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President Trump Attends G-7 Summit; Markets Dive Over Growing Trade War Concerns; G7 Summit Continues in Biarritz, France With Some Surprises; Israel Accuse of Drone Strike in Syria; Tropical Storm Dorian Expected to Become a Hurricane; PFAS Found in Water Across the U.S.; Antonio De La Rosa, First to Cross the Pacific Ocean using a Stand-Up Paddle Board. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired August 26, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There aren't too many of them. There aren't too many of them. OK, I don't think we have anything to say (ph). OK, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President, can you tell me why the Palestinian authority has been taken out of the U.S. State Department website and how --
TRUMP: Go ahead with your question (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Mr. President, can you tell us a little bit more about the call you referred to (ph), when will the next round of negotiations --
TRUMP: We've gotten two calls and very, very good calls, very productive calls. They mean business. They want to be able to make a deal. It is very important that -- I think it is very important for them. Look, they lost (ph) three million jobs and a lot of things have happened. And it is why President Xi is a great leader. He understands.
It is going to be great for China. It is going to be great for the U.S. It is going to be great for the world. He understands that. And he is able to do things that other people are unable to do. So, we were called and we are going to start very shortly to negotiate. We will see what happens.
But I think we are going to make a deal because they don't want to lose their chains. They have supply chains that are unbelievably intricate. People are all leaving and they are going to other countries, including the United States, by the way. We are going to get a lot of them, too. A percentage, meaning we will get -- I think we will get a higher percentage than a lot of people would think.
So, we are going to start talking very seriously. We will see how that goes. We have a lot of good news. We have good news yesterday, but I can't talk to you about that. And frankly, you people, you call that one totally wrong. You have that one figured as wrong as you can figure. But we had some other good news yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Are you speaking with President Xi directly?
TRUMP: I don't want to say. I can't comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) that he is here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Did you talk about it? Do you need to take the anger (ph) from this government?
TRUMP: No, I don't want to comment on that. But he was here, and we will see what happens with Iran. But you called it wrong indeed, maybe aggressive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President --
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) right too, which isn't too often.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): So, it was disrespectful for Macron to invite Zarif --
TRUMP: No --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): You don't feel that way?
TRUMP: He asked my approval. President Macron asked my -- we have a very good relationship. That's another thing you get wrong. We had -- this is the best meeting we've had with the President Macron in France. It was straight up.
We are not finished yet. We have another sort of day left and will have a lot of meetings including with the president of Egypt which I am looking forward to. I will be meeting with Angela Merkel in a while and meeting with few others. We have some very important meetings tonight. We have some sessions. And then we'll have a news conference if we so choose.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President --
TRUMP: Macron spoke to me. He asked me. I said, "If you want to do it that's OK." I don't consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asked me for approval.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President, President el-Sisi is an important figure in the U.S. --
TRUMP: Very important.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): -- about that and whether taking Palestinian authority out of the State Department's website -- TRUMP: You can ask Mike Pompeo, secretary of state. He is working very hard on that situation and very competently. And if you look and see what is going on with the Palestinians and with Israel, we can see if we can make a deal. It is very complicated. It got complicated by the Israeli elections.
We are going to know who the prime minister is going to be very soon. It is happening. That was a complicating factor. I think the Palestinians would like to make a deal. As you know, I cut off most funding to the Palestinians, a lot of funding.
And I think they will to give it back. I think they will have to make a deal. We will see what happens. Nobody has ever done that before. They used to negotiate paying a fortune of money, $750 million. They pay, pay, pay and then they be treated with disrespect, but they keep paying. This went on for years.
So I don't believe in that. We cut off their funding, a lot of it. And we will see what happens. But I think they will want to make a deal, the Palestinians. I think Israel would like to make a deal, too. I think people after so many years and decades -- I think they are a little tired to fighting. Even he gets tired of fighting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Are you confident that it's going to be released right after the Israeli election?
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) a deal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: No, of course not. It won't be before the election. I don't think --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): No, after, after the election.
TRUMP: You might see what the deal is before the election and I think maybe it will happen. But everybody says that that's a deal that can't be made. They always refer to that deal. Israel and the Palestinians have tremendous hatred for many, many decades.
[03:04:59] And everybody says that it's a deal that cannot be made. We will see if we can make it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, President Macron has told you (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: I don't want to comment on that. I knew he was coming in. I respected the fact that he was coming in. He met with President Macron. Iran has got a very difficult situation there. They are in a position that is not a very good position from the standpoint of economics. That's OK because we can (INAUDIBLE) very quickly.
I'm looking at a really good Iran, really strong. We are not looking for regime change. We have seen how that works over the last 20 years. That hasn't been too good. We are looking to make Iran rich again. Let them be right. Let them do well if they want or they can be poor as can be.
I'll tell you what. I don't think is it acceptable the way they're being forced to live in a way. And what we want is very simple. It has got to be non-nuclear. It has got to be non-nuclear. We are going to talk about ballistic missiles. We are going to talk about timing. We are going to talk about the length of the agreement which you know expires in a very short period of time.
I mean, agreement that Present Obama made expires in a very short period of time. What kind of agreement is that? He paid $150 billion for a short term agreement. We would like to have $150 billion for that for an agreement. Plus, he gave $1.8 million in cash. Where is your finance minister? Finance minister. Which one? One hundred -- $1.8 billion in cash, will you take it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Mr. President, what is the next step (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: We will see what happens. You know, it is all very new. They are under a lot of financial stress. We put sanctions. The secretary of treasury is here right now. He is really an expert at what he does. He has done a very effective job. They used to say that -- we are the largest economy by far in the world.
When I became president, we were heading to be the second largest. China was going to overtake us. That is not going to happen. Not going to happen any time. I will tell you while I'm here, it can't happen. We picked up $20 trillion in worth and China has lost $20, $25, $30 trillion in worth.
We now almost doubled the size of the economy. If I hadn't won, our economy now would have been overtaken by China. And all these clowns that are sitting on television that I've been running this government for many years that has been taken to the cleanest by China, they're all sitting there saying, well, I don't think the president was negotiating properly.
They don't know what they're talking about. I have great respect for the fact that China called. They want to make a deal. I have great respect. I have great respect for President Xi. And I think we are going to have a deal because now we are dealing on proper terms. They understand and we understand.
But that is a great thing that happened. They want to get something done. Maybe it will get done. But this is the first time I have seen them where they really do want to make a deal. I think that is a very positive step. As far as Iran is concerned, that was with great respect. I spoke to President Macron yesterday. I know everything he was doing. I proved whatever he was doing and I thought it was fine.
I think it is too soon to me. I didn't want to meet -- I said I don't want to meet right now. But sooner, it will be time to meet with Iran. It is going to be a great thing for Iran. They have a great potential. Iran has great potential.
You know who else has great potential? North Korea. Kim Jong-un. Under his leadership, North Korea has great potential. I don't think North Korea wants to blow it because if they blow it, it won't be good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): You didn't want to meet with Zarif because you sent a message to him on Iran.
TRUMP: I don't want to comment. I can't comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) French why the tariffs (INAUDIBLE) possibility?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Yes.
TRUMP: Well, it depends on the deal we work out on the digital techs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): What is the status of that?
TRUMP: We are negotiating right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Are you willing to lift (ph) sanctions in order to get Iran to the table?
TRUMP: I'm not going to tell you what I'm willing to do. But Iran has a chance to really build themselves up and be a very great nation greater than before. But they have to stop terrorism. That is your number one nation of terror.
Not in the last year and half to two years because they can't spend like they used to spend. They took President Obama's $150 billion and they doled it out to terrorists all over the place. I think they are going to change. I really do. I believe they have a chance to be a very special nation. I hope that's true.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President, can you see (INAUDIBLE) Japan? Many are commenting that the Japanese prime minister seemed less sympathetic than you.
[03:10:03] Can you ensure the international border (ph) for this?
TRUMP: Well, you have to understand. He is a friend of mine, one of my closest friends in this world. He is one of my closest friends. They send us millions and millions of cars. They have for many years. They are essentially not taxed.
So they sent them in from Japan. They're essentially not taxed. And my first up with Japan was to say, you have to move car companies into the United States. And they did. Many car companies are now operating plans in the United States and building plans in the United States because we have had over the years a tremendous trade deficit with Japan.
But we have a lot of cards from Japan. Number one is my relationship with Prime Minister Abe. So I don't think we have to use the cards. But the ultimate card is they sent us millions and millions of cars. Essentially it is two and a half percent, but there are ways of getting around it. Essentially non-tariff free. If I want to put tariffs on those cars, I would make so much money for this country. So, he is going to make the deal. I feel pretty certain about that. That is what I do. We have cards. That's the thing. There are people who don't understand. He knew this a long time ago.
We have the cards. We are the big piggybank that everybody has been robbing for 35 years. We have all the cards. But we haven't played it because we never had a president that understood this. We didn't have an administration or trade negotiator that understood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Are you running to eventually take off the (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: Nobody has ever asked me that question but you. Why would I do that? Tell me, why? OK, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Thank you, press.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: You are finally starting to get a job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Thank you, press.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: You have been listening to U.S. President Donald Trump alongside his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. These world leaders are at the G-7 summit. Mr. Trump is discussing a wide range of issues. One of them -- that is major news for sure around the world.
Mr. Trump is saying that China called. He is saying that there were two phone calls and that China wants to return to the table for a possible trade deal. This is significant especially given what we have seen of the market as of late.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. There is a possible sign that U.S. futures have moved into positive territory, but we will have more on that. He also covered another important headline coming out of that. Israel and Palestinians want to make a deal, and we also heard him commenting on Iran, too.
He said he didn't want to meet with Iran right now, but he was saying "no comment" on the fact that the Iranian foreign minister was there at the G-7 summit, invited by France on the sidelines there. He was a little annoyed by that, but he said that we want to make Iran rich again. He says that they need a new deal when it comes to nuclear issues.
So the big headline we return to, of course, is what was said about China. I want to bring in CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, who is live with us this hour from Southern France. An incredible news conference there and, of course, the most important thing that headline, talking about China saying it called, wants to make a deal, and it appears that the U.S. futures have responded to that.
We don't know that for sure. The problem at this point is we have seen so much flip-flopping that it is hard to know whether this is the case.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: So we need to wait to see what China has to say about it. I think that is the other part of the headline here. That will be taking it from them, what they say the messages on those phone calls were to President Trump through the night.
As you said, yesterday, the president was saying that (INAUDIBLE) about raising the tariffs. His adviser said it was only (INAUDIBLE) because he was thinking that he should have raised his tariffs further, sounding as if he was in an escalatory mode.
But President Trump is doing (INAUDIBLE) in this sort of many press conferences here. Impromptu press conference is supposed to be a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Sisi.
He has made the argument that we have been told he has been making behind the scenes here, that his actions with China, his raising of tariffs and this trade war with China is the right way to go to bring the message to President Xi. He says the United States holds all the cards.
[03:14:59] He says that past presidencies have been ripped off essentially and should have been a stronger line with China. This has been his narrative, that he is doing it the right way. And what he is telling us this morning is an affirmation of that.
So, perhaps no surprise we are hearing the president framed this phone call in this way that President Xi says he wants to make a deal. Let's hear how the Chinese frame this phone call and how they would see this deal shaping up.
I think it was also very impressing, just to move on briefly to the Iran issue, that President Trump said he was consulted by French President Macron about Zarif's visit, that he approved that visit which seems to counter what he had said yesterday which was that he hadn't signed off on the French being an interlocutor for the G-7 with Iran.
Now, that may be a technicality there because as everyone said yesterday in the midst of all this confusion about Zarif's visit, that Macron was acting from a national interest for France, speaking for France. But here, we have President Trump very clearly now saying that he approved it.
He also alluded to some other news to come that he couldn't talk about now. His lines about Iran, this is not about regime change. His line about Iran, their economy could be doing so much better. We have the keys to that.
We have heard before that he does seem to imply advancement at least along the lines of deescalating the current tensions with Iran. How far, we don't know. We do know that French President Macron spent half an hour with Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, yesterday in substantial amount of time when he was hosting so many other leaders here at the G-7, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Indeed. So much covered there and in addition raising an incredible possible breakthrough, suggesting that Israel and the Palestinians want to make a deal. Of course, we want to get some more details on that wide ranging press conference there with his Egyptian counterpart. We will wait for more details, of course.
Nic Robertson is joining us there from Southern France with some analysis on what we all just heard right across the globe. Many thanks to you.
HOWELL: And putting it, Rosemary, into context, to Nic's point, it is going to be important given the fact that we heard this from the president. We also have to hear from others as well to confirm --
HOWELL: -- that it is indeed the case.
CHURCH: We have learned that lesson.
HOWELL: Yes, we have.
CHURCH: We have seen a lot of flip-flopping back and forth on this. We need confirmation from China as to whether this is their understanding.
HOWELL: But the market is responding positively. We will see how that plays out the rest of the day. You're watching "Newsroom" live in the United States and around the world. We will be right back after the break.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Welcome back to "Newsroom." U.S. President Donald Trump says that China wants to get back to the negotiating table. He said this just a few minutes ago. We covered it live as breaking news. To resolve the trade war, earlier, the threat of new tariffs along with confusing signals from the G-7, it said Asian market is tumbling.
CHURCH: Yeah. That was the first response from treasury investors (ph) since President Donald Trump announced those new tariffs Friday. Let's bring up those numbers. So you can see they are down. Hong Kong's Hang Seng is down two and a quarter percent there. Japan's Nikkei lost more than two percent. The Shanghai Composite is down more than one percent.
Interesting to note that U.S. futures have turned the corner though. Now, these numbers started to shift upwards as President Trump was talking about China having called and having said that they want to get back to the negotiating table.
But we are waiting to hear a response and reaction from China. We are not necessarily making a link between those comments and those numbers at this point.
HOWELL: Let's bring in now our Andrew Stevens. Andrew has been following the numbers and joins this hour live in Hong Kong. Andrew, we just heard the U.S. president, certainly positive news, he says that China called, two calls, and that China wants to return to make a deal.
Here is the thing. We heard from the president who, you know, has that framing, it will be important to hear the framing from China as well.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It will be very important to hear what China's interpretation of those two calls is. But certainly, the investment community is taking it pretty positively so far, George. As you pointed out, the U.S. futures have gone from around about 200 points down to about 60 points up on the back of that press conference in France with Donald Trump. So, it is a pretty positive reaction there.
Donald Trump is saying that the Chinese negotiating team have called his team in Washington on Sunday with renewed call for talks. He went on to say that those talks are expected to start shortly. He is confident that they are going to get a deal.
Donald Trump said that his strategy, this sort of maximum pressure on China, is now paying dividends. What we do know from China so far is a comment from the chief trade negotiator on the Chinese side, Lie He. He spoke today in Shanghai. He said that China was willing to get back to the negotiating table for coordinated consultations in a calm attitude, stressing that calm attitude.
So, obviously, those comments were made in the light of the calls on Sunday night. So the talks at least definitely look like they are on -- George, we don't know at this stage just how willing China or the U.S. is to make a deal. That would have to be compromised, as I suspect, on both sides.
[03:24:54] And so far, if you look at the language that is being used and if you look at the action that has been taken on tit for tat, which has escalated dramatically just in the past 72 hours or so, we see that sort of escalation.
So whether they are prepared to step back from that brink, we will have to wait and see. But certainly a pretty positive note from the president and the markets are responding accordingly.
HOWELL: And the broader question here, Andrew, given that there have been jitters about a possible global recession and, you know, certainly leaders looking to this trade war, how important might this be to fight an offer at given the backdrop of what is happening with these numbers?
STEVENS: Well, that is a great point, it is important to find an off ramp. But it is also important that Donald Trump can walk away and telling his base and telling potential voters in 2020 that he solved the China trade war, he put China back in its box, we now got a level playing field. So, if he can say that and that is taken on board as a positive thing around the world, it does help restore confidence which does help them on this global side down that we are seeing at the moment.
HOWELL: Certainly just around the corner for the U.S. president. Andrew Stevens, live in Hong Kong, thank you.
CHURCH: And for our international viewers, thank you for your company. I am Rosemary Church.
HOWELL: And I am George Howell. We have more news ahead. For our U.S. viewers, the news continues. Stay with us.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: From coast to coast here in the United States, you are watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour.
Donald Trump's announcement that China wants to resume trade negotiations has turned the U.S. futures markets around. Look at those numbers. The Dow futures up nearly half a percentage point and NASDAQ future is up at 0.65 percent, changing as we were speaking. But markets in the Asia-Pacific region already took a hit for the day.
HOWELL: Mr. Trump also discussed the Iranian foreign minister's visit to the G7 summit in France. He said that he wasn't surprised by Javad Zarif's appearance in a sideline meeting. He also said that he didn't think that it was disrespectful for the French President Emmanuel Macron to invite him there to the summit.
CHURCH: The British prime minister met with the E.U. Council president on the margins of the G7 summit Sunday. Officials say Boris Johnson told Donald Tusk (ph) that Brexit would happen on October 31st with or without a deal. However, he adds everyone should prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
Well, Josh Rogin is a CNN political analyst and a columnist for "The Washington Post." He joins us now from Southern France. And Josh, about half an hour ago, we all watched President Trump make headlines in his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart when he announced that China called and said it wants to return to the negotiating table and make a deal.
This after the markets we just saw the numbers responded negatively to mixed messages earlier from Mr. Trump and his advisers on the subject of increasing those tariffs on China. So, we mentioned, too, U.S. futures appeared to be responding positively to all of this.
What did you make of it? As of course, we await word from China to confirm this is, indeed, what is happening because we do have to start questioning that because of all the flip-flopping. JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course, I think this entire weekend has been a demonstration of two things; one, how concerned the international community, not just the G7 leaders, but the international community around the world is about the rising U.S.- China trade tensions; and also, you know, how the markets and even the media -- it doesn't really understand what Donald Trump is saying and it's partially because Donald Trump is saying lots of different things all the time.
But also because, you know, he's responding to questions about his attitudes about the trade war, but nothing has really changed, right? He seemed to say that he had -- that he had had second thoughts and that was interpreted as a reversal. And then they tried to correct that. And that was interpreted as another reversal. Then today he announced the trade talks are going to be resumed. And that's interpreted as another development.
But over the last few days, actually nothing's happened. And this sort of confusion has roiled the markets. But in essence, we're at the same place that we were two days ago. And I think that's, again, sort of a stark reflection of sort of the confusion and also the tension surrounding this issue.
CHURCH: Yeah. And what about the surprise visit to the G7 summit of Iran's foreign minister at the invitation of the French president, of course? But in the same press conference, President Trump suggested he was fine with the visit and also said he wanted a new nuclear deal with Iran and he also pretty much said he was not interested in any regime change here.
ROGIN: Right. You can see an effort by President Trump to avoid any conflict with French President Macron by claiming that he was asked for and granted approval to the French president to invite Foreign Minister Zarif here to Biarritz. But my reporting shows that, you know, the president was actually informed and not asked for approval and that French President Macron informed all the G7 leaders last night that Zarif was on the way.
And many White House officials and other U.S. officials were very upset and very frustrated and saw the move by the French president as disrespectful. But President Trump is in a mode of trying to make everyone think that everything's just fine.
So when he talks in public he says that he was very much OK with the visit. At the same time, there is no doubt that this came as a surprise to many inside the U.S. government, if not the president himself, and they saw it as an attempt to interject Iran into these discussions and to force the president's hand in a way that at least many White House officials didn't appreciate.
Bottom line here is that no progress was made. And so, in that sense, it seems like the -- whatever French President Macron was trying to accomplish by bringing Zarif to Biarritz was not accomplished.
CHURCH: And speaking of surprises, in the midst of all of these topics that were covered, suddenly we hear from President Trump that Israel and the Palestinians want to make a deal. Where did that come from?
[03:35:06] ROGIN: Well, he said two things. He said he thinks they want to make a deal and he also said he doesn't believe that there will be a deal within the period of the first term of his presidency. So in a way he's talking out of both sides of his mouth. And it came because he was asked a direct question in the press conference.
And again, this is sort of what happens when the president travels and has all these bilateral meetings. He's about to have a press conference this afternoon here where he could take any number of questions and say any number of things on any number of issues, which will send reporters, analysts and other government officials in any number of directions.
And this is the chaos and dysfunction that Washington has been living under for the last 2.5 years under President Trump. It's broad confusion both inside and outside the administration about what our foreign policy is, what the president wants to do, and what he has actually done and is doing. And it's when he comes out into the world to meetings like the G7 Summit that the rest of the world gets a taste of this.
And let me assure you that there have been no big policy developments here as far as U.S. foreign policy is concerned. It's just President Trump talking about a lot of stuff in a lot of confusing ways. And that's setting off a lot of narratives that it will take the White House and Washington and the world weeks, if not months, to process.
CHURCH: Yeah. We will, of course, watch this over the next few hours across the day ahead to see where all of this lands because this is so early as we're trying to digest all of the new stuff that was coming out of that news conference.
Josh Rogin, thank you for helping us with that process, joining us live from Southern France at the G7 summit. Appreciate it.
HOWELL: But again, Rosemary, you know, to the point that we've all been making here, it is a matter of waiting to see, right --
HOWELL: -- to see that these things are, indeed, confirmed by several different sources. We are just only hearing from the U.S. president. So we will have to wait.
CHURCH: Making policy on the run. Apparently we'll have to see. We need confirmation.
HOWELL: An Iran-linked paramilitary group is accusing Israel of drone strikes in Iraq. The Popular Mobilization unit there says at least one of their members was killed Sunday near the Syrian border. CHURCH: So far, Israel isn't commenting about that or alleged drone activity in Lebanon. The militant group, Hezbollah, says its media offices were damaged Sunday by two crashed drones near Beirut.
HOWELL: But Israel is saying that it carries -- carried out air strikes Saturday in Syria. Let's get more now from CNN's senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley. Sam live in Jerusalem with the latest. Sam, what more can you tell us?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, on the matter of the alleged drone strike against Hashd al-Shaabi that is part of the Shia Militia forces that were responsible alongside the regular Iraqi army for driving the Islamic state, so-called, out of Iraq. And they did that with American air support, not just Americans, of course, British and others involved in that coalition campaign.
So they were uneasy allies of the United States and Iraq remains as such. And so, that is why it is so controversial once again to have one of these Iranian-backed militias alleging that Israel, another American ally, could have been behind a drone strike that actually took life inside Iraqi territory, a very awkward situation indeed for the Americans when it comes to Iraq.
So that is sort of rumbling on in the background. And against that background because, of course, there have been previous air strikes, unexplained, unacknowledged, though hinted at by Israel's president -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Iranian or Iranian-backed targets in Iraq.
Then you have Israel at the weekend very quickly announcing that they had attacked Iranian and Iranian-backed militias inside Syria over the weekend, thwarting what they said was an imminent attempt to invade Israeli airspace using a hint or two (ph) unseen drones in terms of -- with regard to attacks on Israel to try to hit targets in Northern Israel.
They said these drones were the sort that they had seen -- that had been seen in action flying out of Yemen against Saudi targets in the past but a very high degree of energy suddenly coming out of the Israelis, very quick to acknowledge that they've been involved in this Syrian operation and then absolute silence about the allegations of drone attacks inside Lebanese territory. A very confusing picture, George.
HOWELL: Very confusing, indeed. Sam, thank you for walking us through it. We appreciate the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.
Here stateside, there is concern about tropical storm Dorian, expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Wednesday.
CHURCH: Forecasters say it will bring wind, rain and storm surges to the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico over the coming week.
[03:40:04] HOWELL: And here's the thing, a tropical storm warning has also been issued for Barbados. Let's get the very latest from CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis live in the weather center with that little storm there brewing. Karen, what more can you tell us?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You described it accurately. It is a little storm, a little tropical storm. It doesn't look like too much. As we take a look at water vapor imagery, as we look at infrared imagery, it's just a petite system that lies to the east of the Lesser Antilles, but it's going to move more towards the west and then more towards the northwest.
Right now, moving fairly quickly at 14 miles per hour, has supporting winds of about 50 miles an hour, some higher gusts. So, it will move over the central portions of the Lesser Antilles then push into the Caribbean. And we think by 72 hours, that puts it about Wednesday evening, it will be in the vicinity of Puerto Rico.
As it puts itself in that vicinity, we don't know if it's going to move over the island, to the scout of the island, or to the west. Right now, it looks to the south and to the west. Computer models are in fair agreement, but you get to that 72-hour time period and they start to diverge a little bit more.
One -- if you look at one of the computer models, it's not a direct hit. If you look at others, it is a direct hit. Why do we care about this at Category 1? Category 1 can produce fatalities and damage. But you go back two years, September 20, 2017, devastating Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane moved across Puerto Rico and they're still recuperating.
In this particular situation, Rosemary and George, it looks like it's going to be a weakened system, but still we're three days out and it's still very hard to tell. Back to you guys.
HOWELL: All right. Karen, thank you.
CHURCH: Unbelievable. Thank you so much. Well, harmful chemicals may be contaminating American's tap water. Officials claimed they're working on the issue, but advocates say they're not doing enough. We'll have the details for you just ahead.
[03:45:03] HOWELL: Well, this is a rather disturbing fact, you could say, but all across the United States harmful chemicals have been discovered in Americans' water supply.
CHURCH: Yeah. Now, advocates are calling on officials to address the problem before it has more tragic results.
CNN's Rene Marsh reports.
RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: You have the chemical in your body?
SANDY WYNN-STELT, HUSBAND DIED OF LIVER CANCER: Yes.
MARSH: Very high levels?
WYNN-STELT: Very high levels.
MARSH: Sandy Wynn-Stelt never suspected the water that flowed through her pipes may be poisoning her.
WYNN-STELT: There's a good chance this will be what ultimately kills me.
MARSH: Sandy's water is tainted by PFAS, a class of chemicals that studies have linked to kidney and liver cancer, thyroid problems, high cholesterol, birth defects and pregnancy complications. It's in most products that are water, heat and grease resistant like nonstick pans, food containers and fabric protectants.
In Belmont, Michigan, where Sandy lives, has some of the highest levels of PFAS in the nation. The groundwater was contaminated by a nearby shoe factory, Wolverine Tannery, which dumped tons of water contaminated with scotch guard for years according to state officials.
WYNN-STELT: This is what I drink out of, brush your teeth out of, cook with.
MARSH: Sandy is suing Wolverine and 3M, which makes scotch guard, over her contamination and the death of her husband, Joel. He died of liver cancer in 2016, one year before she found out the water was tainted. So, he was never tested for PFAS.
WYNN-STELT: Every night you try to fall asleep and you wonder is that what did it? Should I not have had him drink so much water?
MARSH: The State of Michigan is also suing Wolverine, which in a response to CNN said it blames 3M and that some of the lawsuits against it include misleading and unsupported allegations. 3M told CNN it regularly and proactively examines the environmental impact of our products and has invested $200 million globally on PFAS remediation efforts.
Is this the largest environmental crisis this state has seen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In terms of residential drinking water impacts, yes.
MARSH: Thirteen hundred miles away, everyday, dairy farmer, Art Chap, milks 1,800 cows on his New Mexico dairy farm and every day for nearly a year he dumps it all down the drain.
ART SCHAAP, DAIRY FARMER: That would be about 12,000 gallons a day of milk.
MARSH: The milk is contaminated, according to FDA tests and his milk license suspended. Cows lie dead from old age on his farm because no one will buy their beef.
SCHAAP: We have no income. For our family, it's been devastating. MARSH: Fire fighting foam used in a training exercise at a nearby military base contaminated the ground water on Schapp's property. PFAS contamination sites are everywhere. Seven hundred twelve locations in 49 states have been discovered according to the Environmental Working Group, an activist, nonprofit.
Manufacturers like 3M and DuPont have stopped making two of the chemicals in the class, but they're still shipped in on products from overseas. They're so prevalent. CDC scientists believe PFAS chemicals are in the blood streams of nearly all Americans. Despite all that, the chemicals are unregulated.
SCHAAP: I almost feel like we live in a third-world country. When we see a problem like this, that is polluting the ground water, we have proof from the tests but yet everyone is standing, sitting on their hands.
MARSH: Environmentalists have been trying to get the EPA to act for years. The Obama administration took some steps to address PFAS issues, but there is little confidence that the Trump EPA will move quickly to make quick regulations.
Betsy Sutherland worked at the EPA for 33 years before leaving in 2017.
BETSY SUTHERLAND, FORMER EPA OFFICE OF WATER EMPLOYEE: They are solely devoted to deregulating, to repealing public health protection.
MARSH: Internal government emails show the Trump administration wanted to suppress a CDC study that showed the chemicals were dangerous even at levels the EPA had deemed safe. A White House aide wrote in an e-mail they could not get the CDC to, quote, "realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be."
After mounting public and congressional pressure, the study was released. The EPA did put out an action plan in February, but critics say it's just promises with no real movement.
Well, the EPA is responsible for regulating these chemicals. And in a statement, the EPA said it was a top priority for the administrator and it will decide whether to set a limit for the chemicals by the end of the year. But members of Congress say the EPA isn't acting with enough urgency so there is a bipartisan move to force the EPA to act within two years.
Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
[03:50:00] HOWELL: Wow.
CHURCH: Yeah. Shocking.
HOWELL: We'll be right back after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: He is calling it a journey of absolute loneliness. An endurance athlete from Spain is now the first person to cross the Pacific Ocean on a paddle board, all the way from San Francisco to Hawaii. Wow.
CHURCH: Is that possible?
HOWELL: Let's see. OK. So, this story from Jim Mendoza from affiliate KHNL about this record-breaking journey. Let's watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aloha.
ANTONIO DE LA ROSA, ULTRA ENDURANCE ATHLETE: Aloha.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Hawaii.
DE LA ROSA: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?
DE LA ROSA: Fine.
JIM MENDOZA, KHNL JOURNALIST: This was Antonio de la Rosa's first contact with another human being since he paddled away from San Francisco on June 9th. The 42-year-old ultra endurance athlete from Spain is the first person to cross the Pacific Ocean as a stand-up paddle border.
DE LA ROSA: It's a record for me and for everybody.
MENDOZA: He covered about 2,500 miles of open ocean using wind, currents and elbow grease.
DE LA ROSA: No, no motor. No, no, no, only motor, this is the motor.
MENDOZA: His vessel, the Ocean Defender, is a combo paddle board and small boat with a sleeping cabin, storage bins and a solar panel for power.
[03:55:08] DE LA ROSA: GPS, one inside and one outside, computer.
MENDOZA: De la Rosa packed enough supplies for a 90-day trip. He estimated it would take about 70 days to make the pacific crossing. He did it in 76.
GoPro cameras documented his days and nights at sea. There was no escort vessel so he was all alone. He estimates he lost about 10 pounds but never got sick despite very little sleep.
DE LA ROSA: Every hour, I get up, checking the GPS and checking the direction, moving the system.
MENDOZA: Hurricane Flossy didn't hit him, but it did push him off course.
DE LA ROSA: During one week, I washed to the north, to the north, and I say, oof, what happened?
MENDOZA: Loaded down, the ocean defender weighed more than 1,000 pounds.
DE LA ROSA: It's difficult moving this kind of boat with very small paddle.
MENDOZA: He says the view out there was breathtaking, but he did encounter floating plastics, nets and discarded line.
DE LA ROSA: With this GoPro --
MENDOZA: De la Rosa has done other extreme adventures.
DE LA ROSA: Every year, I think, OK, what I do next year? I love this kind of life.
MENDOZA: He once rode across the Atlantic Ocean. Now, he's conquered the Pacific.
DE LA ROSA: Aloha, the Pearl of Hawaii. Adios, amigos.
MENDOZA: Jim Mendoza, Hawaii News Now.
HOWELL: Oh, different kind of stand up paddle, but I guess that's what's SUP (ph).
CHURCH: Yes. He's still braver than me or maybe you.
CHURCH: Thank you so much, everyone, for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church.
HOWELL: Rosemary didn't get my corny joke. I'm George Howell. "Early Start" is next in New York in Hudson Yards. Have a great day.