Return to Transcripts main page
President Trump Continues Tweet Attacks on Rep. Rashida Tlaib; Hong Kong Protests Reach Eleventh Week; North Korean Missile Launches Discussed; Greenland Not for Sale; Gibraltar Frees Iranian Tanker; Russian Military Projects Faltering; Hundreds Gather for Marjory Basco Funeral in El Paso. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 17, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: U.S. President Trump accuses a congresswoman of grandstanding in her spat with Israel.
The U.S. issues a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker but Gibraltar says the ship is free to go.
And in El Paso, Texas, 100s show up to mourn a woman they did not know; a victim of this month's Wal-Mart shooting.
The stories and much more ahead this hour, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen in Atlanta, CNN "Newsroom" starts right now.
Thank you again for joining us. Our top story U.S. President Donald Trump is slamming a democratic congresswomen for rejecting Israel's decision to lets her travel to the West Bank. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to the U.S. Congress, earlier had been barred by Israel from visiting. Then Israel granted Tlaib permission to visit her elderly grandmother in the West Bank but Tlaib declined. That prompted President Trump to fire off a dig at Tlaib. He tweeted this, "The only real winner is Tlaib's grandmother, she doesn't have to see her now." For more about it here is CNN's Oren Liebermann from Jerusalem.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The planned visit of Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to Israel has turned into a bit of a drama with each side here trying to have the last say. After promising to let the two democratic congresswomen in, Israel reversed that decision on Thursday under pressure from Donald Trump. Israel saying they would be denied entry because of their support of a boycott movement against Israel.
But there was an opening for Tlaib who has family in the West Bank. She could be allowed to make a humanitarian visit to her family, including her 90-year-old grandmother, if she agreed to Israel's restrictions. She did and was granted permission but quickly did an about face. She said visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart. Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less than is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice. Her family backed her up on this decision.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through interpreter) We are against the conditional visit of Rashida to Palestine. Rashida has the right to visit Palestine as a Palestinian regardless of being a congresswoman, as any citizen with a U.S. passport has the right to come and visit their family without any conditions or pressure.
LIEBERMANN: Israel's interior minister, who has the final say on allowing or barring entry to the country, attacked Tlaib on twitter. "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but she was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the state of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's said on Thursday that Israel has tremendous respect for the U.S. congress, republican and democrats, but under Israeli law he's allowed to bar entrance to those who support a boycott of Israel. He made no mention of Tlaib and Omar in his statements and he didn't make any other statements about the issue on Friday. Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with Trump and he was not about to stand to do that now, but one gets the sense that he'd like this story to be over sooner rather than later as he faces a very difficult reelection campaign over the next month. Oren Libermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
ALLEN: Michael Shear is a CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for the "New York Times" joining us now, Michael thanks for being with us.
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
ALLEN: Well, let's begin with the story from Israel that we saw this week, two U.S. Congressmen denied the right to travel there after the U.S. president asked Israel to prohibit it, they did. Well Israel now saying on Friday that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib could visit her grandmother in the West Bank but she demurred saying not under such an oppressive agreement. How does this look for the Israeli government?
SHEAR: Well, look I think for the Israeli government it looks a little bit weak, like they are caving to President Trump who was after all the one that seemed to have convinced them to change their mind. They had originally said that the two young congresswomen could come into Israel despite their views about boycotts in that country but then when President Trump seemed to object and suggest that maybe they shouldn't be allowed in and that is when the Israeli government change their minds but I think in some ways BiBi Netanyahu seems like he kowtowing to doing the American president's business and you know, and yet there is sort of politics on all sides here. I mean clearly the two congresswomen were originally going to Israel for political purposes, they wanted to send a political message of their own and President Trump is clearly playing politics in the United States too so I think all around everyone looks pretty bad.
[01:05:00] ALLEN: Right well we'll see if it has a bigger effect on the Netanyahu government as well but this entire episode with these congresswomen appears to be, in part, perhaps Donald Trump's latest attempt to distract and divide and we have seen this tactic used time and time again when the president wants us to look the other way. What does he not want us to concentrate on?
SHEAR: Well I think the most obvious thing that he does not want us to concentrate on is what appears to be the softening economy, and the global economy in particular. It seems to have -- seems to suggest that it might be heading towards a slowdown and possibly even a recession and I think that terrifies the Trump Administration, and it terrifies the Trump reelection campaign because of all the things that you can sort of look at that has happened over the last two and a half to three years, the one pretty steady thing for President Trump has been the economy which has been pretty steadily improving in the United States until it - I think the fear is for the president if that turns south and people start seeing an economy where stock market is going down, the job numbers, the unemployment rate is going up that that is really going to jeopardize his chance of reelection. So I think in some ways it's hard to get into his head completely, and know exactly what is motivations were but this certainly seemed like another example of reaching for cultural, you know, sort of flashpoints -- cultural hot-button issues so that we look there instead of what else is going on in the country.
ALLEN: Yes, as you say it is hard to get into the president's head but we know despite these warnings, financial warnings from the stock market we saw this week, he does seem to talk about, he is the guy to believe in for the economy and let's listen to a comment he made this week.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have no choice but to vote for me because you are 401(k)s down the tubes, everything will be down the tubes, so whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.
ALLEN: Well, will they? It would be difficult for most Americans to look at their 401(k)s after this week but what is fueling the president's confidence? You touched on this. He thinks no matter what, he's got his base but what about moderate republicans, will they support him if the economy go south?
SHEAR: Well I mean I think that is one really big question. As much as President Trump has dominated all of our lives the last two and a half years, he is clearly the biggest story. He's the biggest focus and he likes it that way, he draws attention to himself.
But the truth is when it comes time for people to vote, he's only half of the equation in the end and you know the question is going to be for some of the swing voters, the moderate republicans you talked about and kind of independents and others, the question is going to be they're going to look at Donald Trump and they're going to make an assessment about him and how they think he has been for their lives but maybe in particular their pocketbooks and their economic situation but then they also have to look at the other side of the equation and say, OK, as much as I might be dissatisfied with where things are at this moment if the economy has turned to south do I trust that whoever the democratic candidate is going to be able to do any better. Can I put my faith in that person and I think that is where President Trump's strategy has been to kind of demonize all democrats as socialists and people that, you heard that in the sound bite right there, it's going to be down the tubes if a democrat gets into office. So I think that is a big unknown. We don't know exactly how people will resolve that calculation, sort of looking at both sides in the end.
ALLEN: Well, we appreciate you joining us. We appreciate your insights on this, Michael Shear thank you so much, Michael.
SHEAR: Certainly, happy to do it.
ALLEN: We turn now to Hong Kong, the eleventh straight weekend of protest is kicking off, a massive pro democracy march is set to begin in just a few hours and those protesters will have support from people across the world. There are also marches planned in Taiwan and London, and this comes just days after clashes between police and protesters at the city's airport. Pro police groups will hold their own rally later Saturday. And we have live video here of this, the Chinese paramilitary troops who have been gathered for days along Hong Kong's border are continuing to perform drills. Their presence is raising fears China could send them in to intervene.
Our Will Ripley joins me now from Hong Kong. Hello to you Will.
It's another weekend and another set of protests. Meanwhile we've seen this buildup of Chinese forces there. Just how much more do you think China will tolerate before it sends them in to break up these protests?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think this weekend is going to be a very important indicator Natalie of the momentum of this protest movement in terms of support from the general public here in Hong Kong because keep in mind before these violent outbreaks that involve relatively small numbers of people, there have been much larger gatherings like the one that we're expecting here just over two hours or so from now. You can see it's obviously empty behind me but what we've learned about this protest movement, this is now the eleventh consecutive week is that people share information on social media and large groups can converge upon an area very quickly. The public transportation system here in Hong Kong allows that. These protests are expressing discontent - discontent towards the Hong Kong city government, discontent towards mainland China. One of the reasons why this location is being chosen is because a lot of mainland Chinese tour buses come here and the people who are expected to turn out and march say that they're doing so because they want to reclaim their neighborhood. But as for China stepping in, I would say that at this stage what we're seeing in Shenzhen, we're seeing the armed military police performing those exercises. It's more propaganda at this stage than the eminent threat of some sort of intervention by mainland China, some Tiananmen Square 2.0 moment. As some analysts have said it would be if China did decide to intervene. I think it is a mainland sending a message, a very clear message that they could step in here at any moment if they wanted to and stomp things out pretty quickly but of course that will come with great consequence as the eyes of the world are watching what is going happen here in Hong Kong, Natalie.
ALLEN: Yes, right and as we mentioned there are going to be rallies in support of these protesters from citizens in other countries, do you think that is the result of the protest, the high profile protest at the airport, was that somewhat a game changer?
SHEAR: That certainly was Natalie. I was in New York when we watched those live pictures unfold and within hours I was in a fight back here to Hong Kong because to a lot of us watching, that seemed to be a real turning point and a potentially dangerous flashpoint really, that protesters took a piece of infrastructure like Hong Kong's airport which is known for its efficiency and were able to grind into a halt for two consecutive evenings. Now things at the airport are now back to normal. They are now checking people's boarding passes and passports before they are allowed in but I think the big question on a lot of people's minds is what's next? For those that have the intent of disruption, what can they do next to go even bigger than the airport? Is that their goal and that's a question to which we just don't know the answer right now.
ALLEN: Well we will know the answer to the crowds at this weekend's rallies there and protests pretty soon. Will Ripley for us. Will, thank you.
Well the CEO of Hong Kong's flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, is out of a job. Rupert Hogg resigned late Friday with hundreds of flights canceled and bookings down, he and the airline had been caught up in the turbulence of the city's pro-democracy protests and to make things more complicated, Beijing had demanded the airline ban any staff who had participated in protests from working on flights entering China or flying in Chinese airspace. His resignation takes effect Monday.
Hong Kong is no stranger to political unrest and massive displays of public anger. Paula Hancocks explains what's fueling the demands for democracy.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was the umbrella movement, a 2014 pro-democracy push in Hong Kong, tens of thousands took to the streets but no government concessions were given. Demonstrations ended but the resentment remained. Five years later, a controversial bill is proposed that could see Hong Kongers extradited to mainland China to stand trial, frustrations boiled over. At the peak of the past two month organizers believe up to 2 million people were on the streets; police say far less. Either way, it was a massive part of Hong Kong. Trying to protect its status as a special administrative region of China, one country two systems. Chief Executive Carrie Lam responded.
CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HONG KONG: There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the legislative council, so I reiterate here there is no such plan; the bill is dead.
HANCOCKS: But it was not the full withdrawal that protesters wanted. There are still fears that it could be resurrected quickly. Civil disobedience on some occasions turned it to criminal damage, breaking into the legislative council building in the center of town, occupying the seat of power in Hong Kong before police cleared protesters out.
The demands grew. An independent investigation into police actions, the release of all those arrested, conditions unpalatable to authorities. Protestors claimed police have used excessive force, tear gas in train stations, baton charges in shopping malls and viral social media videos of clashes used to make their claim. The police counter saying they are constantly being attacked by certain elements saying if they don't use violence, we don't use force.
It is a stalemate that is hard to break as the protesters have no leader; a fluid movement that communicates on social media. U.S. President Donald Trump even suggested that China's President Xi Jinxing could meet with protesters and have it sorted within 15 minutes. No side believes that would ever happen. Joshua Wong was a protest leader in 2014 subsequently spending a month behind bars.
JOSHUA WONG, ACTIVIST LEADER: Without a single individual leader is less chance for a Beijing fraudist [ph] to target a politician and to silence the voice of activists and to stop the protests without any kind of criminalization.
HANCOCKS: With some tactics being used by protesters and police as being criticized for being excessive, both sides have now dug in and it is no longer just a struggle on the streets of Hong Kong, it is now a fight for public opinion, but of course with no official leadership to start any kind of negotiation, it is hard to see where the off ramp is. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Hong Kong.
ALLEN: The U.S. President is reportedly interested in buying Greenland, but the arctic island wants to put Mr. Trump's idea on ice. We'll tell you their response right after this.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: Hello everyone and these are the top business headlines. A rise in U.S. bond yields helped lift stocks at the end of a volatile week. The Dow, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 each closed with a gain of 1.2 percent or more. The three major indices all ended slightly down for the week. General Electric shares rebounded after CEO Larry Culp bought $2 million in company stock. This comes a day after G.E. shares plunged following allegations of fraud which G.E. strongly denies. The whistleblower told CNN that G.E. has been cooking the books for decades.
HARRY MARKOPOLOS, CERTIFIED FRAUD EXAMINER: If people want to drink the Kool-aid great, if the CEO wants to buy into accounting fraud, great, let them. Everybody gets to vote in a capital markets. I'm looking at this long term, if they make it to 2020, then can they make it through 2021? They're one recession away from Chapter 11.
ASHER: Hong Kong's 11 weeks of protests have cost Cathay Pacific CEO his job. In a memo to staff, Rupert Hogg said that in hindsight, company leadership could have managed things differently. The company faced criticism over how it dealt with staff who joined the protests.
And Bugatti has unveiled a new super car to celebrate its 110th birthday. The Centodieci will be a strictly limited edition. In fact, only 10 cars will ever be made. Each one costing $9 million. Those are the top business headlines. I'm Zain Asher for you in New York.
ALLEN: New details in the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. New York's chief medical examiner says the cause of death was suicide by hanging. The multimillionaire was found unresponsive in his jail cell last weeks. The 66 year old was awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing underage girls and running a trafficking ring. His lawyers say they'll conduct their own investigation into his death.
North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un directly oversaw Friday's launch of what Pyongyang says is a new weapon. The Pentagon says the projectiles were short range ballistic missiles. North Korea released these pictures showing Kim at the helm laughing and celebrating as he is oft do when he does these things and said the test had a quote, "perfect result and built confidence in the new system." We get more about it from our Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After two more launches sending ballistic missiles flying at six times the speed of sound toward the Sea of Japan, North Korea's aggressive young leader appears to once again be trying to dictate terms to the U.S. and South Korea from the tip of his spear. The test firing of two short-range missiles late Thursday is Kim Jong-un's sixth such provocation in only about three weeks. Analysts say he's again clamoring for President Trump's attention but also signaling his rage.
EVANS REVERE, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT IN SOUTH KOREA: The message is that as long as U.S. - South Korea exercises continue, North Korea is going to continue to develop, deploy and test some new capabilities that can do damage to the United States, to our troops, to our bases and to South Korea.
TODD: Those precision joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korean forces started a few weeks ago and will be conducted at least into next week. U.S. officials have repeatedly said their defensive, designed to sharpen American troops readiness for any possible hostilities on the peninsula, but the drills have always made the young self-declared supreme commander of North Korea's military uneasy.
COL. DAVID MAXWELL (RET.), FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: His rhetoric calls these preparations for invasion and to strike against him particularly the purchase of the F-35 by South Korea gives it the capability to strike deep and to strike any leadership target or any missile target in North Korea. So he is afraid of this training.
TODD: At the same time Kim is firing another diplomatic salvo at his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in. Kim's regime saying it has no desire to talk face to face with South Korean officials again. This comes as President Trump, according to sources in the administration, has soured on Moon believing he hasn't done enough to rein in North Korea's aggression. Some observers believe Moon is getting a bad rap. It was Moon, after all, that spurred a lot of momentum for the peace process early on hosting Kim Jong-un's sister at the winter Olympics and having an aid hand deliver Kim's first request for a summit to President Trump. But analysts say the dictator in Pyongyang is conveniently forgetting all of that for his own gain.
MAXWELL: Kim Jong-un really is trying to delegitimize Moon Jae-in to undercut his political power in South Korea and most importantly to drive a wedge between the South Korean and U.S. alliance.
TODD: Veteran diplomats are warning the president of the dangers of investing too much in his personal one-on-one relationship with a dictator who they believe wants to keep his nuclear weapons.
EVANS REVERE, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT IN SOUTH KOREA: Indeed, he does not intend to denuclearize. So one of the central dangers, is the danger of what I call self delusion that the president may convince himself that something is happening that is not really happening.
TODD: And to give an idea of just how much the U.S. and South Korea have bent over backwards to tolerate Kim's provocations and to work toward peace, analysts point out that since that first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in June of last year, the U.S. and its allies in the region have cancelled at least 12 sets of military exercises and scaled back many others while at the same time, Kim Jong-un hasn't scaled back any of North Korea's military exercises one bit. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: Greenland has a message for U.S. President Trump. The island is open for business but it is not for sale. The government is responding to report to reports that Mr. Trump has talked about buying the Danish territory and it is not the first time the United States has expressed interest in Greenland. The U.S. has tried to buy it before. That is mostly because it is believed to be rich in natural resources and with most of the island situated and the Arctic Circle it is an ideal location to monitor Russia. Well CNN's Frederick Pleitgen is in Greenland to find what people there are saying. FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems like a lot of folks
here in Greenland seem to almost be mocking President Trump's alleged idea to acquire this territory or possibly somehow purchase it. The government of Greenland has come out and said quote, "Greenland is not for sale," and local folks here in the southeast of the country that we've been speaking to say this is something that America has tried in the past. They talk about 1867 when there was apparently was a push and the time shortly after World War II and one resident said it simply isn't going to happen. Now on the face of it, there might not be such a crazy idea for America to want to do this. Greenland apparently does have very vast natural resources that the Chinese have been trying to get their hands on through some Chinese companies. It's obviously not something that America is very fond of. And it's also a pretty strategic place for America as well. There's a big air base that the U.S. has there in the northwest of Greenland.
However, if the Greenlanders really do have all these natural resources, they could get to them and exploit them. The first thing they'll want is their own independence from Denmark. Right now they're semi autonomous. And if President Trump really wants to have Greenland, one thing he'll probably have to do is really acknowledge that the global climate crisis is real. You can see behind me there's a lot of icebergs that you see here. This has been one of the warmest summers that Greenland has had on record. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, in Southeastern Greenland.
ALLEN: New developments about that Iranian tanker seized off Gibraltar and why the United States is warning Iran could soon fire off a missile. That's after a break.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories. A democratic congressman now says she will not travel to the West Bank after getting permission from the Israeli government. Rashida Tlaib who has relatives in the West Bank says Israel placed conditions on her visit that she called, "oppressive".
Large groups of Chinese paramilitary vehicles are gathered in Shenzhen, China, along the border with Hong Kong. They've been there for several days as the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong show no sign of stopping. More demonstrations are planned in the coming hours for the 11th straight weekend.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's computers are back online after being out for two hours Friday. The glitch led to long lines of travelers waiting to be a processed at some airports; that couldn't have been fun. The agency says there is no indication the disruption was malicious.
North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un directly oversaw its latest missile tests on Friday of what Pyongyang says a new weapon. The Pentagon says the projectiles were short-range ballistic missiles. North Korea released pictures of a smiling Kim and said the test had quote, "perfect result."
The U.S. Justice Department has unsealed seizure warrant following its failed attempt to keep the Iranian tanker captured off Gibraltar from being released. The U.S. is alleging a scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments of oil by Iran to Syria and that a network of front companies laundered millions of dollars to support the shipments. Gibralter's supreme court on Friday allowed the Grace 1, as it's called, to be released. This comes as the U.S. is watching other ominous signs from Iran. For more on that here is Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New classified imagery shows Iran is preparing to launch a rocket as soon as next week that the Iranians claim could put a peaceful satellite into orbit according to U.S. officials but it is a program with the same technology needed for an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type that someday could strike the U.S.. Commercial images of this launch site obtained by CNN show launch-related vehicles are already on site.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran - trouble, nothing but trouble.
STARR: Several U.S. defense and intelligence officials say Iran is improving range and accuracy of all its missiles and so is North Korea. Kim Jong-un has conducted six short-range missile launches since May, several showing increased range. America's adversaries see a president now conciliatory at random times.
TRUMP: Our allies take advantage of us far greater than our enemies.
STARR: However, Americas military adversaries are on the rise and bolder.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They believe that they can go ahead and produce weapons, systems, and test weapons with impunity.
STARR: President Trump compliments Kim.
TRUMP: I got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.
STARR: But U.S. intelligence experts tell CNN that Pyongyang continues improving all of its missiles and is trying to make new nuclear fuel supplies. Vladimir Putin is working on new weapons to keep the U.S. out of Europe including a nuclear-powered missile that apparently recently exploded releasing radioactive material. China has massive cyber espionage efforts to steal American military technology.
LEIGHTON: The reason we see all these things happening in all these different countries is because all of these rivals of the United States see no real pushback from the Trump Administration.
STARR: The incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president's personal military advisor has a dire warning.
GENERAL MARK MILLEY, INCOMING U.S. JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: China went to school on us. They watch this very closely in the first Gulf War, and the second Gulf War, they watched our capabilities. They will have the capability to defeat us by mid century.
STARR: When it comes to countries like Iran and North Korea, they are under heavy sanctions, so how are they getting everything they need for all these weapons programs? Well U.S. officials tell us both of those countries are very active on the black market and engaging in cyber espionage. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
ALLEN: As Barbara mentioned there was recently a deadly explosion at one of Russia's military projects but it was only the latest in a series of accidents that has some questioning the country's ambitions and asking just how far is Russia willing to go in its quest for military dominance. Nick Paton Walsh has our report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (bleep) it.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three separate incidents in about a month each exposing the ragged underbelly of the Kremlin's increased military stature and each not entirely explained.
First was the AS-31, a deep, deep spy submarine nicknamed the Losharik after the children's cartoon character because of its compartmental design.
UNIDENTIFIED CHARACTER: (Inaudible).
WALSH: It's meant to help it get to the ocean floor deeper than nuclear or attack subs. Fourteen crew members died from smoke inhalation state media said. The submarine's nuclear reactor was said to be in tact when it was taken to port. The instant came as the 20th anniversary of the Kursk submarine tragedy neared and it began Putin's presidency, but a moment of stark Soviet tests disregard. It sank, eh blankly remarked asked about the fate of the 118 sailors on board.
Then there was a more conventional but still shocking blast and a (inaudible) in munitions depot and then another one hit by five hours of blasts. The shockwave and mushroom clouds extreme and took a week for Russia to admit 40 people had been injured. That delay assigned the old Soviet culture of denial is alive and well, even as the military races to modernize amid tightening budgets.
ANDREY KORTUNOV, RUSSIAN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL: (inaudible) in 2016 and it goes down. So basically the military and the defense secretary are asked to do more for less. Maybe some of this accidents are part of the price that the military has to pay for this relatively modest budget and a lot of ambitions behind this budget.
WALSH: No greater ambition than that partly revealed in our (inaudible) where testing of Putin's new super missile killed at least five nuclear specialists and caused a radiation spike perhaps felt as far as Norway leaving the question as to whether the Kremlin's race to the bottom of the sea or top of the heavens scorches too much in its wake. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.
ALLEN: For more about this story, let's bring in CNN National Security Analyst Steve Hall. He's a former CIA chief of Russian operations and he joins us now from Arizona. Steve, thanks for being with us. First, what do you make of what we're hearing about this latest mystery mishap. What more do we know about what Russia was testing?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well what thing is for sure Natalie and that is that the Russians will admit nothing about this particular accidents, whatever the nature of it was until such time as they're confronted with facts by the West. If they're asked about it then they'll explain as little as they possibly can. In this sense, it's very much like the Chernobyl incident, not in terms of the largeness or the size of the actual radioactive or whatever the incident was, but the government's pattern is quite clear and not saying anything more than they have to, trying to conceal it from the locals. All of that we saw in Chernobyl we are also now seeing in this particular event and we still to this day don't know precisely what happened.
ALLEN: Right. And what -- so they didn't acknowledge Chernobyl. They tried to hide that at first. What responsibility does Russia owe the world or do they over this incident since it could impact, perhaps its neighbors?
HALL: Yes, of course I mean if I lived in Norway or Finland, I would be very concerned about this. Russia has proven itself over the years to be a very poor neighbor, a very poor participant in international affairs. Even to the level of something as serious as nuclear contamination, the Norwegians detected a slight, very small raise in radioactive activity.
But the scenario as it's now being understood is that this weapon, or whatever device, the motor perhaps which had, now the Russians are admitting radioactive isotopes apparently blew off into the ocean. So we don't know where the radioactivity in the ocean is going to go. We don't know what the currents are and these are things that we really -- especially if you are a neighbor of Russia, you want to know these things and the Russians will simply not tell us until absolutely forced to do.
ALLEN: What is the endgame here possibly for Vladimir Putin? We mentioned military dominance. What does he want?
HALL: So this is fascinating to me. What Vladimir Putin has been up to over the last couple of years is trying to divide, split and weaken the west and he has done a very good job.
ALLEN: Yes. HALL: I mean we're now focused on things like, you know, is Donald Trump going to try and buy Greenland as opposed to our their new nuclear weapons that the Russians are testing? He has done this not via direct confrontation for the most part, he's done it via hybrid warfare, cyber warfare, a whole bunch of soft power as foreign policy specialists call it. There have been some examples of hard power; the Russian military was active in Syria. It also attacked in 2008 Georgia not to mention the annexation of Crimea and the continuing ongoing problems in eastern Ukraine.
But the Russian military is more about making Russia look like a world power, making it look like it's part of this big game, great Russia, one of the significant world powers and that is extremely important to Vladimir Putin and frankly to Russians on the street as well. So it's more than just how many boots on the ground, how many missiles in the sky. It's about national prestige and populism.
ALLEN: Well hopefully they want the appearance of that and they won't achieve that but let's talk about where the relationship is between the U.S. and Russia. It has eroded, so where might the U.S. role here be in trying to inquire with Russia or meet with Russia or talk about what is going on?
HALL: You know, this is absolutely true what the report was just talking about. We need, the United States and her allies need to press Russia on these things because we know that Vladimir Putin and Russia will not tell us anything about any of these incidents until they are pressed. The problem is that because largely, I believe, of Donald Trump's foreign privacy. You heard in a previous segment how Donald Trump was saying we get treated very badly; more by our allies than by our enemies. So when Vladimir Putin hears something like that, he knows that he has divided the west and that the pressure that the west could put on Russia to try to get to the bottom of these things is quite a bit less because there's a lack of U.S. leadership and there's a split in the western democratic system and NATO countries involved in that. So we should be holding their feet to the fire but it is hard to do it when you don't have a real tight relationship with your allies.
ALLEN: We'll be following this story closely and we always appreciate your expertise Steve. Steve Hall joining us. Thank you.
ALLEN: Well in case you hadn't noticed the world as become much hot hotter. Scientists say last month was the hottest month on record. Derek Van Dam will talk about that for us next.
ALLEN: July 2019 was the planet's hottest month on record that according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average global temperature was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0.95 Celsius above the average for the 20th Century and despite research that overwhelmingly said that climate change is human made, some political leaders refuse to accept the science. When democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted about the report, republican Senator John Cornyn responded by saying, "It's summer, Chuck."
Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is here with more about this and the data speaks for itself.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's hard to believe that 97 percent of the world's leading climate scientists say that global warming is caused by humans yet our global leaders refuse to accept the science. That was the July - the warmest July on record; warmest month ever recorded but it is also the 415th consecutive month with above average temperatures. This is just Natalie, the latest data in an irrefutable warming trend, that is being felt not only globally but also locally for your hometown. So let's talk about it.
Here is the map. The information from NOAA. What I want you to gather is all the red shades you see here, specifically South Africa or Southern Africa, Asia and portions of Alaska. That's where we saw some of the record warmth across the planet, July 2019. The hottest on record according to NOAA. This is on the tails of the fourth hottest year on record, 2018. And by the way, the top five hottest years on record have occurred all within the past five years. Are you seeing a trend here? By the way, 2019 is on par to tie the second hottest year on record, 2017, and specifically across the United States, we saw some astounding impacts from climate change and global warming sea surface temperatures soaring across the pacific.
We had the warmest low temperature ever recorded in Miami, 84 degrees for a low temperature but really -- what really baffled scientists is what happened in Alaska. We saw record warmth in Anchorage. Their average temperature for the entire month of July was 65.3 degrees. Look at how much above average that was. It was so warm that it was killing off trout and salmon in some of the local rivers in Alaska and that's still occurring by the way and it wasn't just felt across the U.S. We had five countries in July that set their hottest day on record, the United Kingdom all the way to Germany. Remember the heat wave that occurred there. And in Sweden, they saw their warmest temperature observed north of the Arctic Circle. This has huge ramifications on the Arctic Sea ice which by the way is setting about 20% below average where it should be this time of year. Astounding numbers. You're watching it disappear right before your eyes not only the sea ice volume in the Arctic but also the sea ice thickness. By the way, Greenland lost 13.5 billion tons of ice in just one single day in July. So what's occurring here? Well we're starting to see these greenhouse gases recorded at measurements we've never experienced before including CO2. These are heat-trapping gasses that come from industries, electricity and heat production, agriculture and forest. How do we know this happens? Well we have seen the landmarks, the climate change across the entire planet.
ALLEN: All right, Derek, thank you, I guess.
VAN DAM: Yes, right. Thanks.
ALLEN: Next here, the amazing kindness of strangers. When we come back the story of a man with no family and the hundreds who came to share his grief in El Paso.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS HOST: Hi there. I'm Patrick Snell with your world sport headlines. The Bundesliga and La Liga returning to action Friday with both the county's respective champs, Munich and Barcelona, stumbling out of the gate. The Spanish champs are without Philippe Coutinho as reports circulating he is on his way to a lone deal to Bayern and it proved costly as Aritz Aduriz scored a stunning goal giving Bilbao a shock one-nil victory -- first time in a decade Barca had lost their season opener.
Bayern's quest for an eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown getting underway to Hertha Berlin Friday. Robert Lewandowski with a brace for the Bavarians. He became the first player ever to score in the opening match of five straight Bundesliga campaigns. But Bayern surprisingly held at home two all by Hertha Berlin on goals by Dodi Lukebakio and Marco Grujic in the first half.
And of course records continue to fall in the PGA Tour playoff event outside of Chicago. Japan's Hideki Matsuyama in the Medinah Country Club course, firing a 9 under 63. That beat the previous course record of 65 which was equaled on Thursday. Matsuyama, who is at 12 under par finishing his first 36 holes, bogie free in the first time a PGA tour career. Those are your sports headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.
ALLEN: It's been two weeks since a racist gunman filled with hate walked into a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, and opening fire killing 22 people. Since then, El Paso has been filled with tears, heartache, and the kindness of strangers, a lot of them. That was on full display Friday evening when a 61-year-old man with no family said goodbye to the woman he loved and hundreds of strangers joined him, our Natasha Chen was there.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Antonio Basco was married to his wife, Margie Reckard for 22 years but some of the people who packed into the memorial service may have only learned of her name within the last two weeks, and that is because Basco and the funeral parlor put out the message that Basco no longer has remaining family after his wife was killed in the shooting. So the outpouring of love from the community has been overwhelming. Not only did hundreds of people show up to the service, but more than 400 flower arrangements and cards were sent in from all around the world; flowers from Germany, cards from Japan and New Zealand.
Basco spent about an hour receiving guests inside before the service itself. All the donated flowers here will be transported on Sunday to the site of the memorial where the shooting happened and that's where Basco continues to go everyday to pay respects to his wife. There is also where we met someone who wanted to tell us that this community has only been reinvigorated after the shooting to love all humankind no matter the color, no matter the citizenship. Today, we're expecting a rally from Moms Demand Action. We're going to see college students registering voters. They want to inform people about gun safety measures.
We also saw Mexican officials this week coming to the memorial. They say because Mexican nationals were among those killed that they hope Mexico can be part of the discussion in the U.S. about gun legislation now that Mexicans area also suffering the consequences of gun violence in America. Natasha Chen, CNN, El Paso, Texas.
ALLEN: And that is it in the "Newsroom" for the first hour. I'm Natalie Allen and I'll be right back with another hour of news. Please stay with us.