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U.S. President Kicks Off "Made In America" Week; Meeting; Seoul To Pyongyang: Let's Talk; Family Of Woman Killed By Police Demands Answers; China's Great Firewall And Internet Censorship; Crisis in Venezuela; China is Home to Biggest Floating Solar Farm. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:09] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: The White House in crisis. The delegations to Russian collusion continue to swell. The U.S. President was in the fire truck promoting by America.

SOARES: Plus, the calls for strike an opposition group in Venezuela steps up the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

VAUSE: And government censors in China working overtime and now they had Winnie the Pooh on their side.

Hello, welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares, NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: In the past few hours the U.S. President has tried giving a little life support to restore Republican health care bill. Hosting Republican senators at the White House but the proposal is all but dead with the bill losing support from a growing number of GOP senators.

All those come as the President Trump announce "Made in America" week, even as the White House defense the fact that many products baring the Trump band are made outside the United States.

SOARES: Well, the administration seems to be trying to distract attention from the Russia investigation. But it's clearly on the President's mind.

Details now from Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was no fire at the White House, but this fire truck is one way President Trump and his aids are urgently trying to change the subject from the Russian investigation overshadowing their agenda.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beautiful Wisconsin, really nice. ZELENY (voice-over): The President kicking off with the administration is calling Made in America week, showcasing products from every state in the country, from the South Lawn of the White State to the state dinning room inside.

The salesman in chief spent the afternoon promoting American products, instead of using his bully pulpit on the Republican health care bill floundering in the Senate were a vote was delayed once again this week. The President also made clear its Russia that's at the top of his mind tweeting "Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics."

But that's not what Christopher Wray, the President's nominee to lead the FBI said last week in his confirmation hearing when he told senators the meeting with Russian should raise alarm.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, NOMINEE FOR FBI DIRECTOR: Any threat or effort to interfere with our election from any nation-state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.

ZELENY (voice-over): The President insisting there was nothing wrong with the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, when his older son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort meet with the Russian lawyer, after being promise damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

The latest Washington Post ABC News poll shows that 36 percent approve of Mr. Trump, while 58 percent do not. It's the lowest rating for a President at this point and polls going back 70 years.

At the same point of their presidencies, Barack Obama and George W. Bush each had 59 percent approval rating, Bill Clinton 45 percent.

Another warning sign on the horizon Trump detractors still more passionate about their views than his supporters, 48 percent strongly disapprove of his performance while only 25 percent strongly approved. This is the level of disdain never reached by Clinton or Obama and only in the second term of Bush's presidency, according to the Washington Post ABC news poll.

His low approval rating is one of the factors complicating the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Again this week the Senate has delaying a vote of health care.

Senator John McCain kind of recovering from a surgery for a blood clot at home in Arizona.

TRUMP: We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we missed him. He's a crusty voice in Washington plus we need his vote.

ZELENY (voice-over): Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed action until McCain return leaving every Republican vote he can get.

Back at the White House the Made in America theme shining new light on how much of the Trump brand is made outside the USA. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer brushing a side question whether the President and his daughter should stop making their products overseas.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In some cases, there certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country. I'm not going to comment on specific products.

ZELENY (on-camera): So the White House during this Made in America week taking time to defend Ivanka Trump for having most of her clothing line and accessory line made outside of the United States as well as much of the products that President Trump own companies made.

But that's shows the lengths to which this White House wants to change the subject from Russia. They're happy to answer questions about where their products are made.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Joining us a Democratic Strategist Caroline Heldman and Republican Strategist Austin James, good to have you both with us.

[00:05:02] Let's start with the President's latest offense that meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and others and the lawyer from and linked to the Kremlin in Russia. Donald Trump saying, this is just business as usual. It's all about politics.

What do politician say, listen to this.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You were told that a lawyer want to share information with you as part of the Russian government effort to help you get elected. How would you respond?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I would respond in the negative.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATE REPUBLICAN: Any time you're in a campaign and you get a offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President today say that anybody in politics (inaudible) a meeting to his son took Russian lawyer. What's your reaction to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that doesn't include me.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Would you have taken the meeting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, absolutely not.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Is there any scenario under which you would accept that meeting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

GRAHAM: With all do respect to President Trump, the answer is no. You don't take meetings from foreign governments to help you.


VAUSE: Oh Lindsey Graham got invite chair (ph). OK, Austin. They all just being wise after the fact that they not telling the truth, what's the deal here?

AUSTIN JAMES, REPUBLICAN DIGITAL STRATEGIST: Yes. Listen, I think it's a little political jockey. I mean I think the President still has a bit of grace period where. I mean I think the reason poll had 90 percent self identified conservatives are saying no, that we still support him.

And so, part of his appeal is that he isn't a politician. I don't know how far that goes. I think it's anyone guess. But these are career politician that they don't get to say the same kind of talking points. And I think they're seeing that now.

This is also playing at health care with the breakdown of conservative leadership.

SOARES: But let me ask you this. And Caroline there's more than, you know, we've heard that you saw that in that snippet, so much indignation. I've been hearing that for pass nine days. Yes, I won't go to this meeting. Of course none of us would do it.

Where do we go from here? Where this take is form investigative point of view. That does have legs, can this go any further?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it certainly has legs. It's a potentially violation of campaign, election laws, right? We're not allowed. If you're in a campaign you're not allowed to get something a value from a foreign national or from a foreign government or anyone with ties.

And so, at the end of the day oppo research even. So that's how they're trying to spend it, right? That is some a value. I work in D.C. for years. When we gather opposition research, we sold it. There's a value to that even if it's not something that is bought or sold. It something that could potentially influence an election, so this is something for Mueller to look, this is potentially something.

For a criminal investigation, it certainly something for a congressional investigation. This is the fire. There's been a lot of smoke around Russiagate as selected is calling it. This is actual fire.

VAUSE: So you said now there's other (ph) position research and, you know, the debate is politics is normal, is out of ordinary.

Also in Spicer, the White House spoke that he did not get the memo to that, the change listen to this.


SPICER: The President's made it clear through his tweet and there was nothing that, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and that Magnitsky Act, but I would refer you back to counsel on that one.


VAUSE: You know even Donald Trump Jr. abandon the adoption line last week. Here we go.


DONALD TRUMP JR., U.S. PRESIDENT'S SON: For me this was opposition research. They had something, you know, may be a concrete evidence to all the stories I've been hearing about. But there were probably under reported short, you know, years not just during the campaign.


VAUSE: Austin, has Sean Spicer even on Kremlin for the weeks that we understand.

JAMES: I want to go back to something that really I said. I mean, you know, I haven't spent many years on Washington as well. I mean, so there's still a lot of smoke. I mean show me where this breaks down. Show me where they, you know, where they broken the law. I still --

VAUSE: Just very quickly, Sean Spicer that this is a problem in communication, the message there were so many (INAUDIBLE) out there or either they can't keep up?

JAMES: And this is a top position to be. And I'd come on here many times and, you know, I was told Caroline she has the easy job. And so, I think there is a breakdown.

HELDMAN: Because I have data. In fact, yes my friend.

JAMES: Fake news, hastag fake news.

SOARES: Let me ask you this. How much listening to what we heard here from Sean Spicer. Do you really believe he didn't know, you mean the narrative was different or was he trying to mislead us? I mean how can you not seen from the same him sheet (ph) as the communication are right?

JAMES: I think it's a great question. I think there is a breakdown of leadership. I mean, you know, my contacts that I know in the White House and back in D.C. I mean they are multiple faction kind of all doing your own thing and we're seeing that play out.

Honestly, I can't speak for Sean Spicer, but I think that the sad factor that if you just watch the clip that you just showed, I think he may have been on the same page.

VAUSE: But Caroline so, you know, the question of whether or not any laws have been violated that obviously the special prosecutor while Mueller to determine or at least one person who will be determining that. But our question here about whether or not -- campaign violence force have been breach at the very least may be obstruction of justice as well.

HELDMAN: It is quite possible. I mean what we're seeing here is a pattern of line, right? Dishonesty from top to bottom with Manafort, with Trump Jr. on down the list with Kushner, with Jeff Sessions who would dishonest to a Senate committee. So what are you hiding, why are so many people coordinating their lies about meeting with Russian?

[00:10:09] We now know that it's not just a matter of meeting. It was also a matter of meeting two discuss something that could influence the outcome of the election. This is a whole new ball game and certainly people know this.

And if you look at polling, two-thirds of Americans believe that there was some collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And folks know that Russia interceded in our election because 17 intelligence agencies said so.


SOARES: I want to play sign from Michael Caputo who is former Trump adviser. This is his explanation from Manafort presence at the meeting. Let's take a listen.


MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: I also know at that time he was getting upward of 500 e-mail messages a day. You know Paul probably didn't not read all the way down, several inches through a string of his e-mail. He received a meeting request from the President's son and his job at that moment was to say yes and to go.


VAUSE: Do you buy that? I mean who doesn't read through string of e- mail exchange?

HELDMAN: I actually buy it. However, you wouldn't have to read into the e-mail. It was in the subject line. It said Clinton-Russia confidential. There you go. You don't have to read pass the subject line. But with that said, yes 500 e-mails a day. I could see how he might be something through it and not really paying attention.

VAUSE: Very quickly, he announce to Made in America week at the White House. Was Donald Trump was promoting made in America, a couple hours later the whole health care bill and the Senate collapse because the number of Republican senators voice their opposition to it.

We saw Donald Trump on fire truck today. But Austin very quickly Trump tweet a short time ago "Republican should just repeal failing Obamacare now and work a new health care plan that will stop from a clean state. Dems will join in.

Firstly, that's going to be a disaster I think as far as your concern Caroline. But Austin, should the President most spent his time may be trying to get the vote in the Senate, get support for the health care bill rather than playing on a fire trunk?

JAMES: I'm going to talk (INAUDIBLE). I think this is part of him not having a lot of experience in Washington. I think this is also part of, you know, some of blenders he may have made when he kind of cuff and so they're to keep him out of the public spotlight when it comes to this.

You know listen, I think it's time for him to kind of step up and say listen we're not going to pass this massive health care bill. What we're going to do, is we're going to take one, two, three pieces that we don't like. We're going to get those push through.

I think he with the Russian stuff. I think you're right. I think it starting to become very reminiscing of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton in general. And this is the one thing that he was, you know, very definitive about that he wasn't going to be.

So I think it's time that he also says, listen I want all the intelligence. I'm going to come forward with all these, I'm going to put my arms around that. I think there some real opportunities for him to show some leadership here.

SOARES: And Caroline, what is your take on what Trump had to say the tweet today?

HELDMAN: Well, I would be concern if I were the GOP because if you repeal this entirely without putting something into play. You're looking at 30 million uninsured Americans. The last CBO score said 22 million American for the health bill currently on the table and only 12 percent of American supported.

It's widely unpopular. It is going to disaster in 2018 for the GOP and the election. So, I don't think that will actually happen. I think that it just off the cuff tweet.


JAMES: Let me talk, you know, and there's a lot of talk about his approval rating as President. I mean the Democrats have this, I think was 37 percent of the people thing that were actually believed that they have an agenda and a plan, more than that thing that they're just an opposition to Donald Trump.

So I think its submit (ph) for everybody not just Republicans.


SOARES: And we shall talk about those numbers and the polls in the next hour. Thank you to both.

VAUSE: OK. So Caroline and Austin, thanks so much.

HELDMAN: Thank you. SOARES: Now after North Korea's missile launch its nuclear test and growing threats. South Korea has new message for Pyongyang and it is, let's talk.

VAUSE: OK. Details grand post (ph) Moon Jae-in new government is extending an invitation to his Northern neighbor to try and calm tension.

SOARES: Well, the South force military representative from both countries to be on Friday in three (ph) village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone. South Korea's Red Cross is also proposing restarting North and South family reunions.

Our David Mckenzie is covering the South Korean offer from Seoul and he joins me now. And David do we have any response thus far from North Korea. And how likely are they response to this proposal?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa no. And that's the million dollar question. Really the author from South Korea is significant but really hinges on North Koreans playing ball and seeing, why should any conditions they bring to the table here?

This would be the first talk if they can put it off since 2015, they're proposing those military talks at the DMZ where they're hoping to ease tensions that have been rising for months now on the Korean peninsula particularly after that ICBM, supposed ICBM has just recently.

And also these humanitarian missing with the Red Cross groups form both countries trying to push towards some kind of reunion but we don't know if the North Koreans are going to agree to these talks.

[00:15:05] And it is somewhat a break between South Korea and the U.S. on the approach toward dealing with North Korea, Isa.

SOARES: Let me ask you about North Korea though. What would they want out of this, if they do engage in these talks? Would it be a quid pro quo here?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think that the talks that condition where kept purposely vague by the South Koreans. They want at this stage to try and open the door towards further negotiations. At this stage they want to try ease tension, may be developed some more direct and military communication line between the two militaries that have huge amount of troops stock up at the DMZ.

The North Koreans what they ultimately want of course is for the world to accept the fact that they are going to be or hoped to be a nuclear power. And that something that the region and the U.S. certainly has pushed against but he has see this kind of recalibration in recent weeks with the China, Russia and the new presidency in government here in South Korea easing towards an avenue of negotiation.

The U.S. says that while they said yesterday at the briefing at the White House while they're open potentially to some kind of talks. They believe that they it's not the right time just yet. And in some ways some more hawkish policy analyst will say this is after that ICBM test away, in a way that South Korea is kind of giving them something while they should be punishing them, Isa.

SOARES: David, today we heard from the U.S. half majority leader Kevin McCarthy who basically said he wants to increase sanction on North Korea. He wants to add to the Russian sanctions bill on Friday. Do you think that this may hinder President Moon's diplomatic efforts?

MCKENZIE: Yes. Many people would think that it could be hindrance because the North Korea has repeatedly through state media and otherwise slammed any chance that they could be increased sanctions. The U.S. envoy to North Korea's traveling through South East Asia particularly on that specific job to try and you cut off the money flows, the elicit money flows that flow into North Korea and ultimately help their missile program.

So, yes, it might be one without the other in this because if there's a push towards sanctions and north Korea might say well, that we're not going to have any talks about the flip side of that is, if s no talks then we'll hardly move out of the situation more generally, Isa.

SOARES: Indeed, David McKenzie for us in Seoul South Korea. Thanks very much David, very good to see you.

VAUSE: Well, coming up an Australian woman shot dead by police, after calling 911, now the families wants answers.

SOARES: Plus find out why display of everyone favorite honey loving bear Winnie the Pooh are not being censored in China. We'll bring you both those stories for a very short break.


[00:20:18] SOARES: Now the family an Australian woman shot and killed by police in U.S. is desperate for answers. It's not clear whether an officer to shoot Justine Ruszczyk Saturday night that her loves ones are devastated. Take a listen.


JULIA REED, RUSZCZYK FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: Well, she undoubtedly will be very missed by the family. She was treasured and loved and we will really miss her frequently.


VAUSE: Luckily gone (ph) say Ruszczyk called the Minneapolis police Saturday night reported a possible sexual assault who shot by one of the officer shortly they've arrive on the scene.

Ryan Young now takes a closer look of what happened.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shortly before 11:30 on Saturday night Minneapolis police receive a report of a possible sexual assault, 40-year-old Justin Ruszczyk made the call to 911 telling the dispatcher it was happening in the new alley close to her home when from the south west side of the city a low crime residential area.

Two officers respond and at some point during the night one of the officers fire his weapon hitting Ruszczyk and killing her. How Justin Ruszczyk was shot dead by responding officer is a mystery. Police have said little about the incident calling it "a tragic dead" and said they're investigating the matter.

The two officers were wearing body cameras but they were not turned on during the shooting. There was not explanation from police as to why the cameras were turned off and no explanation on what happened with the possible assault that was called in.

Justin Ruszczyk was set to be married on August, she's an Australian native who move to Minneapolis to be her fiance.

DON DAMOND, VICTIM FIANCE: The dead of Justine is a lost, to everyone who knew her she touch so many people with her loving and generous heart.

YOUNG (voice-over): As their family mourns the lost of her life they also express to Minneapolis police for information.

DAMOND: Sadly her family and I have been provided with almost no additional information from law enforcement regarding what happened after police arrived. We've lost the dearest of people and we're desperate for information.

Piecing together Justine's last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy.

YOUNG (voice-over): Minneapolis's major also called on police to provide information on the shooting as quickly as possible.

I am heartsick and deeply disturbed by the fatal officer involve shooting. I've a lot of question about why the body cameras weren't on. Question that I hope anticipate will be answered in the next few days.

YOUNG (voice-over): In a tweet the Minneapolis Police chief she said, she asked for expedited investigation into Justin Ruszczyk death in order to provide these answers as quickly as possible.

So right now we don't know why the body cameras weren't activated. Police are really talking about that. What we do know the lawyer has release the statement for the officer involved in shooting. His name is Muhammad Noor and he extends his condolences to the family, anyone else who has been touch by this event. He takes their lost seriously and keeps him in daily thoughts and prayers.

(on camera): Of course we're hoping to get more information. But we have learn just like this evening that there was shot to the abdomen that fatally killed the young woman right here in this alley way.

Ryan Young, CNN, Minneapolis.





VAUSE: Well, that is the Chinese language version of Winnie the Pooh or Winnie little bear as known there his friend to piglet and Pooh (ph). He doesn't wear pants. His optimism and happy means he loved the world over except it seem now China.

SOARES: Well, Winnie has again former found Chines government censorship and has been block after images were being use comparing him to President Xi Jinping as we can there.

VAUSE: David Kaye is professor of Internal Law of the University of California at Irvine School of Law, he's also the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of The Right Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Thanks for coming in David. OK, we should first highlight that this is not a total ban. It seems to be sporadic on Winnie the Pooh. But that sort of began back in 2013, it came up the next when comparison were being made between Japan's. There he was 2013 with Xi and Obama.

2014 Japan Prime Minister and China's President Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore, and then in 2015 and probably the sensitive picture of the year was this one showing President Xi and his car along side Winnie the Pooh in his car.

[00:25:04] Is this was just because the columnist (ph) government is overly sensitive (INAUDIBLE)?

PROF. DAVID KAYE, INTERNATIONAL LAW, U.C. IRVINE SCHOOL OF LAW: You know it's clear that they are. And there's been increase I think really in the level of repression of expression on the internet in China. And I think that, you know, it's very easy for us to focus on this particular case involving Winnie the Pooh because Winnie the Pooh is cute.

VAUSE: We all love Winnie the Pooh being the bear. Winnie the Pooh is not necessarily a bad thing.

KAYE: Look, right, exactly. But I think if we focus too much on this particular case we're missing the broader picture which the level of repression is extraordinary right now.

VAUSE: And it seems be a lot higher at the moment because what we dead of Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist.

And we also have a very important political party meeting coming up in next couple months the communist party conference. And this is a particular time when the government is especially sensitive.

KAYE: Yes. I think that exactly right. And I mean you mentioned Liu Xiaobo. So last week in the wake of Liu Xiaobo's dead we saw extraordinary levels of censorship not just of censorship of, you know, sort the social media aspects of images and discussion of his dead but also on one-on-one chat.

An organization at the University of Toronto citizen law described this, an important report. And I think what we're seeing is an increase in that kind of censorship.

VAUSE: And as this goes on, it seems that China is no longer even defensive about the censorship that goes on with the internet. They call it the golden shield. They're getting better at it. And seems that the internet which one scene is place of freedom and almost rebellion if you like.

But it sound sort of -- in China at least it's being used for surveillance and oppression.

KAYE: I think that's true. I mean, I think it's important to realize that on the one hand the internet in China is still a place where there is a certain amount of communication and discussion and occasionally discussion sometime symbolically of political issues.

And it's pretty clear that the government is really set on restricting the amount of that kind of political discussion particularly as you say in the context of big political events that come up. Deaths of leaders' commemoration of things like the Tiananmen Square protest.

VAUSE: And this sort of model for an internet. This is you seen as model for all the repressive governments around the world.

KAYE: Absolutely. There's a little bit of a kind of back and forth of learning from each other, right? So, around the world but particularly in Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia, we see a governments repressing any kind of insult of their leadership.

And now we see that also happening in China. So there's a lot going on right now in which I think to a certain extent China's idea of a managed internet is a model that it would like to see extended around the world.

VAUSE: You know, internet uses in China being quite cleaver over the years. They viewed euphemism to work around government censored. Back in 2009 it was a fictitious graph mad horse (ph). Look at this.


VAUSE: All of this involves a very complicated nature of the Chinese language. But it written and spoken. In Mandarin certain characters can be pronounce almost exactly the same but depending on the inflectional tone can have a totally different meaning.

So for example ma means house, while ma means mother. Now we're getting to the part where glass mud horse is an insult to government censors. And involve their mothers.


VAUSE: OK, so those are view years ago. We should note that we've just book out on mainland China. By the way, I'll be right there in Beijing into all that, which is another comment.

Will it come or even that kind of cleaver sort of funny work around for the censorship weren't even be possible?

KAYE: I mean, it's a good question. I think one of the interesting things over the last 10 years really has been kind of cat and mouse game where the people online are inventive, creative and finding new ways to talk about issues that the government, the party doesn't want them to talk about.

So that cat and mouse game will continue. I think one of the problems we see right now is the government is not only extending it's repression in terms of limiting key works. They can be stated but also in the area of DPN for example.

Anybody's access even to jump over the great firewall essentially is being limited. That's going to have an effect on business, on the economy, on innovation which may be over the medium term we'll have a kind of feedback that's negative for the government and for the party. I doubt that but there is that potential.

VAUSE: The finding is that works, they control the information. I remember the 30th anniversary of the channel sway a quite down a colleague of mine is doing a live shot.

The person in Chinese television saw the reverse image (INAUDIBLE), the feedback coming and saw tank man (ph) and had no idea. So all the video coming out of Tiananmen Square had no idea that happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So obviously controlling information, to a certain extent, they're good at it.

Well, that's what they're good at. That's what they're trying to do. There is, again, cat and mouse. There is this effort to sort of avoid that. But I think all of this I think we need to put in the context of this broader repression of any kind of dissent in China right now.

VAUSE: OK, very good to speak with you. Thanks



The U.S. is trying to pressure Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Next, what President Donald Trump is threatening to do if Mr. Maduro continues with plans to rewrite the constitution. We'll have the very latest.




VAUSE: Thank you for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares. Let me bring you up to date with the headlines this hour.



Now U.S. President Donald Trump is increasing pressure on Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Mr. Trump says the U.S. is ready to take strong economic actions if Mr. Maduro carries on with its plans to rewrite the constitution.

VAUSE: President Trump called Mr. Maduro a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator. U.S. also praised Sunday's symbolic referendum, in which millions of Venezuelans rejected President Maduro's plans.

SOARES: Well, Latin American analyst Nicolas Albertoni joins me now.

And Nicolas, I know you saw what President Trump had to say.

How would you think those comments will be received in Caracas by Nicolas Maduro?

NICOLAS ALBERTONI, LATIN AMERICAN ANALYST: First of all, we are talking about a regime, you know, that --


ALBERTONI: -- and for many years is fighting against a democratic institution. So I think, you know, it is important as an international reaction coming from the U.S. But again, I think it's too late.

We need more international reactions for a government that, for many years, is fighting against democratic institutions.

SOARES: And you think what we've seen thus far from the international community hasn't been enough, hasn't gone far enough?

ALBERTONI: Absolutely and, first of all, the regional neighbors -- and we have to see that Maduro is in power since 2003 after almost 10 years old of President Chavez, who was a founder of Chavista and regime. So we are talking about a country of like almost 18 years with the same regime.

And you know, the min problem is that that what we see nowadays are basically human rights violations. And this is a clear example, is Venezuela, that democracy is not just electoral votes, it's freedom of expression and many other things that go beyond the electoral vote. SOARES: Let's look at what is happening inside. We saw the proposed 98 percent of people supported -- rejected the proposed constitution or assembly. Their voice clearly very loud and very clear.

We know what Maduro said, he calls it meaningless.

How does the opposition take this?

How does the opposition take this and run with it?

What do the moth (ph) need to do now?

ALBERTONI: First of all, with the accent (ph) isn't enough. We are talking again as so many years of this regime. So now the next step, I think, is in the side of the regime, is not just for the opposition, as doing all that they can do to go against the government.

Basically the regime would have to say it's basically that we don't have these constitutional referenda that want to rewrite the constitution of 1999. And the second is to now have more in prisons, you know, and political prisons in (INAUDIBLE) in the -- in Venezuela.

So these are the two main points that we have to change soon. And also they need general elections with international observers. That has to be independence, you know. And so many people who say that these people is in power because they win the elections, but elections they're not allowed international observers.

So this is not transparent, you know.

SOARES: Of course, the MUD (ph), basically the opponents of Maduro, they're calling for a strike, a 24-hour strike, urging workers to stay at home, businesses to stay shut. I want too -- they're calling I think a zero hour. I want to listen. I want you to listen to what one of them lawyers had to say about this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We call on the entire country this Thursday to hold a massive protest and without violence a national civil strike for 24 hours as a mechanism of pressure and preparation in leading up to next week and to challenge constituent fraud and manifest a restoration of constitutional order.


SOARES: Does this weaken Maduro?

Does this weaken his hold on power?

That was Freddy Guevara, the opposition lawmaker, speaking there.

ALBERTONI: Yes, basically we're in a polling now that's in what's the international community need to see said. They have responsibility to protect, you know, because and if you -- if we don't denounced indeed the opposition, and that's renounce these kind of things, they almost involve in this kind of situation.

So this and we need more people denouncing these kinds of situations and again in from international fury in perspective, we would win these like the responsibility to protect and saying, OK, what do we see are human rights violations.

SOARES: Is what Latin -- what does Latin American leaders, what are they doing?

Are they going far enough?

Because is merkerseur (ph) happening this week?

Is it this week?


ALBERTONI: Yes, this week --

SOARES: Are they trying to alienate in some way Venezuela?

And is that going far enough?

Is that having any impact on Maduro?

ALBERTONI: I don't think it's going to have impact because it's too late, you know. We're talking about now Venezuela is currently suspended of -- in this summer (ph) because of this political crisis. But again, it was suspended last year after so many --


ALBERTONI: -- so, yes, of course, they don't care about -- and again, they do so many things that go beyond this situation. So, in the end, we could not expect that these summer, that, of course, this is this week, we have many facts in this political crisis.

SOARES: Nicolas Albertoni, unfortunately, I have a feeling that we'll be talking about this for some time. Thank you very much.

ALBERTONI: Thank you.

VAUSE: And we shall take a short break. When we come back, let the sunshine in. How Chinese transferred (INAUDIBLE) coal mines into a big investment in clean energy.





VAUSE: China, the world's biggest polluter, is trying to clean up its act while it still relies heavily on coal. Beijing is also aiming to become the world's green superpower.

SOARES: Our Matt Rivers shows us how China is challenging solar energy on a massive floating farm.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty years ago, an old coalfield flooded out. Groundwater helped turn it into a lake. And it sat empty until 2016, when someone had an idea.

Why not take a whole bunch of solar panels and put them right on top?

RIVERS (voice-over): Welcome to Huainan city, China, home to the largest floating solar farm in the world. Tens of thousands of panels soak up the sunshine 24 hours a day, enough to fill more than 160 American football fields, eventually they'll generate enough electricity to power about 15,000 homes for a year.

"We've invested about $45 million so far," says Yao Shaohua, deputy director of the project.

Initially, it is more expensive to build this way. Consider the fact that you have to take to a boat to do just about anything. But in the end, floating solar panels can run more efficiently because they are cooled by the water underneath plus. They are taking up unused space.

"The government won't allow us to just install panels wherever we want," says Yao. "These old coalfields wouldn't be used otherwise. So it makes sense."

The farm is about 90 percent done. The repetitive daily linking of buoyed panels, broken only by floating a finished product into the lake. It is all part of a broad strategy by China, the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, to move away from the one cheap energy that's powered it for so long: coal.

Sure, it was cheap and efficient but it was also dirty enough and that's produced skies like this across the country, choked with a toxic smog. Coal still generates more than half of the country's electric supply.

But the government has pledged hundreds of billions of dollars in things like wind and geothermal projects to fight that and solar projects alone, the plan is for $150 billion to be fully invested by 2020.

The omnipresent pollution, though, was on full display during our trip to the floating farm. Air quality levels that day were about 17 times worse than the World Health Organization says they should be.

And yet it made for an interesting dynamic. The toxic reality of China's current environment hanging above what they are trying to do to fix that -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Anhui province, China.


SOARES: Thanks very much for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is up next and we'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN. We're the world's news leader.