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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Announces He Will Resign; South Korea: North Korea Tested New Type of Short-Range Missile; Former Special Counsel Testifies Before Congress; Record Temperature Could Collapse Notre Dame Ceiling. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired July 25, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Will Ripley and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Coming up, Rossello is resigning after days of massive protests. The governor of Puerto Rico says he is giving people what they want.
Robert Mueller finally testifies, delivering more meh than magic but making clear his investigation does not exonerate President Trump.
Plus, Boris Johnson's cabinet carnage, the new U.K. prime minister sacks half of Theresa May's team, packing his cabinet with true Brexit believers.
RIPLEY: We begin this hour in Puerto Rico, where embattled governor Ricardo Rossello has announced he will resign, effective a week from Friday. He had been facing pressure to resign for weeks after those protests kept getting bigger and bigger, protesters demanding Rossello answer for his homophobic and profanity-laced chat messages between him and his closest aides that had been leaked to the public.
But even before that, many Puerto Ricans lost confidence in their governor and accused his administration of corruption. CNN's Rafael Romo is in San Juan with the latest.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An explosion of joy, singing, shouting and dancing here on the streets of old San Juan after these people learned that Governor Ricardo Rossello announced that he was going to resign effective August 2nd at 5:00 in the afternoon.
It is the announcement that these people had been waiting for, for the last 12 days, every single day they have been protesting and demanding his resignation and the reality is that Governor Rossello did not really have too many options. He was facing what would have been a very embarrassing impeachment
process that would've started Thursday and also, he has lost many of the members of his cabinet. This week he have lost three already and also the support of very important donors in his party.
So when the news was heard here on the streets, people were elated and it was a very difficult situation for the island, because let's remember that it is the very first time in the history of Puerto Rico that a governor resigns since the late 1940s, when people were able for the first time to elect their own governors.
Now, the Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez is going to be sworn in after Governor Ricardo Rossello makes his resignation effective on August 2nd. It is going to be a very difficult task for her, because she has to rebuild the government and also, let's remember that Puerto Rico will have to hold elections in 2020.
But again, people here in old San Juan are incredibly happy that this has happened -- Rafael Romo, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
RIPLEY: Amazing scenes there.
Protester Isabel Batteria Parera has been calling for Rossello's resignation and she joins me now live via Skype from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
So is the celebration still happening there?
I know you are inside now.
ISABEL BATTERIA PARERA, PROTESTER: Yes, I had to come in, to be honest, we did not think this was going to happen today and I was a little bit afraid of my safety. I thought that if he did not resign today, that everybody was going -- that there were going to be riots, so I came home earlier than I would have, had I known he was going to actually resign tonight.
RIPLEY: So the issue that brought people out to the streets, obviously the catalysts were those awful text messages that were insulting to pretty much everybody.
But it triggered something deeper, didn't it?
PARERA: Yes, yes it did and you just said that and I got goose bumps. The thing is, we have been victims of corrupt government for decades. And those government had put us in -- due to the corruption -- in the economic situation we are in right now that was intensified after Hurricane Maria came.
We have never actually been able to protest them. When Hurricane Maria came and devastated the island and everybody had some kind of PTSD, that we are instructed to suppress, to repress, because everybody just told us to keep calm and carry on, because --
PARERA: -- whining was not going to make the country better. So suddenly we had -- not only they addressed specific things that triggered some memories from the hurricane but they also addressed some specific -- you know, it is the first time we can pinpoint, people's names and last names, corruption.
And what I mean is it became a very important thing to us to finally have some tools to go against the corrupt government.
RIPLEY: The jokes about bodies piling up during Hurricane Maria, that itself was just horrifying, mortifying.
What was it for you that was the final straw that got you out on the streets?
PARERA: Well, I don't know. Like many Puerto Ricans, I was just waiting for a call, I guess. Unfortunately, we don't operate individually. We go with the hype and something that I usually remember, I was a FEMA inspector.
I did not work for FEMA but FEMA contracts companies to do the inspections for damage in the homes and people in the survivors' homes and I had the opportunity to visit around 700 homes of people who were victims of Maria.
Either they had lost everything or they had lost some of their belongings or some of them have lost loved ones. And I saw this. I saw the people, actually, and I saw the real trouble. And we were in a limbo after Maria because of the corrupt government.
Because the government would not tell us what was going on. For two or three weeks we did not know what was going on and the government didn't respond.
RIPLEY: And now, the governor is resigning but you still have a long battle ahead because the corruption, the systemic corruption, that still lingers and that is the message you have sent to your government.
Isabel Batteria Parera, a huge night for the people of Puerto Rico and we thank you for staying up late with us and sharing your story.
PARERA: Thank you so much. Thank you so much.
RIPLEY: Now to the long-awaited testimony of the former special counsel Robert Mueller. Democrats had hoped that the Mueller report, that 448-page book, would come alive like a Hollywood blockbuster on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Instead, they got a largely lackluster performance as Mueller testified before two House committees.
CNN's Jessica Schneider reports there was plenty of detail but few made for TV moments.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The special counsel highlighting the major findings of his report before two divided House committees. Democrats drilled in on the damaging details while Republicans focused on alleged bias on Mueller's team and worked to discredit the special counsel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: So, the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, RUSSIA PROBE: That is correct.
NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Which presidential candidate was Russia's hacking and dumping operation designed to benefit?
Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
MUELLER: Mr. Trump.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Mueller kept it succinct, often delivering one word responses while deferring or declining to answer questions more than 200 times.
MUELLER: I direct you to the report.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Republicans describe his performances as shaky, saying at times he seemed to not know details of his own report.
REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): When you are talking about the firm that produced the Steele reporting, the name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS, is that correct?
MUELLER: I'm not familiar with that.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But Mueller did hit back against the president's repeated attempts to discredit his investigation.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?
MUELLER: It is not a witch hunt.
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Also the president's attempt to get McGahn to create a false written record were related to Mr. Trump's concerns about your obstruction of justice inquiry, correct?
MUELLER: I believe that to be true.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): One of Mueller's most direct responses was to candidate Trump's public request for stolen documents to be posted to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
MUELLER: Problematic is an understatement in terms of whether it explains in terms of giving some, I don't know, hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And defended his decision not to subpoena the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you not subpoena the president?
MUELLER: The implication was if we did subpoena the president, he would fight the subpoena and we would be in the midst of the investigation for a substantial period of time.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Mueller also said the president's written answers seemed to be untruthful.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Isn't it fair to say that the president's written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete --
DEMINGS: -- because he did not answer many of your questions but where he did, his answers show that he was not always being truthful?
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Overall Mueller appeared reticent but defended his investigation against repeated Republican attacks.
REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): And it is starting to look, like having desperately tried and failed to make a legal case against the president, you made a political case instead. You put it in a paper sack, lit on fire, dropped It on our, porch, rang the doorbell and ran.
MUELLER: I don't think you will have reviewed a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report we have in front of us.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): All while some members of Congress attempted to sully his reputation and elevate the president.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT JR. (R-TX): What he is doing is not obstructing justice. He is pursuing justice and the fact that you ran it out in two years means --
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Republican John Ratcliffe took issue with the Mueller report's entire second volume, which laid out the obstruction of justice case against the president. REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX): Donald Trump is not above the law. He is not but he damn sure should not be below the law, which is where volume two of this report puts him.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Mueller did correct one consequential answer he gave to Democrat Ted Lieu about the decision not to charge the president for obstruction.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): That you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion thing you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?
MUELLER: That is correct.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The attorney general has repeatedly said this was not the case and Mueller's team assured Justice Department officials back in March that the OLC opinion was not the only reason they declined to make a decision on obstruction.
Mueller tried to correct the record at the beginning of the second hearing.
MUELLER: That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.
SCHNEIDER: Robert Mueller's main message was clear. He said that the Russian threat in our elections is very real. He also said a Russian interference in 2016 was not a hoax and he said that his investigation was not a witch hunt.
Also something that Robert Mueller acknowledged, that an indictment of the president after he leaves office is still possible -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
RIPLEY: Despite Donald Trump saying he might see a little bit of Mueller's testimony, it sure seems like he saw a lot. I mean he spent much of Wednesday tweeting about the hearings and then after they were over, of course, he did a victory lap, proudly proclaiming it was a very good day for him and for Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was no defense for this ridiculous hoax, this which had that has been going on for a long time, pretty much from the time I came down on the escalator with our first lady and it is a disgrace what happened but I think today proved a lot to everybody. The answer is very simple. Nothing was done wrong, this was all a big hoax and if you look at it today. Nothing was done wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: Political analyst Michael Genovese joins me now to talk more about what exactly unfolded on Capitol Hill today.
Michael, good to have you with us.
Let's start off with, do you think this was a good day or bad day for President Trump?
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it was a little of both. It was a good day in the sense that there was no smoking gun, there was no color sound bite that you're going to play over and over again that would be terribly damaging to the president. So in that sense he came out OK.
In another sense, though, it was damaging because, while the president was correct when he said that Mueller did not look good, he did not perform well and part of politics is, as a performer and it is true, Mueller did not perform well, so on style points, he did poorly.
But on substance it was an incredibly damning report in which he talked about the president lying, misdirecting, obstruction was mentioned many times, there was a tremendous amount of evidence, so in that sense, the president may have had a victory but it was a pyrrhic victory in the sense that like the knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," who keeps getting limbs chopped off one after another and keeps saying, but I'm winning, I'm OK, Trump went on the South Lawn and said, I'm winning, I'm OK. And maybe he is winning and maybe he is OK but it was still a damning indictment that Mr. Mueller made against the president.
RIPLEY: I guess the question, is how many people are focusing on the substance but that is the media's job, to break it down, an analyst such as yourself, so what would you say is the cumulative portrait that emerges from Mueller's testimony?
GENOVESE: Well, the Democrats had a hard time developing a clear and concise narrative and that was in part because of the way this process works.
Five minutes to the Democrats, five to Republicans and so you can never have a consistent narrative that you develop. What Democrats are trying to do is get Mueller to say things like, yes, the president was misleading. Yes, the president was not forthcoming. Yes, the president may have obstructed justice --
GENOVESE: -- and Mueller was very reluctant to draw those kinds of conclusions. He stuck as much as he could to the report.
But I think there are a couple of things that really stood out. One, in regards to Congresswoman Demings getting when she talked, about you know, the president's responses and she is going, well, they were not really honest, were they?
And Mueller is going, generally. That is damning against the president and then quickly was talking about Trump's association with WikiLeaks, which helped the president get reelected, many people believe and the president, Mr. Mueller, was asked what he thought about that and he goes, quote, "Problematic is an understatement." So there was a lot of materials, a lot of sound bites. Will they have
Hard to say.
RIPLEY: Ironically, one of the most damaging moments for President Trump was that line of questioning by a Republican congressman, Ken Buck of Colorado. Let's play that.
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Was there sufficient evidence to convict President Trump or anyone else with obstruction of justice?
MUELLER: We did not make that calculation.
BUCK: How could you not have made the calculation?
MUELLER: Because OLC opinion, the OLC opinion, Office of Legal Counsel indicates we cannot indict a sitting president, so one of the tools that a prosecutor would use is not there.
BUCK: Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: So, powerful moment?
GENOVESE: It potentially was, because it got a lot of commentators to say, well, the 2020 election is about a second term or a prison term . And I don't know that that is literally true but if the president does lose in 2020, then he is subject to -- and I don't know this would come about -- but he would be subject a criminal prosecution.
RIPLEY: What would you say is the likely impact of these two hearings?
GENOVESE: I don't think they moved the needle very much. I think, instead of changing opinions, they hardened opinions, which you would expect in a very partisan era, hyperpartisanship, where tribal loyalties are more important than truth.
So I don't think they had a tremendous impact. The one thing that is most, I think, disconcerting, at least to me, is that it was very clear -- and Mueller was trying to stress this and his report, started with this, the Russians were deeply involved. They worked hard to assist the president to interfere with our elections and they did it and they are still doing it.
The president on the South Lawn this afternoon said oh, it was a hoax. See, WikiLeaks, it is all a big hoax, which means that we are not ready for 2020 when Mueller said they are still doing it. They are still interfering with our elections and will do so in the future, so on the national security basis, we are really jeopardizing the security of our elections and our democracy. And the president, for personal reasons, is trying to make it into a
hoax. It is not a hoax. It is real and it is a very deep problem.
RIPLEY: And that is indeed the bottom line. Michael Genovese, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
RIPLEY: A series of blasts rocked the Afghan capital on Thursday morning, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 20. The explosions happened in two police districts in Kabul. One bomb was apparently attached to a bus, carrying government employees. Details are still coming in and we will bring you more as they come in.
Next on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.K. has a new prime minister, Boris Johnson. Yes, he is promising to finish what Theresa May could not: a complete withdrawal from the European Union.
RIPLEY: The U.K. has a new prime minister and the same old problems. Boris Johnson officially took over the post after receiving the queen's formal approval. The question now is whether he can actually deliver and succeed where Theresa May failed: Brexit. That deadline is less than 100 days away.
As CNN's Anna Stewart reports, Mr. Johnson promises to defy what he calls the doubters and the doomsters.
BORIS JOHNSON, INCOMING U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We are going to fulfill the repeated promises of Parliament to the people and come out of the E.U. on October the 31st, no ifs or buts.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fighting words from the new prime minister, who laid out his vision for the U.K. with the usual oratorical flourish.
JOHNSON: The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters, they are going to get it wrong again. The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts.
STEWART (voice-over): These were Boris Johnson's first remarks as prime minister, indeed his first appearance to date. He was notably absent from Parliament, perhaps not to overshadow his predecessor's last prime minister's questions. Theresa May didn't hold back from one last sparring match with the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn. THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As a party leader who has accepted when her time was up, perhaps the time is now for him to do the same.
STEWART (voice-over): After this biting remark, May delivered her final farewell to Downing Street, wishing Boris Johnson good fortune and thanking the country.
MAY: To serve as prime minister of the United Kingdom is the greatest honor.
STEWART (voice-over): Failing to deliver Brexit will ultimately be Theresa May's legacy, one that saw her heading to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation far sooner than she might have wanted.
STALLWORTH: A change of the guard on Downing Street isn't just an historic moment, it's an emotional rollercoaster. There is empathy for the outgoing prime minister, particularly one who failed to deliver what she set out to do and faced so much division.
There's an eerie sense of calm, perhaps the calm before the storm, as everyone awaits the new prime minister. And, of course, a huge weight of expectation, what will he say and what will he do and ultimately what his legacy will be?
STEWART (voice-over): No doubt the queen had some words of advice for Mr. Johnson when she asked him to form a government. After all, it's her 14th prime minister. And while Boris Johnson went into Downing Street alone, unlike his predecessors, who walked in with partners and children, his girlfriend, Carrie Simmons, stood to the side in support.
JOHNSON: We in this government will work flat-out to give this country the leadership it deserves. And that work begins now.
STEWART (voice-over): And he was quick to appoint a new crack team. Sajid Javid takes the top role of finance minister, becoming the first Asian to hold that position. He bid for the leadership role against Boris Johnson, as did Dominic Raab, staunch Brexiteer and new foreign secretary and deputy prime minister.
Completing the top team is another Brexiteer, Priti Patel for home secretary. All change at the top but potentially no change when it comes to division in Parliament and the E.U. stance that it will not reopen the withdrawal agreement. Yet there's Johnson led government believes it can succeed when Theresa May has failed -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
RIPLEY: I want to bring in Thom Brooks, dean of the Durham Law School in England.
Tom, it's good to have you with us here. Gosh, the headlines in Britain are extra colorful today.
RIPLEY: "All Guns Blazing." "Night of the Blond Knives." And my favorite, "Cabinet Carnage." That was "The Times." They call this the most brutal cabinet purge in modern political history; 18 cabinet members sacked within hours.
I mean, what does this all signal to you?
THOM BROOKS, DURHAM LAW SCHOOL: It is really incredible. I think partly it shows that Boris Johnson is Billy No Mates, he is not popular, genuinely, with a lot of MPs in his party. He is a very divisive figure. He got rid of a lot of the people who had been in the cabinet with him under Theresa May and brought in a lot of people, a handful of folks that had been part of his Vote Leave campaign.
And also very interestingly, gave a job to his little brother, Joe, who was universities minister, who resigned, calling for a second referendum but said now back with his brother in the new cabinet. So I think it is very much a ruthless sacking of some experienced people, who would be formidable foes on the back benches now.
RIPLEY: Let's take a look at his cabinet by the numbers, shall we?
There are 31 ministers, eight females, the percentage of women is down, by the way. A slightly younger average age of 48; 57 years of combined experience, that is around half of the old cabinet. And at 12 he had double the number of Brexiteers, so as you look at this whole line up here, what is standing out to you?
How do you see things shaking over the next hundred or so days?
BROOKS: Well, I think in these appointments, there is a lot of controversial decisions that have been made. I think there are some good ones. I think there is Robert Buckland, the new lord chancellor. That was a good appointment but I think overall that this is about the bringing together of the true believers. The people who thought that if only we put on a big smile and was kind of firm with Europe about wanting a change to the deal, that somehow the European Union, much bigger than the U.K. outside it, would buckle to the U.K.'s demands and give way.
And still we have no definitive alternate plan for Brexit from Boris Johnson, just that he was going to deliver, Brexit have some kind of wonderful plan But we don't know what will be different about his plan than Theresa May's plan and I think it is this lack of detail and this seemingly overwhelming belief that will be their undoing.
They genuinely believe they can do it and if they cannot, then they will have no one else to blame but themselves.
RIPLEY: Well, certainly some of that you can draw comparisons with the president here the United States in terms of just bubbling with self confidence but the results are what matter. Boris Johnson once famously said, I'll read this quote here, "My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars or my being reincarnated as an olive." So what are his chances of delivering Brexit by October 31st?
BROOKS: He is known for several colorful phrases and it is remarkable, I think someone who was a back bencher, not in the current government, making it to prime minister, it has not been done I think in modern history and so for that I think he has done well. I think his chances of delivering Brexit are pretty close to nothing at all.
And the reason is this, there is a deal, the European Union saying they will not change it. If he were to agree to this deal, he is against then Brexit would happen but he wants to do a different deal or go down a no deal option.
He wants to negotiate. That leaves no deal as a more realistic prospect potentially. However, he has 99 days.
What does no deal really mean?
It means Britain not being part of the European Union's regulation framework, not being part of its agencies, not being part of its departments. It means Britain having to establish departments with people in place, hire people, staff agencies, set up its own, I guess, parallel regulatory frameworks, where, of course, the number of areas of trade and non-trade areas that there simply is not any time to do, which is why the threat of no deal is -- has always been not credible.
It would take years to do so I think this is a lot of bluster, there's a lot of playing to the crowd. Boris Johnson was very pro E.U. before taking a shocking turn and decide to go full on for Brexit.
I think his rhetoric and his little flourishes are going to haunt him big-time, because he is putting everything leaving on Halloween this year and if he were not to deliver that or if he were to deliver it and the economy get worse, this is the man who promised Brexit was going to make us better off.
If we are not better off then I think voters will be very unforgiving, however they voted three years ago.
RIPLEY: Could be a frightful Halloween but I guess we will have to wait and see. Thom Brooks, appreciate your expertise, thanks for joining us.
RIPLEY: South Korea's military says North Korea has fired a new type of short-range missile into the sea. Is this a provocation or is it a plea for diplomacy? We will go live to Seoul.
RIPLEY: Welcome back. I'm Will Ripley. Let's update you on our top news this hour. Crowds in San Juan, Puerto Rico, cheering, as the Governor Ricardo Rossello announces he will step down a week from Friday, after days of protests against his administration accused of corruption.
He's been embroiled in scandal over messages that he and his inner circle exchanged that included homophobic and well, just sexist language.
Theresa May is out. Boris Johnson is in, as Britain's new prime minister. He immediately replaced much of May's cabinet, filling it with Brexit loyalists on Wednesday. He also vowed to defy the doubters and the doomsters by taking the U.K. out of the European Union by October 31st, deal or no deal.
South Korea's military says North Korea test fired a new type of short-range missile on Thursday. They fired it from the coastal city of Wonsan, North Korea's east coast. Now, Seoul considers this action a threat, a threat that they say undermines efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The launches are the first since President Trump made history when he met with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, last month, at the demilitarized zone and even crossed over onto North Korean soil.
Even after seven hours on the hot seat, no new bombshells, and the debate still rages in Washington over what exactly the takeaways are from Robert Mueller's long-awaited testimony before Congress. The former special counsel took questions from two House Committees on Wednesday about his report that he worked on for almost two years, into Russian interference in the U.S. elections.
And while he dodged and deflected most of the time, Mueller did confirm a pretty sobering fact that Russia continues to meddle in U.S. politics, right now. He debunked President Trump's claim that his investigation was a witch hunt.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Would you agree that it was not a hoax that the Russians were engaged in trying to impact our election?
ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL FOR THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Absolutely. It was not a hoax. The indictments we return against the Russians -- two different ones -- were substantial in their scope, using the scope word again.
[02:35:10] And I think we have underplayed to a certain extent and that aspect of our investigation that has and would have long term damage to the United States that we need to move quickly to address.
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our elections or did you find evidence to suggest they'll try to do this again?
MUELLER: It wasn't a single attempt. They're doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): My concern is, have we established a new normal from this past campaign that is going to apply to future campaigns, so that if any one of us running for the U.S. House, any candidate for the U.S. Senate, any candidate for the presidency of the United States, aware that if hostile foreign powers trying to influence an election has no duty to report that to the FBI or other authorities?
MUELLER: I hope --
WELCH: Go ahead.
MUELLER: I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I gather that you believe that knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.
MUELLER: And a crime.
SCHIFF: And a crime.
MUELLER: Circumstances, yes. And a crime given certain circumstances.
SCHIFF: And to the degree that it undermines our democracy and our institutions, we can agree that it's also unpatriotic.
SCHIFF: And wrong.
RIPLEY: President Trump, well, he claimed victory in the wake of Mueller's testimony, calling it a very good day for himself and Republicans. CNN's Abby Phillip has more from the White House.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump using his Twitter feed to offer a play by play of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited testimony on Capitol Hill. His review, it's an embarrassment to our country. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Democrat, Adam Schiff, firing back.
SCHIFF: That there is an angry man down the street who's not happy about you being here today.
PHILLIP: After years of attacks.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Robert Mueller, I know his conflicted.
PHILLIP: Mueller finally offering his side of the story, refuting the president's claim that he wanted the FBI director job.
REP. GREG STEUBE (R-FL): So your statement here today is that you didn't interview to apply for the FBI director job.
MUELLER: That's correct.
PHILLIP: Countering Trump's insistence that he cooperated fully with the investigation.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Did the president refuse your request to be interviewed by you and your team?
NADLER: Yes. And is it true that you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the president?
PHILLIP: Defending his team of lawyers from attacks.
MUELLER: I've been in this business for almost 25 years and in those 25 years, I have not had an occasion, wants to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done.
PHILLIP: Rejecting Trump's conclusion that the report totally exonerated him on obstruction of justice and that the investigation was a witch hunt.
SCHIFF: Well, your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?
MUELLER: It is not a witch hunt.
SCHIFF: When the president said the Russian interference was a hoax, that was false, wasn't it?
PHILLIP: Midway through Mueller's two-part testimony, the president and his allies, claiming victory. Trump's re-election campaign communications director declaring the Democrats took a big swing at it today and whiffed completely.
Another White House aide dismissing the Mueller testimony as the last gasp of the Russia investigation, telling CNN, it is so done. But the former special counsel's careful testimony did leave one door open.
SCHIFF: Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?
PHILLIP: Abby Phillip, CNN, the White House.
RIPLEY: Let's get right to Michael Zeldin to weigh in on today's hearings. He's a CNN legal analyst and was Robert Mueller's special assistant at the U.S. Department of Justice. Michael, it's good to have you back.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks Will.
RIPLEY: So, after more than five hours of questioning, you talked about this being a movie. What kind of a movie was it?
ZELDIN: Maybe 37 on the rotten apple scale, it was not compelling. It's not going to win any academy awards for any of the star players here. It was really a very dry and rather dull performance, I think, all around.
RIPLEY: We'll have to see what the ratings are whether they, kind of, went up or went down over the course of those five hours.
RIPLEY: What was your biggest take away aside from the dry factor?
ZELDIN: Well, on a substantive level, the Democrats were able to ask the questions and illicit the answers to allow them to make the closing argument to America that the president of the United States actually obstructed justice and actually was a willing user of Russian stolen information. And that's what they needed to get out of this.
[02:40:03] The Republicans on the other hand, I think, also, were able to get that -- Mueller had some issues with the origination of this investigation and that he really didn't do some of the things that they hoped he would do, as an investigator, but he didn't talk too much about what they want to talk about the Steele dossier, et cetera. That was --
RIPLEY: He managed to disappoint, essentially, Republicans and Democrats, because he said right off the bat that some of their key topics were off limits.
ZELDIN: Exactly, and it's a hell of a way to open up a movie where the guy says, that what you guys want to talk to me about, I am not going to talk to you about, so what's your first question? It had to be very disappointing for everybody there.
RIPLEY: You know, it's been more than 100 days since the Mueller report's release, and this was kind of seen as the last chance to revive the political impact of the Mueller report. Did it do that?
ZELDIN: I don't think so. I don't think this will move the needle one way or the other. I think both sides will make their arguments and the American people will yawn and it may well be the end of the matter.
Unless, of course, the Democrats, you know, prevail in court and get Don McGahn and Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks and all of these first knowledge players to offer their live testimony. That could change things, but that's not going to happen for any short -- any time that short.
RIPLEY: We heard a moment ago just how compelling Robert Mueller was at points during this very dry testimony, especially when he was defending his team, but let's be honest, there were also some pretty shaky moments, as well. I'm going to play a couple for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R-OH): Is it accurate to say your investigation found no evidence that members of the Trump campaign were involved in the theft or publication of the Clinton campaign-related e-mails?
MUELLER: I don't know. I don't know.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): On July 22nd, through WikiLeaks, thousands of these e-mails that were -- that were stolen by the Russian government appeared. Correct? That's on page six of the report. This is the WikiLeaks posting of those e-mails.
MUELLER: I can't find it quickly, but I -- please continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIPLEY: He certainly had time to prepare. What do you think was going on there?
ZELDIN: It's a very good question. I don't know whether it was just he had trouble hearing the question or he was failing to understand what the import of the question was and therefore, he was deflecting it, but it really was not a good moment for Bob Mueller, not consistent with the Bob Mueller I worked for who was always on the top of his game.
RIPLEY: It's, sort of, you know, speaks to your point that you made last night that he was really a reluctant witness. He didn't want to do this.
ZELDIN: Yes, yes. And he showed that over and over and over. They would ask him, would you please read this from the report? He said no, you read it. He just wasn't going to participate in the way that they wanted him to participate.
RIPLEY: Do you think he diminished the impact of, you know, almost two years of work, putting this report together with this testimony?
ZELDIN: Yes, I think it undermined the forcefulness that the report has. When you read that report, if one were to read the report, it's a pretty telling document of both the Trump campaign's willingness to receive information from the Russians and behavior that the president undertook to interfere with or attempt to interfere with that investigation. It's a powerful read.
There was no power in the testimony today. And that, you know, for the sake of the American people to understand what happened here was unfortunate.
RIPLEY: Does this undermine the trust that Americans are going to have in the findings of this report, that the media has summarized, but, you know, then they accuse of fake news, essentially?
ZELDIN: I don't think so, I mean, I think, really, in some sense, it is what it is, and the American people really want to move on from this, so I don't think it is going to undermine its, you know, authority or the gravity of it, but it now becomes a historical document rather than a newsworthy story.
RIPLEY: Time to move on, in other words.
ZELDIN: In a way, yes.
RIPLEY: Michael Zeldin, thanks for your time. We really appreciate it.
ZELDIN: Thanks Will.
RIPLEY: South Korea's military says North Korea has fired two projectiles and actually now they're saying they are a new kind of short-range missile, right into the sea. It's Pyongyang's first weapons test since President Trump set foot on North Korean soil, so after all of those beautiful letters, what is Chairman Kim trying to tell President Trump?
[02:47:03] RIPLEY: North Korea is stirring up the pot yet again. South Korea's military says its neighbor launched a new type of short- range missile early Thursday.
It considers the test a threat, a threat that South Korea says undermines efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul also says the missiles were fired into the sea for North Korea's East Coast.
These were the first test launches since President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month at the demilitarized zone. Remember when he walked over the military demarcation line in the North Korea?
And they also come just days after North Korea released these photos of their leader Kim Jong-un inspecting what appeared to be a submarine. Another attempt perhaps to signal Pyongyang's increasing military capabilities.
Kenneth Choi joins me now live from Seoul. He is the international editor at the Chosun, Ilbo newspaper in South Korea. Ken, it's good to see you, good to have you with us. And I'm curious if you think this launch -- I think, Ken is actually still getting wired up. So, we're going to still look at this picture of the submarine.
This is the magic of me having a preview monitor, so, I can see Ken, getting ready on the shot here. These are the images that North Korea released of this submarine that they say likely could carry a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
The U.S. actually took a look at these photos and assessed that it was a refurbished submarine. I think Ken is now ready to get on camera. Ken, you didn't know I could -- I could actually see you in the monitor there, getting your microphone on at the last moment. But you're a T.V. pro, you've done this enough.
KENNETH CHOI, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, THE CHOSUN ILBO: Thanks.
RIPLEY: Good to have you on, Ken.
CHOI: Well, thanks, Will.
RIPLEY: Yes. So, I'm curious if you see this launch as a provocation or a plea to restart talks with the U.S.
CHOI: I'd rather go with the second, the plea. Because the way I look at it is this. You know it's like a deja vu of six-party talks, except that -- you know, each countries are sending their ambassadors. They are sending warplanes, and you know, firing missiles and so on heightening the military tensions in the region.
But you know, right now, as you know that Japan and Korea is having, you know, disputes over this wartime comfort woman issues. And you know, yesterday, the Russians and Chinese warplanes entered into South Korean airspace.
So, there's a bit of a chaos and North Korea, instead of being left out, in the region, you know, he wants to exert its existence. So, it fires two missiles into the -- you know, exact location on E.C. And right now, the U.S. is --
RIPLEY: Do you actually think that's spontaneous, Ken? Do you -- do you think that like they look at events on the peninsula and in the region, and maybe even the testimony in the U.S., and would actually be a factor in their timing of a launch?
CHOI: Well, they sort of weighing on and they were probably preparing for the launch. And then they just saw this as an opportune moment to fire the missiles into the region, make sure that their voices are heard.
And what North Koreans wants is, you know, obviously, you know, the ease of sanctions on North Korea by -- you know, U.S.-led sanctions -- economic sanctions, obviously, because you know, their economic situation is getting worse and worse.
And, you know, this is the probably the best time that they can exert their influence into this -- you know, whole process. And I think, you know, the North Koreans are demanding and hoping that some sort of a -- you know, concessions from the U.S. side on economic sanctions. And they will probably go on with -- you know, I mean, the denuclearization discussions.
I don't know how far or how -- you know, how far they have come. But hopefully, they do come back to the table and start -- you know, this process. Because North Korea doesn't have any hope. So, if they just continue to go down the same path as in the previous year.
[02:50:58] RIPLEY: Right, this kind of a test, kind of is -- it could be viewed as positioning themselves to have more leverage in those talks. You know, President Trump and Chairman Kim had pledged that they were going to restart the working-level talks this month.
That was supposed to happen almost two weeks ago. What does it say to you that it hasn't happened?
CHOI: Well, no, nothing has happened it's just not the matter of whether -- you know, a discussion -- I mean, even the discussions didn't happen so far. And North Korea's refusing to enter into tables. And recently, it is reported that North Korea is not going to send Ri Yong-ho into ARF -- properly meeting with -- you know, Secretary Pompeo.
That alone shows that North Korea is not entering into any discussions. You know, they are really firm to get the concessions from the U.S. And at the same -- at the same time, U.S. is not going to give anything to North Korea unless North Korea commits for denuclearization process.
So, you know, for the moment, this is sort of a tit-for-tat of things will probably go on for a while.
RIPLEY: And in the past, we've seen North Korea start small with these launches, and then as diplomacy faltered, the things that were launched got bigger. We certainly hope that's not the case this time around.
But Ken Choi, it's always great to have your perspective. Thanks for joining us live from Seoul.
President Trump has rejected congressional attempts to stop the sale of certain weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He vetoed three bills on Wednesday. They were supported by both Democrats and Republicans, by the way.
Mr. Trump, though, he said the measures were ill-conceived, he also said they would not address the root causes of the conflict in Yemen. And Mr. Trump claimed that they would negatively affect the U.S. relationship with several countries.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, she is accusing the president of turning a blind eye to what she calls Saudi Arabia's horrific abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
More fallout from Europe's sweltering heat wave. It's create a concern about France's most famous cathedral. Also, its focusing attention on health problems as Europe tries to keep its cool, roasting, and record high temperatures.
RIPLEY: A vicious heat wave is baking Europe for a second time this summer. And people really don't have A.C. a lot in Europe. It normally doesn't get this hot. But these are scorching temperatures and they are expected to reach new perhaps record highs on Thursday. Records have already fallen in Germany, Belgium, in France, and in Britain. Sunseekers have been flocking to local rivers and beaches just trying to keep cool.
The mercury there could touch 39 degrees. Something the U.K. has never recorded. In the coming hours, a record temperature in Paris set in 1947 that could also be toppled. French capital is under a weather alert until the heat wave lets up.
And its beloved Notre Dame Cathedral could be in jeopardy from the extreme heat. The chief architect overseeing the landmark's recovery from April's devastating fire says these record high temperatures could really do a number on the vaulted ceiling.
PHILIPPE VILLENEUVE, CHIEF ARCHITECT OF NOTRE DAME (through translator): I am very worried about the heat wave because as you know, the cathedral suffered from the fire. The beams coming down, but also the shock from the water from the firefighters.
The masonry is saturated with water. It hasn't moved. It's stable. We place sensors everywhere and we haven't detected any movement since the beginning. What I fear is that the joints or the masonry as they dry, lose their coherence, their cohesion, and their structural qualities and that all of a sudden, the vault gives way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:55:25] RIPLEY: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is here with us. So, any relief in sight?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Oh, it's a couple of days away. We still have among the hottest trends of weather here in recent memory across portions of the Europe, of course.
And when you take a look at this, the extreme nature of this particular event here sending those temperature -- temperatures well into the 30s and in some cases well into the 40s, really remarkable. And, in fact, you look at the weather advisories, upwards of 20 nations with some sort of weather advisories, some high heat alerts whether it be down in Corsica or, of course, in France. The next-door there in Belgium and also in and around Luxembourg as well is setting those record temperatures over the last couple of days, and expecting it to continue.
Because you look at this, from Wednesday afternoon, we set some 85 records across France, all-time record highs. Some 145 July records were set in the country of France. And then work your way again next door, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, all of them pushing up into the upper 30s and low 40s. These were hottest days on record for them and we expect this to culminate this afternoon across this region among the hottest trends again we've ever seen.
Look at this. 40 degrees in the forecast, 22 what you expect for this time of year, and drops off sharply, finally, come Saturday afternoon that kind of moderates back out into the middle 20s across that region.
But across the U.K. as well, alluded to here when you make it up to 39 degrees that has never happened. And, of course, we've got hundreds of years of weather record-keeping across this portion of the world to look at, and really speaks to how significant of an event this is.
Paris expecting a 42 into the afternoon hours. 1947, that's the hottest we've seen there at 40.4 degrees. That record could easily be set and shattered over the next few hours. And again, cooler air is slated for this region as we go in towards Saturday and Sunday.
We know the Tour de France is taking place as well. And certainly, going to be a rough go across that region. But, want to show you an animation here. A 3D animation kind of breaking down exactly how things play out comparing it to a Middle Eastern city.
Take Tehran, for example, and Paris. When you look at these cities and you're looking at temperatures we're in on average about 37 and Tehran will make it up to 40 degrees on Thursday, and you compare the 24 out of Paris in the Eiffel Tower there. And, of course, temps there are climbing up to 42 degrees, just some six degrees shy of being some twice hotter than where it should be for this time of year. Incredible heat.
RIPLEY: Pedram, thank you. And thank you for joining us.