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White House Shakeup; Message to Pyongyang; Baby Charlie's Battle Ends; Crisis in Venezuela; Last-Ditch Attempt to Save Endangered Rhinos. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired July 29, 2017 - 02:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A major shake up at the White House. The chief of staff is replaced, capping off a tumultuous week in Washington.

North Korea launches another ballistic missile. The second one with an intercontinental reach. We'll have a live report from Beijing about that.

And later, cutting edge science that could save the world's white rhino from extinction.

This all ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen. We begin right now.


ALLEN: Thank you again for joining us.

Our top story: U.S. President Donald Trump ended a turbulent week with one of the biggest overhauls yet among his senior aides. The bottom line: chief of staff Reince Priebus is out.

Priebus says he submitted his resignation Thursday. Mr. Trump announced the change on Twitter late Friday, naming Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to the post. Priebus had nothing but praise for his replacement, calling him a, quote, "brilliant pick."

Priebus gave his first interview to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. He strongly defended the president's decision to replace him.


REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the president wanted to go a different direction. I support him in that. And like I said a couple weeks ago, I said the president has a right to change directions. The president has a right to hit a reset button.

I think it's a good time to hit the reset button. I think he was right to hit the reset button and I think that it was something that I think the White House needs. I think it's healthy and I support him in it.


ALLEN: Priebus' tenure as White House chief of staff just 189 days as one of the shortest on record. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more now on whether his exit could signal a new direction for the Trump White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making one of the biggest shakeups of his administration so far about six months in, announcing a new chief of staff.

Accepting the resignation of chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and saying he will name General John Kelly, who's currently the Homeland Security Secretary. He will start on Monday as the new chief of staff here at the White House.

It is a sign, the president said, that he needs a new direction going forward, new leadership going forward. This comes at the end of a tumultuous week here at the White House, where a week after the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, was appointed, had a very public and remarkably vulgar feud with Reince Priebus, the chief of staff.

All that coming to an end, Reince Priebus saying he's going to resign. He still supports the president but knows that the president needs a new direction here. But now appointing General John Kelly chief of staff gives what many advisors and supporters of the president hope is a new direction, some new discipline on this White House as it tries to move its agenda forward.

This week saw a collapse of the Republican health care bill. It saw a public feud with the attorney general, it saw a rift with the Pentagon over a decision for essentially banning transgendered service members from serving in the military.

So this is a moment for a reset for this president. General John Kelly, a four-star general, who has a decorated service records, he starts here on Monday. Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, he said he'll start taking a vacation -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: I spoke earlier with political analyst Michael Genovese. He's the president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University and I asked him about the latest shake up with Priebus out and General Kelly in.


MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Every day there's a new crisis. Today, this morning we woke up to the failure of the repeal and replace. And now we've got more drama. This is a president who loves drama and he likes to be disruptive.

So we know that he can tear things down but can he build them up?

Bringing in John Kelly is an effort to bring discipline to the staff.

But the real key is can he bring discipline to the president?

If he can't rein in the president, keep him from tweeting so much, discipline the president, make him focus, make him do job of the grunt work of calling members of Congress, really working Washington, if he can't do that, he'll fail.

ALLEN: That's a really, really good point because he is bringing in a general and he certainly wants loyalty. Perhaps that's why he's trying to toughen up the communications team.

But the bottom line is it's this president has to get things done and someone has got to be able to get his ear. And maybe -


ALLEN: -- it's the generals that could do it. He certainly seems to be surrounding himself with generals.

GENOVESE: You know, there are several people around him who are in the military and they should bring more discipline to the team. But this is a team that's run on chaos and chaos is not a governing strategy. You've got to have discipline. You've got to have focus. You've got to do the job and there's a lot of grunt work involved.

Going Washington is not an easy task. It takes time. And it takes political capital. This is a president who likes to just flit all over the place and that may make him feel like he's getting something done. But look at the results. The results have been very disappointing for these first six months.

ALLEN: Right, because he does focus on loyalty but, at the same time, he hasn't gotten things done regardless. So much, he's so focused on leaks and control but it's not -- you really can't control when you have, you know, a reporting team following you and it's supposed to be an independent team and to do their best work.

But as you say, he's got to do the grunt work.

But is there anyone else on his team that could help support him in that?

Because a lot of people have been saying today this is a 70-year-old president. He's not going to change.

GENOVESE: Well, you know, too many people around Trump are supporting Trump's psyche. They need to support his presidency. There's a big difference. And while the two are interlinked -- because he's obviously president and what he says goes -- you have to have people there who know Washington, who know politics. And while John Kelly is a career military man, he's incredibly

polished as a politician. You don't get to be a four-star general if you don't know how to walk the corridors of power. So he can do it. He knows the game. He is of a stature that maybe, just maybe the president will listen to him.

But the great Roman poet, Juvenal, said, when asked about how do you govern Rome?

His response was, well, you do it with bread and circuses. This is a president who is all circus all the time. So we went from no--drama Obama to all--drama--all--the--time Trump. We need less drama and more governing. And that's something that has to come right from the president. John Kelly might be able to help him do that.


ALLEN: The White House says the president plans to sign a bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia. The White House says the president negotiated parts of the bill and approved a final version.

Congress overwhelming adopted it, which also limits Mr. Trump's ability to independently ease sanctions against Moscow. Earlier Friday, Russia demanded the U.S. cut the number of diplomats it has in Moscow and it seized U.S. property there. Russia is expected to retaliate further.

North Korea is making good on its threat to build a missile that can hit the United States.


ALLEN (voice-over): It says this missile tested Friday can strike the whole U.S. mainland and should be seen as, quote, "a grave warning. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly oversaw the launch and signed the order to fire. The Pentagon has confirmed the test and says it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

It reached an altitude of almost 4,000 kilometers before splashing down off the coast of Japan. At least one expert says it could strike as far as Chicago if fired with a flatter trajectory. The U.S. and South Korea responded with their own show of force you see here.

They held this military exercise sending their own message to Pyongyang.


ALLEN: North Korea's main ally, China, is condemning the latest launch and is calling on North Korea to stop its nuclear provocations. Also South Korea says it will consult with the United States to deploy additional parts of an antimissile defense system.


MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): The South Korean government strongly condemns the ballistic missile launch since it clearly violates U.N. Security Council resolution and it is a grave threat to international peace and security.


ALLEN: Meantime, the U.S. is again urging Russia and China to help stop North Korea's nuclear program.

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said, "The United States seeks the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end to belligerent actions by North Korea.

"As we and others have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear- armed North Korea nor abandon our commitment to our allies and partners in the region."

For more on North Korea's missile text, we're joined by our Will Ripley. He's live in Beijing.

Will, as someone who has reported from North Korea many times, talk with us about this video we've seen from North Korea, issued shortly after the launch, and the photographs. They seem a little more slickly produced than in the past.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And also the turnaround was very quick, Natalie.


RIPLEY: Often in the past when we've had missile launches in North Korea, it could take 24 hours before it's officially announced on state media. But this time there was a 12-minute special report showing everything from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, signing the order, to the missile rolling up, various angles of the missile.

Then the launch itself, a dramatic nighttime launch, around midnight local time. The of course the celebration, Kim Jong-un in the control room, surrounded by the technicians and top rocket scientists, who have been working on this project probably around the clock since the last ICBM launch on the 4th of July.

What this says to me is North Korea is clearly using this as an opportunity to send a very strong message to the United States. And this launch was timed right in the daytime hours on the East Coast in the United States.

That they now have a weapon for the first time really, a weapon that can strike most places in the mainland United States and they're moving closer to having a weapon that can hit pretty much anywhere in the mainland United States.

And anybody who even six months or a year ago doubted the accuracy or the determination of the North Koreans, certainly they're not doubting that anymore.

On the ground in the country, I was speaking with officials as recently as last month and they say that these weapons are an essential part of their nation's strategy to protect themselves from what they feel is the imminent threat of invasion by the United States.

And you saw in response in the early morning hours in South Korea, a live-fire exercise with the United States and South Korean militaries, where they were shooting missiles into the ocean, a show of force on the south side.

So once again the ratcheting up of tensions here and both sides very heavily armed with the potential to do a lot of damage and kill a lot of people if a conflict were to break out.

ALLEN: And, Will, all the while you're there in Beijing, China has not really stepped up to stop this regime. They could do more, could they not?

RIPLEY: Absolutely. The response that we heard here in Beijing within the past few hours is the boilerplate response that China always gives whenever there's a North Korean missile launch. They condemn the North Korean launch but shift the responsibility to the United States and South Korea.

China does also, just like North Korea, China doesn't like the joint military exercises that happened between the U.S. and South Korea. Those countries would say they have to train together because they're bound by treaty to protect each other and in the event of a conflict, they have to know how to work together.

But from the North Korean and the Chinese perspective, it is a hostile act to see this type of military on the Korean Peninsula. And so China, to some extent, while they don't like what North Korea is doing, they also imply -- and Russia the same, by the way -- that the North Korea is doing this because of the actions of the United States and South Korea.

And it's no coincidence that the top two trading partners of North Korea are China, by far, and also Russia. Last year, despite round after round of international sanctions, Pyongyang's economy, the North Korean economy grew by almost 4 percent.

That's because billions of dollars continues to flow across the border from China into North Korea and there's also an increasing trade relationship with Russia. And these two countries are not going to destabilize the regime by cutting off trade completely because what they don't want to see is an armed conflict to break out or, more importantly, destabilization in the North that could create the potential dynamic for a Korean Peninsula that is entirely controlled by a U.S.-allied South Korea if there were a war to break out.

So it really is, as you said last hour, Natalie, a catch-22 here because China continues to trade. Yet also they're condemning the actions and they certainly don't like that their name is brought up every time North Korea tests a weapon like this.

But you have to mention China because clearly Chinese cash is helping to fuel the rapid growth of their weapons programs.

ALLEN: It certainly grew in the past 24 hours, didn't it?

Will Ripley for us there, live in Beijing. Will, as always, thank you.

Coming up here, baby Charlie Gard has died. A tragic end to a medical battle that gained worldwide attention. We'll look at some of the tributes pouring in for that little boy.

Plus some demonstrators ignoring a government ban in Venezuela before this weekend's controversial election. We'll tell you what that's about. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.





ALLEN: Charlie Gard, the British baby whose medical treatment became a highly publicized legal battle, has died. He passed away one week before his first birthday. CNN's Erin McLaughlin has more on the little boy who captured the world.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charlie Gard's parents had hoped their son would live to see his first birthday but on Monday Charlie's parents gave a gut-wrenching and heartbreaking statement revealing that was not meant to be.

CHRIS GARD, CHARLIE'S FATHER: We've decided that it's no longer in Charlie's best interest to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Time, they said, had become their enemy; the protracted legal battle meant the window of opportunity to treat Charlie had closed.

GARD: We now know, had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Charlie's parents had been fighting the courts and the great Ormon Street Hospital, which said he had irreparable brain damage caused by an extremely rare and, experts say, terminal genetic disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

Charlie, unable to move his arms and legs or breathe on his own, was suffering with no hope of recovering, courts said in June, siding with the hospital, saying it was in Charlie's best interest to allow him to die but his parents felt they had a sliver of hope, a chance for experimental treatment in the U.S. that might offer a small improvement of Charlie's quality of life. And so they vowed to fight on.

CONNIE YATES, CHARLIE'S MOTHER: He's our son. He's our flesh and flood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): They had hoped for a miracle. Their fight gained allies in world leaders with tweets from Pope Francis and U.S. president Donald Trump. Experts flew from the U.S. To the U.K. to conduct tests on Charlie's brain function, leading up to what many believe to be a final showdown in court once again this week, pitting the hospital's view against loving parents, willing to do anything for their son.

But instead the latest scans revealed there was no longer any chance of recovery, a devastating outcome that led Charlie's parents to wonder about what might have been.

GARD: Charlie's been left with his illness to deteriorate devastatingly to the point of no return. We will have to live with what ifs which will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): At the end of a long and public fight over Charlie, his parents shared one last goodbye to their baby boy before retreating from public view to spend their last moments with their dying son.

GARD: To Charlie, we say, Mommy and Daddy, we love you so much. We always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you. Sweet dreams, baby. Sleep tight, our little beautiful boy. We love you.


ALLEN: Such an agonizing, agonizing day for those parents. Pope Francis tweeted a statement about Charlie Gard Friday, saying he is praying for the family.

A Venezuelan government ban on protests seemed to prevent large-scale demonstrations on Friday but smaller clashes erupted anyway in Caracas as protesters blocked streets ahead of Sunday's controversial election.

The opposition fears President Nicolas Maduro is trying to create a dictatorship through the vote for a new assembly. our Leyla Santiago -


ALLEN: -- is in Caracas with more on these rising tensions.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Altamira Plaza. It's a symbolic area for the opposition of the government. Just yesterday they banned a protest and you can still see they have blocked the road. These are called crancas (ph) and these young men have signs that say,

President Maduro, they call him the worst president and even call him corrupt. This is something that you'll see in different parts of the city.

And let me show you the support that the opposition had. You can see the Venezuelan flag; you can see press, you can see people of all ages. And as we have talked to people in this area, they have told us that this is about freedom.

This is about basic human rights because they believe that, on Sunday, the election for a new assembly that could rewrite the constitution is something that violates their rights here in Venezuela.

The government has already announced it will be deploying 378,000 troops to ensure security here in Venezuela. But if this is an indication of what the people of Venezuela will do in listening to the government, that means there's a lot of uncertainty for this weekend -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.


ALLEN: Ahead here, a last-ditch attempt by scientists across Europe to save an endangered rhino from extinction.




ALLEN: Taiwan is bracing for a typhoon that's expected to hit in about 12 hours and there's another storm right behind it.



ALLEN: Northern white rhinos are magnificent animals but they are critically endangered. But now scientists hope cutting-edge techniques can possible save them from extinction in Kenya. Here's our Max Foster.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the very last of their kind. Three Northern white rhinos now so rare and precious that they're kept under armed guard in Kenya.

Sudan is the only surviving male; his half-sister, Najin, and her calf, Fatu, have medical problems that stop them reproducing naturally. But thanks to science, it might not be the end for this rare bloodline; 7,000 kilometers away at the Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, England, these Southern white rhinos are part of a groundbreaking plan. Eggs have been carefully harvested from three of the park's females

and sent to Italy. There, scientists hope to use them to create a test-tube rhino embryo. It's the first step in an experiment that could eventually see these Southern rhino females carrying a Northern rhino calf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's only a very limited supply of the sperm from the Northern white rhinos. There's only three of them left in the entire world. So got that limited genetic bank.

So what they're planning on doing is also experimenting with mixing Southern white rhino sperm, Southern white rhino eggs and reimplanting that. And just to fine tune their success rate, when they use (INAUDIBLE) Northern white rhino sperms, they know it's really going to count.

FOSTER (voice-over): If the experiment proves successful, the next step will be to create an embryo using sperm and eggs from the Northern white rhinos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those embryos are then going to be reimplanted into Southern white rhino females, surrogate mothers, if you like, maybe ours here at Longleat, and secure the Northern white rhino as a species.

FOSTER: Scientists are hoping to extract the eggs from the remaining Northern white rhinos by the end of the year. But don't expect calves anytime soon. Rhinos have one of the longest gestation periods of any animal and are pregnant for up to 18 months -- Max Foster, CNN, London.


ALLEN: And we know the cause that they are so in danger of extinction is they are being hunted to death.

That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Our top stories right after this.