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Seven Missing U.S. Sailors Found Dead; London Fire; French Elections; Mistrial Declared in Cosby Case. Aired 3-3:30a ET
Aired June 18, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This was not a small collision. The U.S. Navy gives details about a warship's collision with a merchant vessel that left seven U.S. sailors dead.
And not good enough: Britain's prime minister Theresa May admits the government's response to the Grenfell Tower fire was inadequate.
Plus mistrial for the man once known as America's dad. Jurors in the aggravated indecent assault case against Bill Cosby cannot reach a unanimous decision.
Hi, everybody, thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier in Atlanta. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
VANIER: And we have breaking news this hour out of Japan. Search and rescue efforts are over after an American warship collided with a merchant vessel Saturday.
A U.S. Navy official tells CNN seven sailors reported missing from the U.S.S. Fitzgerald are dead, but the commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet declined to confirm that number.
The ship's commanding officer was seriously hurt in the accident and was taken to a Navy hospital by helicopter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE ADMIRAL JOSEPH AUCOIN, COMMANDER, U.S. 7TH FLEET: His cabin was destroyed. He's lucky to be alive. And he's at the hospital right now. He's undergoing treatment. But he's not available for questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: The commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, speaking there about the deadly collision off the coast of Japan.
For more on all of this, I'm joined by journalist Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo. Kaori, first of all, have we learned more about the circumstances of
KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: Cyril, I think we're getting a slightly clearer picture of what it was like inside the U.S.S. Fitzgerald when this collision took place at 2:30 am, early hours on Saturday, using words like "frenzy," "a panic."
Significant damage seems to have been triggered by this collision that happened between the U.S.S. Fitzgerald and a container ship.
As we know now, there was significant damage to the Fitzgerald, particularly in areas like the machine room; the berthing area, two areas where 116 crew members were probably sleeping because it was the middle of the night and, of course, areas near the pilot's house that had the most damage in this accident.
As we have been reporting, the search for the seven missing is now over, although the vice admiral at this news conference would not confirm that all bodies were found. CNN has learned a U.S. defense official has confirmed the bodies were the seven missing.
So we don't know the exact nature of the collision, why it happened in the middle of the night off the coast of the Izu Peninsula. But we certainly have a better and clearer understanding of the mood inside the U.S.S. Fitzgerald when it happened.
And as the vice admiral was saying, it took a heroic effort to stop the ship from sinking and try and get the flooding water to stop.
VANIER: Yes, listening to the -- absolutely, listening to the commander, it seems quite clear there was a very real danger that that ship could have sunk.
What did we learn about what was happening on the ship at the moment of the collision?
ENJOJI: We don't know a whole lot about what exactly was happening but there were people, of course, that were -- who were asleep. There were just under 300 seamen aboard the ship. There would have been people awake and on watch but not enough, of course, to prevent this collision from happening.
We know that the damage was so severe, the vice admiral said it would take months for the repairs to be complete on the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, which is one of the most technologically advanced warships that the U.S. fleet has, part of the 7th Fleet.
He wouldn't say how long exactly it would take but he said probably under a year.
We also know at this point that there are going to be a number of investigations to determine what exactly happened out there off the coast of Japan. There will be ones conducted by the U.S., others conducted by the Japanese side and the U.S. was trying to -- the U.S. reiterated that they would be working hand-in-hand with the Japanese authorities.
He didn't give us a timetable as to when those investigations would be wrapped up. But we are expecting to hear from the 7th Fleet over the next couple of hours as this investigation progresses.
VANIER: Kaori Enjoji, thank you so much, Kaori, live from near Yokosuka, Japan, the base of the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet. Thank you so much.
And earlier, I spoke with CNN military analyst Lt. Col. Rick Francona --
VANIER: -- about what we know so far.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: These are below the waterline. And if you look at the damage on the ship, what we're looking at, visual to the eye, is only above the waterline. The major damage was actually done below.
The structure of these container ships has a huge bulbous hull, it's called, under the waterline and that would have struck the vessel first, doing the most damage.
Unfortunately, right in that area where it struck were the berthing compartments, the machine room, radio room and the captain's quarters, things like that.
But, unfortunately, it was also where these seven crew members were sleeping.
VANIER: And you can describe for us what the life of the ship is like at, say, 1:30 or 2:30 in the morning, in the middle of the night; that's when the collision happened. I'm assuming the majority of the people are sleeping and are in those berthing compartments and are therefore vulnerable.
FRANCONA: Well, yes and no. It depends on the alert status of the ship. This ship was returning from a routine deployment, heading back to its own port so they were probably in some sort of a minimum manning.
But remember, this is a U.S. Navy warship, it's on duty. So they've got a full watch complement on deck. They've got the combat information center being manned. You know, the bridge is manned. I mean, it's a full-up combat vessel of the U.S. Navy.
But they would be at a reduced posture so, yes, more of the crew would be sleeping in these berthing compartments.
VANIER: The Navy's going to conduct a detailed investigation into this, find out how this could have happened.
How do investigations like this unfold?
FRANCONA: Well, they're going to have to gather all of the information and, of course, what's going to entail is all of the navigational records, what happened when. And they're going to do this minute by minute.
And, fortunately, there are a lot of records available. The -- all of these merchant ships broadcast their position every minute to an automated information system; the Navy does the same thing. They'll get all of the navigation records and find out what happened, why those ships were able to contact.
Now this is a very busy shipping lane but there are rules of how ships pass each other. So we'll have to see which one violated whatever rule. And it's way too early to be assigning blame right now.
VANIER: No, but without assigning blame, I mean, we -- I think it's fair to be surprised that this would happen, especially a collision involving a military ship.
FRANCONA: Yes because this ship was equipped with state-of-the-art electronic sensors. It would have had to have known that ship was out there. But remember, you've got this large vessel, this commercial vessel loaded -- it's about 40,000 tons. This would be like a freight train hitting a Volkswagen.
VANIER: It's about three times as heavy as the destroyer.
FRANCONA: Easily, easily, yes. And so we have to figure out what happened, you know. Of course, this happened in the dead of night so there will be a lot of investigation. This is not going to be over soon. Everybody wants to know what happened; they want to know now. This is going to be months in the making.
VANIER: But this is the second incident in the wider region in a month. In May, last month, the U.S.S. Lake Champlain was struck by a South Korean fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.
Does that raise questions for you that those two incidents would occur back-to-back?
FRANCONA: Actually, I would divorce the two. You know, fishing vessels, you know, operate under a different set of rules. They don't actually always operate in the shipping lanes. These two vessels were operating in designated shipping lanes, where there are very strict rules of passing.
So we'll have to see what actually happened. It's too early to really speculate.
VANIER: CNN military analyst Rick Francona there.
VANIER: A rising death toll, growing anger and an embattled leader. British prime minister Theresa May is addressing criticism of the government response in the Grenfell fire disaster.
Ms. May admits that support for the victims was, quote, "not good enough," especially in the early hours after the tragedy. On Saturday she met with some of the survivors at Number 10 Downing Street. She said her government will do whatever it takes to help.
She's been under heavy criticism since visiting the disaster scene on Thursday and not talking to any survivors at the time. The anger has been rising since the fire.
Protesters were back on the streets of London Saturday, this time in front of the home office, which oversees fire protection across the country. On Monday, the U.K. will observe a minute of silence to remember the victims of Grenfell Tower and CNN's Oren Liebermann brings us the latest on those who died.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The tragedy here at Grenfell Tower behind me is as horrific as was feared at the very beginning. The number of people who died in this fire, a number that started small and increased incrementally from six to 12 to 17, has now begun jumping by dozens.
Police in their latest update --
LIEBERMANN: -- say there are 30 confirmed who died in this fire, as well as 28 more missing and presumed dead. That means police believe there are 58 who died in this fire and they say that number could still rise, now four days after the fire, as they try to identify all of the missing.
That uncertainty, that confusion is part of what's fueling the anger here. We saw that again on Saturday, Prime minister Theresa May meeting with victims of the fire as a protest took place outside.
Prime Minister May said the initial response wasn't good enough and promised a number of steps, including $6.5 million for victims, as well as promised housing.
But that didn't do much to take the edge off the anger; as police gave the latest update here, there were angry questions shouted from the audience, many focusing around the word "accountability." They want somebody held accountable for what happened here and they demanded an investigation.
An investigation that is taking place, police saying it will take time but it will be wide-ranging in what they look at. Here's what the police commander had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUART GUNDY, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMANDER: The investigation is a police investigation. We investigate criminal matters. The investigation will identify any criminal offense that has been committed.
It will be wide-ranging. It will go to establish the answers of what happened in the fire and how it spread. It will look at the building itself. It will look at the refurbishments as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN: Police promising that their inquiry will look at every aspect of the building, both of the previous safety record of the building and then at what started that fire.
Meanwhile, it is a slow, painstaking process. Police say the firefighters have been through every floor but it is only a visual examination at this point. They'll have to go back in for other methods; all of it could take time.
At first they said it could take weeks, now they're saying it could take even longer than that, months for the conclusion of the investigation for a definitive cause.
And then, of course, to find out just how many people died in the Grenfell Tower fire -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, London.
VANIER: In Colombia now, three people killed after an explosion in a shopping mall in the capital, Bogota. One of the victims was a 23- year-old French national. At least 11 other people were wounded. It's unclear for the moment who's responsible for the explosion but the mayor of Bogota is calling the blast "a terrorist act."
And the Italian Coast Guard says it rescued about 800 migrants from rubber boats in the Mediterranean Sea. And you can see them jumping onto an Italian rescue vessel here.
Those rubber boats were trying to make it to Europe. The International Organization for Migration says that more than 65,000 migrants have used the Mediterranean route to get to Italy -- and that's just for this year alone.
Also this just in: the Iraqi military says its security forces have launched an assault on the old city in Western Mosul. An Iraqi commander says the army plus counterterrorism forces are both storming the old city to liberate it from ISIS.
Now there are fears that the terror group will use civilians as human shields, as it has done in the past. Iraqi government forces recaptured Eastern Mosul from ISIS earlier this year. Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the party of French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to win a majority in parliament. What his party's performance says about Mr. Macron's first month in office -- after the break.
VANIER: Welcome back.
The face of the French parliament could very well change drastically. People are heading to the polls in the second round of voting in the parliamentary elections in France. All eyes are on the party of French president Emmanuel Macron, who voted just a few minutes ago. There he is.
And it has been a remarkable rise for La Republique En Marche, which is only about a year old, and yet the president's party could win a historic majority in parliament.
That could, of course, help Mr. Macron push his ambitious social and economic reforms. Earlier we saw Prime Minister Edouard Philippe casting his vote. He's not from Macron's party but he is the prime minister. Macron promised that he would govern with members of the Left and the Right, Edouard Philippe being a representative of the center right.
Nicholas Vinocur is a reporter for Politico in France. He joins us via Skype from Paris, has been following this for us ever since the French presidential election.
Nicholas, is it a foregone conclusion that Mr. Macron will have a parliamentary majority after this round of voting?
NICHOLAS VINOCUR, POLITICO: The only question is how large the majority is going to be.
Is it going to be 410 seats or 445 seats out of an assembly with 577 spots?
That is a crushing majority and it looks like Macron is on course to control that assembly today. It's not completely played out but more or less guaranteed that he'll do very well today.
VANIER: So if his party is doing so well, that says a lot about Mr. Macron's first couple of weeks in power, doesn't it?
VINOCUR: It does. It also says a lot about the state of the French electorate and frustrations with the political class that have been building and building throughout the term of the previous president, Francois Hollande, and are now being expressed with the election of this young, fairly untested president and what is effectively the replacement of an entire political class.
All the familiar faces have been swept out and a whole new class of untested people are coming in. So that tells you what the French want to see with this president and this legislature.
VANIER: Yes, I think that's important for our international viewers to understand, that Mr. Macron had promised he would overhaul the political landscape, starting with the faces, you know, the actual people who would be sitting at the national assembly.
A lot of people who are running these campaigns, they're totally new.
Let's fast forward, Nicholas. Emmanuel Macron has his comfortable majority at the national assembly, so he's free to implement his agenda.
Then what does he do?
VINOCUR: Well, what it looks like right now, and we'll see how the unions react and we'll see how the street reacts, but it looks like this could be the real thing. This could be the real moment, when France gets its act together and starts to reform all these locked-up parts of its economy.
The labor market, that the labor code is the toughest nut to crack and it's the first thing that Emmanuel Macron is going to look after, he's going to look to free up the rigidity, he's going to look to make things more predictable for employers so that they're less -- they don't get cold feet, they're less anxious when they hire people.
That is going to be truly the acid test of this presidency.
Is he going to be a real reformer, who pushes France, kicking and screaming, in a new direction?
Or is he going to get bogged down like all his predecessors?
Every prime minister, every president before him tried to reform the system and came up against a wall of resistance. That's what we're looking to see in the first few months, starting on June 28th, when he presents the labor reform law.
VANIER: "A wall of resistance," that's an interesting phrase that you use.
What could stop Mr. Macron, how can there be a wall of resistance if you have an overwhelming majority in parliament and you have the presidency?
VINOCUR: This is the first thing people warned when they saw these numbers and how many seats he was likely to take in parliament. They said, if you don't have opposition within the chamber, within the assembly, then the opposition doesn't go away; it goes elsewhere.
It goes into the streets, it goes into social media, it goes into all these spaces where French people can express their frustrations. And one thing that's useful to remember, when we're looking at today's results, is that Emmanuel Macron only won about 30 percent of votes in the first round.
So that's about 70 --
VINOCUR: -- percent of people who voted, who don't share his ideas. And then you've got another 50 percent who didn't even bother to vote.
So all these people may, in the coming months, look to express their frustrations and that could happen with street protests, that could happen with big online movements. It's anybody's guess.
And we're looking to see how the unions react, what sort of resistance they're going to put up, once they know the exact contours of Emmanuel Macron's reform plans.
VANIER: All right, Nicholas Vinocur, political reporter for Politico in France, thank you so much for your insights, a pleasure speaking to you as always.
VINOCUR: Thanks for having me.
VANIER: The judge in Bill Cosby's indecent assault case says he will schedule a new trial within months. He declared a mistrial on Saturday after the jury's deliberations ended in deadlock.
Cosby's wife blasted prosecutors, the court and the media in the wake of her husband's mistrial. Her publicist delivered the scathing statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do I describe the district attorney?
Heinously and exploitively (sic) ambitious.
How do I describe the judge?
Overtly arrogant and collaborating with the district attorney.
How do I describe the counsels for the accusers?
How do I describe many but not all general media?
Blatantly vicious entities, that continually disseminated intentional omissions of truth for the primary purpose of selling sensationalism at the expense of a human life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: And prosecutors say they will review the case and will retry Bill Cosby. The case centered on the testimony of the accuser, Andrea Constand.
Cosby himself did not take the stand. CNN's Jean Casarez spoke with Cosby's attorney in an exclusive interview.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The judge has declared a mistrial.
Is that a win for you, is that a loss for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anytime you start a trial and end a trial with your client being presumed innocent, it can't be a loss.
Having said that, there are no winners here. We tried a case for a week. A jury deliberated for 50-some hours without a verdict. But, you know, as I've said many times before, as long as you can leave that courtroom with your client presumed innocent, as he began, then I'm satisfied.
CASAREZ: This was a drug-facilitated sexual assault case.
Did you pause at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never pause when I have the opportunity to defend someone like him who maintains his innocence, who, from the beginning, has assured me that I'll be able to represent him and do so with dignity.
And I'm a trial lawyer. My job is to go in and defend people who are accused of a crime and require that the prosecution be put to the test. No matter what's written, no matter what's said outside of a courtroom, I require people who are going to make accusations to be put to the test. And I welcome that opportunity here.
I will say to you, though, that I was always a big Bill Cosby fan. I'm from Philadelphia, I was born there. And Bill Cosby means a lot to a lot of us in this area. So when I got that call, I said yes.
CASAREZ: Had you ever met him before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never. Never met him, I'd never seen him perform. But I probably watched him on TV more than I care to admit. I go back to "I Spy." So I go way back. But I've been a fan of Mr. Cosby's forever. And now I get the opportunity to call him my client and my friend.
CASAREZ: What was it like to meet him way back then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I met him in New York at his home there. And it was rather awesome. He is a very engaging fellow. He's remarkably funny and amazingly bright.
I think that's the one thing that stunned me the most, not ever having met him before, was his ability to interact on any number of levels, about any number of subjects. He's just a remarkably brilliant man. He put me at ease, which was
much needed the first time I met him. He was a lot taller, more gregarious than I would have expected. And we got along right from the start.
CASAREZ: Do you believe, though, that Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted women for decades?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't, because he swears to me he didn't.
VANIER: Jean Casarez there, speaking with Bill Cosby's attorney, an exclusive interview there for CNN.
At least 24 people have died in a wildfire in Central Portugal. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us for more on this.
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Cyril, Portuguese officials are calling this the country's greatest wildfire --
VAN DAM: -- tragedy in recent years. You said it's 24 fatalities coming from a scene that you're about to see here on CNN.
Dangerous, vicious fires ravaging across Central Portugal. This is about 200 kilometers to the north of Lisbon. The fire spread in a small town there. This was during the day on Saturday.
And some of the nearby villages you're seeing here were completely surrounded by the blaze. People literally had nowhere to go. Victims were caught in the fire as they tried to flee. This is according to officials.
The government says it doesn't have enough firefighters to combat the flames that are still ongoing in the area.
VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment, stay with us.