Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Ties To Shift Focus; Qatar Gulf Crisis Rages; Family Of Woman Killed By Police Demands Answers; White House Praises Symbolic Vote, Condemns Violence; Maduro Denounces Symbolic Referendum As Illegal; Qatar Crisis Accusations; Seoul Proposes Tension-Cooling Talks with Pyongyang; UAE Calls Qatar Hacking Allegation "Not True"; CNN Witnesses U.S. Navy's Drone-Killing Laser; War Epic "Dunkirk" Opens Worldwide Friday. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President announces made in America week while the clouds of the Russian scandal continue to gather over the White House.

SOARES: United Arab Emirates' said they had nothing to do with a hack that triggered the Gulf region diplomatic row in decades.

VAUSE: Also, later this hour, a war movie like no other; the raid reviews are into "Dunkirk" and it's already generating worldwide Oscar buzz.

SOARES: Hello and thanks for joining us, I'm Isa Soares.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We're now into the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

SOARES: A very warm welcome. The White House is kicking off its made in America week. President Donald Trump even climbed inside the fire truck, as you can see that, to showcase American made products.

VAUSE: But the tension is still focused on the deepening Russia investigation, in particular, that meeting with the Russian lawyer and the President's eldest son, who was promised incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump defended his son on Monday, tweeting: "Most politicians would've gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent." Adding, "That's politics!" That's the latest narrative from the White House about why Trump Jr. went to the meeting. But at the daily briefing on Monday, Spokesman Sean Spicer raids the original, now, discredited story from a week ago.


SEAN SPICER, PRESS SECRETARY: 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 the Magnitsky Act.


SOARES: Well, here with us now: Democratic Strategist, Caroline Heldman; and Republican Strategist, Austin James. Thank you, to you both for being with us. Caroline, you know, listening to what Sean Spicer said there, we know it's not the truth. We know, we've heard from the President; we heard -- we've seen the tweet from his son. How do you make of this? Because it's -- you know, we knew it was about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton, is this about trying to confuse and distract us? Or do you actually think he wasn't on the same page?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I would find it hard to believe. He has had what would've had been in the sand for the last week or so to not be looking at the news and seen what's going on. With that said, we see those patterns, where folks at the White House are kept out of the loop; folks who were speaking on behalf of the President are kept out of the loop, and so the stories don't match up. I think part of it's amateur hour, and for this, I think it was just pure spin, which doesn't really make sense. The rest of the nation has seen the e-mails.

SOARES: These are three occasions direct too, though, how could you not be singing from the same hymn sheet?

CAROLINE: Indeed. No, I very much agree with you. It doesn't make sense. At the end of the day though, we see a lot of this, right? We see a lot of this behavior from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, where she will say things that go against what the President has said, what he's tweeted. So, I think it's their attempt to spin. I don't think either of them is particularly good at it.

VAUSE: Austin?

AUSTIN JAMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. Listen, I mean, I think that's unfair. I think this may just be a situation where, you know, they're trying to isolate Sean Spicer in a big way. Like she said, I think you would have to -- you know when we were talking back in the green room, and I have to question, I mean, they've taken away his cell phone, you know, his access to the internet. Because -- I mean, we know just by watching the news and polling on CNN that there's a lot of other narratives other. So, that's a big question about his ability to do the job.

VAUSE: OK. The current narrative is: it's all just polling. So Austin, how does that fit with the candidate to, you know, Trump muster on the campaign that he wasn't a politician, he will not be like all the other politicians, and he's going to drain the swamp.

JAMES: Well, listen -- I mean, to be fair, John, he's also the candidate who, you know, was the boardroom shark. He's also a person that said, listen, I don't need to know how to do it, so I'm going to come in and learn how to do it very, very well. And so, again, I think if you look at some of the polling number, which you might talk about, his base is actually pretty happy with how he's handling things. So, the bigger question is: can he keep some of these populist promises, because that's what we'll probably talk about. I think the economy is going to be something that could make or break him aside from some of these, I would call, a lot of smoke with no fire stories.

SOARES: Let me ask you this. I mean, coming your -- being in Europe, I've always wondered and talking amongst many of my European friends. Do American care -- American's care about the minute shy. One e-mail, one tweet, you know, it was the e-mail chain. Who was then? Who was on adoption or dirt? Do they care or do you think people tuning out here in the U.S.?

HELDMAN: I don't think most people care about it, right? So, we have a small section of the American public about 10 percent who is the political intelligence here, who are somehow involved in this or are political junkies. Those are all of our folks on Twitter, right? All of the friends, all the folks following, people you don't know who is retweeting and are up to minute to minute. But by and large, yes, about 80 to 90 percent of the American public; for them, this is a low salient. Politics is low salient, and less than effects are pocketbook.

[01:05:02] VAUSE: OK. Well, you know, politicians, the Republicans may make it on the midterms. New Jersey Governor and former Trump campaign Advisor can add his name to the list of politicians who say, bidding opposition research from a foreign government -- especially Russia -- that's not business as usual. Here's another report from Politico, "Christi said it would be inappropriate and possibly illegal for U.S. political campaign to accept opposition research from a foreign government. He noted, however, that there hadn't been any evidence that they did." So, Austin, you know, this excuse now seems to be discredited. What could be the next one?

JAMES: Paul Manafort's lawyer came out and said he didn't read the e- mail fully, and so, I think, you know, Caroline actually made a pretty pointing argument about the fact that the subject line kind of laid out maybe some suspicions.

VAUSE: I mean, isn't it Paul Manafort who dealt with the Ukrainian politicians that he sent to contact to the Russians, turned up the meeting, and there's a Russian link -- Kremlin linked Russian lawyer. Former counterintelligence Russian agent and he, oh, I'm out of here.

JAMES: We're assuming that you know, we both been on campaigns and you're getting a ton of e-mails, things are being spun around you quickly. We're assuming that they have all of this information. Hindsight at 2020, will you really be able to remember the lawyer from Russia that doesn't mean a lot?

VAUSE: If he's so busy, why did he go to a meeting then? Do you know anything about?

JAMES: I think as a lawyer speaking to, more of this information will come out. But I think the -- you know, again, the idea that just because she was from Russia, doesn't necessarily mean there's anything devious here.

HELDMAN: They provided DNC documents. They provided documents on the DNC.

VAUSE: Yes, she said (INAUDIBLE)

JAMES: An oppo research is oppo research, you know.

HELDMAN: Not from a foreign government. This is not --

JAMES: She was a Russian lawyer.

VAUSE: Linked to the Kremlin.

JAMES: It wasn't like Putin was sitting there giving information.

VAUSE: She represented herself as being from the government, being from the Russian government in the U.S.

JAMES: I mean, listen there's --

SOARES: I mean --

JAMES: Go ahead.

SOARES: This goes really to the heart of, you know, the importance of transparency. I wanted you to take a listen to what President Trump has said previously on this topic. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Obama is the least transparent president in the history of this country. There's never been anything like it.

Yes, I'd like to have him be transparent. We know nothing about our president.

There's a total lack of transparency. Someday, those papers will come out, and people will say, you know what, Donald Trump was right. This is a very, very sad day for the United States of America.


SOARES: The irony.

VAUSE: A little bit of verbalism out again.


SOARES: Do those values no hold -- no longer important?

JAMES: Listen, the Washington actually had a great piece in which they called for, I think it was "Radical Transparency."


JAMES: And listen, I think that's actually, probably something that they should consider. I don't think you're ever going to get someone who has as successful a businessman, who's ever going to say I want to play all of my cards. But I do think there's an opportunity here to take the bull by the horns. And like I said, ask for a complete intelligence debrief, share some of that information, go sit in front of a, you know, Congress and actually share some of that information and act proactively. I think --

HELDMAN: But Austin, even if they've been -- the reason they've been lying about it for eight months -- and by lying I'm talking about everybody from top to bottom right, whether it's Manafort, or Sessions, or Flynn --

JAMES: This sounds like an opinion.

HELDMAN: Or Trump Jr. -- no, no, it's not an opinion. They said they didn't have a contact with Russia, now we know that they did. So, the fact that they've been doing that for eight months, probably means, they probably, we should lawyer up and not be honest at this point in time. Because it looks pretty clear that that evidence is a lie.

JAMES: Like we just said, the 10 percent we're a fall in the story, maybe let's adjust it by some of that, but I don't think it's an issue. And again, there have been no laws broken, so it sounds like an opinion.


SOARES: Well, let's have a look at what we've seen today: the start of the made America week at the White House. And what was clear looking today at President Trump is that we've heard two very different people. I wanted you to take a listen on what we heard today from the President.


TRUMP: Destroying American manufacturing will not only restore our wealth; it will restore our pride, and pride in ourselves. It will revitalize our independence, and it will rebuild the bonds of kinship between our communities and our citizens.


SOARES: And now compare that to Trump as a businessman.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: As you may or may not know, this is a Trump tie.


TAPPER: I bought it for this interview.

TRUMP: Not only that, I mean, I buy a lot of stuff, because --

TAPPER: But as you know, they've made in China.

TRUMP: Very beautiful tie there.

TAPPER: It's a lovely tie. It's made in China.

TRUMP: Correct.

TAPPER: Is it hypocritical for you to talk about this?

TRUMP: No, not at all, not at all. I talk about my ties in speeches.

TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: You know, I'm open; I say my ties, many ties, are made in China -- not all of them, by the way, but a lot of them are made in China, because they've manipulated their currency to such a point that it's impossible for our companies to compete.


SOARES: Austin, help the world to make sense of this. How can you talk protectionism and then have so many of your own goods made abroad? How does that play with the Americans here?

[01:10:08] JAMES: There are two words. The first word is diplomacy, and the second is his new favorite word which is (INAUDIBLE).


JAMES: You know, and so, I think what he's trying to do and what this actually emphasizes and punctuates is the underlying economic tone this trying to take, is that it is very difficult for American businesses to stay here, and then also be competitive. They'd do any kind of business internationally. And so, his business, as a businessman, and number one, obviously, where he's effective is to make money. He had to play in a competitive world, in which case we were, you know, we were crippled, and so he's trying to change that.

VAUSE: OK. We're going to move on very quickly because, while Donald Trump is talking about made in America and the Republican health care plan in the Senate collapse a couple of Senators walked away from it. A short time ago the President tweeted: "Republicans should just repeal failing Obamacare now and work in a new health care plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!"

Caroline, what will be the impact of repealing Obamacare without a replacement, even the ones that they're all talking about.

HELDMAN: Without a replacement, we're looking at about 30 million people who will lose their health insurance or be uninsured within a matter of a decade. I think it's a political hot potato. If they can't get a minor plan passed, what makes them think that they're going to get actual repeal pass?

VAUSE: Democrats aren't going to help in any way?

HELDMAN: Democrats are absolutely not going to help; 30 million people losses health care; not going to happen.

JAMES: We agree, finally. SOARES: So, that's his asking point.


SOARES: Let's talk about the President's approval rating; 36 percent, I believe, if you can bring that --

VAUSE: Yes, this is one of the reasons why (INAUDIBLE) health care group.

SOARES: Yes, this is of lowest approval rating at this mark of any president in the last 70 years. How do you come back from this? I mean, does the promise of making America great again; does that suffice? Does that carry you through? You know, that inspiration is that enough?

JAMES: Sure still, I actually wrote this down so don't miss it here. So, the Washington Post Polling Chief, Scott Clement, actually ran a regression analysis in which he took all of the data points, but the economy held in constant. So, the political party could be in disarray. If you approve of the economy, you say a 40 to 50 percent spike and the approval of the President himself. And so, again, I think this is more about the economy thank this is about health care, all these smoking mirrors -- listen, there are a lot of things that probably leave that taste in people's mouth, but at the end of the day, how is their Saturday night, their Friday night, and their Monday morning looking? I think that's all that matters.

HELDMAN: Not having health care is also a severe economic impact in life, right? But you'll feel that. And so, Austin is using his big words, right: regression. And he is absolutely right.


HELDMAN: He's commentated on the middle when it comes to public opinion polls, with one exception, if you have scandals -- if he gets indicted, or I mean, he's above the law, right? The President is above the law, there's no way that Donald Trump will go to jail even if he colluded. But if this blows up, and the rest of his campaign kind of get swept into it, that will cause his public approval ratings to stay very low regardless of the economy. And just to point out, they're at 36 percent right now. The average for 70 previous years with Presidents: 62 percent. So, he is almost at the half rate of what a president should be off.

JAMES: You know, I mean, to revive a famous quote is the economy is the stupid. And you know that --

HELDMAN: You are quoting Bill Clinton.

VAUSE: So, he's winning when it comes to being the most (INAUDIBLE) president at the sixth-month mark.

HELDMAN: He is. He is one. #Winning.

JAMES: Listen, and that is not fake news but -- VAUSE: Here we go.

SOARES: We know he's senior at softening of independent voters and that could be very critical when comes to those midterms, but thank you to you both. Thanks very much, Democratic Strategist, Caroline Heldman; and Republican Strategist, Austin James.

VAUSE: The drip, drip, drip of revelations about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last year with the Kremlin-linked lawyer has been a constantly evolving narrative from the White House. At first, outright denials of contact with Russia became denials of collusion, became hey, who wouldn't want all that dirt on your opponent? It's just politics. And over the Trump-friendly Fox News, this has to mend an ever- changing, head-spinning narrative as well. When the story first broke, well, nothing to say here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd have to say this appeared to be, once again, what to do about not much. This meeting was apparently a fiasco. Donald Trump agreed to meet with this person, whose identity he said he didn't even know -- you know, Trump Jr., excuse me. And because, apparently, there was information claimed about Hillary Clinton and could be useful to the Trump campaign. It turned out that he'd been caught.


VAUSE: But then, Trump Jr. released his e-mails confirming the meeting happened but it was a waste of time, he said because the promised dirt on Hillary Clinton never came through.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: So as far as you know, as far as this incident is that this is all of it.

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is everything. This is everything.


VAUSE: I mean there was a lot more to come; including word of former Russian counterintelligence officer was at the meeting. And then, somehow, President Obama was to blame.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is, the media focuses on certain parts of the story but not others. They scream about Russians in this meeting while ignoring who let one of them in. It was President Obama's people who allowed a woman with no visa into this country, and then she ends up meeting Donald Trump Jr. That's fishier than the dumpster outside Red Lobster.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [01:15:19] VAUSE: Meeting a foreign government for opposition research is just how politics is done.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, as someone who's run for office, five times, if the devil called me and said he wanted to set-up a meeting to give me opposition research on my opponent, I'd be on the first trolley to hell to get it. And any politician who tells you otherwise, is a bold-faced liar.


VAUSE: Carlos joins us now from Washington. Carlos, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, just a follow-up on that editorial by the Judge Jeanine Pirro from Sunday, she interviewed President Trump two months ago. Here's a clip when she asked about Russia.


JEANINE PIRRO, FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF NEW YORK: You were convinced you did nothing and --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not convinced. Clapper is convinced, the people are convinced, everybody is convinced.

PIRRO: Everybody said the same thing.

TRUMP: There is no collusion.

PIRRO: Precisely.

TRUMP: Well, I'd like you to move fast, if possible.


VAUSE: So, how do you go from that interview back in May to the editorial on Sunday? Is that thing common over at Fox News?

MAZA: Yes, we are watching Fox News syndrome in action. And I've had the distinct pleasure of having watched a lot of Fox News over the past few years. And this is actually not that unusual. Fox News has always kind of been in the Republican Party and not works for the Conservatives. So, it's a network that's not particularly tied to a set of principles.

I think what's unique about this is just the sheer speed at which those editions are changing. The evolution of the Donald Trump Jr. story has required some of Fox News hosts to change their positions within sometimes weeks of their previous positions. It's kind of pushing the network's willingness to defend Republicans to its logical extreme at this point. VAUSE: How essential is this Fox News been at defending the President?

MAZA: Potentially, they measure success. The network kind of has cornered the market on a very specific subset of viewers. And those are heavily Republican voters, older, typically white, and especially Trump supporters. That's good for them. I work because it means that all of those viewers are never going to change their opinions and go to some other network.

VAUSE: Well, the President's TV lawyer, he did the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. At one point, he raised his question about Donald Jr.'s meeting to the campaign at the Trump Towers.

The secret service issued this statement saying Donald Jr. at that time was not under protection at that point. Should they have known that or should they have found out before going on national television? Is this just an attempt to mar the waters to create confusion and doubt?

MAZA: I think it is. And something interesting about him specifically, is that if you haven't watched Fox News, you probably think that the guy came out of nowhere. He just now happens to be part of the administration so he's making those really ridiculous arguments on other networks. But he too is awesome of his acting of good fate. He is a Conservative, or should I say, a Republican operative who is disguising himself as a lawyer to defend the Trump administration that again, is requiring him to make arguments that seemed more and more ridiculous and more and more dishonest as time goes on.

[01:20:07] VAUSE: Clearly, the Trump family's strategy is to almost exclusively, on Fox News, especially Fox and Friends, I think, long- term though. Does that actually have risks?

MAZA: Yes. I think it doesn't really put a risk for his core base supporters, the people who think that Trump is a response to a political correctness and a liberal lead. But I think the risk that it does pose is that a huge chunk of Americans, the majority of Americans, don't live in that bubble. And as time goes on, you see that sort of middle in the road moderate, even conservative leaning voters. I'm starting to find some of the Fox News spin harder and harder to tolerate.

You might be a typical Fox viewer, but if you hear Fox saying that not a big deal of a deal to collude with Russia in the election, there are going to be some voters who think, is this ridiculous? I think it's really going to be tough for them to dive back in to the Fox theme of everything the Republicans do is right.

VAUSE: Carlos, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

MAZA: Thanks for having me.

SOARES: You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. Just a month before her wedding, a young Australian woman was killed by the police in the in the U.S. Now, her family, demanding answers.

VAUSE: Also ahead, President Trump ready to take economic action against Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro.

SOARES: And later, with the Qatar crisis escalating, one of its neighbors denies seeing behind the hack that triggered the risk in the Persian Gulf.


VAUSE: The family of an Australian woman shot and killed by police in the U.S. are looking for answers. It's not clear what led an officer to shoot Justine Ruszczyk on Saturday night, but it's left her loved ones devastated.

SOARES: Well, according to her fiance, Ruszczyk called Minneapolis police Saturday night to report a possible sexual assault. She was shot by one of the officers, shortly after he arrived in the scene. Ryan Young reporting.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Shortly before 11:30 on Saturday night, Minneapolis police received a report of a possible sexual assault. Forty-year old Justine Ruszczyk made the call to 911 telling the dispatcher it was happening at an alley close to her home on the Southwest side of the city.

Two officers respond and at some point during the night, one of the officers fires his weapon, hitting Ruszczyk and killing her. How Justine Ruszczyk was shot dead by responding officers is a mystery. Police have said little about the incident calling it a tragic death. And so they are investigating the matter.

Two officers were wearing body cameras but they were not turned on during the shooting. There was no explanation from police as to why the cameras were turned off and no explanation of what happened with the possible assault that was called in. Justin Ruszczyk was set to be married in August. She's an Australian native who moved to Minneapolis to be with her fiance. As her family mourn the loss of her life, they also pressed the Minneapolis police for more information.

In a tweet, the Minneapolis police chief said she asked for an expedited investigation into Justine Ruszczyk's 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 but we do know that the lawyer has released a statement from the officer involved in the shooting.

Of course, we're hoping to get more information. What we have learned just late this evening that there was a shot to the abdomen that killed the young woman right here in this alleyway. Ryan Young, CNN, Minneapolis.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [01:27:19] VAUSE: The U.S. President, Donald Trump is looking ramp up pressure on the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro. Mr. Trump says the U.S. is ready to take strong economic actions if Mr. Maduro carries on with his plans to rewrite the constitution.

SOARES: Our Rafael Romo has the latest.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Venezuelan opposition is now calling for 24-hour strike on Thursday, to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro. These actions were announced after more than 98 percent of people voted Sunday to reject Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution in a non-binding referendum. More than seven million people participated according to the opposition. The White House weighed in on the landslide victory, Monday, urging free and fair elections. Spokesman Sean Spicer condemned the increasingly volatile situation in the South American country.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We congratulate the Venezuelan people for the huge turnout in the referendum yesterday and the unmistakable statement that they made and they did delivered to their government. We condemn the violence inflicted by government against innocent voters and efforts of the government to erode democracy in Venezuela.

ROMO: Meanwhile, President Maduro called the referendum illegal. Nearly 100 Venezuelans have died in more than three months of violent anti-government protests. Rafael Romo, CNN.


[01:28:59] VAUSE: We will take a short break. When we come back, South Korea has a message for the North. It's time to talk.

SOARES: Plus, the Middle East answer takes us inside the latest developments in the Qatar crisis. Doha is accusing the UAE of cyberterrorism. We'll explain after the short break.


[01:31:44] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.


We'll check the headlines this hour.


VAUSE: With North Korea's missile launches, nuclear tests and growing threat, South Korea looks to be taking a new approach, let's talk. The government in Seoul is sending an invitation to its northern neighbor trying to calm tensions.

SOARES: The South wants military representatives from both countries to meet on Friday in the Demilitarized Zone. South Korea's Red Cross is also proposing North and South family reunions. Our David McKenzie is covering the South Korea, from Seoul. He joins me now.

David, I'm getting no response yet from North Korea. How may they respond to this proposal?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORREPONDENT: They could respond that they want to talk. They could give conditions for any kind of talks. Or they could even ignore the request from South Koreans. There have had been fits and starts over the past few years towards easing tensions. But you've seen in recent, and a couple of years, a steading rising of tensions between North Korea and South Korea, particularly peaking with that ICBM test that the North Koreans did just a short time ago. So some people might be raising their eyebrows that now is the time that the South Koreans are extending at least a tentative olive branch on what will probably be low-level talks with the North Koreans. But they are hoping very soon, on Friday, to have these military discussions at the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone which splits these two countries, as well as, as you mentioned, humanitarian talks led by the Red Cross to discuss possible reunions of the tens of thousands of people that are still split up from their families because of the Korean War -- Isa?

SOARES: David, you mentioned conditions, they may ask for conditions. Are you saying that they want some quid pro quo here, something in return?

[01:35:05] MCKENZIE: Well, we don't know yet, Isa. It all depends on how they react. But we do know that certain conditions will be unacceptable to the South Koreans and their U.S. allies. I think this is an attempt to give very vague terms of reference for the discussion to try to creek the door towards more formalized, more senior talks.

Now it comes at the same time as the U.S. trying to possibly push harsher sanctions against North Korea because of the nuclear and missile programs. That grates against the talks approach. And you have this interesting dynamic that the South Koreans, on some level, are breaking from the U.S. allies' strategy and aligning themselves more with the Russians and the Chinese in trying to coax Pyongyang and Kim Jong-Un into some kind of discussions. But repeatedly, the North Koreans have said the nuclear program, their missile development is off the table, completely, and nonnegotiable from their point of view. And that will be the ultimate sticking point of any substantial talks that may or may not happen in the future -- Isa?

SOARES: I'm glad you mentioned that, David, because we know we heard today from U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who wants to increase the sanctions on North Korea. He wants to add it to Russian sanctions bill on Friday. How damaging do you think this will be for President Moon, who has a softer stance when it comes to Pyongyang?

MCKENZIE: It would make the move by Moon's government in South Korea even more of a gamble, as it were. If the U.S. and, more broadly, the Security Council votes on harsher sanctions -- which is a big if, because you might have Russia or China deterring anything that they think is too much too soon, then that would definitely have some kind of impact on the thinking all the North Koreans, just based on the fact that they repeatedly, in state media and otherwise, have slammed the concept of sanctions, slammed the concept of anybody suggesting that their missile program is illegal. So you do have these very different approaches to this very severe problem. And I have to say it is very unclear yet which direction this will go. We'll have to watch in the coming hours and days.

SOARES: Thank you very much, David McKenzie, for us in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks very much, David.

VAUSE: The United Arab Emirates is denying orchestrating the hack which triggered the Persian Gulf's worst diplomatic crisis in decades. Several gulf states cut ties with Qatar lost month after the emir was quoted by the state news agency praising Iran as well as Israel.

SOARES: Qatar says hackers planted those quotes. And U.S. intelligence sources, cited by "The Washington Post," say the UAE held a meeting to plan that hack. But UAE's top diplomat says that's false.

We're joined by Lisa Daftari, Middle East expert and editor-in-chief of the "Foreign Desk."

Lisa, thanks very much for being here.

What did you make of that "Washington Post" article. That's pour more fuel on the crisis.

LISA DAFTARI, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FOREIGN DESK: Absolutely. We know that whenever Middle Eastern leaders want to make a point, they will make that point, pretext or no pretext. We have now a justification for why Saudi Arabia, along with their Arab friends, went after the Qataris. Obviously, there is a lot of history here. There is a lot of nuance and a lot of different layers. The Saudi Arabians, they had two goals in mind, and that's been for as long as --


DAFTARI: It's to keep terror outside of their borders and to curb the activity of the Iranian regime, which is the Shiite sphere of influence. Both those goals, both those agendas lead back to Qatar and their activities in the region, their funding of different terror groups in the region, funding of the Muslim Brotherhood, funding of the Taliban, housing "Al Jazeera" inside their country. I think what they wanted to do was to tell the Qataris that they cannot have it both. The Qataris are very well regarded by all the -- they are the piggy bank of all the different terror groups. And they are equal opportunity. They don't say no to the Sunnis or the Shiites. And they've been playing it both ways. And Saudi Arabia, fueled by this support by Donald Trump's visit in May, they figure this is the best time to strike. Whether or not those they were hacked or those quotes were placed there by the Qataris or by a third party, this is what is the justification that went behind it.

SOARES: The diplomatic crisis is still ongoing. DAFTARI: Absolutely.

SOARES: What is the solution? Because we saw U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he really didn't achieve much in his mission.

[01:40:01] DAFTARI: Right away, when the Arab countries said they were going to boycott and cut ties with Qatar, Donald Trump came out said, absolutely, we have to do this, we have to cut the sponsors of terror globally. But we saw that at the State Department, Heather Nauert came out, the spokesperson, and Rex Tillerson, who has been the force behind keeping all of our short list of friends in the Middle East, keeping them as friends, knowing that the Qatari, as well as the Saudis, are our friends in the fight against ISIS. And for Tillerson, that is the main show is the fight against ISIS. So you see Tillerson making a trip to the region, going to Qatar, trying to strike a deal with them with, a separate side deal on counterterrorism. Meaning, he is saying we're not going to be dragged into the fray on false pretenses if we do not have a reason to cut ties with Qatar ourselves. We have assets there. We have a military base there. Qatar has been as guilty as Saudi Arabia and the other gulf nations in sponsoring terror. I think that's an important point to make as well.

SOARES: Would regime change please the Saudis?

DAFTARI: What would please the Saudis would not be regime change in Qatar, but it would be influence change in the region. And they're seeing that. Meaning, we've seen eight years of a more Shiite- friendly foreign policy, which was steered by President Obama, giving the Iranians all the money, giving the Iranians the nuclear deal and kind of turning out backs on the Saudis and a lot of Sunni nations. Now we see a reset of that. I think the Saudis are totally exploiting that and taking advantage of this opportune moment to say we have the reset and we want this to be a Sunni reset.

SOARES: The fear is you see regional fragmentation. Who wins from there?

DAFTARI: Right. Who wins from this, I think we should say who -- right now -- as far as the foreign policy stands right now, the Iranian regime is winning in all of this. When you look Yemen or Lebanon, you see their hands in Iraq, in Syria. You look back at home at the human rights violations going on in Iran, day in and day out. We gave them all this money. We have a deal with them. Another American has been detained in Iran. It's a free-for-all for that country. I think the Saudis have a lot to lose when you see the sphere of influence by Iran growing. The Saudis want to curb that. And the West has allowed Iran to march on with their Shiite agenda in the region, and the Saudis are now saying we're going to curb that. If Qatar is the way to curb the Iranian regime, we will go through Qatar.

SOARES: And we don't know where it will lead. The Gulf Cooperation Council, it's just so much to talk about.

DAFTARI: So many layers.

SOARES: Lisa Daftari, thank you very much.

DAFTARI: Of course.

VAUSE: Well, in Iran, an American University student is facing a decade in prison. Over the weekend, he was convicted on charges of spying. He was arrested last summer while researching his dissertation. U.S. officials say the charges against him are fabricated and are demanding Tehran immediately release him and all American citizens unjustly detained.

SOARES: A silent killer more precise than a bullet. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., an exclusive look at the world's first active laser weapon.


[01:45:24] SOARES: It's been described as more precise that a bullet and costs only a dollar a shot.

VAUSE: The U.S. Navy's active laser weapon is a silent killer.

CNN's Jim Sciutto was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test.


JIM SCIUTTI, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the sometimes-hostile waters of the Persian Gulf, loom the U.S. Navy's first, in fact, the world's first active laser weapon. The LAWS, an acronym for Laser Weapon System, is not science fiction, not experimental. It is deployed on board the "USS Ponce" amphibious transport ship, to be fired at targets today and every day by Captain Christopher Wells and his crew.

CNN was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test of the laser.

CAPT. CHRISTOPHER WELLS, U.S. NAVY COMMANDER, USS PONCE: It's more precise than a bullet. It's not a weapon system like some other weapons throughout the military where it's only good against air contacts or it's only good against surface targets, where it's only good against ground-based targets. In this case, it's a very emotional weapon. It can be used against a variety of targets.

SCIUTTO: LAWS begins with an advantage no other weapon ever invented comes even close to matching. It moves, by definition, at the speed of light. For comparison, that is 50,000 times the speed of an incoming ICBM.

LT. CARL (ph) HUGHES, LAWS WEAPONS SYSTEM OFFICER: Destroying massive amounts of protons at an incoming object. We do not worry about winds or rains or anything else.

SCIUTTO: CNN witnessed that speed and power firsthand.

First, the "Ponce" crew launches a target, an incoming drone aircraft, the weapon in increasing use by Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and other adversaries. Immediately, the weapons team zeros in on its target. HUGHES: We don't have to lead a target. We're doing that engagement at the speed of light, so it really is a point-and-shoot. We see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target.

SCIUTTO: Then, in an instant, the drone's wing lights up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea.

All this from a silent and invisible killer.

HUGHES: It operates an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. You don't see the beam. It does not make any sound. It is completely silent. And it's incredibly effective at what it does.

SCIUTTO: It is remarkably precise, minimizing collateral damage. And all the $40 million system needs to operate is a supply of electricity and a crew of three. No multimillion-dollar missile. No ammunition at all. Cost per use?

HUGHES: It is about a dollar a shot.

SCIUTTO: Today, the laser is intended primarily to disable or destroy aircraft and small boats.

WELLS: It's designed with the intent of being able to counter airborne and service-based threats. And it's been able to prove itself over the last three years as being incredibly effective at that.

SCIUTTO: However, the Navy is already developing more powerful second-generation systems, which would bring more significant targets into its crosshairs -- missiles. Those visions remain classified.

However, commander and crew are already very much aware of the potential capabilities.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could it shoot down a missile?

WELLS: Well, I don't know. Maybe.

SCIUTTO (on camera): The U.S. is certainly not the only country working with laser weapons. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and others, doing the same. And to be clear, not just with the intention of striking targets down here on earth, ships and aircraft, possibility of missiles, but also targets even as far away as in space.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: Now, they've overcome war and U.S. bureaucracy, and now they're hoping to take home the big prize. The Afghanistan girls robotics team is in the U.S. capitol competing in an international robotics competition. It's an event designed to encourage young people to pursue careers in math and science. The team of six were rejected for U.S. visas twice before U.S. President Donald Trump intervened at the last minute.

VAUSE: An activist is cheering on the girls, tweeted out her support, saying, "So proud of #girlsinstem." The team will play three more matches on Tuesday. And we wish them well.

SOARES: Very much so.

Coming up, it's receiving Oscar buzz even before it had been released.

[01:49:44] VAUSE: We'll speak to a film critic about the new World War II epic. It's called "Dunkirk." It's epic.






UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: There's no hiding from it, son.


SOARES: "Dunkirk" opens in theaters around the world on Friday. The highly anticipated did World War II drama recounts the evacuation of British and Allied forces from the coast of France in 1914.

VAUSE: "Dunkirk" was written by Christopher Nolan and stars some of Britain's most famous actors, including Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh. Harry Styles, of One Direction, also making his acting debut.

For more, Scott Mantz is the film critic for "Access Hollywood," and he joins us here in L.A.

Thank you for coming in.


VAUSE: I have not seen one bad review for this movie. And I have been looking. The "Hollywood Reporter," perhaps the most gushing. Here's part of what it said, "But this is a war film like few others, one that may employ a large and expensive canvas, but that conveys the whole through isolated, but brilliantly realized, often private moments molded by sheer spectacle, although that is here, too."

It's also a war movie without a glimpse of the enemy, which is very unusual.

MANTZ: That's almost true. There is a little bit of a glimpse of the enemy, in terms of the German bombers that are bombing the soldiers who are trapped in Dunkirk.

VAUSE: It doesn't say anything about them. MANTZ: Well, you don't know anything about them. The back story of the characters is not something you find in "Dunkirk." The star of this movie is writer-director Christopher Nolan. This is his 10th feature film and he has directed the "Dark Knight" trilogy, directed "In Session." All good movies are culpably brilliant. This one is brilliant. It is a masterpiece. It is the first movie the year that is guaranteed for Oscar nominations across the board, picture, director, screenplay, sound, score. It is an incredible visceral movie.


SOARES: -- wasn't it?


SOARES: The musical score, which is pretty eerie. I was watching some of that and it is pretty eerie as a movie.

VAUSE: They ought to say his best music score ever, right?

MANTZ: It is incredible. When you're sitting there and you're watching the movie and you pick up on the scoring, pick up the sound of this movie, like because 75 percent of the movie was shot using IMAX cameras. So the way to see this movie is in IMAX theaters or around the world the biggest theaters possible. It is a visceral, powerful incredible experience. It will just leave you floored. It is unlike any movie I've ever seen. I loved everything.

SOARES: What's interesting, and John talked about this, everyone calling this role a masterpiece, war porn


Basically, it's that type of movie.

One thing I found interesting is some people saying there is not much of dialogue. Do you think the viewers, is that sustainable?

MANTZ: It is sustainable because it is riveting. The way the movie is directed, it is riveting. It has been told from three different points of view. So it is challenging. The thing about Christopher Nolan is that he makes movies that really challenge the audience. They are sophisticated, intelligent, smart. And they are -- he does not use really too many special effects here. All the production values are practical, the ships, the airplanes, all of it.

VAUSE: Yes, read a scene that's receiving all the accolades for this movie. After all, Christopher Nolan, the director, the actors, they're in the background somewhere. This is what "Variety" wrote in its review: "Take away the film's charismatic structure and this could be a classic war picture for the likes of Lee Marvin or John Wayne. And yet, there's no question that the star here in Nolan himself."

You touched on this. With all the movies he's directed, this is another genre that he's rewritten and redefined. [01:55:15] MANTZ: He made it his own. A lot of people were saying before the movie opened, oh, I get it, this is Christopher Nolan's "Saving Private Ryan." It is not saving Private Ryan. That's a completely different kind of film. That is a war movie. "Dunkirk" is not really a war film. It takes place during the war, during the eight days between May and June of 1940, Operation Dynamo, when they evacuated almost 400,000 Allied soldiers with the help of civilians using their boats. It's a story that a lot of people around the world do not know about. Nolan made it his own.

VAUSE: If it's not a war movie, then what is it?

MANTZ: It is a story of survival. It is a movie of survival. You feel for these people, even though you do not know a lot about them. Because this is an operation unlike anything that the world had ever seen before or since 1940.

SOARES: And I was watching, it really goes to the heart of the fear, the isolation, the yearning really --


MANTZ: Exactly. The desperation.

SOARES: He really touches on that.

Let's talk about some of the actors. I know you say it's Nolan, all about him. What about the actors? Kenneth Branagh, very well known. Tom Hardy, as well. But also got Harry Styles

MANTZ: Harry Styles.

SOARES: from One Direction. How was his debut? How was --


SOARES: We see him right there.

MANTZ: Harry Styles is so good in this movie that when I went in to see it, I forgot he was in it until I saw him in the film. There is not a lot of fanfare. It's, OK, close up of Harry Styles. It's not like that with anybody. Everyone gets equal billing of sorts because it is a true ensemble, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh.

VAUSE: Very quickly, does it stand out for so much Oscar buzz for being so good? Because some of us, yes, it's been awful, the movie.


You know, terrible premiere. So get one good movie in a really awful year.

MANTZ: This is the kind of movie that would normally get released towards the end of the year when these kinds of movies get released, the awards-type movies that come out in November and December. And it's coming out right in the middle of the summer. That is why is really standing out. But you'll be hearing a lot about this film for the next eight months through to the end of February when the 90th Academy Awards take place.

VAUSE: OK. Scott, good to see you. Glad you enjoyed it.

MANTZ: Thank you.

VAUSE: I am looking forward to seeing it.

MANTZ: Can't wait to hear your review.

VAUSE: Yes. I'll be harsh.


Thanks, Scott.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares.

We're back with more news right after this.