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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S.-China Trade War; North Korea Waiting for Trump to Blink or Leave Office; Giuliani No Longer Going to Ukraine; Venezuelan Protesters Fight for Survival; Humanitarian Groups Cease Operating in Idlib; Hostages Freed in Burkina Faso; Genetically Modified Virus Saves Teen's Life; Trump's "Beautiful" Letters. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 11, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): No deal in sight: trade talks are stalled between the U.S. and China, while President Trump starts the process for even more tariffs.

The U.S. sends more military power to the Middle East to counter alleged Iranian threats.

And a medical first: a U.K. teenager battling cystic fibrosis recovers from near death using a genetically modified virus. Not the right pictures there. But the report is well worth it, trust me.

We're live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier; it's great to have you with us.

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VANIER: U.S. president Trump gets tough on the world stage. We're still waiting to see if it will pan out. First up, China. The U.S. has begun raising tariffs on almost all Chinese imports after U.S. and Chinese negotiators failed to reach a deal this week in Washington.

In the Middle East, the U.S. has deployed additional Patriot missiles to the region, citing threats from Iran. A U.S. carrier strike group has already been sent to the region.

Let's begin with China and the escalating threat of a trade war. Less than 24 hours after hiking U.S. tariffs from 10-25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, the administration says it is going to levee duties on everything else that is labeled made in China.

All told, that is $500 billion of merchandise a year. China's lead negotiator says despite some progress, some issues are not up for discussion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIU HE, CHINESE VICE PREMIER (through translator): At present, both sides have reached consensus in many aspects. But frankly speaking, differences still exist. We think these differences are crucial issues regarding our principle. Every country has its principle. And we will make no concessions on matters of principle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Beijing has promised countermeasures but hasn't said what, how or when. We get more from Matt Rivers.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now that the United States has increased tariffs on $2 billion imports to the U.S., the question in China is not if but how and when China will retaliate.

We don't know exactly what China plans to do; they only have said they will retaliate. Now we're waiting to see how Beijing responds.

Usually in this trade war, when they've tried to retaliate against the United States, they've announced their intentions in short order. We do expect to hear details from China soon.

In terms of looking ahead, what might they do, there's a couple of obvious things that stand out as possibilities. Certainly no guarantees this is what they're going to do but it's in the range of possibilities.

I think the first thing is both broadening and increasing tariffs here in China. What I mean is covering all American imports here to China. Currently China has put tariffs on most American products but not all. So they could expand that list.

And also they could raise the tariff rates, like the U.S. did, going from 10 percent to 15 percent or 20 percent. They could also look at market access. If you're an American pharmaceutical company and you want to get a new product licensed, here in China, Beijing could say we're not going to give new licenses to American companies. That's hurts the American bottom line.

And something specific, America ships a lot of soybeans to China each year. Or at least they did before this trade war started. China at that point actually put restrictions up of buying American soybeans.

But as negotiations progressed, China actually eased the restrictions in a sign of good faith in these negotiations.

What happens if China decides to say we're not going to buy American soybeans again?

That hurts American farmers in the heartland of the United States. These are all possibilities. The takeaway here is that China will retaliate, they will try to hurt U.S. companies and the U.S. economy. They're not going to take these tariff hikes in the U.S. lying down -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Tianjin, China.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Earlier, I spoke about all this with Peter Lewis. He's a Hong Kong-based business consultant who specializes in financial services in Asia. He says Beijing simply cannot agree to certain American demands without undermining Chinese sovereignty.

[03:05:00]

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PETER LEWIS, ASIA FINANCIAL SERVICES CONSULTANT: President Xi thought there was only a 50-50 chance of reaching an agreement, even before this escalation. So things could get nasty and I think the big concerns for businesses and financial markets is Donald Trump doesn't see any urgency to resolving the trade war and he feels that tariffs are good for the U.S. They provide an alternative to a trade deal.

VANIER: I want to ask you about that. President Trump says the U.S. is negotiating from a position of strength. And basically whatever happens now will be beneficial to the U.S.

He says, "Tariffs will bring in far more wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind would."

In other words, he's saying it's win-win for Americans. Either they get a good trade deal or they get money from tariffs.

Is that how it works?

LEWIS: No. That's not how it works. And it's a fundamental misunderstanding of who is paying for these tariffs and how much is being paid.

The people that are paying are companies that import goods from China when they reach the U.S. They will have to pay the tariffs to the Commerce Department and eventually to the U.S. Treasury.

When tariffs were 10 percent, a lot of the companies absorbed the costs themselves. But the more than doubling of tariffs makes it difficult to do that. And the chances are they have to pass the costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices. So that would affect U.S. consumers. And it could be inflationary for the U.S. economy as well.

So it's not a win-win situation whatever happens. There's issues of economic sovereignty for China. They don't want to be in a position where the U.S. dictates economic policy for China. And some of the things that Donald Trump is asking for are things that are impossible for China to agree to.

For example, he wants China to make changes to its laws and economic and industrial practices, things like reducing subsidies to state- owned enterprises. China's economy is a command and control economy. The Chinese government and the Communist Party is at the heart of every major economic decision.

So if it were to reduce support for state-owned enterprises, it would strike at the heart of its political system and its economy, reduce the government's control over the economy and weaken the Communist Party's authority. So it will be very difficult for China to agree to those things.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Peter Lewis speaking to me earlier.

There's a growing dispute with the U.S., this one with Iran. The Pentagon says it is deploying more Patriot missiles to the Middle East to deter potential attacks by Iran or its allies. The U.S. insists it doesn't want war. And it gave the Swiss a phone number that Iran can use to call President Trump. CNN's Barbara Starr has more from the Pentagon.

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BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: One week after the Pentagon decided to send an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf, the U.S. now also sending additional Patriot missiles in the face of rising military tensions with Iran.

Those Patriot missiles can go against any ballistic or cruise missiles or any threats to U.S. military aircraft flying through the region. And the concern is that the Iranians are threatening those very things.

Iranian rhetoric is still very high and one week after the threat ratcheted up, there's no sign that the Iranians are backing away. The U.S. is very concerned that Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf have missiles onboard that could be potentially used against U.S. forces.

And there's a warning to commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf, to be very aware of what is going on. A lot of concern at this point that the Iranians are simply not backing off -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

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VANIER: In the face of all of the other crises, the U.S. president is downplaying North Korea's latest missile tests. On Friday, President Trump told "Politico" he didn't consider the short-range missile launch Thursday to be a breach of trust by North Korea's leader. He called it "very standard stuff." And the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea says the door for talks is still open. Paula Hancocks is monitoring this.

The U.S. is choosing to ignore North Korea's provocations.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're downplaying what they see as very standard, according to the U.S. president, Donald Trump. That's a different line to the one he was taking when things were going well with North Korea. He did continually say as long as North Korea is not testing missiles or nuclear capabilities, that's OK.

[03:10:00] HANCOCKS: There are many within his administration who didn't agree, that wanted far more than that. But North Korea is now testing missiles and the U.S. president has changed his line, saying "very standard stuff."

He is technically right. It isn't a breach of trust when it comes to the moratorium from North Korea. Kim Jong-un never said he would stop short-range missile tests, he said he would stop the intercontinental ballistic missile tests. These are the long-range ones that can potentially hit mainland United States.

The shorter-range ones don't concern Washington too much at all also President Trump mentioned a day earlier that no one is happy about this. But when it comes to the region, this is a concern. These are the kinds of missiles that could be a threat to South Korea and to about 28,500 U.S. troops that are stationed here.

VANIER: If North Korea is trying to send a message to the United States with the recent missile launches and the U.S. decides to ignore it and says it's standard and no big deal, doesn't that, in some way, incent North Korea to ratchet up tensions further to get its message across?

HANCOCKS: Potentially. There's many experts who are convinced this is not the last missile test we'll see from North Korea. And potentially they could increase the range or the technicality of the missile launches.

We've been hearing from the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, saying this is North Korea reacting to the Hanoi summit, the summit between Trump and Kim that had no agreement, saying it's North Korea showing discontent but not going so far to derail the talks completely.

That's what many experts believe as well, that North Korea is showing frustration with the process but not showing that Washington would have to give a stronger reaction.

But the question is, how do you get both sides to go back to the negotiating table?

You have North Korea carrying out launches and the U.S. president saying it's standard.

VANIER: Paula Hancocks, thank you very much.

We know that Donald Trump is quick to comment on just about anything. But the former White House counsel is not so keen to talk, even if the president wants him to. We'll have the details just ahead.

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PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Four times they came for him," she says, "and the last time, they told me, 'We'll come here to kill him if we ever see any trouble again.'" VANIER (voice-over): A crackdown on Venezuelan protesters. Some are detained. Some are forced to seek sanctuary. And more rallies are on the horizon. We'll have a report from Caracas.

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VANIER: Donald Trump's personal lawyer says he is not traveling to Ukraine after all. Rudy Giuliani had planned to push Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and look into Biden's call in 2016 to have a Ukrainian prosecutor removed.

That prosecutor was investigating a natural gas company connected to Biden's son. But by Friday night, Giuliani called off the trip.

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RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: I've decided, Sharon, I'm not going to go to the Ukraine.

SHARON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You're not going to go?

GIULIANI: I'm not going to go because I think I'm walking into a group of people that are enemies of the president; in some cases enemies of the United States and in one case, one already convicted person who has been found to be involved in assisting the Democrats with the 2016 election.

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VANIER: We have to point out it is not clear who Giuliani was talking about there.

Meanwhile Democrats in the U.S. House have subpoenaed the U.S. Treasury Secretary and the nation's tax commissioner to turn over the president's tax returns. Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to turn over six years of returns per the House's request. He says there was no legitimate legislative purpose for it.

They have until next Friday to comply. Mr. Trump says he can't release them because he's under audit, even though being under audit actually doesn't preclude him from releasing them.

A new revelation about White House efforts to control the fallout from the Mueller report. Sources say former White House counsel Don McGahn was asked to publicly state that President Trump did not obstruct justice. He declined.

"The New York Times" said it happened twice in the past month. According to the Mueller report, McGahn resigned when he was told to fire the special counsel. But Mr. Trump says that didn't happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I would have done it myself.

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VANIER: Melanie Zanona joins me. She's a congressional reporter and author of "Politico Huddle."

So Melanie, has the White House actually done anything wrong here?

MELANIE ZANONA, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: That's a really great question.

I would say when it comes to asking McGahn to deny this publicly, it doesn't do anything illegal. But it doesn't look good for the administration. And Democrats want ask about this. They want to haul Don McGahn in and have him testify. It will be a top priority for Democrats going forward.

Now they will have a new line of questioning. They'll want to ask, do you think the president obstructed justice? What did the president ask you to do?

And there's a long pattern in history in this Mueller report of the president stepping in and trying to ask and to have influence over the probe.

VANIER: Two things here. First of all, McGahn has declined to cooperate with the congressional subpoena he's received. He's doing what the White House --

[03:20:00]

VANIER: -- is asking him to do and not transferring documents to Congress. To that extent he is cooperating with the White House.

Secondly, what McGahn thinks of obstruction of justice doesn't carry legal weight.

ZANONA: That's right. What he says about obstruction of justice, it might not hold with a lot of Democrats. They might not care. But there's hundreds of ex-DOJ prosecutors who did come out and say we think the president may have obstructed justice here.

But it doesn't change the fact that the Democrats want to hear from him. Don McGahn has emerged as a central figure in this probe.

But is he going to show up to a hearing?

We don't know. He may have instructions from the White House not to turn up to a hearing, just like he was told not to comply with the request for documents. VANIER: He is a central part of the Mueller probe. He is the name that is cited most often, that Mueller relies on the most, as far as interviewees. And McGahn was part of some of the grayer areas, more troublesome areas of the obstruction probe, because the president asked him to fire Mueller and the president only backed down once McGahn declined to do so.

My question is, McGahn told investigators he didn't believe that Donald Trump obstructed justice.

Doesn't it make sense that Trump would want to have that known publicly?

ZANONA: Yes. Of course, they would like to have that. But I think this shows the great lengths that the administration was going to, to make sure that came out. And the frustration for Democrats is that the White House actually had a copy of the Mueller report before the rest of the public, before Congress.

They were trying to use that to their political advantage. They were trying to get ahead of the narrative, blunt any criticisms that could have come out. And to your point, there's an understanding that if Don McGahn had said this, why it wasn't included. At the end of the day, William Barr said he didn't believe there was any obstruction which is why Don McGahn reportedly decided not to come out with his own statement saying as much.

VANIER: And the White House has its hands full at the moment. The other news on Friday, Congress subpoenaed the Treasury Secretary and the IRS to obtain six years of the president's tax returns. He's not handing over any documents. He's instructed other agencies not to hand over documents.

Where do you see that going?

ZANONA: I don't see the Treasury Department or the IRS to comply at this point. They have until Friday. It's possible they could reach some resolution. We saw that with the Justice Department and the Judiciary Committee. They tried to come to a resolution on their subpoena for the full Mueller report. They failed to, which resulted in a contempt citation proceeding.

I think we're probably headed to a contempt citation proceeding for either the Treasury Secretary or the IRS commissioner. But the Congress doesn't have much power to enforce contempt. They will probably have to take this to the courts and that could take months, if not years, to resolve. And it could drag into 2020 and even beyond that.

VANIER: That's really interesting. You get this gray area when there's a rule. But they don't have the power to enforce that rule. All right, Natalie Zanona, thanks for joining me.

ZANONA: Thanks for having me.

VANIER: In Cuba, now, a shortage of basics appears to be getting worse. The Cuban government has announced the rationing of items that are hard to come by: chicken, eggs, sausage and cleaning products.

The government blames it on the U.S. The Trump administration has taken a hard stance to Cuban support of president Nicolas Maduro. The supply of oil from Venezuela and Cuba is being affected.

Meanwhile, Venezuela has braced for more anti-government rallies, the first since the government detained the vice president to the opposition controlled national assembly. The government has also stripped assembly members of immunity. Some have taken refuge in foreign embassies, fearing arrest.

But as CNN's Paula Newton reports, legislators aren't the only ones being targeted.

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NEWTON (voice-over): From hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets in January, to tens of thousands weeks later, to just hundreds now, this is the Maduro government's definition of success.

ALFREDO ROMERO, FORO PENAL VENEZOLANO: The most important capital that the government -- or that the regime, the Maduro regime has, is repression, political repression. Actually, they're being -- I have to say it -- they have been really effective using political representation.

NEWTON (voice-over): The world watched as a stark message was sent to protesters. Maduro's forces would not tolerate dissent. Human rights activists say they're being backed up by an unprecedented police crackdown.

[03:25:00]

NEWTON (voice-over): Maria Eugenia Vargas says police would not stop harassing her son, detaining him, warning him to never take to the streets again.

"Four times they came for him," she says, "and the last time, they told me, 'We'll come here to kill him if we ever see any trouble again.'"

Fearing for his life, her son, Jorge, escaped Venezuela with just the shirt on his back a few weeks ago, hoping for asylum in another country. Heartbroken, she only speaks to him by phone. In Venezuela, he was no longer safe.

"The last time they had him," she tells me, "I kept thinking, 'Don't kill him'".

She says protesters aren't tired or hopeless but scared.

NEWTON: Stories like Jorge's have been common in neighborhoods like this. The representation has always been cunning but, in recent months, it's become ever more crude.

NEWTON (voice-over): Fayez (ph), an elite, well-armed SWAT force, have taken up residence in poorer areas in recent weeks, peering down even on commuters, a reminder they are watching.

And President Nicolas Maduro has warned that civil unrest and traitors will not, in his words, "go unpunished" and that justice will be served.

In the days following the failed opposition uprising, we saw national police investigators follow up on his words, collecting evidence on protesters and damage.

ROMERO: They always recognize us.

NEWTON (voice-over): And human rights groups claim there's a revolving door of political prisoners, who are tortured and interrogated at police and intelligence (INAUDIBLE).

ROMERO: Ask yourself, if you're a poor person, you protest and you're being taken to that place, of course, your neighbor, your friend, your family member will never protest again.

NEWTON (voice-over): At risk now, Juan Guaido's Operation Freedom; in the fierce and growing crackdown, the opposition leader may lack the people power he says he needs to overthrow Maduro -- Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: American consumers could soon be paying the price for new U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. Ordinary items like shoes, clothing, appliances and much more costing more at the checkout. We'll explain why after the break.

And France carries out a successful hostage rescue in West Africa but loses two soldiers in the operation. We'll have that story as well.

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VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN Center. Let's look at your headlines this hour.

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VANIER: If these proposed new tariffs go through, it will mostly be the American consumer who ends up feeling it. U.S. shoppers can expect prices to go up for just about anything marked made in China, including things that Americans buy every day. CNN's Tom Foreman explains what's at stake here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite friendly handshakes between Team Trump and the Chinese delegates, trade talks have stalled. No deal on the horizon. And no sign of President Trump giving an inch on the 25 percent tariff he's launched on Chinese goods.

TRUMP: I happen to think that tariffs for our country are very powerful. We're the piggy bank that everybody steals from, including China.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But American consumers could soon feel a greater impact if the tariffs expand to consumer products as threatened. China would be expected to pass on expenses, jacking up prices on smartphones, computers, televisions, fitness trackers and much more.

The extra cost for the average American family of four is expected to be close to $800.

What could drive it?

Three-quarters of the toys bought in the U.S. are made in China, including these hugely popular dolls; 93 percent of Chinese made footwear, including some shoes for Nike, could be hit. So could clothing, Bluetooth headsets and even drones.

Trump's tariffs on China last year steered away from consumer goods and focused on industrial items such as solar panels, steel and aluminum. Those costs were passed on by American companies.

MARK ZANDI, ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: American consumers are already paying. They just don't really know it. It's kind of a stealth tax. But it will be come a very obvious tax not too far from now if this continues.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The major markets are already showing unease over the clash. In the next three years if China and the U.S. continue warring over trade, economists say both countries could see their economies slow down and close to 1 million American jobs might be lost.

Still, the president has long insisted China is cheating the U.S. by stealing intellectual property, manipulating currency and, most recently, reneging on a framework for a deal.

And he is convinced China will blink first, tweeting, "Tariffs will make our country much stronger, not weaker. Just sit back and watch."

FOREMAN: The Treasury Secretary has called the talks "constructive." But that doesn't tell us much about how long the impasse might last or how far the impact may reach -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:35:00]

VANIER: Reports say the Syrian government, backed by Russian airpower, is closing in on Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold in the country. As you can see, much of the region has been flattened by bombs and shells. A U.S.-based group says 13 health facilities have been hit.

And the aid group Doctors without Borders warns the humanitarian crisis there is growing out of control. The U.N. reports that more than 150,000 people have fled the province since the end of April. That's just 1.5 months. Water is scarce and people are struggling to find shelter and necessities.

The French military has carried out a daring rescue in Burkina Faso with the help of U.S. intelligence. They freed four hostages, two French men, an American woman and a South Korean woman. Two French soldiers were killed during the raid. Here's CNN's Melissa Bell with the details.

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MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tributes have been pouring in to the French servicemen and women involved in the overnight rescue in northern Burkina Faso that allowed for the rescue of four Western hostages, two French citizens, who have been missing since May 1st, when they vanished during a trip to a nature reserve in Benin. Two teachers vanished from that trip and had been actively being searched for. They were located thanks to help partly from American intelligence.

Although the American military weren't directly involved in the operation, that intelligence was crucial. What the French involved in the operation had not anticipated when they got to the camp where the hostages were being held was that two others would be in the group, one American and one South Korean, who have also been rescued.

We understand from French press reports that the group of hostage takers was believed to have been on its way to Mali, a country famous for the number of terror networks that operate there. Some are affiliated to Al Qaeda and others to the Islamic State.

On Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron will be on the outskirts of Paris to welcome home three of the hostages, the two French citizens and the South Korean citizen. We know less about when the American former hostage will be heading home.

We know less, also, about the hostages' identities. Sadly, of course, in that operation, two French Marines lost their lives. The French authorities say it was an operation that was incredibly complex -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: A Nigerian militia has released almost 900 children who were being used as soldiers in the fight against extremists. Here's some of the children at a ceremony with UNICEF officials. They were recruited to fight against Boko Haram, which also recruits child soldiers.

In northeastern Nigeria, children have been used in conflict for years. David McKenzie has more from Johannesburg.

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DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's seen as a major victory for child rights in Nigeria. Almost 900 child soldiers have been released by the Civilian Joint Task Force in the Northeast of the country. More than 100 of them were girls; the youngest of them, 13 years old. No chance of a real childhood.

They were taken by the communities by this group that is fighting against ISIS and Boko Haram, credited with some success against that terror group. But the use of child soldiers seen as a major stain on both them and the Nigerian military, with whom they work closely.

Now Boko Haram is seen as the worst offender when it comes to child rights. They've kidnapped thousands of young girls and boys, sending the boys out to fight and sent the girls into forced marriages.

Most disturbingly, they send children out as suicide bombers to attack communities. But this move by this group that already said they would do it in 2017, is seen as a positive one. UNICEF says maybe they can get some form of normal live; they will be going back to school, these young girls and boys, and soon hope to be reunited with their families -- David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: A parent fighting for her child's life ended up doing even more than that.

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JO HOLDAWAY, ISABELLE'S MOTHER: Please. We were almost at a point of begging for somebody to find something.

VANIER (voice-over): How a last-ditch effort to find a cure for her daughter led to a remarkable medical breakthrough. That's coming up.

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DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Flooded homes, flooded businesses, flooded roads. That's the scene in Houston, Texas, over the past 24 hours. There's more flooding rain in the forecast. I'll show you where, coming up, after the break. Stick around.

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VANIER: Look at this. Torrential rain battering the U.S. state of Texas. More than 20 million people are under a flash flood watch in the region. More than 64,000 customers in the area have lost power. Severe weather started drenching Houston earlier this week. Look at this, as floodwaters nearly sends this manhole cover flying.

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[03:45:00]

VANIER: A remarkable medical breakthrough is giving a gravely ill teenager a chance at a new life. And the treatment can also offer hope for people who are suffering from drug-resistant bacterial infections. Phil Black has this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meeting Isabelle Holdaway is a powerful lesson in courage.

BLACK: Have you ever tried to add up how much time you've spent in hospital?

ISABELLE HOLDAWAY, CF PATIENT: No.

BLACK: It must be a lot.

I. HOLDAWAY: I was reckon it would be almost equal to the time I've spent out.

BLACK (voice-over): Isabelle is 17. She's always lived with cystic fibrosis and long suffered from one of its common problems: bacterial infections in the lungs. That led to a lung transplant. But the bacteria returned, spread through her body and started breaking through her skin.

J. HOLDAWAY: She was just sore. You couldn't touch her. She was just so frail. She was on the brink the whole time.

DR. HELEN SPENCER, GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL: Our patient was in a really difficult clinical situation.

BLACK (voice-over): Despite all available antibiotic treatment, it just couldn't be stopped. Doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital had run out of options.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At that point, when we sent her home with palliative care, we were expecting that she was going to die from her infection.

BLACK (voice-over): Desperate for an alternative treatment, Isabelle's mom researched online and asked the hospital to consider phage therapy.

J. HOLDAWAY: Please. We were almost at a point of begging for somebody to find something.

BLACK: A phage is a virus like the flu but crucially it infects and kills bacteria. Up close, it looks and behaves like something from a sci-fi movie. The phage grabs onto the bacteria cell, injecting its own DNA into the structure. That's where the phage copies itself and the new particles eventually burst out, killing the bacteria.

Doctors have known about them for about a century. But therapeutic use of their bacterial-killing powers hasn't been widely studied. The London hospital turned to a phage expert. Pittsburgh University's Professor Graham Hatfull and his team began experimenting with their stock of 15,000 different phages.

GRAHAM HATFULL, PITTSBURGH UNIVERSITY: It was quite labor intensive. It took several months of both extensive analysis, research and doing genetic manipulations in the lab in order to get the types of phages that we thought would work well.

BLACK (voice-over): The challenge was to find phages that targeted the specific bacteria infecting Isabelle. They narrowed it down to three.

Back in London, with Isabelle's health deteriorating sharply, the results suddenly inspired hope.

SPENCER: They had this cocktail of phages that, in the lab, when they looked at the dish, showed that the bacteria were killed. So, for us, at that moment, we just wanted to push ahead and try --

[03:50:00]

SPENCER: -- and get the treatment for her.

BLACK (voice-over): It took just three months from her mom's first conversation about phages for Isabelle to get her first dose. Her condition changed even faster.

J. HOLDAWAY: It seemed to be almost overnight that things started to clear up and heal. It was just amazing.

BLACK (voice-over): Isabelle's case could be hugely significant, as doctors warn of a looming global crisis, the spread of antibiotic- resistant bacteria.

HATFULL: We need to do the research. We need to build a body of information so we can understand why phages that work for one patient don't necessarily work for another. And if we can understand that, I think we have an opportunity to broaden this type of application.

BLACK (voice-over): Isabelle isn't bacteria-free yet. But her recovery has been extraordinary. A year ago, she was sent home to die. Now she's back at school, learning to drive, planning a future, celebrating everyday things too easily taken for granted.

I. HOLDAWAY: This year I was too ill to celebrate my sister's birthday. So this year I made her birthday cake.

BLACK (voice-over): Determined scientists and doctors, an experimental treatment, her family and a little laughter in the darkest times have together changed and very possibly saved her life.

I. HOLDAWAY: There's a rainbow around every corner. BLACK (voice-over): Phil Black, CNN, Haversham, South East England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: A great story. And great reporting from Phil Black.

President Trump is feeling the love. He says he got another beautiful letter from a world leader.

Who is sending him warm regards this time?

We'll tell you when we come back.

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[03:55:00]

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VANIER: It's happened again. President Trump says he got another beautiful letter from another world leader. This time, it was from China's president. And it looks like Mr. Trump loves talking about them just as much as leaders like sending them. Here's Jeanne Moos.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know, President Trump is big on getting letters. And no wonder, since this keeps happening.

TRUMP: I did get last night a very beautiful letter from President Xi. Well, he just wrote me a beautiful letter.

MOOS: "That crazy Trump," read one tweets, "stacking up love letters like nobody else can." This latest one from China's President Xi sparked memories. "Another beautiful letter to keep his alongside Kim's?" That would be Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP: He wrote me beautiful letters. And their great letters. We fell in love.

MOOS: And those a love affair has hit a rocky patch, the president could always re-read old letters from Kim.

TRUMP: He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. It's a beautiful piece of art.

MOOS: An envelope this enormous could cause dehydration just from licking it. Though, someone Photoshopped it to make it even bigger. "Wow, that letter really makes Trump's hands look tiny."

And then, there was that other beauty from Japan's prime minister, nominating President Trump for the Nobel Prize.

TRUMP: It's the most beautiful five-letter -- five-page letter. MOOS: The common wisdom may be that the pen is mightier than the sword. But President Trump, it's more beautiful.

With so much beauty in letters, no wonder the president doesn't email.

TRUMP: That's a beautiful letter, we appreciate it.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...

TRUMP: And then, we fell in love, OK?

MOOS: -- New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. That does it for me this hour. Next up, you are with George Howell and Natalie Allen. You are in great hands. Have a great day.

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