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Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher Acquitted of Murdering ISIS Fighter; Three Million Civilians in Idlib in "Mortal Danger"; President Trump Plans Display of Military Might on the Fourth of July; Alaska Baking in Record Heat, Wildlife in Danger; Opposition Dismissed Talks as Maduro Promotes Them; Total Eclipse Stuns Viewers in South America. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 3, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A decorated U.S. Navy SEAL found not guilty of the murder of ISIS detainee. The bungles in the case and the message towards people around the world.

And the political standoff losing patience with the opposition leader Juan Guaido, other factors affecting the country's politics and everyday life.

And a total eclipse of the sun, turning day into night and parts of South America.

Hello, welcome to our viewers around the world, I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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VAUSE: We begin this hour with a closely watched trial with the U.S. Navy SEAL accused of war crimes. A military jury in California has called Eddie Gallagher not guilty of killing a wounded teenage ISIS fighter. Gallagher faces charges of his time in Iraq in 2017 but was found guilty of just one count of posing for a photograph with a human casualty.

The decorated platoon leader had support from FOX News personalities and president Donald Trump who was reportedly considering a pardon. Gallagher still faces sentencing but the verdict is a major win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PARLATORE, EDDIE GALLAGHER'S ATTORNEY: The jury found him not guilty of the murder, not guilty of the stabbing, not guilty of the shootings not, guilty of all those things and they found him guilty of taking a photograph with a dead terrorist, which we admitted from the beginning was not a good photograph.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Anita Gorecki-Robbins is a former federal prosecutor and Army defense counsel she's, with us this hour from Washington.

Anita, it would seem the government case fell apart big-time when their star witness took to the stand and confessed under oath to the murder Gallagher was tried for?

ANITA GORECKI-ROBBINS, ATTORNEY: Yes, it was very dramatic. It was something you would literally see in a movie or an episode of "Law and Order." And must have been, being a former federal prosecutor and the defense counsel, literally a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping moment for them.

VAUSE: It's difficult to recover from that moment. And it seems to be like an incredible move by the prosecution. He's the witness, he's also a SEAL medic. He'd been interviewed multiple times and he told investigators and prosecutors that the teenage fighter had died from asphyxiation.

He said that was the cause of death but not once was there a follow-up question about how he stopped breathing. He was not asked that under direct examination.

GORECKI-ROBBINS: Correct. In light of that, I think that it really put the panel or what's called the jury in a real bind at that point. The standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. Without that, it's hard to figure out how they would've come up with any other verdict but this.

VAUSE: This guy had an immunity deal, even if he confessed to it he wouldn't go to jail for it.

GORECKI-ROBBINS: Right. There was some rumbling about prosecuting him but honestly the counsel and the government prosecutors literally have egg on their face.

VAUSE: To get that immunity deal is a fairly high bar.

GORECKI-ROBBINS: Right. Normally there's a lot of conferences between defense counsel. They have to give what my client will do for you in exchange. I want immunity, here is information.

So it's very interesting and I'd love to hear from his attorneys. What did they know, what did they hold back, was it something that was thought through ahead of time?

Was this an elaborate chess match?

What, exactly happened in these negotiations that the government felt comfortable enough to give him this immunity deal or did something shady actually happen.

But we don't know the answer to that.

VAUSE: Here's Gallagher's defense team, not guilty on not all accounts against one, which was Gallagher having his photo taken next to the dead body of the ISIS fighter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC MUKASEY, GALLAGHER'S ATTORNEY: Tears of joy, a motion, freedom, absolutely euphoria and proud of the process.

(CROSSTALK)

PARLATORE: We have a sentencing to do but the maximum sentence on what they're about to sentence him on is much less than the time that they already had him in the brig. So he is going home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Gallagher walks but is this one guilty verdict enough to have him --

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VAUSE: -- discharged from the Navy?

GORECKI-ROBBINS: No and the way it's written is a charge and the military can make up a charge. They can see something that you've done and say you know what, that looks conduct unbecoming or is conduct discrediting. So they can make up a charge, it's what they've done in this case. It's called a novel charge.

They are allowed to do so. If it's written the way I think it is, he may not have what we call a punitive discharge. So civilians think of that like bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge.

He will walk out of there. The question is, after that, do the prosecutors want to figure out a way where they can administratively push him out of the Navy. And in my personal opinion, I just don't think they're going to have the stomach for it.

And he has 19 years is. And so in order to try to even use an administrative method to push out and deny him V.A. benefits, they will have to run all the way to the Secretary of the Navy and I don't think they're going to.

VAUSE: Given the fact that the U.S. president has weighed in on this on Gallagher's side, that seems unlikely.

For the most part though, people in Afghanistan or Iraq or whatever the U.S. military is based, they will not pick up the finer details of this case. It's a U.S. service man accused of war crimes that's allowed to go free.

What does that do to the image and the reputation of the U.S. military?

GORECKI-ROBBINS: That's several good questions. You have this case; you also have one that's happening in Virginia, where the two Navy SEALS are accused of killing the Army Special Forces soldier.

These are also Navy SEALs, I think first and foremost, the Navy SEALs have to kind of take a look at themselves. Even though he gets to go home, the panel has made their decision, they looked at all the evidence and from a PR standpoint, I think the Navy SEALs have the greater problem. Because it just makes it look -- the polite way to say it is there's a lot of tomfoolery going on.

I think they need to be a little bit more introspective about what they're doing. I agree it does have ramifications and people aren't going to look at the finer points, they're going to see somebody who is taking photos, a lot of them were immunity deals put forth and it wasn't just Chief Gallagher. There was a lot of them acting this way. So it is a PR problem and I think the Navy needs to look into it.

VAUSE: Let's hear from Gallagher's wife, Andrea, who spoke after the verdict came in and obviously there is some anger with her as well. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA GALLAGHER, EDDIE'S WIFE: It's a feeling like we're finally vindicated after being terrorized by the government that my husband fought for two decades in the war on terror. He's fought every major enemy of the United States and he is a righteous and noble individual. I think this whole thing is disgusting. I want responsibility to be claimed by the special warfare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, one of the Gallagher's options now with compensation or restitution?

GORECKI-ROBBINS: Let me first say. I think there was enough. I, don't think it's terrorism that the government was terrorizing them. I think there was enough in part because of what Chief Gallagher said himself, the photos the, comments.

All of that laid the groundwork for the government to have the good faith basis for them to come forward. Never mind the fellow SEAL team members who had some concerns. Let's just start there, I don't agree with.

I understand as a spouse she's angry. But the government had every right to go forward in this case and you never know how close it came to maybe going the other direction.

As far as suing, I used to hear this a lot from my own client sometimes. They would have to literally sue the Department of Defense, sue the Navy. There is a lot of immunity clauses built in and there's a lot even with civilian, federal or, military prosecutorial discretion goes a long way. So I don't think they will be successful.

VAUSE: Some of the evidence would fall but there were those text messages so there was a lot of stuff there. And there was the basis for the case. As you point out, thank you so much and good to see you.

GORECKI-ROBBINS: Likewise.

VAUSE: The Syrian regime has stepped up its military defense of Idlib province but anti government fighters are making their final stand. But it's not just a rebel stronghold it's home to 3 million people who have nowhere to run.

Since the last government defensive two months ago, the U.N. says there's 330 civilians have been killed and they are on the brink of a humanitarian nightmare. CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is once again reporting from Syria.

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ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This Idlib province is considered the last relatively safe area that people who want to flee the regime and the Russians can actually come to. The problem is, for months, the newest arrivals have been living --

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DAMON (voice-over): -- in conditions like this. Barely able to string together a couple of blankets around olive trees for shelter and that's because the main camps that exist here are completely sold. They've gone. They've asked for tents; they've been told that there are none.

And NGOs are estimating that one in three women here are either breast feeding or are pregnant.

This little baby was born a month before her parents had to flee. Other mothers that we have been talking to are saying that they don't have diapers. One woman we spoke to actually gave birth in her tent under the olive trees.

This is a population that is being squeezed the, bombing in the southern part of the province. Is so intense, the fighter jets are constantly overhead, it's absolutely terrifying.

Medical clinics are being targeted so more and more people are fleeing into an area where they're being squeezed up against the Turkish border. So many of those that we are talking to here are wondering how it is been eight years into this conflict and not only have world leaders failed to stop the violence but have not even provided them with the most basic of things-- Arwa Damon, CNN, Idlib province, Syria.

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VAUSE: U.S. government watchdog report warns the overcrowding at border detention facilities is creating one what Border Patrol manager called a ticking time bomb. The Department of Homeland Security released photos of packed cells at centers in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

They have been held for weeks instead of days, adults kept in standing room only conditions. The lights are never turned off, there are no beds or cots and families are sleeping on thin mats with emergency Mylar blankets for warmth.

Lawmakers visited two detention centers in Texas on Monday and in Florida on Tuesday. One of them was Congresswoman Madeleine Dean who called the conditions at the border a human rights crisis, as she spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper.

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REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Many of them had cracked lips. They were sitting on the concrete floor and in a very small jail cell with blue sleeping bags ,which apparently were just issued to them as a donation from the Forestry Service very, very recently.

Prior to that, they had been outside or in tented facilities for the 56 days prior to our arrival that morning.

They were crying. Their affect was sad, profoundly sad, scared. In that cell was a stainless steel toilet.

We tried to operate the sink; when the sink didn't operate, the women said to us, "No, that sink isn't working. We were told we could drink out of the toilet. That's clean water."

And that is what they had been doing.

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VAUSE: She went on to say conditions are far worse we ever would have imagined.

A new CNN poll shows the situation at the border, most Americans believe that there is in fact a crisis. But they disagree on why along party grounds: 63 percent of Republicans think the number of migrants coming across the border is the reason for the crisis while 54 percent of Democrats believe the treatment of migrants is the crisis.

Mexico returns 69 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to their home countries on Tuesday. It's a temporary program from the National Migration Institute of Mexico.

Meantime, the president of El Salvador is taking responsibility for the deaths of two migrants who drowned trying to reach the United States.

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NAYIB BUKELE, SALVADORAN PRESIDENT: We can send all the blame to any government we like. We can say President Trump's policies are wrong. We can say Mexico's policies are wrong.

(INAUDIBLE) but they were seeking asylum in Mexico for two months. They fled El Salvador. They fled our country. It is our fault. We haven't been able to provide anything, not a decent job, not a decent school.

What if (INAUDIBLE) had a decent school here?

(INAUDIBLE) health care system for her and her family, a decent house with water supply and a job for his parents, for his mother and his dad, a decent job?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: This photograph of the bodies of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his young daughter highlights the dangers of illegal immigration and has intensified criticism of the Trump administration's policies.

The Trump administration back into a legal fight to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Supreme Court ruled last week it would disenfranchise minority groups but the White House is looking for ways to delay so it could be included.

From a statement on Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he was moving ahead with printing the census even though he disagreed with the court.

A little more than two in five say that Americans say Donald Trump is doing a good job as president. A new CNN poll says his approval rating is at 43 percent; 52 percent disapprove, his approval rating has --

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VAUSE: -- inched a little higher since January, when he was at 37 percent. When you compare Donald Trump to other presidents at this point in their term in office, he's still near the bottom, topping only Jimmy Carter in 1979.

His poll numbers are not hurting his fund-raising though, his campaign and the Republicans say they raised $105 million in the second quarter of 2019.

President Trump is taking fire from critics of his plan to celebrate Independence Day with military might. He's bringing tanks and fighter jets into the nation's capital, with a 20-minute speech may fear may turn into a political rant. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has details.

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KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump's grand vision for a military parade is finally coming true -- at least partially.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be like no other. It will be special and I hope a lot of people come.

COLLINS (voice-over): On Thursday Trump will turn Washington annual Fourth of July celebration into a show of military might. CNN has learned new details about the last-minute event, which will feature tanks parked at the Lincoln Memorial, a flyover from the Navy's Blue Angels and Air Force One along with the unveiling of the new Marine One helicopter. TRUMP: We're going to have planes going overhead and the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too. And we're going to have some tanks stationed outside.

COLLINS (voice-over): Defense officials have long been hesitant about using the armed forces to advance a president's agenda and said there is no need for the U.S. to flout its military strength.

But sources say Trump has asked the chiefs of the armed forces to stand by his side.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEES AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is just not who we are as Americans.

COLLINS (voice-over): The president is setting himself up for a clash with his critics, who say he's turning the patriotic celebration into a partisan one.

Asked Monday if his speech will reach all Americans, he turned to Democrats.

TRUMP: I think I've reached most Americans. What the Democrats plan is, is going to destroy the country and it is going to be horrible health care.

COLLINS (voice-over): Today the White House went even further. Trump is expected to speak for 20 minutes Thursday and will touch on several topics, including his administration.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: (INAUDIBLE) how wonderful this country is, our troops and military, our great democracy and great call to patriotism. The success of this administration in opening up so many jobs for individuals, what we've done for veterans. There is no final form yet. But America will hear the whole speech.

COLLINS (voice-over): Local officials say they have logistical concerns about putting military equipment in crowded tourist hot spots. The D.C. City Council tweeting today, "Tanks but no tanks."

But Trump is charging ahead.

TRUMP: The roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks so we have to put them in certain areas.

COLLINS (voice-over): While the public will get to watch from afar, the areas closest to Trump will be reserved for VIPs, who sources say will include his political allies.

Trump has wanted a military parade of his own since seeing U.S. and French troops march through the streets of Paris two years ago.

TRUMP: It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen.

COLLINS (voice-over): Today presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway sparred with reporters about the details of the event. CONWAY: Do you know the Fourth of July is a celebration of this country's independence?

Are you aware of that?

No, I'm not going to allow you to politicize it.

COLLINS: In the past, presidents haven't typically attended these Fourth of July celebrations here in the nation's capital but Trump seems intent on doing so and doing it his way no matter what the financial and political or even logistical cause are -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: To the Women's World Cup and another win for Team USA. The, defending champs beat England 2-1 to advance of the final. Alex Morgan celebrated her 30th birthday with the game-winning goal. (INAUDIBLE) also scored for the American team but U.S. standout Megan Rapinoe was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

She looks to be in the lineup this Sunday for the final against Sweden and the Netherlands. We will have all the highlights on CNN "WORLD SPORT" later in the hour.

The escalating impact of the climate crisis around the world in India; and a long wait from monsoon rains has ended from a deadly downpour. And heat wave in Europe, China is next and in Alaska records are being shattered. A lot more when we come back.

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VAUSE: Emergency crews are in the midst of search and rescue operations and Mumbai after a retaining wall collapsed during record monsoon rains. Officials say at least 20 people were killed.

Two more walls collapsed, killing six construction workers at a college, three people died when a wall collapsed on their home.

Northern China bracing for a week of heat. The administration is warning of sauna days and says health, water supplies and electricity could all be affected. According to a spokesman from the National Climate Center, global warming is responsible for the soaring temperatures.

And a heat wave in Alaska is setting new record temperatures almost daily. Anchorage hit a record high of 28 degrees and, on Tuesday, 24 degrees Celsius was enough to break the record for that day. And the heat is making world fires worse. Over the weekend, the first every dense smoke advisory was issued for Anchorage. Joining us from Fairbanks is Rick Thomas, a climatologist with the

University of Alaska.

Rick, thank you for being with us.

RICK THOMAN, ALASKA CLIMATE SPECIALIST: Thanks for having me, John, great to be here.

VAUSE: It's hot in Alaska, it was hot last month. The hottest June on record for Anchorage, coming after a hot May, following a very hot April. A really, really hot March, you get the idea.

Is there any doubt that this is the result of climate change?

THOMAN: Certainly, here in Alaska you're at the front of a changing environment for the United States, being United States; only arctic nation things are changing rapidly. We are seeing all across the state both measured temperatures, extreme precipitation, changes in the sea ice, ocean temperatures, really dramatic changes and are impacting on Alaska every day.

VAUSE: You're seeing ice melts and glaciers melt before your eyes.

THOMAN: The changes have been remarkable and it obvious you don't need any special equipment to see the dramatic loss of glaciers, of the sea ice melting out as much as two months earlier in some communities.

VAUSE: Alaska is not only hot but it is burning as well. Wildfires, though not uncommon, how worse are these fires because of the months and months above average temperatures?

THOMAN: Certainly, the wildfire season this year has gotten a boost with, as you mentioned, the extremely warm spring. We had very early snow melt across the wildfire-prone regions of the state, so that has allowed the ground fuels to dry out much more. Then we had a couple weeks of frequent lightning, followed by hot, dry weather. That's the perfect recipe for wildfires in Alaska.

VAUSE: This week, it's record temperatures in Alaska, last week it was a heat wave across Europe. CNN is reporting that, "Worldwide, last month was the hottest June ever recorded --

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VAUSE: -- "satellite data taken by the E.U.-run Copernicus Climate Change Service showed. The European average temperature for June was more than 2 degrees Celsius above normal, C3S reported, and the global average temperature was about 0.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous June record in 2016."

How do you get this message out, in the old days relatively predictable weather are over, that new systems are taking place and we don't know what to expect.

How do you explain that to communities and advise them on what they should be doing right now?

THOMAN: I think, one, it's important to get the word out, how things have changed. Older people in the community who have the memory know that. The other important thing is here in Alaska is to recognize that where we are now, that's not the new normal. That is just where we are at.

Things will continue to change very rapidly and we have to work to live in the world that we find ourselves in. We just can't pretend that things are not changing. We have to adapt to where we are at and where we are going.

VAUSE: It's not unusual, it's the beginning of what we can't know what's going to come.

Rick, good to see you, thanks so much.

THOMAN: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Last week, after a segment on the heat wave across Europe, which included a question about the role conservative media have played in muddying the waters when it comes to the science of climate change, Rush Limbaugh hit back with this, "CNN international blames me for the end of the world due to climate change."

No, we did not. It was a legitimate question and your answer that man cannot control the Earth's temperature was nonsensical.

Here's part of his argument.

"If we wanted to be 75 degrees, could we do it?

"No. We would have to go somewhere where it is 75 degrees. But we cannot lower the temperature, we can't lower the humidity, we can't lower the heat index. We can't change a thing about it, other than adapt to it and we do that by inventing air conditioning and fans and refrigeration for ice cubes and so forth."

According to the group, World Weather Attribution, a similar heat wave across Europe a century ago would have been 4 degrees Celsius cooler, if not for the impact of manmade climate change. So, yes, we can change the temperature just not in this period of time. That means we will need science, believing in facts and believing in reality.

Israeli police have been ordered to break up protests after the killing of an Ethiopian Israeli team. This comes after demonstrations turned violent on Tuesday. The team was shot and killed by an off duty police officer on Sunday. The officer fired when a group of people began throwing stones.

Since then, there have been fierce clashes and cars set on fire. Police say dozens of officers were hurt, at least 60 people were arrested.

Still to come, economic and political crisis grips Venezuela but the government of the opposition are still in a stalemate. How foreign influence is impacting their policies.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on our top news this hour.

[00:30:26] A military jury has found a U.S. Navy SEAL not guilty in the murder of a captured ISIS fighter. Eddie Gallagher was cleared of several other charges on Tuesday, found guilty, though, of posing with a human casualty. The jury is set to deliberate a sentence on that charge in the coming hours.

U.S. government investigators say they found extreme overcrowding at border detention facilities. The migrants in standing-room-only cells and children are being held far longer than the 72 hours allowed. The report also found a lack of hot meals and inadequate access to showers.

The U.S. women's soccer team is through to the World Cup finals. Alex Morgan and Christian Press each Christian Press each scored in the two-one win over England. The defending champs will face the winner of Sweden versus the Netherlands in the title match on Sunday.

As a political stalemate grips Venezuela, most opinion polls find that Venezuelans are increasingly open to some kind of deal, a compromise between both sides. President Nicholas Maduro says he's willing to talk with the opposition, but Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition and president of the National Assembly, says there's no point. Instead, he's calling for a mass rally on Friday, Venezuela's Independence Day.

Brett Bruen was the director of global engagement for the Obama White House and is president of a company called the Global Situation Room.

Brett, good to see you.

BRETT BRUEN, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL SITUATION ROOM: Good to be with you John. There

VAUSE: OK, this standoff here and finding a solution, it seems to be driven by the extremes on both sides. According to a report in "Foreign Affairs," "The tragedy of Venezuela today, economic misery and political crisis are persuading foreign powers and the Venezuelan public that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward, but the leaders of the government and opposition are in thrall to their most hardline supporters, who not only fear and loathe one other but believe, against all evidence, that victory is not far off."

So added to the mix, Juan Guaido's falling popularity. And the winner here is what, the status quo?

BRUEN: Well, I think, unfortunately, we're in one of those standoffs where neither side wants to give much, because they believe they have the upper hand.

Guaido is counting on time and what is a pretty steady erosion of support for Maduro, both outside of the country and within. Meanwhile, Maduro still holds the power -- military, security, intelligence forces -- and he believes that will allow him to continue in control. It's, for the moment, a stalemate.

VAUSE: So the Trump administration, though, has called out, you know, Cuba's support for Maduro is one of the key reasons why he is still in power. I guess one of the key reasons why there still the stalemate.

And the U.S. ambassador to the organization of American states said this last week: "Many people ask if the former Maduro regime failed so spectacularly, why are they still in the country? One reason is the foreign interference by Cuba and Russia. They spy on Venezuelans, watch over the Venezuelan military and protect Maduro from his own people."

So when it comes to Cuba's influence in Venezuela, is the only debate here over the size of its military footprint, the extent of its influence, and where it plays the biggest role? There's no debate over the fact that there is a Cuban president. The presidents, full stop, only being influential, right?

BRUEN: No, and without question, Cuba throughout the last several decades has played an outsized role in maintaining first Chavez and now Maduro in power. I mean, they make up a significant portion of the key positions in Maduro's government.

And Cuba continues to exercise control over a number of aspects in the Maduro regime. That being said, I think, you know, we also have to take a look at the challenge in Venezuela being one of the opposition, also not presenting a united front. And that has allowed Maduro to take advantage of differences and divisions within the opposition, which unfortunately, has weakened their position.

VAUSE: You know, if you look at the numbers, you know, according to one think tank, Cuba has 4,500 troops in Venezuela, divided into eight battalions of 500 men deployed across the country, another battalion at a military facility in the capital. And Cuban influence is the greatest in Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, security and intelligence services, practically controlled by the G-2, the generic name for the Cuban State Security Body.

The Cuban presence has been steadily growing, according to some reports, since 2000, which is long before and long after the Obama policy of using sanctions on Havana, working towards restoring diplomatic relations. So if Cuba has been so central here to keeping Maduro in power, can you trace that back then to, you know, Obama's policy of trying to open up relations, in hindsight, as a mistake?

BRUEN: I don't think it goes back so much to Obama's policy. The Cubans were there well before Obama. I served during the Bush administration in Caracas. The Cubans had a very strong presence at that time.

And it's less about a willingness of Obama to engage with Havana, then an unwillingness, both of the Obama administration, as well as of the Bush administration, to engage on a decaying situation in Venezuela. We simply were negligent and neglectful of what was happening in Caracas.

VAUSE: I'm just wondering, though, if there hadn't been the influx of foreign tourists, there hadn't been the easing of the sanctions for Cuba, would they have been in the position to continue to offer this level of support for Venezuela and for Maduro?

BRUEN: And John, they were before Obama opened up this new chapter with Cuba, and they certainly would have continued, irrespective of whether or not the U.S. chose to try this period of engagement. I think one of the things, especially, as we're looking at North Korea, there's got to be a certain openness to engagement with these countries, even if their overall actions still raise a number of questions.

VAUSE: Yes, well, if want to talk about public support for Venezuela, it's hard to beat Beijing. Two reports in just the past couple of hours. "Venezuelan Oil Exports in June as China Takes Most Crude." And then this: "China Sends 2,000 Buses to Venezuela," which Maduro says were used to improve public transport.

So you know, in terms of keeping Maduro where he is, which country is playing a bigger role: Cuba or China?

BRUEN: Well, Cuba, China, Russia, Iran. I mean, all of these are countries that are helping to prop up Maduro. But it also, I think, shows the extent to which the U.S. is losing influence in Venezuela, in Latin America.

This is a case study, if you will, in an American decline, which unfortunately, is leading to an increasing grip on a number of these countries, Venezuela included, by nations like China.

VAUSE: Yes. Brett, thanks so much. Good to see you. Appreciate your insights.

BRUEN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Still to come here, total solar eclipse doesn't happen all that often. It doesn't happen that often you get an incredible view from space either. We'll show you that, next.

Also, the epic journey of an arctic fox. Sounds like a Disney movie, but we'll tell you about the young fox's real travels across the Arctic Ocean.

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VAUSE: South America witnessed a total solar eclipse on Tuesday. That's when the moon passes perfectly between the sun and the earth. It started over La Serena, Chile, at 4:38 p.m. Eastern Time, travelled across the Andes Mountain Range before ending at Buenos Aires, Argentina, about six minutes later.

[00:40:00] Eclipse expert and enthusiast, meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. You love a good eclipse. IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Goodness. And just seeing the wide

shot of that is so spectacular.

VAUSE: Absolutely.

CABRERA: It brings me back. People were howling.

VAUSE: To the last one that we had. It was the same.

CABRERA: We were nearby, yes. Folks were howling and doing all sorts of things.

VAUSE: Like wild dogs.

CABRERA: Three-hundred-and-sixty-degree sunset. I mean, it's just gorgeous stuff.

I know that your eclipse excitement threshold is very high.

VAUSE: It's -- yes.

CABRERA: So I've combined a couple of --

VAUSE: Bring it on.

CABRERA: -- things for you. We're going to take it next level.

So come with me and I'll show you what's going on. You know, John perfectly explained in one sentence there what happens here. Right? So we need a new moon. That is when the moon is between the sun and the earth, or you're not going to get the eclipse.

There are two types of eclipse, depending on what kind of shadow you're talking about here. The moon has two shadows. The outer shadow, that's not very exciting, because that's just going to give you a partial eclipse. You want the inner shadow, which is what we had over South America through the day on Monday and at this -- what's today, Wednesday? -- Tuesday.

And so we had the total solar eclipse, kind of like a hotel room, you know, when you draw the shades. You can't have 99 percent totality. You have to have 100 percent.

All right. So here's the money shot, John. Try to contain yourself.

VAUSE: OK.

CABRERA: Hurricane Barbara in the eastern Pacific, a Category 4 hurricane, and watch closely here. Look at that. There's your eclipse moving through South America.

I have never seen a combination of that kind of hurricane with an eclipse, and this is with our new geosynchronous satellite up there, very expensive and very high resolution, as you can clearly see.

I know you're so upset that you missed this one. We're going to fly to South America, John, next year because guess what?

VAUSE: What?

CABRERA: We've got another total solar eclipse.

VAUSE: Does it look any different than the one we just had?

CABRERA: Just a few hundred kilometers to the south, and there it is, the path of totality: 14 December 2020, just in time for the holidays. We're going to pack your bags and send you there. I hope CNN is listening, because that would be exciting.

VAUSE: I like the old stories, how in China, it was -- it was a dragon that would eat the --

CABRERA: Can you imagine?

VAUSE: Yes.

CABRERA: Before the Internet what people most have thought?

VAUSE: Long before. It's science. And people sort of sitting around, wondering, where the sun go? What happened?

CABRERA: Absolutely. Good stuff, though. I recommend it if you're nearby one.

VAUSE: Seriously, though, they say that it is a life-altering event.

CABRERA: I have been altered. No question.

VAUSE: In what way?

CABRERA: It's just -- it's just one of those things you've never experienced before.

VAUSE: Does it talk? What is it?

CABRERA: No. That's -- let's not do --

VAUSE: You're still my height.

CABRERA: -- height jokes. So yes, no, it did. It's something I've never seen before. And you hear the crickets chirping all of a sudden. All of a sudden, it's like nighttime.

VAUSE: It sounds amazing, yes.

CABRERA: It's good stuff.

VAUSE: OK. A lot of people do like a good eclipse, as do you. Thanks, Ivan, appreciate it.

Well, scientists are in disbelief after a young female arctic fox made an epic transcontinental journey in just 76 days, covering more than 3,500 kilometers across vast stretches of the frozen Arctic Ocean. Scientists recorded the trip with a tracking collar, starting in March

of last year on an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, then through Greenland and ending up in Ellesmere Island in Canada. That happened in June. At one point, she traveled a record 155 kilometers in just a day.

Why the fox took such an extreme journey is still unknown. Scientists say it could have been an act of self-preservation, looking for food as global temperatures rise and the arctic ice continues to melt.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up next. You're watching CNN.

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[01:00:00] VAUSE: A decorated U.S. Navy SEAL found not guilty of premeditated murder, not guilty of war crimes after the death of a teenage ISIS detainee. The case made even more congtroversial with the U.S. President.

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