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U.S., U.K. Considering Military Options To Counter Iran; U.K. Conservative Party Set To Announce Next Leader; South Korea Fires Warning Shots At Russian Jets; President Trump's Mueller Strategy Attack; Puerto Rico Governor Clings to Power Despite Protests; Israel Demolishes Homes in East Jerusalem; Marvel Unveils New Marvel Superhero Lineup. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired July 23, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everybody! Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, from rising tensions to naval deployments. U.K. warships heading to the Persian Gulf part of the European led maritime security force while separately the Pentagon says U.S. forces will protect commercial shipping as well from Iranian threats.
Who will move into number ten? The big reveal just hours away and the new likely U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson already facing a Brexit revolt. Plus Marvel's diverse universe, a new world looking more and more like the real world with Asian superheroes, deaf superheroes, even gay superheroes.
But if the U.S. and U.K. are considering their military options as Iran refuses to release a British oil tanker. The Pentagon says it could fly fighter jets over the Strait of Hormuz to protect American cargo ships while the U.K. says it will take part in the European-led maritime protection force. We begin our coverage with CNN's Matthew Chance.
MATTHEWS CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the first glimpse of the crew detained onboard the British flagged oil tanker seized in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Iranian state television shows what it says some of the 23 men from India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines appearing to look well and in good spirits, even as their ship the Stena Impero is confined to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas under close military guard and flying an Iranian flag from its mast.
British officials said their response would be robust and now the country's foreign secretary has laid out the next steps announcing a European naval force in the region to protect international shipping.
JEREMY HUNT, FOREIGN SECRETARY, UNITED KINGDOM: If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger Western military presence in the waters along their coastline not because we wish to increase tensions but simply because freedom of navigation is a principle which Britain and its allies will always defend.
CHANCE: And as this crisis develops, Iran has further ratcheted up tensions with another announcing what it says is the breakup of a CIA spy ring. Iranian state television casting it as evidence of America's malign activities. Iran says some of the 17 Iranian citizens arrested will be executed.
Iran has of course been the subject of U.S. intelligence efforts but President Trump and his Secretary of State are pouring cold water on the latest allegations.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: I wouldn't -- I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion actions that they've taken.
CHANCE: But there's little doubt about the firm grip Iran and its elite revolution regard now has on this British flagged tanker or on the fate of its crew now pawns in a geopolitical game with no end in sight. Matthew Chance, CNN on the Gulf Oman.
VAUSE: Well, to Washington now and Bruce Bennett a Senior International Defense Researcher at the RAND Corporation, a non-profit think tank. Bruce, thanks for being with us. You know, during that address to parliament, the foreign secretary, he was fairly blunt. He said it was in fact, Iran's actions which had left the U.K. no other option but to deploy warships to the region. This is some of what Jeremy Hunt had to say. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: We do not seek confrontation with Iran. We've taken every available opportunity to reduce misunderstanding whilst standing by our rock-solid commitment to the international rule of law which is the foundation of global peace and prosperity. But we must also react to the world around us as it is and not how we would wish it to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Hunt also made the point this new maritime security effort by Britain, it would not be part of you know, the U.S. maximum pressure policy on Iran. He also restated Britain's commitment to try and preserve the 2015 nuclear deal. It would seem to be a very clear message from London not just to Washington but to Tehran as well.
BRUCE BENNETT, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL DEFENSE RESEARCHER, RAND CORPORATION: That's the case. I think they have different interests. They are concerned about their tankers and they're interested in maintaining the agreement on the nuclear weapons and so there is different interest, sure.
VAUSE: So these means that you have the United States which seems to be again sort of isolated from its traditional allies especially Britain you know, the country with a special relationship.
BENNETT: Well, not entirely isolated. I mean, neither the United States nor the U.K. is happy about this tanker intercept. But the U.K. approach at this stage is different from the U.S. approach. That's just something that the two countries are going to have to resolve.
[01:05:15] VAUSE: What's the implications of that though, long term?
BENNETT: Long term it means that the -- we've had for over a year different American approach. The Americans wanted to confront Iran and get a better agreement, the U.K. and other European countries have not been prepared to pursue that. That has not been a break in the arrangements or the agreements between allies, it has simply been a different approach.
And now that is broadening perhaps a little bit on this tanker, but it is hard to tell what the U.K. will do if the -- if the Iranians become more serious about what they are doing and try to intercept other tankers.
VAUSE: Well, yes. The (INAUDIBLE) is that the Royal Navy is not capable of defending all British merchant shipping which passes through the strait. It also says this morning the European maritime force which struggle to protect European freight vessels as well. So ultimately, if this increased security presence is affective, will the Europeans have no choice but to work with the United States?
BENNETT: More than likely. That's exactly right. They going to have to work with the United States because the United States has the assets present in the golf. The U.K. and other countries can send assets there, but it takes a while to get them there. And so in the short term, at the very least, they're going to have to work with the United States.
VAUSE: Well, the President on Monday, he raised a round about why -- he said as far as he's concerned, you know, the U.S. is concerned, this crisis, time is on the side of the United States not Tehran. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Iran doesn't know where they are. I've been watching and reading a lot of reports and right now they are a very mixed of country. They don't know whether they are coming or going. They have tremendous problems economically. Their country is in turmoil. They're having demonstrations all over Iran. Their inflation rate is at 75 percent. They have a lot of problems so whatever it is, it is, I'm just going to sit back and wait. Let's see what happens.
VAUSE: You know, right now, throughout all of this, Iran has up to this point been very strategic, some call it calculated provocations, just something short of doing something that would you know, warrant a U.S. military response. But would you say the longer this goes on, the greater the chance of miscalculation? BENNETT: Exactly. If the crews had decided to oppose the Iranian bordings and fired at them and been fired back on, that would've escalated significantly. So there is lots of potential for that kind of escalation. And if they try to intercept ships, remember just a week or so ago, the Iranians tried to stop a tanker and the British destroyer fired on them. So this is the case where things could escalate rapidly.
VAUSE: Well, Iran's foreign minister on Monday, he issued a warning about a conflict. He said it would be easy to start and impossible to end. He also had a message for the next likely prime minister of U.K., that would be Boris Johnson. This is what the foreign minister of Iran said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN MINISTER, IRAN: I think it is very important for Boris Johnson and others at 10 Downing Street to understand that Iran does not seek confrontation, Iran wants to have normal relations based on mutual respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: If anything though, will Boris Johnson be more likely to move away from the European position and closer to Washington?
BENNETT: That's possible. I mean, let's take the Iranian's statement. It is a lot of nonsense. As I understand it, the ship they intercepted was Omanis sea area, so this is the Iranian's choosing to take on the U.K., trying to create a crisis with them. So what the prime minister -- what the Iranian minister said was nonsense.
VAUSE: Just to clarify that last point though. So it's nonsense in what sense?
BENNETT: It's nonsense in a sense that he wants no confrontation with the British, and yet that's exactly what they did. They created a confrontation where they went outside their own waters, they went inside Omani waters and intercepted a British ship. That is an act of piracy.
VAUSE: But in the wider picture, the argument the Iranians are making is that you know, the -- well, the act that's being made is that these acts of provocation are essentially all that they had now given that the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal and has now hit the country with economic sanctions.
BENNETT: Well, but are we going to justify piracy then? Is that OK now? Is he going to say that he only wants peace and yet he's going to send people out to seize ships that they have no right to be seizing? So there is the disconnect right there. The Iranians are trying to provoke a crisis. They're trying to push the British into telling the U.S. to stop the pressure on Iran and I think it's important for us to stick together. We don't want to be decoupled as ally. [01:10:16] VAUSE: That goes back to my original point. You have the British on track now you know, with the European security force, actually, you know, a way for the United States leaving the United States essentially to collect their own military offensive or military operations in the Gulf.
BENNETT: Well, I think the military operations United States plans to do is escorting of ships. And like we said just a little while ago, that will probably involve European ships as well because they will not have enough assets in the Gulf to escort everything.
VAUSE: OK, Bruce, thank you so much. We'll leave it at that. I appreciate your time.
VAUSE: To Puerto Rico now, and a day of protests became a night of anger on the streets of the capital San Juan. A short time ago police fired tear gas to clear a huge crowd not far from the governor's mansion.
Today's now protesters have been demanding the governor of the island Ricardo Rossello to step down over an ongoing corruption scandal within his administration. But it seems leaked sexist and homophobic messages by government officials is with the governor as well, set off a storm of outrage. Rossello issued a tepid apology over the weekend and tried to appease protesters by declaring he would not run for re- election.
A growing number of British cabinet ministers are heading for the backbenches in anticipation that Boris Johnson will be Britain's next prime minister. Johnson is expected to win a party vote to lead the Conservatives easily defeating the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
But Bojo, as he's known, is a divisive figure, an original Brexiteer not just willing but possibly eager to take a No Deal Brexit. Well, to Berlin and CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas. Where have you been? It's been a while. Welcome back. Good to see you.
DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thanks, John. Great to see you.
VAUSE: OK. In the days before the big leadership announcement, ministers who were serving in Theresa May's cabinet had been rushing to the exits jumping before they'll push. Here's Chancellor Philip Hammond over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILIP HAMMOND, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Assuming that Boris Johnson becomes the next prime minister, I understand that his conditions for serving in his government would include accepting a no- deal exit on the 31st of October. That is not something I could ever sign up to and I, therefore, intend to resign to Theresa May before she goes to the palace to tender her own resignation on Wednesday. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Minister of the Foreign Office Alan Duncan announced his resignation on Twitter on Monday, and we have Roy Stuart Minister for Foreign Aid reminding everyone he'll actually quit eight weeks ago mostly over differences of Brexit. You know, there is a list of Remainers who are willing to resign from cabinet before they're fired and go and sit on the backbench.
Now, apart from a calculated show of defiance, does this mean that Boris Johnson will be facing a much more well-organized anti-No Deal faction within the government than Theresa May ever had to deal with?
THOMAS: Well, John, they were pretty organized themselves, you know. Let's not forget that you know, Boris Johnson essentially responsible for the last two Conservative prime ministers having to step down. He led the leave campaign which resulted in David Cameron stepping away from his position. And once he returned to the backbenches he essentially coordinated and the departure of Theresa May.
So yes, he now finds himself some three years later at the helm leading this party. He was essentially appointed or will be you know, appointed as the new conservative leader on a single issue which was Brexit, but of course, he's also going to become Prime Minister. He has no majority.
The only way he has any kind of leadership is with the support of via DUP and all those that going to find themselves on the backbenches on there precisely because he sent them there and has cost them their position. So it's going to be very difficult for him to expect them to support him once he enters Downing Street.
VAUSE: You know, there's a wide range of opinions out there about what sort of Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be and where he will I see lead Britain. On the one hand, there is the Johnson friendly Telegraph which has this. Only a brashly optimistic Prime Minister can make our belittled country great again. It sounds familiar.
While on the other hand, there was an opinion piece in New York Times which read, Boris Johnson, is how Britain ends not with a bang but with a burst of blonde ambition. Usually, you know, though the extremes, usually the truth is found somewhere in the middle but it seems kind of difficult to nail down where Johnson is because as one commentator said, he's well-known but he's not really well understood.
THOMAS: Yes. I mean, that's quite clear and yet this is somebody who you know, has been a member of parliament, who was not only elected to Mayor of London but went all the way through a second term, served as foreign secretary, and so on.
And so, of course, there's a lot of experience with him being -- with him being in office. I think the thing with Boris Johnson though is the fact that he as you mentioned divisive but a deeply polarizing figure.
And I think that the problem he's going to face is that even though let's say the Labour Party has struggled with in to deal with its position on Brexit, someone like Boris Johnson somewhat paradoxically could arguably bring the opposition together by simply opposing him rather than just a political positions for which he stands and he is that kind of figure.
And we'll have to see how this translates into actually running a government and how he is able to operate in a broader way at the international stage. '
[01:15:26] VAUSE: So here's a little more from that New York Times opinion piece. It's pretty harsh. Boris Johnson to whom lying comes as easily as breathing is on the verge of becoming prime minister. He faces the most and intractable political crisis to affect Britain since 1945. Mr. Johnson whose laziness is proverbial and opportunism legendary, is a man well practiced in deceit, a pander willing to tickle the prejudices of his audience for easy gain. His personal life is incontinent, his public record is inconsequential.
You know, there are those who don't agree with that but I'm wondering, you know, is this almost the case of only Nixon can go to China? Only Bojo could possibly convince parliament to approve a Brexit deal. Only Bojo is the one you know, as unlikely as it seems to be able to you know, charm the E.U. into finally making some concessions?
THOMAS: Yes, look, John, it is absolutely extraordinary. I mean, he has so much responsibility for the situation that the U.K. currently finds himself in. And clearly the future of the conservative party is you know, in the balance around this kind of question at Brexit. But no matter what, that party will change forever.
Either it delivers Brexit in which case the U.K. and the Brexit party disappear. This is a signal issue parties and the conservative party will for all intents and purposes essentially become a party of what is the far right in the U.K. And if he doesn't deliver Brexit, then, of course, the party will disappear into relative insignificance.
So there is a lot at stake here and what is so interesting is the way in which the conservative party now three years down this Brexit road since the referendum are going to bring Boris Johnson to the prime ministership and to have him shepherd this process through.
If anything, people are so tired of this entire process that he may be able to convince parliaments that this is the one last opportunity to get any kind of Brexit done, but the big challenge for him is going to be balancing out his promises for Nigel Farage's and to the far right- wing while at the same time trying to satisfy parliament who are not concerned and not interested in any kind of hard Brexit.
VAUSE: You know, the U.S. President though, he has a lot of faith in Johnson as prime minister. Certainly, he has a better regard for Johnson when compared to Theresa May. This is what Donald Trump said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I like Boris Johnson. Boris -- I spoke to him yesterday. I think he is going to do a great job. I think we're going to have a great relationship. I think they have done a very poor job with Brexit. I think the previous prime minister has done a very bad job with Brexit, what can I say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: That sort of endorsement there from Donald Trump seems to lead to this type of criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JO SWINSON, LEADER, BRITISH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: I rage. When Boris Johnson is more interested in sucking up to Donald Trump than standing up for British values of decency, equality, and respect. Boris Johnson has only ever cared about Boris Johnson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Johnson obviously has a better relationship with Donald Trump than Theresa May and that comes to some advantages but also it comes to a very big downside especially in the lead up to a general election.
THOMAS: Well, that is the big thing. And of course hanging over to Boris Johnson, it's not just the fact that he doesn't have the parliamentary majority, it's at what point does he trigger or seek to trigger a general election in order to try to build greater support for his -- for his position and the part of that is not clear what you see here in this particular case for liberal democrats getting organized in the anti-Johnson campaign.
But I think what's a tremendous concern to people it is this Atlantic alliance with Trump and with Boris Johnson and I think in many ways Boris Johnson has been watching Donald Trump over the past few years and sort of understanding better as to how you go about leaving in that particular way. But you essentially have here a threat of this kind of anti-E.U. Atlantic alliance which is greatly disturbing to people and the fact that Boris Johnson is disappointed as the new leader with so little public support and so on.
And so as he goes down this particular road, the big issue about the U.K. becoming essentially the United States 51st state will be back on the agenda and that's going to be you know, interesting to see whether or not the position he has and the friendship with Donald Trump helps or hinders him. And obviously, people are concerned about this kind of rise and of this far-right position and the legitimacy of this gaining through these international leaders.
VAUSE: Dominic, it's been good having you. It's been too long. So welcome back. Thank you.
THOMAS: Thanks, John. See you soon.
[01:20:00] VAUSE: OK. And tune in for our special coverage of the Conservative Party leadership results. Kickoff for the pregame 11:00 a.m. London time, and you can find out if it's Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt (INAUDIBLE) will be U.K.'s next prime minister. A break, when we come back, tracking developments of a story off the
coast of Japan where South Korea says Russian military planes have violated its airspace. Details just ahead. Also, how can you tell if Robert Mueller's testimony before Congress is nigh? Because the number of personal attacks by the U.S. president on Mueller.
VAUSE: South Korean fighter jets have fired warning shots at Russian military planes which crossed into South Korean airspace. CNN's Anna Coren live in Hong Kong with the very latest on the details. So what do we know about how this will play out? What are the details at this point?
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. John, obviously we are learning more information but this is described as a very rare and very dangerous. That is what Carl Schuster said, a former U.S. Air Force captain who we spoke to a short time ago. He believes that nothing like this has happened in at least the last decade where a country has fired warning shots at another country's aircraft. It just gives you an idea of the magnitude of what took place this morning.
What we can tell you, John, is between at 6:00 and 9:00 this morning, two Chinese military aircraft and two Russian military aircraft, they flew into South Korea's air defense identification zone. All countries have it.
South Koreans alerted these planes that they had flown into this zone. These four planes then left. But then at 9:09, so nine minutes later, another Russian military aircraft flew not just into the identification zone but then into South Korean airspace.
Now, this is some 22 kilometers off the South Korean mainland. They were alerted that they were there. This military aircraft stayed there in this airspace. South Korea then sent up two fighter jets which fired warning shots at this military aircraft.
It left the space and then at 9:33 it returned and the South Koreans once again fired these warning shots. The question is John, why was this Russian military aircraft in South Korean airspace? This has never happened before. Russians have never entered South Korea's airspace.
Were they on some sort of reconnaissance mission? Were there some sort of joint military operations taking place between the Russians and the Chinese? I think however what is really interesting is that these Chinese left but the Russians sent in one other aircraft, not once but twice.
[01:25:16] So this is being seen as a deliberate act, deliberate act by the Russians to penetrate South Korea's airspace. Now, what we can tell you is that it was above disputed territory between South Korea and Japan.
South Korea refers to this as the Dokdo Islands in the East Sea. Japan refers to this as the Takeshima Islands in the Sea of Japan. We know, John, that the U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton is arriving in Seoul this afternoon. He's there to hold high-level talks with defense Foreign Affairs and the national security chiefs.
Does that play into this? We just don't know. We haven't heard from the Russians. There's yet to any clarification as to what has taken place this morning but certainly, answers will be demanded from the South Koreans, John.
VAUSE: Yes. Clearly, there's much we do know at this point and hopefully, we will know more as the day goes on. Anna, thank you. Anna Coren live in Hong Kong. It may be the most important congressional testimony in recent memory. Special Counsel Robert Mueller will answer questions on Capitol Hill under oath and in public about his investigation into Russia's election interference.
As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, what many in Washington consider must-see T.V. appears to have rattled President Trump.
TRUMP: You can't take all those bites out of the Apple.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After claiming he won't watch Robert Mueller testify on Capitol Hill, President Trump now admits he might tune in.
TRUMP: No, I'm not going to be watching. Probably -- maybe I'll see a little bit of it.
COLLINS: But he insists Democrats are wasting their time attempting a do-over.
TRUMP: What they're doing is just hearing after hearing, after hearing. It's nonsense, OK.
COLLINS: The former special counsel will testify for five hours before two committees Wednesday and the president is gearing up by renewing his old attacks.
TRUMP: But he's got conflicts with me too. He's got big conflicts with me.
COLLINS: It's an assertion his own former aide Steve Bannon called ridiculous and petty as Trump is still falsely claiming the report exonerated him when it came to obstruction.
TRUMP: But you know what, he's still ruled and I respect him for it, he still ruled no collusion, no obstruction.
COLLINS: Mueller never said there was no obstruction instead explaining that charging the president with a crime wasn't an option he had because of a long-standing DOJ policy.
TRUMP: They're pulling the Democrats way left. COLLINS: Tonight, the president is also escalating his attacks on
four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen accusing them of being a racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. Even as he insists there's no racial tension.
TRUMP: No, I think they're very bad for our country. No, no, no racial tension.
COLLINS: As the feud turns into a political strategy for Trump, what if those Democrats is vowing to hold her ground?
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Yes, I'm not going nowhere, not until I impeach this president.
COLLINS: At the White House today, the President is souring on the idea of a diplomatic deal with Iran.
TRUMP: Frankly, it's getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran.
COLLINS: As he denies the country's claims it arrested 17 of its citizens for their connections to an alleged CIA spy ring.
TRUMP: That's totally a false story. That's another lie.
COLLINS: Sources tell CNN that in recent days, Trump has reverted to a more hawkish position on Iran as his public offers to sit down with the country's leadership have gone unanswered.
TRUMP: They put out propaganda, they put out lies. Pakistan never lies but Iran does, unfortunately.
COLLINS: In the Oval Office with the prime minister of Pakistan, the President raising eyebrows when he said he could wipe Afghanistan off the face of the earth if he wanted to.
TRUMP: We wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it. I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill ten million people.
COLLINS: Trump hinting at a secret military plan while revealing no details as he said he'll lean on Pakistan for planning an exit instead.
TRUMP: We've been there for 19 years and we've acted as policemen not soldiers.
COLLINS: Now, the President's outside attorney Jay Sekulow said there is no war room ahead of Robert Mueller's testimony. There are no pre- planned meetings going on to figure out how they're going to combat what it is that the former Special Counsel has to say.
But officials here at the White House and even the President's outside advisers have conceded behind the scenes that they'll be watching likely even if it's just out of curiosity. Kaitlan Collins, CNN the White House.
VAUSE: Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, tense moments as huge crowds take to the streets in Puerto Rico. The latest on the protesters' efforts to force the island's governor to step down.
[01:32:17] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
Britain's Foreign Secretary calls Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker an act of state piracy. He says the U.K. is speeding up its military presence in the gulf and is asking British allies for assistance.
Iranian TV had video it shows the tankers' crew -- the shipping though would not verify its authenticity.
The British Conservative Party is set to announce its new leader in the coming hours. The winner of this contest will replace Theresa May as prime minister.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson is heavily favored for the top job. His chief rival is the man who replaced him as foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
The U.S. Justice Department has set boundaries for Robert Mueller's public testimony before Congress on Wednesday. In a letter officials warned the former special counsel to stick to his report on the Russia investigation. President Trump meantime called Democrats desperate and said the hearings were a waste of time.
Well, more now on the biggest demonstrations in the U.S. territory Puerto Rico has ever seen. This was the scene not long ago. Police fired tear gas at a crowd which has gathered not far from the governor's mansion. Protesters are demanding the immediate resignation of the governor over leaked offensive chats and corruption.
But Ricardo Rossello is staying put telling Fox News he still has work to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLO, PUERTO RICO: My contention is that I need to work beyond politics so that we can address some of the long-standing problems of corruption here in Puerto Rico and fix that problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The political unrest was a chance for President Donald Trump to ramp up his ongoing feud with the governor and other officials on the island over the federal emergency response to Hurricane Maria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The governor has done a terrible job and the mayor of San Juan, she's horrible. I think she's just terrible. She's so bad for her people.
And I think the government of the United States have to be careful. I'm the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico because we did a great job in Puerto Rico. They don't like to give me the credit for it but we did a great job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For the people of Puerto Rico, the abusive and offensive nature of the leaked messages were a tipping point. The final straw after the devastation of Hurricane Maria and the poor and ineffective response by a corruption-infested Rossello administration.
As CNN reported the exchanges between the governor and his closest aides reveal a vengeful approach in running the government including attacking journalists by discrediting stories and threatening to turn over political opponents to police and a whole lot more.
Joining us now from San Juan is Federico A. De Jesus, former deputy director of the Puerto Rico federal affairs administration, former adviser to the Obama 2008 campaign. Federico -- thank you for being with us.
FEDERICO A. DE JESUS, FORMER ADVISER TO OBAMA 2008 CAMPAIGN: Thank you, John -- for having me.
[01:34:59] VAUSE: The Mayor of San Juan who is running for governor has been among the most vocal critics of Rossello. Here she is speaking to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: The crimes committed by the governor are so horrendous that it cannot wait.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's impeachment or it's just --
CRUZ: It is impeachment. It is impeachment time. He's obstinate. His mental health isn't there. He doesn't want to resign. It's impeachment time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Now, in those text messages Puerto Rico's chief financial officer at one point out of frustration it seems with the mayor suggested he wanted to shoot her. The governor replied "You'd be doing me a grand favor".
You know, back in 2012 the ACLU reported that Puerto Rico had the highest rate of domestic violence per capita in the world. And here you have Rossello appearing to encourage violence against women and you get an idea -- start to have an idea of why so many women at least are angry.
DE JESUS: Yes. This is horrendous. Puerto Rico has gone through the worst financial crisis in its history. It has gone through debt crisis in bankruptcy, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history where 3,000 Puerto Rican U.S. citizens died.
And now this chat had revealed what everybody suspected that we have institutional corruption on this island that needs to stop. And the insults and the political persecution really took the people to the tipping point and they have the largest march in the history, 12 days straight asking the governor to resign and he won't budge. And until he does I see the people will continue to be on the streets.
VAUSE: And you know, the governor and his close aides have offended to various degrees pretty much everyone. The leaked messages show singer Ricky Martin was among those who are ridiculed. In a video statement on Twitter Martin hit back saying Rossello, he mocked the dead, mocked women, the LGBT community, those with physical and mental disabilities, you know beast (ph). And like so many people in Puerto Rico he said "enough". I guess it explains in part why, you know, Puerto Rico has never seen a protest the size of the one that we're seeing right now. Is there anyone who was spared ridicule?
DE JESUS: That is a good question. There probably are but everybody and their mothers so to speak have been offended. And if you weren't specifically mentioned or your group per se wasn't mentioned, just the sheer inhumanity and cruelty of the content of that chat.
I mean this is the tipping point. There were two arrests of senior cabinet officials of this administration. They went to --- the FBI went and took them away. You have a lot of other rumors for the closeness of the governor's aides. They were on that chat. They were discussing private information that could have benefited clients of this (INAUDIBLE).
And we are going to bankruptcy and after the hurricane people spent a year without water, without electricity and to see the sheerness with which the governor and his aides talk about the cancellation of concerns for the benefit of the hurricane victims saying well at least the insurance will pay double for his former campaign manager and making fun that this is just horrendous and Puerto Ricans have just taken the final straw.
VAUSE: You know, since the days after Hurricane Maria, there has been this on again, off again criticism coming from the White House, the President was at it again on Monday. He repeated this line a number of times during the day and here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You have incompetent, totally grossly incompetent leadership at the top of Puerto Rico. The people of Puerto Rico are great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So how much of the protests are now being driven by concerns that Governor Rossello is proving Donald Trump right and that will ultimately jeopardize federal assistance which, you know, post-Maria which has always been a concern. But now Donald Trump will use this to act to cut the assistance.
DE JESUS: Well that is exactly what the concern that many people have is that this is an excuse for Donald Trump to do whatever he has been trying to do is to stop aid to go to Puerto Rico, with his lies saying that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion which is false.
Congress has (INAUDIBLE) $30 billion, Puerto Ricans only received $12 billion. But unfortunately when (INAUDIBLE) the island and its politicians being corrupt obviously he's been painting it with a broad stroke that this governor and his administration has proven that they've taken this corruption thing to the next level. To institutionalize it, to deal with the press in a way that frankly strikes a lot of people as a Mafia and that's just unacceptable.
VAUSE: Well one of the few public appearances by Rossello was on Fox News and a train wreck of an interview with Shepard Smith. Here is part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Attacks on women, attacks on gays, attacks on the dead relatives of your own residents across your own island and after all that who's left to support you. And is it even safe for you to continue to attempt to govern?
ROSSELLO: Well again I have apologized for that. I am making amends for all of those efforts.
[01:39:59] SMITH: You've apologized for what specifically -- Governor?
ROSSELLO: For all of the comments that I've made on the chats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, there was this sort of halfhearted vague attempt at an apology over the weekend from the governor. He added that only by continuing on with his work can he make amends.
But when you have hundreds of thousands of people on the streets demanding your resignation, it seems that time has passed and the verdict is in and it's (INAUDIBLE) I'm out. When or what leverage though does Rossello have here to try and cling to power.
DE JESUS: So the problem is that, you know, aside from his wife apparently has been investigated by the FBI for the charity she ran after the hurricane and apparently there's some mismanagement that's being there.
Obviously what transpired in the chats might be considered illegal and some attorneys are saying that it is impeachable because of conspiracy charges or pay to play charges. So this is very serious. And you know, another problem is the (INAUDIBLE) is being interrupted because the second in command would be the secretary of state which is an appointed position here in Puerto Rico. And if vacant, the secretary of justice which is akin to the attorney general she's tainted because the governor himself referred her to the ethics office. And the legislature is opposed to her being the interim governor which is what will happen if he resigned.
To the legislature will have to approve a new secretary of state who will then take over if she resigns. That would the orderly and pacific way to do that. But obviously he hasn't appointed a successor because if he does the pressure will even mount more for him to step away from office.
So that is the leverage that he has.
VAUSE: It does almost seem a case of, you know, either go now or go later, but he's going to have to go at some point and not of his choosing I guess, ultimately.
Federico -- we're out of time. Thank you so much. Good to see you.
DE JESUS: Thank you very much.
Venezuela is blaming an electromagnetic attack for a nationwide power outage. It's the biggest and most widespread blackout to hit the country since March. Black outs (INAUDIBLE) amid the country's humanitarian and economic crisis. But this one was unusually large.
An organization which tracks outages says 94 percent of Venezuela's telecommunications infrastructure has been affected. The governor says all resources will be devoted to restoring the power grid and all non-related work will be suspended for at least today.
While Israel demolishes dozens of Arab homes in east Jerusalem, just ahead we will hear from some of the home owners about what their options are now, and how do they plan to respond.
[01:45:00] VAUSE: Well it began in the pre-dawn hours and ended with rubble. Israeli bulldozers demolishing homes belonging to Palestinians on the edge of East Jerusalem.
The question of who has the authority is in some dispute. Israel's Supreme Court says the homes should not have been there but as CNN's Michael Holmes reports the newly displaced residents have a different view.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the predawn darkness, bulldozers and hundreds of Israeli soldiers moved into the Palestinian village of Sur Baher to demolish dozens of apartments and houses, some occupied, some still under construction. In all 17 people forced from their homes, the emotion caught on tape by residents and activists.
Israeli forces closed off the immediate area, this the closest we could get. What remains of the homes though, clearly visible as were Israeli explosives experts wiring up an apartment building to be blown up.
AVRAM ZAWAHIRA, HOMEOWNER (through translator): It's a heartbreaking feeling to see your house being demolished, but we believe in God.
HOLMES: Avram Zawahira (ph) spent $280,000 building a home for his family of eight. He had Palestinian permits for the building and it was nearly completed. But just after dawn, it was torn down.
ZAWAHIRA: My family was calling me during the morning, crying. But in the end, what can I do? I can't change the facts. Our dreams and hopes are lost.
HOLMES: Israel routinely demolishes houses and other buildings in the West Bank that it says were built without its permission but Sur Baher back there is more complicated.
The houses in question are in what's known as Area A under the Oslo Accords and Palestinians say that means they govern this area and Israel had no right to demolish them.
ADNAN GHAITH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY GOVERNOR OF JERUSALEM: The crime they're doing is in Area A, and all those houses had their permits from the Palestinian Authority.
HOLMES: Israel sees it differently. The country's Supreme Court ruled that the buildings needed permits from the Israeli military commander because of their proximity to a security barrier which in this area is a fence monitored and patrolled by Israel.
Israel's prime minister's office said in a statement that the local population is treated humanely, quote, "Buildings that will be demolished, except one building, are not inhabited. Those who built these buildings near the wall were already aware that they were doing illegal work".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say they are demolishing for security reasons. There are no security reasons around here. They're all lies. It's about uprooting people from their lands.
HOLMES: Palestinian say this case touches on the broader issue of the future of east Jerusalem which Palestinians have long wanted to be the capital of any future Palestinian state. They worry that what happened here will set a precedent for other towns and buildings along the route of the barrier, even those ostensibly under Palestinian control. And just as close or closer to the security barrier.
Security an excuse they say to displace Palestinians in East Jerusalem, a point of view Israel roundly rejects. Regardless, Avram Zawahira says he will rebuild, even if he risks demolition again.
ZAWAHIRA: We will build it again in the same place. We don't care what they think.
HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN -- Jerusalem.
VAUSE: A short, break. Next on CNN NEWSROOM, a new diverse breed of super hero set to star in Marvel's upcoming movie. We'll learn who was cast and why. Stay.
[01:48:29] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Football star Cristiano Ronaldo will not face rape charges in Las Vegas. Authorities say the allegations made in 2009 cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The DA's office says the woman accusing Ronaldo was not forthcoming with information about the attack and that hindered the initial investigation as well video of that showing interactions between her and Ronaldo before and after the alleged crime was lost.
Well, a new superhero power might just be the power of diversity. On Monday Comic Con and Marvel unveiled its first Asian super hero movie "Shang-Chi: the Legend of the Ten Rings" starring newcomer Simu Liu who will be the first Asian actor to lead a solo Marvel film.
And then the studio also cast deaf actress Lauren Ridloff as superhero Makkari in a 2020 release of the Eternals.
And then to top it all off the casting of Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie the Marvel Comic Universe's first openly LGBT superhero in Thor-loving thunder.
Rebecca Sun is senior reporter with "Hollywood Reporter", live in Los Angeles. Rebecca -- it's good to see you. It's been a while.
REBECCA SUN, SENIOR REPORTER, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Yes, it's been a while -- John.
VAUSE: Ok let's travel back to the old days, back to 2012 with the very first Avengers movie, check out the cast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARLETT JOHANSSON, ACTOR: This is nothing we were ever trained for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know the only hint of diversity there was the Hulk and that doesn't count because it's a white guy who turns green. So, you know, an attempt at minority representation on the big screen -- this is undeniably progress.
SUN: Yes absolutely. You know, it is only taken 23 movies but I kid, I kid. It is definitely, you know, face forward. And this was part of Kevin Feige's plan. I think that it's not really surprising that the first "Avengers", the first phase of Marvel movies was mostly white superheroes and the reason is because, you know, they were harkening back to the original characters and a source material. You know, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, you know, all of those guys were white in the original comic books.
Now over time though the comics themselves began to diversify and that is why you're seeing the movies follow in their step. You know, Thor indeed has been female in the comic books for a while and that is why you see this weekend Natalie Portman they announce that her character Jane Foster is indeed the new Thor and that is following the comic books.
VAUSE: You know, there has been criticism along the lines of what you said 23 films. And it's taken this long to get to this point. Whining fan number one tweeted this: Does anyone else feel a little icky that in this vast Marvel Comic Universe they did not care about diversity or representation until Phase 3 and then after they make sure it's profitable."
A similar sentiment came from the Whining Fan number 2. I'm happy we have more diversity in Phase 4 but I'm not overly about to praise the Marvel Comic Universe and Marvel Studios be they waited until it was profitable to do so." I mean it's because they waited.
Is that fair criticism or proof that you can't please all the people all the time?
SUN: I think it is a little bit of both because you could say, you know, why didn't Marvel do the actual dignified thing and, you know, wait until they had proof of concept. But the thing is it's a business and you know if these films, these characters this entire franchise was not fully established, would a movie like Shang-Chi succeed as well in 2012 as it would in, you know, 2021 or whenever it is coming out?
Not necessarily. I mean I think that as a huge personal champion of diversity myself, I have to be realistic and say there are a lot of reasons why certain films popped when they did. And it was because of all the buildup, you cannot ignore the fact that this franchise has built itself into something that really guarantees success in a much more certain way than it might have back in phase one or two.
VAUSE: You know the financial reality is, and this is your point, you know, movies with minorities now make more money. And if there is one thing studio executives love more than life itself and possibly their first-born child is money.
And China is where the money will be and where it is. It is part of a report from the "Business Insider". Marvel is already huge in China where "Avengers: Endgame" grossed more in a week than all of Disney's "Star Wars" movie since 2015's "The Force Awakening" combined.
Sang-Chi could further reflect the franchise's popularity in the region which is predicted to surpass the U.S. as world box office leader by 2022."
You know, it seems to have taken a while but, you know, the studios are finally realizing that when the movies which reflect the entire audience and not just the shiny white pad, they actually increase ticket sales. And that's, to your point, this is where the money is.
SUN: Yes absolutely, you can look at Black Panther as a great example, right. Because one of the old thoughts in Hollywood is that is that black films don't travel. What that means is they say international audiences don't want to see black people.
[01:55:06] Black Panther really debunked that, you know. It did just as well in Asian countries. It did just as well with foreign as it did domestically. And so I think, you know, again with the power of this franchise, Shang-Chi in particular has a lot of potential to do well in China. Simu Liu is fairly unknown around the world other than in Canada which is where he's form and he's very beloved there.
But it was very significant that they announced that the villain in Shang-Chi will be Tony Leon (ph) is one of the biggest stars coming out of Hong Kong for, you know, the past 30 or 40 years. He is massively beloved there. He's massively and respected there and the fact that they got him for that movie means that they want to really make a big play in that territory.
VAUSE: Ok let's finish off quickly with a blast from the past with the twist. I feel the need, the need to pander in self-censorship to appease Beijing.
Did you catch it because that is coming from a new "Top Gun" sequel, somehow the Japanese and the Taiwanese flags from Maverick's jacket in the original has been replaced with something that you don't know what the hell they are.
So ok, do we know if Paramount actually made this decision, whether it was their decision alone or whether it's pressure coming from Beijing because that's happened in the past.
SUN: Right. Yes. Now, so Paramount has, nobody from the production has made any statement about why Maverick's, you know, famous patches from the 1986 original "Top Gun" are now different in this movie. I will just say that this film, the new "Top Gun" his co-financed by TenCen, which is one of the biggest technology companies in China -- think Google Facebook. That level on the co-finance by that company.
That company also co-owns Sky Dance which is Top Gun's -- Paramount's co-producer. So you can connect the dots. Those are the facts.
VAUSE: But tom Cruise looks the same -- it is weird.
SUN: He will always look the same John. You and I will die out and he will look the same.
VAUSE: Thanks. Good to see you -- Rebecca.
SUN: Thank you -- John.
VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. A lot more news after a very short break.
[01:52:22] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) END