sunday tweet, where he admits that the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, Don Jr. and a Russian lawyer was in fact designed to get information on his political opponent, Hillary Clinton. He says it is all legal and done all the time in politics. So how is this legal? Explain that to us.

DAVIS: Well, I am not a lawyer. So I don't want to get into the legalities of this. But I mean obviously, Americans have a right to have an electoral system that is free from foreign interference. And I think all Americans would be concerned if they thought that foreign agents were providing information they had secured via illegal means, seems to be some kind of hacking of the Democratic National Committee's e-mail servers, hacking of the Clinton campaign's e-mail server. That a foreign agent is providing hacked information to a political

rival of an American Presidential candidate. I think Americans have a right to integrity in their system. This certainly works against that. But I think what is more important here is that Donald Jr. testified before the United States Senate and said that he had no knowledge of who would be at this meeting (Inaudible) meeting.

He has testified to the United States Senate that he did not tell his father about the meeting in advance. And he said he did not talk to his father about the White House statement that was put out in July 2017, indicating that this was a meeting about other matters. Now if that is the case, and we now are beginning to see a different picture that Donald Jr. might be up for perjury charges.

So it might not be the meeting itself that is illegal, but the cover up and the perjury that took place afterward.

CHURCH: Interesting. Does any of this constitute conspiracy?

DAVIS: It might very well be conspiracy. I mean conspiracy is an effort to defraud the United States. In this case, if we are trying to defraud the United States of a free and fair election, that certainly to my mind constitutes a form of conspiracy. And by the way collusion, which is what the President continues to say, had not taken place. But then again, I am not a lawyer so the legal find (Inaudible) I cannot comment on.

CHURCH: So what would you expect the ramifications of the President and his lawyers changing their notion of what was discussed, this Trump Tower meeting.

(CROSSTALK)

CHURCH: Every time they come up and explain what happened here, they change the story.

DAVIS: Right. You know first of all, the President continues to erode any sense of him as an authoritative person (Inaudible) you cannot believe anything he says. The stories change constantly. And so the question is which story do you believe. You really have a hard time believing any of them.

The other point that I think is really important is that the more you change your story, the more you do open yourself up for potential charges of perjury, for potential charges of obstruction of justice. I mean the question is why does the President feels that at this time that he needs to change the story yet again.

CNN was reporting very recently that Michael Cohen is prepared to testify before the Special Counsel, that Mr. Trump did know in advance of the meeting in June 2016, what the substance of that meeting would be, that means perhaps the President has been lying from the very get- go on this subject. And if that is the case, on all of these memos, all of these tweets, all of these statements constantly try to cover that up.

Then the claim or the charge that there may be something like obstruction of justice going on here begins to get some traction.

CHURCH: James Davis, thank you so much for your analysis. We appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, after an alleged assassination attempt by drones, Venezuelan activists believe it may get even more dangerous to criticize President Nicolas Maduro. And the U.S. is about to renew sanctions against Iran, a closer look at the economic impacts (Inaudible).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:15:00] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, activists fear Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could launch an even harsher crackdown on his critics after surviving what he calls an assassination attempt. Six people in Venezuela have been arrested. The U.S. and Colombia are denying any involvement in the alleged drone attack.

Some analysts say the Venezuelan government could have made up the incident. But real or not, President Maduro is probably going to use it to drum up support. And now we are getting this new video apparently showing the drone, which caused the explosion near President Maduro. His voice can be heard right before that explosion.

The drone matches the model the government claims was used in the alleged attack. But CNN has not been able to verify independently the authenticity of this video. Well, Iran's President will reportedly respond directly to U.S. President Trump in a national address Monday. Iran's state run news agency reported that Hassan Rouhani will also discuss the country's economic issues.

This comes as the U.S. is set to re-impose sanctions Tuesday. They have the result of President Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions will cover Iran's purchase of U.S. dollars and trade in gold, precious metals, and automobiles. In the (Inaudible) the sanctions on Iran's oil will take effect.

[02:20:06] The U.S. is threatening financial measures against country's that import it. This comes as sporadic anti-government protests were reported across Iran for a fifth straight day. Demonstrators are angry of a soaring inflation and the plunge in the value of the currency. And Fred Pleitgen has done extensive reporting from Iran, and joins us now with more on this. So Fred, let's talk about the impact, these renewed sanctions will likely have on Iran and its people long term.

FRED PLEITGEN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hi, Rosemary. Well, I think that these sanctions, the ones that are going in to effect today are going to have big psychological factor. I'm not sure how much impact they are going to have in the short run. You mentioned some of the things that are going to be happening, trading in metals and gold is going to be further restricted. The U.S. is trying to prevent Iran from buying U.S. dollars.

Obviously, it's very important for Iranian companies to have U.S. dollars to try and invest in their own economy. And also the trading in real is going to be clamped down. Another interesting one is the restrictions on the automotive sector in Iran. That might seem strange to some people.

Iran does have quite a big automotive sector, but it's not one that has been known to export very much. In fact, the only places that I've seen Iranian cars outside of Iran has been Syria and Iraq, but the U.S. looking to place further restrictions on that. That in itself does not necessarily going to have a big impact on the Iranian economy at once.

But of course, the Iranian economy, Rosemary, is already one that is in free fall, the real has been declining at a staggering rate. It seems lost about 8p percent of its value over the past 6 months or so. And so Iran is already in a lot of economic trouble, and this is another big psychological factor that weighs on the economy.

We have been seeing those pictures of the sporadic protests that have been taking place. Certainly, we know that the Iranian government and also the clergy, they have heard that message. And it does seem that they are somewhat about those protests that are taking place. Also, one of the reasons why we are seeing Hassan Rouhani come out and make that speech later today.

Because the Iranians are trying to somehow get that economic situation under control, while the outside factors, namely pressure from the U.S. is becoming ever greater, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, many thanks to our Fred Pleitgen reporting there. CNN Political Commentator Peter Beinart joins me now from New York, good to have you with us.

PETER BEINART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Nice to be here.

CHURCH: So what is the Trump administration trying to achieve by reapplying or restoring these sanctions, and what will the likely impact be? Could they force Iran back to the negotiating table?

BEINART: Well, their own statements are pretty incoherent. There are some suggestion that they think these sanctions might lead Iran to negotiate a better nuclear deal. But their demands are so outlandish in terms of what they're demanding, and they don't have support from many of America's allies, because it is really hard to image that.

There is probably some effort at regime change going on here. But the irony is that virtually everybody who is important in the pro- democracy dissident movement in Iran is vehemently opposed to sanctions, because they believe that sanctions actually strengthen the regime. So even if this were an effort at regime change, I think it is likely to backfire pretty profoundly.

CHURCH: Interesting. And President Trump has raised the possibility of talks with Iranian leaders. But Iran doesn't appear very interested in that idea. In fact, it rebuffed him very quickly. How likely is it that we could see some sort of talks with the President? Maybe modeled on what we saw with Kim Jong-Un.

BEINART: I think it is pretty unlikely. First of all, Iran is a different political system. It's not run in the same way by simply one person. And the politics inside Iran, I think of that, would be quite difficult. And the politics inside the United States are also very difficult. Different from what they are in North Korea.

There is a much stronger set of interests kind of arrayed against U.S.-Iranian (Inaudible) in the United States. The Israeli government would be very opposed to it. The Saudi and other gulf governments would be very opposed and their supporters in Washington will be very opposed. I think (Inaudible) political constituency this much more powerful that would oppose that kind of (Inaudible). It wasn't there in the same way vis-a-vis North Korea.

CHURCH: And of course, we are seeing more of this because President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal. What sort of deal is he likely to replace it with? What is his vision? Do we have any idea?

[02:24:52] BEINART: No, because Donald Trump is an ignoramus. I mean he doesn't know the first thing about the details of what was in the Iran nuclear deal, nor what the specifics it actually takes to keep Iran from being able to enrich uranium necessary to build bomb or reprocess plutonium. So it is a joke. I mean if Donald Trump were to actually sit down with the Iranians, what would likely happen is what happened in North Korea, which was actually a deal which was much weaker than the deal that the Obama administration struck.

Because the Obama administration actually assembled a group of experts, who actually gotten (Inaudible) details of how to you could actually restrict Iran's nuclear program. So this is all just Kabuki Theater, really. I don't think there will be any meeting, and I do think that what is happening is that we are exacerbating the worst element in Iran, undermining the civil society and the economic strength that in the long term people would always hope could make Iran a liberal democracy, and creating the possibility of a potential ultimately for war.

CHURCH: We will watch and see what the impact is of these restored sanctions in the days ahead. Many thanks to you, Peter Beinart, appreciate it.

BEINART: Thank you.

CHURCH: Getting back overseas again. And tens of thousands of students protested for an eight straight Bangladesh's capital, demanding safer roads. The protests started after two students were killed by a speeding bus. And some have turned violent with police firing tear gas on demonstrators. The transport sector in Bangladesh is widely seen as corrupt, unregulated, and dangerous. More than 4,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in the country, one of the world's highest (Inaudible). Well, Indonesia shaken again, a second deadly earthquake hits the same

island area in less than a week, the latest from there still to come, and separated by war long ago, now some lucky Korean families like these will have a rare chance to see each other once again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:21] CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump called his son's 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer totally legal. That comes in a Sunday morning tweet from Mr. Trump who denies reports that he's worried that Donald Jr. could get caught up in the special counsel's investigation.

That meeting was to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the election campaign. Venezuela's military is pledging its unconditional loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro after he survived what he calls an assassination attempt. Colombia and the U.S. are denying any involvement. Six people in Venezuela have been arrested and activist fear the president could now launch an even stronger crackdown on his critics.

At least 91 people are dead and hundreds injured after Indonesia was hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. This is the second strong quake to strike the popular resort island of Lombok in a week. The neighboring island of Bali also felt significant shaking. Officials say thousands of homes were damaged. And joining me now from Jakarta, Indonesia is Husni Husni. He is the Community Engagement and Accountability Coordinator of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Thank you for being with us.

HUSNI HUSNI, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY COORDINATOR, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: It's all right.

CHURCH: Yes. So what are you will learning about the situation of the island of Lombok specifically right and what's your organization doing to help the people there?

HUSNI: Yes. So as you know, the -- it was the second earthquake that took place last night in the evening. So seven -- a magnitude of seven earthquake that hit these area there. So what happened -- what happened was that people were panicking right after this incident and they ran out of the house and they were trying to stay around the roadside because they were afraid of being under the construction knowing that, you know, a week before that, they were also hit by a strong earthquake and they experienced quite, you know, damages around these areas and Red Cross teams were really quick to respond to these -- to these disaster yesterday.

So a week before as you mentioned before that we've had -- we've experienced earthquake there. So our teams have been on the field since last week and they were able to support people right in the first minutes of earthquake last night. So people were panicking and our Red Cross team were there to support them to help them evacuate into safe zones and also to support -- to calm them down during their panicking moment.

CHURCH: Yes, because of course the major concern at this point are aftershocks and the structures are unstable now. That is a big concern. What are the major challenges for your organization now in the aftermath of this earthquake?

HUSNI: Yes. The main thing last night, what's so difficult to get -- to reach communities in many areas because the power was cut down because of the earthquake. And our Red Cross teams were trying to evacuate people, to save injured people in the dark, and we had very limited light last night. But our team -- the Red Cross team were able to support some injured people and also taking, you know, community members to several areas.

And a lot of them didn't want to go back to their homes, although we have some homes were not damaged that they want -- they wanted to stay in the open air and also along the roadside. So what happened was that it was called last night and our Red Cross teams where able to distribute relief items such as blankets to a lot of community members who was then in the evacuation center, and roadside, and also open air.

CHURCH: All right. Husni Husni, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate you bring yourself today on the situation for this people there on the island of Lombok. Thank you.

[02:35:04] Well, it appears a second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un maybe in the works. A source familiar with the matter tell CNN there is a strong possibility it could happen later this year. The two leaders recently exchanged letters. However, behind the scenes, U.S. and North Korean officials conversation to bicker over sanctions and other issues that could derail the nuclear talks. Meanwhile, North and South Korea are working out the details for upcoming family reunions.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these meetings are always incredibly emotional times these family reunions. It's now been 65 years since the Korean War ended. So you can imagine the families that were split just after the Korean War. They're now in their 80s and their 90s. So certainly it's going to be a very emotional time for them. Many of them have been waiting decades to have any sort of coordination or anything from their family and their loved ones. It's very rare to have phone calls, letters, anything like that between North and South Korean families, although, it does occasionally happen.

So what we know is that from the South Korean side, there were some 57,000 applicants that were considered. They narrowed it down the government to about 500. They then have to look into who was healthy still, who is able to travel to North Korea just to cross the DMZ. It's the mountain resort of Mount Kumgang where these reunions often take place and then of course they had to ask the North Koreans to check if their family members were still alive whether they were in good enough health themselves to be able to make that journey.

So we have it now there's going to be 93 family members from South Korea and then in the second grant of reunions just the day later. There will be 88 from North Korea. The majority of them in their 80s and 90s. But it is still a very small percentage of those families who actually want to be reunited who will actually able to be reunited. There's a real push from the South Korean side to try and have as many of these reunions as possible.

In fact, President Moon Jae-in himself of South Korea was part of one of these reunions a number of years ago travelling with his mother to go and meet his aunty for the first time in North Korea. So it really is a source of great pain for South Korea, also for North Korea to have these families that have been separated for so long and there is a real push from the South Korean side to try and have as many of these reunions as possible as time is running out for many of these families.

CHURCH: Yes. It most certainly is. And of course those numbers you mentioned quite incredible 57,000 applicants and then only about a hundred -- less than a hundred from the North and the South actually getting the opportunity to meet. So Paula, that is done pretty much on the based on the health of those people. Is that the main way they determine who gets to meet up with their separated relative?

HANCOCKS: Well, there was actually, Rosemary, more than a 130,000 who had originally to be part of these family reunions. That's from 1988. More than half of those people have since passed away showing just the urgency of trying to have these reunions as many as possible as quickly as possible. It is a lottery in some respects although the unification ministry says they do look at the age of the person wanting to meet with their family members clearly if they are older then there's more of a sense of urgency to try and reunite them.

There's also a sense that they want to make sure they are close family members that are going to be reunited as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So distressing. Paula Hancocks bringing us up to date on that situation live from Seoul in South Korea. We thank you. Let's take a very short break here. But still to come fighting the flames hot dry air and extreme temperatures are working against hundreds of firefighters trying to keep the Portuguese forest fire from spreading. We'll have that for you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:42:44] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, across Western Europe, hotter than average temperatures have been making life miserable for millions of people. More than that in Portugal, the heat is stoking forest fires which are threatening dozens of villages. CNN's Ian Lee is covering this for us. He joins us now live. So Ian, what is the latest on these fires and how is the government dealing with them specifically in Portugal?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, these fires are still continuing to rage. You have hundreds of firefighters, over 700 battling them as we speak. Also, over a dozen aircraft trying to keep them under control. But, Rosemary, fire needs three things. You need oxygen, heat, and fuel. And with these high temperatures, it's definitely bringing the heat and it's drying out this foliage which is making it very difficult for these firefighters to bring these massive blazes under control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEE: A wall of flame rages on the Spanish-Portuguese border. Hundreds of firefighters battle the blaze fuelled by drought and hot air from Africa. Aircraft struggle to keep the flame at bay. All the while, residents keep watch ready to flee as the inferno moves closer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): We have the cars ready. We always have everything ready like extinguishers, hoses, anything to be ready to act.

LEE: Portuguese authorities already evacuated two villages seeking to prevent more deaths after two massive fires killed dozens last year. Europe is in the grips of an extreme heat wave sparking wildfires from Greece to Sweden. The continent is experiencing near record breaking temperatures. Some places soaring to 47 degrees Celsius just shy of the 48 set in Athens in 1977. The beach offers little relief to those escaping the heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): It's very hot. During the trip yesterday, the temperatures didn't drop below 43 degrees Celsius completely suffocating.

[02:44:56] UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The more water you drink, the better. I'll try to stay in the shade in avoid to sun because if it reaches that temperature, I can imagine what's like in (INAUDIBLE).

IAN JAMES LEE, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Mother Nature is set to give firefighters and beachgoers a break as forecasters predicted the temperatures will drop by Wednesday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEE: And Rosemary, the Portuguese government has sent out text messages to people learning them about the fires. Telling people they're in that area to keep a close watch out on government announcements in case they too need to evacuate. You know, they say this is their worst heat wave in over a decade.

And for everyone else, though people in the cities are on the beaches, you know, the most important thing is to watch yourself, make sure you're not in the sun too long, and, of course, drink plenty of water.

CHURCH: Good advice at there. Ian Lee, joining us live from Paris where it is 8:45 in the morning. Many thanks to you.

Well, there's no rest in sight for the thousands of firefighters battling17 major fires in California. It's gotten so bad, crews from Australia and New Zealand are on their way to help. Now, over the weekend, the biggest fire nearly doubled in size. That is the Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California. Meanwhile, the so-called Carr Fire has now killed seven people as it tears through homes and other structures. And Yosemite National Park will remain closed indefinitely. Fire has impacted all the roads used to access the valley and dry and dead trees are creating dangerous possibly explosive conditions.

Well, the National Hurricane Center says, Hurricane Hector will cross into the Central Pacific Basin as a Category 4 storm. Hawaii's Big Island has already been coping with eruptions from the Kilauea Volcano for the past three months.

Now, the islands are on alert as Hector moves toward them with maximum sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour, about 137 miles per hour. Now, the key to rebuilding relations between the U.S. and Russia might not be a trade deal or a treaty, it could be 1990's Hollywood action star, Steven Seagal. We'll back in a moment with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAREN MCGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hello everyone. I'm CNN Meteorologist Karen McGinnis. This is your "WEATHER WATCH" across the United States. The Western States still remain very hot. As the consequence for the fire dangers, the huge fires that have been burning across the state of California not getting much in the way of heat release or any relief as far as wet weather is concerned.

Warm temperatures to the south, but the risk of severe storms across the Midwestern United States as the frontal system begins to push across this region. This is where we're expecting the highest risk potential for damaging winds, severe hail, can't rule out the potential for flooding, as well, all the way from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, into Chicago, and across southeastern sections of Iowa in the forecast.

All right, take a look at this. Forecast radar coming up going into Monday. The strongest storms I mentioned across the Midwest just a few isolated areas across the Deep South. And for the West, as I've mentioned, not much help for firefighters out there with the deadly fires burning across the state.

San Francisco at 21 degrees, in Denver 28, Atlanta will see 33 for a high, in New York City, is going to make with 34 degrees, not much heat relief even going into Thursday. You'll be just about normal but still a hot sticky forecast at 29. Stays around 30 for Friday.

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CHURCH: Well, from the silver screen to Red Square, Steven Seagal is using his celebrity to bring the U.S. and Russia together. The actor who has denied sexual assault allegations from two women in the United States is now Russia's special representative for humanitarian ties. Matthew Chance shows us how Seagal got his new role.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It may be his controlled application of extreme violence that endears Steven Seagal so much for the Russian authorities. He's direct-to-video movies like this one driven to kill at a Russian mobster certainly popular.

The actor's latest role though, as a diplomat seems strangely out of character. But the friendship between Seagal and Russia's real-life tough-guy, President Vladimir Putin has been long-standing. The Russian leader himself, a Judo black belt, awarding the U.S. martial artist a passport in 2016 after Segal had relentlessly asked according to Russian official.

Seagal has also been an outspoken supporter of Russian policy. Like its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Even taking to the stage there in 2014, in a charity concert which he hinted of his possible diplomatic role.

STEVEN SEAGAL, ACTOR, FILM PRODUCER: My greatest desire is to bring Russia and America together, it always has been. And music is the language of the Gods. It's the one language that all people understand, it's the one language that brings all people together.

CHANCE: Binging himself together with authoritarian leaders in the former Soviet Union seems to have become something of a pastime. This year, Seagal has been pictured eating carrots with President Lukashenko of Belarus. Dubbed the last dictator in Europe with (INAUDIBLE).

And hanging out with Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Chechnyan, accused by human rights groups of committing appalling abuses.

Seagal has been involved in facilitating U.S.-Russian contacts too. Back in 2013, he says he played a role in bringing a U.S. congressional delegation to Russia in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing carried out by Chechen brothers.

SEAGAL: And I asked him for that meeting, and I knew about that meeting before they did. That's the truth.

CHANCE: The Russian Foreign Ministry likens Seagal's new role to that of a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador. Adding that the martial artist, turned actor, turned diplomat will receive no salary for his contribution. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

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CHURCH: Pop star Demi Lovato is speaking out for the first time since her apparent drug overdose last month. The 25-year-old singer has long been open about her struggles with sobriety and eating disorder and being bipolar. On Sunday she wrote in part on Instagram this.

"What I've learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet. I now need time to heal and focus on my sobriety and road to recovery. I will keep fighting."

With phases set to stun, Patrick Stewart made a big announcement. Stewart, says his Star Trek character, Captain Jean-Luc Picard will return. Most people learn the news when Stewart tweeted this, "It is an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him." He also broke the news at a Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[02:55:18] PATRICK STEWART, ACTOR: I have never ever grown tired of hearing from people who stopped me in the street or in a restaurant. Well, no, I don't like being interrupted while I'm eating. But, who say to me, "Your show changed my life."

Without Star Trek: The Next Generation, I might not be here. And that lies at the very center of what I have to tell you now. Jean-Luc Picard is back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: How about that? Stewart acted as Captain Picard on T.V. for seven seasons spanning 176 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in four feature movies. The new CBS show will air on the network streaming service.

And thanks so much for your company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You are watching CNN, the world's news leader.

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