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G7 Leaders Brace for Trump's Arrival; Trump Hiking Tariffs on Billions in Chinese Imports; Brazilian President Authorizes Armed Forces to Fight Amazon Blazes; North Korea Fires Two Projectiles; Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated for Pancreatic Cancer; Hong Kong Protests Enter 12th Week; Russia Promises Response to U.S. Missile Test. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired August 24, 2019 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): With one tweet the U.S. president dramatically escalates his trade war with China. More on that and how markets have responded.

And the G7 summit; Mr. Trump reportedly questioning why he needs to attend at all as world leaders make their way to France. We have detailed analysis of what to expect.

Also ahead, the Amazon wildfires: the change in tone from Brazil's president, now calling in the country's military to fight the fires.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell, CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: 4:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast and the U.S. president Trump arrives soon in France for the annual G7 summit. We, of course, are tracking Mr. Trump's progress and we'll let you know when he gets there.

The president, apparently, though, not a fan of these type of get- togethers. He is going though.

And looming over this year's meeting is the worsening trade dispute between Washington and Beijing. It got worse on Friday, when Mr. Trump announced higher tariffs on Chinese imports.

This after China imposed new tariffs on American goods. And the Dow plunged more than 600 points, responding negatively. The president claimed that he was simply cleaning up the mess of presidents before him. Listen.


TRUMP: Look, China has been hurting our country for 30 years with the money they have been taking out. Other presidents should have done something about it and they should have done it a long time ago, whether it was Clinton or Bush or Obama, any of them. They should have done something about it. And they didn't.

I'm doing it. I have no choice because we are not going to lose close to a trillion dollars a year to China. And China understands that. I hope that with President Xi, I have a good relationship, but they understand we are not going to do it.

This is more important than anything else right now just about that we are working on.


HOWELL: As we monitor for the president's arrival to the G7, we have team coverage. Steven Jiang reporting from Beijing and also Nic Robertson standing by in southern France.

Steven, this announcement from Trump about new tariffs, he insists the U.S. economy is stronger and can win a trade war. All of this in response to China's latest tariffs.

What has been the reaction so far to President Trump's latest move?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: George, there has been no government reaction to the latest twist. That is Mr. Trump increasing already announced tariffs on Chinese goods. And state media outlets have largely stayed quiet. I think the swiftness of Trump's latest move caught people off guard.

But when they do respond, I think this latest move will only reinforce the notion here, that his trade bullying tactics are continuing and his tendency of flip-flopping on previous positions or pledges as well as his insincerity in Chinese minds continuing these trade talks that are still going on.

The next round is supposed to take place in Washington in September. But a pre-condition that China has set to reach any final deal is the immediate removal of all existing U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. But with these latest back and forth, it is really making that goal more elusive to achieve.

HOWELL: And Steven, there was also an interesting tweet from Mr. Trump, ripping into his own hand picked chair of the Federal Reserve in a comparison that says this, "Who is the bigger enemy?" You see the tweet here from the president. Official White House communication.

"My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel (sic) or Chairman Xi?"

We'll talk more about that, of course, here in a moment. But the fact that Mr. Trump has labeled President Xi as an enemy, how is that being received with the delicate talks in the balance?

JIANG: Remember also we heard him talk to reporters, saying that he had a great relationship with Mr. Xi. So which way is it? Is Xi a friend or enemy? I guess maybe they are frenemies.


JIANG: But according to many observers, Mr. Trump's tactics and his back and forth may have actually strengthened the hand of Xi Jinping here because, according to these observers, Mr. Xi was actually facing quite a bit of criticism or skepticism within his government over his handling of U.S.-China relations.

But now he could really go back to his critics, saying, look, Mr. Trump is simply impossible to manage.

And his tactics and his tendency of flip-flopping on his positions really shows one thing, that is China needs a strong and powerful leader to push back against the U.S. and on all fronts so that we can defeat the American plan to contain the rise of China on a global stage.

So that seems to be the political implication from Beijing, according to many analysts.

HOWELL: Frenemies?

I don't know. Steven, thank you.

Nic Robertson is following the G7 summit.

And Nic, trade war is just one example of the division that these world leaders are juggling. Heading into this summit, Mr. Trump is celebrated in some circles as a catalyst to some of that division.

Are there any bright spots for progress?

Or might we see these divides just deepen here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, one way to try to avoid showing what divisions exist is to avoid having joint communique at the end, which is traditional for a G7 or G20 type summit.

President Macron says he won't be having one this time because he doesn't think that it is worthwhile, obviously casting his mind back to Canada last summer, where President Trump left early, refused to sign the communique.

It has been very difficult at these summits to get Mr. Trump to sign because of the way that trade issues and climate issues are described in the joint communique. But President Macron will be having a speech in the next few hours. So I think that we'll get to hear the French president lay out what he thinks are the important issues.

But he is going to be facing some of President Trump's wrath as well. It isn't just China. In the past 24 hours, the president has doubled down on his frustrations with the French leader over France's proposals and initiatives to tax some of the digital companies. President Trump believes that this is unfairly targeting innovative

U.S. companies. And he is so frustrated, he is threatening to reciprocate on French wine. This is how he explained it.


TRUMP: I don't want them doing anything having to do with taxing unfairly our companies. Those are great American companies and, frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies; very unfair. And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine or doing something else. We'll be taxing their wine like they've never seen before.

It's for us to tax them. Other than that, I have a good relationship with -- as you know, with Macron, as you say. I think we'll have a good couple of days.


ROBERTSON: So frenemies, question mark, and will he make more frenemies with the other leaders here?

Britain and Italy have sort of indicated that they might follow the French method of taxation. So President Trump may find himself squaring off against a couple other leaders as well on just this issue, never mind some of the others.

HOWELL: The common denominator here seems to be the word "frenemies," Nic. I want to recall this image from last year's summit, the U.S. president sitting in a chair, his arms crossed, seemingly separate from other world leaders.

The German chancellor there, Angela Merkel, leaning in. As the G6+1, it was described, given how far apart Mr. Trump's administration is on many issues like climate change, multilateral trade in the face of a tightening world economy and a new election around the corner here stateside, how might any of these pressures sway the president's America first tune in this summit?

ROBERTSON: The president has not shown any indication of being swayed at all and it is not clear that the leaders gathering here will be in position to do that.

Angela Merkel's economy in Germany is showing negative signs at the moment. Boris Johnson, the new British prime minister, he sounds strong on the world stage because he is talking tough with a hard deal Brexit. But he is facing a possible vote of no confidence in his government. So he is not particularly in a strong position.

The Italian prime minister, of course, arrives here, having just handed in his resignation. The government in Italy that he sort of balances the left and the right sides of is weak. So President Trump --

[04:10:00] ROBERTSON: -- it is not his style to back down and I don't think the leaders here are strong enough to challenge him. Macron faces challenges in France, not least the which protest today not far from Biarritz.

HOWELL: Nic Robertson, live for us ahead of the G7 summit. And we are expecting the U.S. president to arrive sometime around 5:50 in the next hour, East Coast time. We'll stay in touch with you.

Nic and our Steven Jiang live in Beijing, thank you both for the reporting.

Let's flesh out the nuance now with Thomas Gift, a lecturer in political science at University College in London, joining us this hour from our London bureau.

Good to have you with us. A lot to talk about for sure. The French president managing expectations without putting forward the final communique and the U.S. president who snubbed signing it at the last year's G7, indicating that he is not exactly looking forward to meeting with leaders this year.

What are your expectations around this trip to France?

THOMAS GIFT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, I think that you are right that Donald Trump is not a fan of multilateralism. And he showed a real reticence to work with international leaders in context like this before. And there is really no reason I think to expect anything different going into this G7 summit.

If there is something that leaders can rally around, however, it is the state of the global economy. The state of the global economy is a very precarious situation at the moment precisely because of this ongoing trade war with the United States. And so I think that is going to be the big topic of conversation going into the meetings this weekend.

HOWELL: And in the backdrop, of course, of this G7, the trade wars, jitters about a possible recession. It was interesting to see the U.S. president, who is locked in this tariff tit-for-tat with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, tweet, "My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel (sic) or Chairman Xi?"

And he went further on his feelings about Powell as well. Listen here.


TRUMP: No, I am not happy with Jay Powell. I don't think he is doing a good job at all. I don't think he is much of a chess player. I got him, so, that's what I have.

Do I want him to resign?

If he did I would not stop him.


HOWELL: Leader of the free world there, giving his thoughts about his hand-picked chair of the Federal Reserve. What are your thoughts about such a comparison to a public servant, who simply refuses to do what the president wants and cut rates?

GIFT: It is entirely inappropriate but, unfortunately for Donald Trump, it is nothing new. He really views the Federal Reserve as the scapegoat for any economic problems that might arise in the United States.

He has been really urging the Federal Reserve to cut rates, thinking that the economy in the United States needs to be juiced precisely because there are some of these other challenges ongoing.

The kind of failure of the Federal Reserve to pursue that path with the exception of some rate cuts about a month ago basically, to Donald Trump, is unacceptable. But Federal Reserves are supposed to be independent. They are supposed to be insulated from the political process.

And so I really do agree with you that kind of Donald Trump's insistence and assaults calling him a villain, a public enemy, are entirely inappropriate for a United States president. But unfortunately, not very surprising.

HOWELL: And clearly President Xi has authority to direct Chinese companies to follow his direction but in another broadside to the Fed, Mr. Trump pushed American firms to, quote, "start looking for an alternative to China."

Though the president insists that he has the authority to make this type of a suggestion, this is not China. And Wall Street responded negatively with significant losses.

What are your thoughts about the president's comments here?

GIFT: Simply put, the president of the United States lacks the authority to impose directives on U.S. companies about where they can base internationally. So it is really a nonstarter. The president is making this case because he wants to look tough.

But ultimately it is not going to have any substantive effect. The one thing that will arise out of the tariffs that Donald Trump is imposing on Chinese imports is that lot of companies are trying to evade these tariffs by relocating to countries outside of China.

Basically if the end production happens in a country that is not China, they won't be subject to these tariffs. But as far as the president directing these U.S. companies where they can and cannot base, it is really not feasible.

HOWELL: Thomas Gift, we appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you.

[04:15:00] GIFT: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, people are protesting around the world over what is happening in Brazil, the wildfires there. How the policies of their new president helped to embolden the culprits who lit the flame.

And defiance in North Korea as it fires more missiles, a clear violation of the U.N. resolutions but the U.S. president shrugs his shoulders on it. NEWSROOM right back after the break.





HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

The crisis playing out in the Amazon, the wildfires there are having a global impact and it has prompted several world leaders, including the U.S. president, to offer their support in fighting these flames.

But Brazil's president has either declined or not responded so far although he has now called on the military to help. Listen.


JOHN BOLTON, TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: With respect to those who accept it, I will authorize the operation guarantee of law and order, a true environmental GLO. The extensive use of personnel and equipment from the armed forces, auxiliaries and other agencies, will not only allow --


BOLSONARO (through translator): -- to combat illegal activities but also curb the spread of fires in the region.


HOWELL: Environmentalists blame the fires on increased land clearing and logging under Bolsonaro. He has relaxed environmental policies to allow development of the rain forest. My colleague Cyril Vanier has this report for you.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From Argentina to London to France, activists and global leaders alike are demanding action from Brazil's president. As fires burn at unprecedented rates in the country's Amazon region, Jair Bolsonaro is under increasing international pressure as his new government opens the rain forest for business. Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has acted on campaign

promises to relax environment regulations in favor of restoring Brazil's economy. He began cutting millions from the budget of Brazil's environmental enforcement agency, appointing new ministers who are loosening restrictions on mining, logging and farming in protected areas and removing those who disapproved.

In early August, Bolsonaro lambasted satellite data, showing surging deforestation in recent months, calling them lies. The head of Brazil's space research institute was then fired shortly after defending the agency's data, showing deforestation was 88 percent higher in June compared to the year before.

It equated to an area larger than 1.5 football fields destroyed every minute of every day. The reports led to an international alarm which Bolsonaro brushed off.

"Take that money and help reforest Germany," he said last week in response to Germany and Norway's decision to suspend funding to Brazil over concerns about his policy.

In a rain forest, critical to those depending on its vast natural resources, indigenous groups in the Amazon have rallied against Bolsonaro, who has called for their assimilation, and promised in 2017 that, should he be elected, not one square centimeter of land would be designated for their reservations.

HANDECH WAKANA MURA, INDIGENOUS LEADER (through translator): With each passing day we see the destruction advance, deforestation, invasion, logging. We are sad because the forest is dying more every moment. We feel the climate changing. And the world needs the forest.

VANIER (voice-over): As attention turns to fires scorching the Amazon at unprecedented rates, Bolsonaro calls global alarm "sensationalist." A climate skeptic, he has long emphasized Brazil's sovereignty in the Amazon, threatening to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, should it be at stake.

BOLSONARO (through translator): Brazil does not owe the world anything when it comes to environmental protection.

VANIER (voice-over): Often called the lungs of the Earth, the Amazon supplies 20 percent of the world's oxygen. As it burns, environmentalists warns that the health of the Amazon rain forest is critical to the health of the planet -- Cyril Vanier, CNN.


HOWELL: And now to the Korean Peninsula, where North Korea is firing off missiles. The South Korean military says it detected two projectiles thought to be short-range ballistic missiles that were launched earlier Saturday morning.

They flew toward the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. CNN following this story, live in Seoul, South Korea, our correspondent David Culver on the story.

And David, what more are you learning?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to be with you. Look, this is another early morning wake-up for officials and political leadership and military leadership here in South Korea. They had a National Security Council gathering first thing this morning to assess what exactly was launched from North Korea.

As you point out, these are two -- believed to be two short-range ballistic missiles. They shot up about 15 minutes apart early this morning with a range of 380 kilometers. I point that out because we here in Seoul are about 230 kilometers from that launch site. So certainly within that range.

The U.S. president Donald Trump was asked about this most recent launch as he headed off to the G7. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think. And we're going to see what is going on. We'll see what is happening. He likes testing missiles. But we never restricted short- range missiles. We'll see what happens.


CULVER: When he says they never restricted short-range missiles, he is referring to the agreement he had directly with Kim Jong-un when they met in Singapore. But these missile launches do violate U.N. Security Council regulations and they threaten South Korea and Japan and the tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in this area.


HOWELL: David, so that is in play. And remind our viewers about what is happening in the background. Again, this is happening at a time where South Korea and Japan, which are presumably aligned in defense against North Korea, find themselves in the middle of a bitter dispute that is now limiting the intelligence they share between the two.

CULVER: No question. North Korea is giving this region a case in point as to why this general security of military information agreement works the way it does. This is so that intel can be shared from Japan to South Korea and vice versa without any parties having to come in between.

Well, South Korea two days ago saying that they want to end that agreement. It is still going forward for the next 90 days. So we're told that the information from this most recent launch will be shared directly from South Korea to Japan and vice versa.

But going forward, if this ends, it will bring it back to where it was prior to 2016. And as one former commander explained it, it was as though the U.S. had to be the middleman, take the information from Japan, ask if they could then tell South Korea, relay it to South Korea. It was inefficient, as they put it, and it looks like it is headed back that way.

HOWELL: David Culver, thank you.

A British consulate worker is safe at home in Hong Kong after Chinese police detained him for nearly two weeks. Simon Chang was detained for violating a Chinese law that covers minor crimes. But it was not clear why he was arrested in the first place.

He was last seen on August 8th heading to Shenzhen as part of his job as a British trade representative. Supporters demanded the U.K. do more to get Chang released.

This comes as Hong Kong enters its 12th straight weekend of protests. You've been watching many of them play out live here on CNN. And right now demonstrators are holding a large police approved rally in Kowloon. Parts of the subway system has been shut down in anticipation of this march. Of course we'll continue to monitor it here for you.

On the agenda, as the G7 leaders head to France, what are the goals of this summit? And what are the shared hopes by all of these leaders? We'll explain for you.

Plus she beat this before and now Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears to have beaten cancer again. We'll get an update on the Supreme Court justice's battle with this disease. Around the world and in the U.S., you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.





HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.


HOWELL: On Sunday morning these leaders are set to get down to business for the G7. France has set five goals to combat inequality. It wants to tap into the opportunities created by artificial intelligence; tackle security threats and terrorism; promote fairer trade, tax and development policies; take action to protect the environment and biodiversity and to promote equality in gender, education and health care.

A lot on the table there. Let's talk more about it with CNN's Dominic Thomas. He is live this hour this Berlin.

Good to have you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thank you, George. HOWELL: We've talked about this before. This does seem to be the season of division with some world leaders, who are staunch anti- globalists, various trade disputes that are underway, a climate crisis, not to mention the Amazon. Now enter Mr. Trump.

How do you see this playing out this time?

THOMAS: We've never seen anything like it. The group gets going in 1975. The whole purpose of the 44 previous meetings has been to bring together these major global economic powers and to talk about the main issues of the day, to reach consensus, to act in concert around these issues.

We saw the meeting in Canada last year disrupted by president Donald Trump. As we enter into this G7, we're looking at a very different configuration in terms of the political ideologies, one could say, of the parties.

President Trump is not alone at this meeting. He now finds himself alongside one of the Brexiteers, Boris Johnson, the new British prime minister. The Italian government is in disarray. And the prime minister is there in an unofficial capacity because he stepped down last week.

These other leaders, like Angela Merkel, for example, is on the last sort of time period of her chancellorship.

So it's not just that the configuration has changed, it is that all of the major issues that are shaping the global political discussion today, from whether or not Russia should rejoin the group, the question of climate, the question of Brexit and so on, are all going to shape these kinds of discussions.

And there are radical differences between the leaders' opinions on these issues.

HOWELL: And on this G7, the final communique has been scrapped.

Is this a move by the French president to avoid any sense of awkwardness --


HOWELL: -- seen at the last G7?

THOMAS: Yes, but it also sets the expectations so low, you could argue that it is realistic, we don't want to be distracted.

But the previous 44 meetings have produced something. The idea is that the communique shows that, even if there are differences, we can agree for the good of the global order on certain issues. This is going to be absolutely impossible to achieve this.

So though Macron will set a priority to discuss the questions of global inequality, the fact is that these will be overshadowed by some of these major issues, first and foremost, the crisis in Brazil. And President Trump, right before leaving the United States, tweeted

out that he believes that there is a great trade deal to be done with Bolsonaro in Brazil; whereas, both Macron and the European Union are talking about sanctions against the South American trade group and particularly against Brazil because they are so outraged by the way in which Bolsonaro's policies are impacting the environment in that particular country.

So these are not minor issues around which there will be disagreement.

HOWELL: And also for this G7, it will be the first time for Boris Johnson as prime minister to speak with these leaders.

With the deadline of Brexit fast approaching, what is the punch list, do you believe, for him going into this summit?

THOMAS: For him, he finds himself in a very delicate situation. And as many have argued, he essentially finds himself caught between trying to capitalize on President Trump's support for Brexit in the guise of a promised trade deal down the road, which has been so important to the Brexiteers, arguments about the ways that the U.K. can position itself in the world.

But this meeting is also attended, of course, by French president Macron and Angela Merkel, who have been explicit in their comments about the problems that currently exist around a Brexit deal. And not only is that a particular issue but let's not forget that Donald Tusk of the European Union Council is also in attendance.

So Boris Johnson will have to navigate very carefully between these two sides in order to essentially convince the British public that he still remains the person able to deliver this Brexit, which, thus far, nobody has been able to do and continues to prove extraordinarily divisive in U.K. politics.

HOWELL: And you touched on it but the issue of the Amazon, wildfires burning there, it does have the French president demanding the issue be front and center at this G7.

That international pressure, though, from this group of leaders, do you believe it is making a difference right now with Brazil's right- leaning leader?

THOMAS: The influence is there but when President Trump expresses essentially his support for this leadership, remember both candidates are heavily supported by the drilling, mining, deforestation lobbies. And so they agree on these particular issues.

And I think that the problem with the G7 pressure is that without the support of the American leader, that position is ultimately weakened. But the European Union does not have to worry about the United States when it comes to this. And they will be outspoken.

President Macron has just gone through a difficult year with a whole range of activities that have to do with the environment. The burning of Notre Dame brought attention to the fact that there was tremendous resources around some of these questions.

And also let's not forget that in the German context, on the heels of Angela Merkel's CDU party, has been this dramatic rise of the Green Party. So these European leaders are under tremendous pressures from their voters and constituencies that deal with the question of climate issue and global warming.

And this sets them apart from some of the other leaders present at the G7 this time around.

HOWELL: Dominic, thank you.

And I want to draw our viewers' attention to these live images in France, where Abe Shinzo of Japan has just arrived there and we're watching again as world leaders all arrive here in the coming hours. The U.S. president set to arrive in just over an hour. And we're looking for, you know, his touchdown.

We'll, of course, bring that to you live. You see there in the background, Abe Shinzo. Of course, world leaders will be talking on a host of issues. One big issue right now, this dispute certainly between South Korea and Japan when it comes to North Korea.

And North Korea, we understand, firing more projectiles at a time where South Korea and Japan are not sharing vital intelligence. Again, world leaders coming together at the G7. We'll continue to follow it for you live.

U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just finished treatment for pancreatic cancer. This according to a statement from --


HOWELL: -- the court. Ginsberg's health is closely watched because she plays a key role leading the court's liberal wing who are outnumbered by conservatives. Ariane de Vogue has this story from Washington.


ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: The Supreme Court announced that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, has completed radiation therapy for a tumor on her pancreas. The hospital called it a localized malignant tumor that was first detected in July 31st.

Treatment began in August 5th. The court said a statement the tumor was treated definitively and there was no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. She canceled her annual vacation but she plans to continue with her speaking events.

Monday she will be in Buffalo, New York. During the treatment, she appeared at an event in New York, where she met the actress Kate McKinnon, who plays her on "Saturday Night Live." And Thursday night she went to "Moulin Rouge" on Broadway. This is her fourth bout of cancer over the years. She had colon

cancer in 1999; in 2009, early pancreatic cancer; she also had a heart procedure and cancer in the lung last year. She spoke about her plans to stay on the court earlier this summer. Take a listen.


RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: As long as I can do it full steam and that means, at my age, 86, you have to take it year by year.


DE VOGUE: Ginsburg added that she expects to be OK next term and, after that, she will just have to see -- Ariane de Vogue, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: The 2020 Democratic presidential field just got a little smaller. Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton has announced that he is now out. He says it is now already a three-way race. Listen.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, I mean, just look at the polling. You've got Warren and Sanders at about 15 percent, Biden at about twice that but no one else really even close. And I'm not saying that that's a good thing.


VANIER: Moulton says that he will run for re-election to Congress and campaign for whoever gets the Democratic nomination.

One of the other Democratic candidates is slamming his own party for its debate rules. That is Colorado senator Michael Bennet, who says that the rules will likely keep half of the field out of the next debate. Listen.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way onto the debate stage.


HOWELL: To qualify, candidates must get at least 2 percent in at least four qualifying polls and have 130,000 unique donors. Bennet has not yet qualified for the debate.

Influential conservative billionaire David Koch has died. He was 79. He and his brother, Charles Koch, became household names for using their considerable wealth to back conservative causes and candidates. They funded foundations, think tanks and political groups to push their small government message. The Koch family did not announce the official cause of death.

Cold War deja vu, you could call it, the U.S. carries out a missile test and Russia's president orders his military to prepare a, quote, "symmetrical response." A changing world. We'll have more on that ahead for you.





HOWELL: We'll take you to the streets of Hong Kong. You see protesters on the ground. The haze and that smoke, it appears that tear gas is being used. Again, we've seen protests now for 12 straight weekends. We'll continue, of course, we'll continue to monitor this for you and bring you any events.

Parts of the city's subway system have been shut down in anticipation of the protests we're seeing there. Just one of several rallies planned this weekend alone. Again, we'll continue to follow what is happening in Hong Kong and bring you anything happening there, developments, live.

There are worrying signs that another arms race between the United States and Russia may be just starting. It comes after the U.S. carried out a ground-based Tomahawk missile test, sparking some choice words from the president of Russia. Barbara Starr has this report now from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New orders to the Russian military and a threat to the United States from Vladimir Putin.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I instruct the ministries and relevant departments to analyze the level of threat posed by the actions of the United States to our country and take comprehensive measures to prepare a symmetrical response.

STARR: Putin was responding to the U.S. recently firing a ground launched non-nuclear missile. It's raising questions about what a symmetrical response looks like.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: What I suspect he is talking about is trying to match pace for pace or one for one the kinds of missile capabilities that the United States is now going to look at developing.

STARR: The Trump administration wants to develop that missile, now that the Russians have deployed their missiles near Europe.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper taking the hardest line yet on developing defenses against the Russian systems.

MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Right now, Russia has possibly nuclear tipped cruise -- INF range cruise missiles facing toward Europe and that's not a good thing.

STARR: Even though the Pentagon says it will not deploy new nuclear missiles, it's become a full-blown arms race, with worried Putin is in the lead.

KIRBY: According to some experts he's at least a year, maybe as much as two years ahead of our ability to actually deploy in the field a similar like capability.

STARR: U.S. military intelligence believes Putin's ultimate goal?

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: What they're developing is a capability to deny the ability of the United States to meet its alliance commitments specifically in Europe.

STARR: The Russian nuclear powered Skyfall missile test which resulted in a deadly explosion and fallout shrouded in secrecy by Moscow is just one of Putin's weapons programs designed to hold the U.S. at bay.

European worries about a resurgent Russia still with control over Crimea and attacking eastern Ukraine may doom President Trump's efforts to get Russia back into the so-called Group of Seven economic fold.

KIRBY: I don't think that there's going to be any serious discussion at the G7 of letting Russia back in.

STARR: And if all of this wasn't enough, the U.S. has fresh worries that the Russians are developing a new nuclear testing method that may be very difficult to detect -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.



HOWELL: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live. We'll be right back after the break.





HOWELL: Welcome back.

In Brazil, people are demanding their government do more to fight the fires that are raging in the Amazon. Protesters spelled out SOS on the streets of Sao Paulo. That is nearly 3,000 kilometers or 1,700 miles away from those fires. Earlier this week, Sao Paulo was plunged into darkness because of some of the smoke there.



HOWELL: We want to thank you for being with us for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. And we want to take you back to what is happening right now in the streets of Hong Kong. We're watching as these protests continue. A moment ago we saw tear gas being used. We'll continue to follow these events and bring you them live.

And what is happening in the G7 as world leaders come together in France. Stay with us.