Return to Transcripts main page


Deadly 6.7 Quake Strikes Turkish and Greek Coasts; Trump Investigation Deepens; O.J. Simpson Granted Parole. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 21, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:07] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: At least two dead, dozens injured after a strong earthquake rattles Turkey and a Greek island.

VAUSE: The special counsel digging deeper into Donald Trump's business dealings and now the President's legal team taking a closer look at its authority to pardon his staff, his family, even himself.

SOARES: A conflict-free life -- O.J. Simpson's shocking statement and why a parole board granted him early freedom.

VAUSE: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares.

NEWSROOM L.A. begins right now.

VAUSE: And we'll begin with the very latest on that powerful earthquake, magnitude 6.7, which struck off the coast of Turkey and Greece.

These people were celebrating a birthday on a seaside patio in Bodrum, Turkey when the quake struck. Several centimeters of water washed up over the deck in the sudden darkness. No fatalities have been reported in Turkey so far.

SOARES: But across the Aegean Sea, CNN Greece reports at least two deaths on the Greek island of Kos. Video shows trashed store shelves, you can see there, as well as rubble in the streets. Dozens of people have been hurt.

VAUSE: The quake officially classified as strong struck offshore, near the coastal Turkish city of Bodrum. The area is popular with vacationers. Its narrow waterway is also known as a major transit point for migrants and refugees from the Middle East trying to reach Europe.

SOARES: Let's get more on this story that we've been followings.

CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon joins us now from the phone from Bodrum in Turkey.

And Arwa -- this area, both Bodrum and also Kos, very popular with tourists and I'm guessing have been very busy because this is the height of tourist season. Give us a sense of what you've seen on the ground.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, it really is. And it's not just an area that's popular to tourists -- Isa. Bodrum itself, this whole coastal region of Turkey is very popular with Turks.

And as you were saying, yes, this is peak season. The beaches are packed, the restaurants are constantly packed.

We first felt that 6.7, 6.9 quake at about 1:30 in the morning. I was staying in a village about half an hour away from Bodrum. The entire house shook. It lasted for about ten seconds.

And then for about three hours afterwards we were just feeling aftershocks after aftershocks. At least a dozen or so were felt in the area where I was at.

Now the Mullah governor -- that's one of the areas that was hit in this region, said that they've reached out to all of the districts and preliminary reports suggest there's no loss of life or property, no collapsed buildings.

The Bodrum mayor said that in an effort to try to reassure those who are vacationing here that they should not fear for the safety of their lives, again reiterating that there has been no loss of life, at least not in Turkey.

One road had collapsed; crews are working on it. And then due to the weight (ph) that were created, not only was there some flooding onshore, but some of the lines that are holding speedboats have snapped, some of them have been damaged.

Of course, just across the waterway on the island of Kos, as you were mentioning there, two fatalities were reported. Dozens of people believed to have been injured at this stage.

Now, Turkey is no stranger to earthquakes, smaller ones are taking place itself on a fairly regular basis. But this was pretty jarring for everyone who did feel it not just because of the intensity of it initially but because the aftershocks just went on for so long -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, we've seen -- we're looking at video now of flooded streets in Bodrum in Turkey. You were mentioning there, Arwa, talking about the aftershocks, have they subsided? And what are authorities advising people in the area to do?

DAMON: Well, initially authorities are advising people to, you know, obviously keep themselves safe, to stay away from damaged buildings if in fact there were any damaged buildings, which as I was saying at least in Turkey there weren't. Although, there have been some reports that a hospital has evacuated as a precautionary measure because its mezzanine had sustained some damage.

As we've been driving out, we're rocking (ph) down the road right now, we did see a handful of people who seemingly chose to spend the night outside. But it's the aftershocks -- the last ones that we felt at the very least were about an hour and a half or two hours ago. So hopefully, the worst of it is over.

SOARES: Arwa Damon for us there, on the phone. Thanks very much Arwa. Do keep us posted.

[00:05:04] Now our meteorologist Karen Maginnis is in Atlanta. And Karen -- just how powerful was that quake? Put that into perspective for us.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It was a 6.7 magnitude. That's considered a major earthquake. It was relatively shallow. It was about ten kilometers deep. It was out in the water. It was not in the city of Bodrum.

But it was actually closer to a Greek island, Kos. And that's where we did some damage. We have already recorded, and Arwa had mentioned that they are feeling these aftershocks. These aftershocks will continue for weeks, maybe months.

And take a look at the damage that we're seeing here. This is an area that is very popular with tourists and it's very unnerving when something like this happens. So you can better believe that people have taken up things so that they can sleep in the streets. They don't want to be in these buildings that have been so compromised.

We did see some flooding because it did produce about a half a meter, essentially water that pushed onshore and it tore loose some of the boats that were tied in some of those coastal areas.

But 6.7 magnitude, about ten kilometers deep and those people are shaken up. Aftershocks about a dozen already being reported.

Isa -- back to you.

SOARES: Yes. Completely understandable why they should be so shaken by it. Karen Maginnis -- thank you very much -- Karen.

VAUSE: Donald Trump's legal team is going on the offensive looking to discredit the special counsel investigation into the President's alleged ties to Russia during last year's election campaign. The "Washington Post" and the "New York Times", both reporting the President's strategy is try and find conflicts of interest among Robert Mueller, the special counsel and his investigators.

And the "Washington Post" reports Trump's legal team is looking at the President's authority to grant pardons including to himself.

SOARES: There's more. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Mueller has expanded his probe to include Mr. Trump's business dealings with Russians going back more than a decade. Bloomberg says FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and other real estate dealings.

Take a listen.


GREG FARRELL, BLOOMBERG LEGAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: What we've learned is that he's taking a broad view of the investigation and not a narrow view. So the mandate he was given in mid-May is open to interpretation -- anything related to Russia and that might have resulted in interference in the election.

He's clearly going back more than a decade to any real estate transactions. He's clearly focused on any major transaction that has taken place like the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow, et cetera.


VAUSE: All this comes as the spokesman and communications strategist for President Trump's team has resigned.

Joining us now, Democratic strategist Matthew Littman and CNN political commentator and consultant John Thomas. Good to see you both.


VAUSE: So we had that extraordinary interview on Wednesday which the President gave to the "New York Times". In that interview, he essentially drew a line in the sand for Mueller. This is what he said.


MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Mueller was looking at your finances and your family's finances unrelated to Russia. Is that a red line?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES": Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say yes. I would say yes.


VAUSE: So that was Wednesday. Almost on cue Thursday comes this report from Bloomberg that Mueller is in fact looking very closely at Trump's financial records which, Matt, you know, seems to be well within the rights and the authority of the special counsel.

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, in the counsel's charge it basically says he can investigate anything about Russia and anything he finds out during the course of the investigation.

So, yes, I mean he can look into Trump family finances if you look at all the people that they hired on the Mueller team. These are people who are white collar criminal lawyers. So I don't think it should be really any surprise that they're looking at the Trump family finances at this point.

The problem for Trump is there's a reason why he hasn't wanted to release his taxes for all this time. And one of the reports tonight says that he's really getting nervous about the fact that they're going to look into his tax returns.

There's a lot here that we don't know about Trump's finances because he hasn't wanted us to know. Way find out and that's what's making him so nervous.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And this is the problem with the special counsel is they have such broad authority to go anywhere and everywhere when they were charged to look at the 2016 election. Exactly -- you know, what does an apartment deal that Trump may have done --

LITTMAN: That's exactly --

THOMAS: -- you know, six years --

LITTMAN: That is not what he was charged with.

THOMAS: You're right. And so why is he going back?

LITTMAN: Because that's not what he's charged with. He's charged with anything he finds out in the course of the investigation including Russia. So anything that he finds out is fair game. And he's finding some stuff out.

VAUSE: About the money.


SOARES: Well -- but, you know, it turns one of Trump's lawyers, this is what he said on that point. "Those transactions in my view are well beyond the mandate of the special counsel, unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And most importantly well beyond the statute of limitations imposed by the United States."

[00:10:05] Now this is a Bloomberg report. We have much more on what just came out of this report. Let's take a listen to what the Bloomberg reporter said.


FARRELL: He's clearly focused on any major transaction that has taken place like the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in Moscow, et cetera, the flipping of the Florida mansion.

In order to get information yes, he'll have to issue subpoenas. He has issued subpoena to some banks. And more difficult is to issue not subpoenas but requests for information from foreign banks, European banks. That takes time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: How much tension, how much anxiety is there within the White House relating to this investigation as to how far it may go?

LITTMAN: Well, before we get to hear from you, let me just say that Trump fired Comey is the stupidest political decision of all time because the whole reason all this is happening is because he fired Comey. Go ahead -- John.

THOMAS: No, you're right in the sense that the second the special counsel was appointed Trump lost because this is going to take twists and turns.

Look, Trump has -- as a businessman has lived the life. I'm sure he's had a lot of bad business deals, a lot of bad business debt, people with axes to grind. And now they're all going to have a voice.

And I'm sure Trump and his team are going, oh God, this thing is creeping way beyond whether or not Russia hacked the election or anything to do with that.

LITTMAN: And if you broke the law, you broke the law.

VAUSE: Well, in that "New York Times" interview, the President laid the groundwork it seems trying to discredit Robert Mueller and the investigation where he told the "Times", "We were interviewing replacements at the FBI. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed? The next day he's appointed special counsel. I said what that hell is that all about?"

"Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven't said but I will at some point."

An implication Mueller is out for some kind of payback because he didn't get the job. And then in the past (inaudible) we had this report from the "Washington Post" about -- that Trump's lawyers are actively compiling a list of Mueller's alleged potential conflicts of interest which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work. That was according to several of Trump's legal advisers.

John -- I'm just wondering how effective can the administration be trying to discredit, you know, Mueller. He had bipartisan support into the job. He's a former FBI director, the second longest-serving FBI director. He saw this country through 9/11.

THOMAS: Yes, it's going to be hard to do that if they're looking to discredit the messenger. I would probably focus on his team members that his bringing in to show conflict. So I think early on, I can't remember exactly the person but I think somebody had close ties to Clinton coming into the team or was a Clinton donor.

So that's the strategy they're going to use. I don't think, Mueller -- good luck with that one.

VAUSE: You know who else gave money to Hillary Clinton?

THOMAS: Donald Trump -- right.

LITTMAN: But also -- by the way, none of this is about the truth, I mean finding out the truth of what's happened with Trump over the years and with his finances is what we should be looking for. Donald Trump is not -- Donald Trump believes we've (inaudible) this country since the American Revolution in speaking truth to power. Donald Trump believes in speaking power to the truth.

SOARES: But it seems within in the Republican Party, many are already worried or voicing their concerns about whether President Trump would actually -- may actually fire Mueller. Take a listen.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I think the President makes a lot of statements off-the-cuff that sometimes come back to haunt him. And that's one of them, that's for sure (ph). He probably wishes he could take that back.

MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Do you have any concerns about that approach that he's taking with Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General?

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: The independence of our judicial officials, Justice Department officials is highly critical to the functioning of our democracy.

RAJU: Do you have any concerns about the President saying that Bob Mueller should not look into the finances of the Trumps?

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I haven't seen that specific thing. But Bob Mueller should look at anything that falls within the scope of the special counsel's mandate.


SOARES: So, do you think, Matthew, that he's pretty much set the stage for this?

LITTMAN: I absolutely think that Trump is going to fire Mueller at some point. I can't see how he's not -- Trump doesn't think that the law applies to him.


SOARES: How big of a bombshell, pardon me, how big of a bombshell would that be?

LITTMAN: It would be -- I mean I don't -- in the House, I don't think it's that big of a bombshell. In the Senate I do think it's a bombshell. So -- go ahead.

VAUSE: I was going to say, which kind of explains, you know, some of the reporting we're getting now about, you know, the President taking a close look at his authority to grant pardons.

So, John -- just complete this sentence for me. If the administration has done nothing wrong, then why do they need to look at the power to pardon?

THOMAS: Because -- look, you have to know all your options. You've got -- I think Trump feels and probably rightfully so that this thing has become a witch hunt. That they're going to go through whatever layers of the onion they have to.

How many decades they have to go back, whatever apartment deal or condo that some Russian bought that maybe he doesn't have a relationship with. They're going to find some wrongdoing that might not have really no connection at all to this election. So Trump's got to figure out his options.

LITTMAN: He needs to shut up about a witch hunt.

THOMAS: Without a doubt.

LITTMAN: If they find legitimate things that Trump has done wrong then he is within the purview --

THOMAS: You're right, but what about the 2016 election?

LITTMAN: They're also looking into the 2016 election. We just came up with that last week. We just got new news about Donald Trump, Jr.

[00:15:02] SOARES: Will Mueller do you think be intimidated by any of this?

LITTMAN: Absolutely not.

THOMAS: That's right.

LITTMAN: There's no reason for him to be intimated by this. And I believe that in the Senate, most of those people support Mueller. And if he ends up -- if Trump ends up firing him, I think that already they're probably pretty far along in this investigation.

VAUSE: Very quickly -- Senator John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer. I think now is a good time to remember what a decent man he was, and what leadership he showed during the 2008 election campaign. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him, and he's not -- he's not. He's an Arab. He's not --



MCCAIN: No ma'am. No ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Very quickly, John, what happened between then and now?

THOMAS: Dramatically different people, there's no doubt about that.

LITTMAN: Well, I'd like you to show the clip where Donald Trump says he's not a hero.

VAUSE: Right. Ok, next hour.

SOARES: Matthew, John -- thank you very much.

LITTMAN: Thanks.

THOMAS: Thanks.

VAUSE: We will take a short break.

When we come back a Nevada parole board has agreed to set "The Juice" loose. O.J. Simpson granted parole after telling them he's lived a conflict-free life. More details on that when we return.


SOARES: Now, O.J. Simpson has been granted parole after serving almost nine years for an armed robbery in Las Vegas back in 2007.

VAUSE: The former U.S. football star is expected to be released in October -- two decades after his infamous acquittal in the killing of his ex-wife and her friend.

We've got details now from Paul Vercammen.



PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nevada's parole commissioners unanimously handed O.J. Simpson a "get out of prison" card.

A relieved Simpson heard what he wanted. He will serve the minimum nine years of a possible 33 year sentence for his role in the 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping of memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley who is now deceased.

Simpson pleaded with the commissioners for his freedom from the Lovelock Medium Security Prison.

SIMPSON: I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry to Nevada. You know, nine years away from your family is just not worth it. And I'm sorry.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson stressed he had been disciplinary-free, a model inmate.

SIMPSON: I've done my time. You know, I've done it as well and as respectfully as I think anybody can. I think if you talk to the wardens there, they'll tell you, I've been that.

I gave them my word. I believe in the jury system. I've honored their verdict.

VERCAMMEN: Commissioner Tony Corda calls Simpson's conviction a serious crime and said there was no excuse for it. But added Simpson complied with prison rules and was low-risk to re-event (ph).

[00:19:54] TONY CORDA, NEVADA PAROLE COMMISSIONER: The question here as with all parole hearings is whether or not you have served enough time in prison on this case. Considering all of these factors, my vote is to grant your parole effective when eligible.

VERCAMMEN: And his colleagues agreed.

The board noted Simpson's 1990s legal issues in California had no bearing in Nevada, an allusion to his acquittal for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Simpson's life so often filled with sensational moments took another twist during the parole hearing. Fromong testified but unlike so many crime victims who make frightened pleas for parole boards to keep their offender in prison, Fromong asked for his friend O.J. to be set free.

BRUCE FROMONG, SIMPSON VICTIM: This is a good man. He made a mistake. And if he called me tomorrow and said Bruce, I'm getting out, will you pick me up -- Juice, I'll be here tomorrow for you.

VERCAMMEN: And Simpson revealed his plan after release is to move to Florida.

SIMPSON: I could easily stay in Nevada, but I don't think you guys want me here.

VERCAMMEN: The next step, the state of Nevada will hash out very specific terms of his parole. And the commissioners sending a message saying if O.J. Simpson violates any of the rules of his parole, he could wind up right back in state prison in Nevada.

Paul Vercammen, CNN -- Lovelock, Nevada.


VAUSE: Well for more -- joining me now is San Diego County deputy district attorney Wendy Patrick and criminal defense attorney Brian Claypool. Good to see you both. Wendy -- welcome. I think this is your debut appearance, which is fantastic.


VAUSE: It is fantastic.

PATRICK: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ok. So let's start with you. Any question at all that parole would be granted here?

PATRICK: This hearing was O.J.'s to lose. And the more he spoke, I think his family and his lawyer were afraid that may have been the direction it was headed.

VAUSE: Exactly -- yes.

PATRICK: I mean he was -- he relitigated the underlying case. He didn't testify during that trial. He was unremorseful, unrepentant.

Now under Nevada law, remorse is not a requirement to be granted parole. But we wanted to see it.


PATRICK: You know, the viewing public wanted to see it. This was the Super Bowl of parole hearings. I've done some of these. Brian probably has too.

You don't have victims testifying on behalf of the inmate. They're normally testifying on behalf of the victim. So we would have liked to have seen a little bit more remorse but he was going to get parole anyway.

VAUSE: Right. So Brian, if you had a client like that on parole and basically showing very little remorse, wanting to relitigate everything and saying I'm not offering excuses but then going on and offering a lot of excuses. What do you do?

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, John -- was that a parole board hearing we saw this morning?

VAUSE: I don't know what that was.

CLAYPOOL: I thought it was a town hall meeting --


CLAYPOOL: -- and O.J. Simpson was running for Congress.

VAUSE: It seemed like it.

CLAYPOOL: That's kind of how I felt.

VAUSE: The board was kind of catatonic, in a way. It really did.

CLAYPOOL: Tell me about it.

PATRICK: Except for the NFL tie, did you see that?


CLAYPOOL: I mean O.J. Simpson's nickname was "The Juice" back when he was playing football. And I've got to tell you, John, I really feel like our legal system has been juiced in this case. What I mean by that is you put up there on the screen, the murder that took place in 1995. And it's pretty surreal that we're only as few miles from where that murder took place.

And I find it really hard to believe in a civilized society that we live in that this parole board is precluded from considering evidence that was presented, a mountain of evidence, a blood trail from the guest room up into O.J.'s room. How do you not consider that evidence in determining whether O.J. is a potential risk to society when he's released?

PATRICK: Or the domestic violence -- John.

VAUSE: Yes. And when he said --

PATRICK: Oh my goodness.

VAUSE: -- I have lived a conflict-free life, there was a lot of irony.

Look you mentioned this because Chris Darden who was one of the prosecutors in that trial, he basically said that O.J. hasn't served long enough. Here's what he said.


CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, PROSECUTOR IN O.J. SIMPSON'S MURDER TRIAL: I like the photographs of O.J. in handcuffs more than I like the photographs of O.J. with a golf club in his hand. You know, I think he has lot to account for. And, you know, we have yet to extract from him, you know, the punishment that he deserves.


VAUSE: You know, so Wendy, a lot of you out there are convinced that, you know, Simpson killed his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman. So, you know, there are people out there who now believe quite rightly that the Nevada parole board set loose a known killer.

PATRICK: That may be true, but there's a lot of people that also believe that they threw the book at O.J. when he was convicted and sentenced for the crime where he's serving time right now.

There's been a lot of talk about gosh, somebody wouldn't have gotten even half of that amount.

CLAYPOOL: But he had 12 felony counts.

PATRICK: Well, remember also though -- remember also though one of the things this parole board really stressed so is that they were treating him exactly like any other inmate.

So to have not released --

VAUSE: And it cuts both ways. PATRICK: -- that's right. And remember it flew under the radar, he was paroled already in 2013 for part of this case. So to say that he's served more time as a model inmate but now he's somehow not ready for parole, their hands are tied.

VAUSE: Before I get to you, Brian. Former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman, he played a very controversial role in O.J.'s murder trial 20 years-something -- 27 years ago.

[00:25:00] He was on Fox News. He made some tough statements about Simpson, accused him of lying about owning that sports memorabilia which is at the center of the armed hold-up -- saying it wasn't his property. He also went onto say this.


MARK FUHRMAN, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: The shocking part of this is the parole board was lied to and yet it seemed not to matter. Let's call it what it is. I think the fix was in. They wanted rid of Mr. Simpson. They were going to parole him.

Nothing he said would probably make any difference. You're seeing a classic sociopath, a narcissist, maybe even a psychopath. And he's talking, manipulating the crowd. He was doing exactly what he tried to do in the civil trial but in this instance there was no cross examination.


VAUSE: But what he did he mean the fix is in; that they wanted to get him out of the system in Nevada?

CLAYPOOL: I hate to tell you but I completely agree with Mark Fuhrman. Here's why the fix was in. A couple of days ago the Nevada parole board issued a press release. And they never do this. I'll tell you that, you never issue a press release before a parole board hearing.

And they said, wait a minute, our parole board members are not conservative. Remember there was an allegation O.J. might not get a fair parole board here because they're conservative in Nevada. They came out and said we're not conservative.

Well, that portended the outcome of this parole board hearing. And I agree with Mark Fuhrman. This was a flat out dog-and-pony show. And nothing that was said today would have changed anything.

And one thing, John, that really troubled me I was offended by with O.J. Simpson. He had a chance to come clean and say look, I was irresponsible, I should not have done this and I apologize to the victims.

He never said any of those words. In fact, he lied about -- remember he said I didn't know there was a gun pulled in this room --

(CROSSTALK) PATRICK: -- which contradicts all the rest of the evidence.

CLAYPOOL: Yes. Come on. Come on. Are you kidding me?

PATRICK: Absolutely.

Claypool: That's flat out fiction.

PATRICK: And there was no cross examination. There would have been cross examination at the trial.

VAUSE: Ok. So Fuhrman also believes that Simpson would violate his parole conditions. They look pretty standard. What's the process if they're broken, Wendy? And do you think he will violate it?

PATRICK: I think he will violate it because there's going to be a zero-tolerance policy. And you'll notice that the fourth commissioner before she cast that final vote said exactly that. That they're going to be watching him -- I'm paraphrasing. But she made it very clear that he's going to be on a short leash.

So he should move to Florida. I'm sure that will be permitted, find a small place near a golf course. I know Chris Darden doesn't want to see a golf club in his hand. But I guess it's better than a weapon. And just live quietly, disappear except he's got to keep in contact with his parole officer.

VAUSE: And we can all get ready for the reality TV show or whatever it is that will come.

PATRICK: We know it's coming.

VAUSE: Wendy and Brian -- good to see you both. Thank you.

PATRICK: Thank you.

CLAYPOOL: Thanks -- John.

SOARES: Now coming up, more violence in Venezuela as many people who go and strike. We'll tell you what's sparking the trouble just ahead.


[00:30:04] SOARES: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines this hour.



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares. JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm John Vause. We'll check the headlines this hour.


SOARES: In Venezuela, more unrest as oppositions of President Nicolas Maduro stage a 24-hour strike. A post office was reportedly set on fire in Caracas and at least two people were killed in Thursday's clashes.

VAUSE: As the strike began, many streets in the capital were barricaded by protesters. Mr. Maduro has called for a vote at the end of the month to elect an assembly to rewrite the constitution. The opposition says this is being done to guarantee a majority for the ruling party and also to consolidate President Maduro's grip on power.

SOARES: Well, let's get more on the situation in Venezuela. We're joined by Latin-American analyst Nicolas Albertoni.

Nicolas, thank you for coming on the show. It seems that you and I are constantly talking about Venezuela because it is in quite a dire state. We saw some of the footage there of the civil disobedience campaign.

This 24-hour strike, does that rattle at all, does that shake Mr. Maduro?

NICOLAS ALBERTONI, LATIN AMERICAN ANALYST: It's another way that the opposition is using to protest and to show how dissatisfied they are with this regime. I think compared with other -- with these three months that they have in street, it's a strategic and effective because the regime could not use their military power to stop the protesters.

So I think it's an interesting way to show the international community how dissatisfied they are with this terrible regime.

SOARES: Sure, it's a strong way to show the international community how they feel.

But how is the international community reacting?

Because up to now, many Venezuelan Latin Americans may argue not much has been done to help support Venezuela.

ALBERTONI: Absolutely. And I would say that the regional -- at least the regional community is already accomplished (ph) with what is going on in Venezuela. We have three months of the people in the street and no march (ph) and we don't have so many changes from the regime.

So we have more than 80 people that have been killed in these protests. So again, I think this is -- and sometimes we could feel that it's the end of the process. But, again, every week we have a new story related with this situation.

SOARES: Well, it's not just on the streets. It's also within -- it seems power, politics within his own ranks because it seems he's losing support, too. Isaias Medina (ph), who is a senior diplomat representing Venezuela at the United Nations, he resigned today and this is what he had to say. Take a listen.


ISAIAS MEDINA, FORMER VENEZUELAN DIPLOMAT (through translator): I am in the U.N., was working in the U.N. because I believed in what I was doing, working with the international community, representing my country.

Today, I honestly believe that it is hypocrisy that Venezuela is even in the U.N. on the Human Rights Council, violating human rights.


SOARES: That was the reason he said why he left. But this was the response from Rafael Ramirez, who is the ambassador to Venezuela. I'll translate.

"I condemn the conduct of Isaias Medina. We have immediately relieved him of his duties. He does not represent us. He has acted dishonestly."

SOARES: So this breaking of the ranks, do you think we're going to start seeing more and more of this?

ALBERTONI: Yes. Many people from the Chavista regime are now against the regime. So we would say that this is something that could happen in the future.

But just a quick point on how the multilateral level work in this process. This is a clear sample of what's going on in Venezuela, how the international community but also the regional community is ineffective, was ineffective and the failure we have in this process.

Because the international community is not just to solve these kind of problems, it's to prevent it. So it's incredible that now they're basically showing up when the rule of law has collapsed.

So again, this is not against -- I'm not just talking against the U.N. But, again, this is a clear example why it's important to act in the correct moment.

SOARES: And it's not to say that they don't have enough evidence to show exactly what happened in the street. We saw the footage, we've been seeing it for months now. But also we've got a report from the --


SOARES: -- Organization of American States. It had this warning in its latest report. And I believe it says third report on Venezuela. And I'm going to read it here.

"They are profiting off the starvation of their population," talking about Maduro. "The violence is getting worse and the actions by the security apparatus are escalating. The fear that is on everyone's mind but we are too afraid to speak out loud, is our fear this will escalate into a bloodbath."

We've got the U.S. We've got France. We've got Colombia. We've got Spain, all basically saying to President Maduro, back off. Back off that his push for the end of the (INAUDIBLE).

You know he hasn't budged.

So what would make him budge?

ALBERTONI: It has a quick pono of de reas (ph) and the U.S. was the only multilateral organization that really has taken real action on Venezuela because the rest are basically tweeters and many things that we could say for the international community but not effective and really taking action of what is going on there.

I think the next step is to have -- we have America sword (ph) this week and tomorrow the (INAUDIBLE) summit in Mendoza, Argentina.

SOARES: And Venezuela is part of the (INAUDIBLE) --


ALBERTONI: Yes, they're out (ph) and but I think the presence tomorrow has to be very clear and very strong in the position they have about this conflict and us for not to have more political prisoners, to call for elections, general elections, through international and independent observers.

And the last one is to consult this referendum that President Maduro is trying to have to rewrite the constitution.

So I think these are the three points of for example tomorrow microseur (ph) really pose --


SOARES: Yes, and I've seen lots of reports already that perhaps microseur (ph) will be pushing for sanctions to Venezuela. That hasn't been confirmed.

Thank you very much, Nicolas Albertoni.

ALBERTONI: Thank you.

SOARES: Always great to get your insight.

VAUSE: We have this just in from China. At least two people have been killed, 55 injured after an explosion in the eastern city of Hangzhou. That's according to state-run media.


SOARES (voice-over): Now at least 12 people were severely injured in the blast. It happened in a shop near Hangzhou's West Lake (ph) a short while ago. We'll bring you, of course, more details as they become available and keep on top of that story for you.

Coming up here right here on the show, the body of Salvador Dali has been exhumed over one woman's claims that she's his long-lost daughter. We'll tell you about the tough legal battle just ahead.




SOARES: Now the frontman of the popular rock band Linkin Park has died.



SOARES (voice-over): You're watching there Chester Bennington, performing the number, the song, "Numb," for his band, Linkin Park. The 41-year-old musician was found dead in a home near Los Angeles on Thursday morning.

VAUSE (voice-over): Authorities suspect it may have been suicide. Bennington is survived by his wife and six children.


VAUSE (voice-over): Just a few months ago Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, a close friend of Bennington's, took his own life.


SOARES: Now we have an update on the story we brought you yesterday, if you were here on the show, you were watching forensic experts are studying the DNA of Salvador Dali after the body of the eccentric artist was exhumed in Spain.

VAUSE: Dali is said to have died childless almost 30 years ago. But one woman disputes that, claiming to be his daughter. And a court agreed to her request to have Dali's body examined to settle that claim. Here's Nick Glass.



NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The great ringmaster, the great showman of surrealism, the great mustache. For much of the 20th century, Salvador Dali, one of the most famous artists on Earth, (INAUDIBLE) TV ad for chocolate, "Just crazy about the stuff," he said.

SALVADOR DALI, ARTIST: (Speaking foreign language) GLASS (voice-over): But did Dali ever manage to father any children?

He certainly never acknowledged any during his lifetime.


GLASS (voice-over): Her name is Maria Pilar Abel. She's 61; by profession, a tarot cards reader. For the last 10 years or so, she's been trying to legally prove that she's Dali's daughter. She thinks there's a strong physical resemblance, that she's simply Dali missing the mustache.

Abel's mission may soon be over. A small team of forensic scientists has entered the Dali museum in Figueres, Catalonia, where he's buried. On a judge's order, the innate (ph) has sought to be carried on the embalmed body. A plastic casket was taken in. Abel's lawyer says samples will be taken from the artist's hair and possibly a tooth.

Results are expected in two weeks. Dali rests underneath this stone slab. No cameras were allowed in for the exhumation.

We're all familiar with Dali's art, the melting watches, his painterly exploration of the subconscious, of his dreams, the long-limbed horses and elephants and his fantasies.

But one biographer concluded that Dali was terrified of his sexuality, terrified of being impotent, was terrified he might be homosexual.

Dali and his Russian wife and muse, Gala, were together for over 50 years. But like his art, their relationship was anything but straightforward. For much of the time, they lived close to each other but apart.

Here's Dali in 1955, the summer when Abel says Dali had a fling with her mother. So the story goes, he was 51, she was 25. The affair allegedly happened in the Catalan village where Dali was a regular visitor.

In 1955, we do know that Dali was completing this huge painting, "The Sacrament of the Last Supper." At this point in his artistic life, Dali had become interested in religious subjects and depicting them in a particular geometrical kind of way. The background here shows the Catalan coastline.

By reputation, Dali's sex life was solitary. He once said, in his egotistical way, that, "Great geniuses always produce mediocre children and I don't want to go through that experience," he said.

Exhuming his body should, we hope, finally determine whether Salvador Dali, against his own judgment, fathered a child or not -- Nick Glass, CNN, London.


SOARES: And it seems surrealism followed him even beyond his death. VAUSE: Two weeks we'll know.

SOARES: That does it for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.