Return to Transcripts main page


Venezuela's Critical Vote; U.S. Tests Missile Defense System; Kremlin Orders U.S. To Slash Diplomatic Staff in Russia; Australian Authorities Arrest Four In Alleged Plot; New Chief of Staff John Kelly Takes Helm Monday; Alabama Voters Conflicted over Trump Attacks on Sessions; U.S. Deporting Guatemalan Father with No Criminal Record; More Flooding for Southeast Asia. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 31, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Venezuela's controversial vote after more deadly clashes between protesters and police. President Maduro, claims victory while the opposition claims fraud.

Plus, new threats from Pyongyang as the U.S. says all options are on the table after North Korea's latest nuclear test.

And Vladimir Putin counters U.S. sanctions, ordering U.S. diplomatic missions to dramatically captive personnel in Russia.

It's all ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. We are live in Atlanta, I'm Rosemary Church.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is claiming victory in a controversial vote as expected. The government says, turnout was high but the opposition is contesting this saying the vote was rigged. Supporters of President Maduro are expected to control a new constituent assembly that could rewrite the constitution.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We have a constituent assembly. I said, come hell or high water. And hell and high water came, and the constituent assembly arrived from the hand of the people, from its conscience.


CHURCH: There were violent protests across the country during the vote, at least 10 people died in clashes Sunday including two teenagers. Critics say, the new assembly could weaken the country's democracy even more, and could essentially turn President Maduro into a dictator. The Venezuelan opposition boycotted the vote and is calling for a massive protest on Monday. At least 125 people have died in four months of violent clashes. CNN's Leyla Santiago has more now from Caracas. And we need to warn you, you may find some of the following video disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After months of demonstrations and strikes in Venezuela, yet another day of violence as a blast rocks a motor cycle convoy of police officers. One officer said, ablaze by the explosion, police officers scrambling to his aide, and to put out the fire. Who's responsible? Remains to unknown, but it's an example of the last few months in Venezuela. The opposition has not been able to stop an election that could give President Maduro more power. This is the day government protesters hope would never come. They're not backing down.

This is the obstacle that the opposition has set for the National Guard should they come this way: old washing machine, rocks, and signs. And even if you look closely on the ground, they have what we call "Miguelito" -- these were created to pierce through the tire of any motor cycle that comes this way. The opposition is hoping it'll help them fight against Venezuela's National Guard.

The government deployed hundreds of thousands of troops Sunday after banning protests resulting in deadly violence. "This shouldn't be about tear gas," he says. The government should be figuring out a solution to the food shortage. Meanwhile, at the poles, voters, any government supporters waited in line to elect Maduro's new assembly. This voter said, "A vote is the only way out of Venezuela's crisis; the only way to find peace on the streets of Venezuela." Where unrest continues, frustration is growing, and the prospect for peace lies in uncertainty. Leyla Santiago, CNN, Caracas.


CHURCH: The United States had warned Venezuela not to hold the vote. And now, the Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela's main source of income -- oil. Senior officials tell CNN, one possible option is to ban sales of U.S.-like crude oil to Venezuela. However, an embargo on shipments of Venezuelan oil appears to be off the table for now.

Journalist, Peter Wilson, is the former Caracas Bureau Chief for Bloomberg News and he joins us now from Lisbon, Ohio, via Skype. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, critics are calling this a power grab on the part of President Maduro. What are the ramifications of just faction move? And how did it get to this stage given the warnings from the United States?

WILSON: I think the problem is that President Maduro, he called for this assembly in May. The problem is he made a unilateral declaration, it's not been supported by any of the opposition. In the past, when they -- when the former President Chavez called for such an assembly, it went to the people for a vote before they had elections from the assembly. In this case, Maduro just declared a vote without any approval, no vote from the population, no vote from Congress, just unilaterally. So, the opposition has always said it was illegal. The ramifications? I'm looking for much greater government

repression, much more bloodshed, that chances of reconciliation, negotiations -- in my perspective -- are dead. This has pushed both sides to the brink of civil war. And I appear that there's going to be a lot more bloodshed.

[01:05:42] CHURCH: Certainly, a grim outlook there. So, the Trump administration is apparently considering imposing sanctions on Venezuelan oil. How likely is it that this will happen, do you think?

WILSON: To be quite frank, given the Trump administration's actions so far, I think they probably will impose sanctions. I, myself, would say it's a bad idea. Sanctions against Cuba did not work. If the Cuban sanctions lasted for 50 years, it did not result in regime change, it did not result to any democratic movement. In Venezuela, I think it's better if the Trump administration would take a back seat, and let South American countries -- Central American countries, take the lead in condemning Venezuela. If Trump (INAUDIBLE 06:30) does that? President Maduro will use it against the opposition, by saying that the oppositions there can (INAUDIBLE 06:39) at least what happened, and Venezuela is still very strong.

CHURCH: Now, of course, well, we've been speaking, we have been showing these live pictures of President Maduro. They're alleged, this election, this vote has gone ahead. So, you mentioned these other options. We know, of course, oil sanctions are on the table. They're not likely to have much of an impact, are they? What are the responses are available to the international community, in general? Or had they let this move too late, do you think?

WILSON: No. Actually, I think the international community is the best chance of avoiding a civil war breaking out. If several countries have already said they will not recognize the results of this election, those include several South American countries. Also, the Mercosur Trade Group, which is like the South American equivalent of the European community, they have already warned that they could expel Venezuela from the group if this election does take place if this new constitutional assembly is seed through.

So, on next Tuesday, a week from Tuesday, foreign ministers from South American countries will be meeting in Peru to discuss possible sanctions, possible actions against Venezuelan -- against the Venezuelan government. So, in this case, I think the international community is the best hope to averting this type of bloodshed, this type of civil war.

CHURCH: All right. We'll watch and see what happens here. Peter Wilson, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

WILSON: Thank you.

CHURCH: A U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations says the time for talk is over when it comes to North Korea. Nikki Haley, say it in a statement, the U.S. doesn't even want an emergency Security Council session after Pyongyang's latest missile test. She wrote: "There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence." She added, "China must now decide if it's willing to challenge the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un." Other U.S. officials have echoed Haley's stance including Vice President, Mike Pence.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of strategic patience is over, President of the United States is leading a coalition of nations to bring pressure there until the time that North Korea will permanently abandon this nuclear and ballistic missile test.


CHURCH: North Korea claims the missile it launched, Friday, could reach the entire U.S. mainland. In response, the U.S. once again tested the THAAD Missile Defense System intercepting a missile over the Pacific on Sunday.

Well, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has told reporters, he spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump by phone earlier. He said they agree to take further action after North Korea's missile launch. For more on the escalation tensions in the region, our Will Ripley joins me now from Beijing. Good to see you again, Will. So, what's the Japanese prime minister referring to when he says further action will be taken against North Korea? He's all on board given both Japan and South Korea has much delusive any form of military action is being considered here.

[01:10:02] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Japan, the United States, and South Korea, all of their option are pretty limited, Rosemary. They can try to step up unilateral sanction, but none of those three countries have significant trade relationships with North Korea that could actually hurt them economically. They can certainly add more names to their list of people who, you know, are basically persona non grata in terms of the international community. North Korea Ambassadors who might be working in countries where North Korea has a diplomatic relationship and trying to bring hard currency back into that country.

And you saw the actions over the weekend of the United States and South Korea, and Japan, when they flew fighters and bombers along the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. South Korea and the U.S. engaged in a live fire exercise: shooting their own missiles out into the ocean. But none of these things, Rosemary, and I can tell you because I was in North Korea just last month chatting with officials there. None of this is going to convince the North Koreans to, in the words of the U.S. vice president, permanently abandon their nuclear and missile programs. They have said that is a non-starter for them, they will not get rid of those missiles that developed.

They have made so much progress. They now have in their arsenal, a missile, an ICBM that puts much of the mainland U.S. within striking range. This is what they consider their protection against a threat from outside invasion. They think it is their -- pretty much their only leverage with the international community. They want a seat at the table. They want to talk about normalizing relations but they will be unwilling to have any discussions if the United States insists that before they can sit down at the table that they have to disarm. That's not going to happen. I can tell you that from the officials that they I've spoken with.

CHURCH: All right. Look -- let's look at the United States, still very hopeful that China will help out here. And by its very actions, it appears, Beijing has no intention of restraining or challenging its ally -- North Korea. But the U.S. is still trying to get Beijing to help restrain Kim Jong-un. What do China's intentions here? How much help will it likely offer in the end?

RIPLEY: That China has a much different relationship, and different perspective about North Korea than the United States, Japan, and South Korea. From the Chinese perspective, they understand why the North Koreans are developing these weapons because they view the actions, especially militarily, the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, and also Japan now is well starting to participate in these.

They view that as hostile and destabilizing. They view the deployment of the THAAD Missile Defense System in South Korea as hostile and destabilizing. Because the THAAD Missile Defense System could also, theoretically, shoot down Chinese missiles if there were ever a conflict. So, they view that as a direct threat to their own national security. So, they place a lot of the blame here on the United States.

They think that the U.S. should stop its military activities on the peninsula in exchange for North Korea, freezing its testing of missiles and nuclear weapons. That's what China's been advocating for a long time. They have no intention to completely cut off their trade relationship with Pyongyang. There are still billions of dollars flowing from China to North Korea, and back and forth.

And China would also say that they are upholding the commitments that they made to the U.N. Security Council. They have not been buying any North Korean coal; they froze coal purchases last year. That was a major source of revenue for the regime. But Russia is now helping to fill in that gap. Russia is buying more coal. And now, Russia has resumed regular ferry service between Vladivostok and the North Korea city of Wonsan, so that ship in goods and workers back and forth between the countries.

So, even as the U.S. and its allies ratchet up the pressure, North Korea and its allies are also finding a workaround to at least keep the North Korean economy going. And at least, from what we can see on the outside and what I've observed on the inside, they're not yet really feeling much of the pinch from these sanctions. And you can see that just for the fact that their economy grew -- the North Korea economy grew by almost four percent last year.

CHURCH: Interesting, but the only option, apparently, left. Will Ripley, joining us live from Beijing where just nearly 1:15 in the afternoon. Many thanks. Let's take a short break here.

Coming up, Russia's president orders deep cast in staff at U.S. diplomatic missions. We will explain why Vladimir Putin took this action now, and what it means for the future of U.S. and Russia relation.

[01:14:19] And authority used a warning to travelers about delays of Sydney Airport after an alleged terror plot is foiled. We'll have the details for you and the live report, stay with us.


[01:16:49] PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN WORLD SPORT Headlines. Sebastian Vettel will head into the Formula One summer break with the biggest smile after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. The four-time world champion from Germany starting from forward positions, Ferrari making the most to some newfound space this weekend. They dominated the first half of the race. Vettel was struggling, though, with his steering and so teammate Kimi Raikkonen was dispatched to hold off any kind of challenge from behind. Vettel's main rival Lewis Hamilton has to settle for fourth place.

To Miami, for the first ever friendly El Clasico, and it was only the second time that Real Madrid and Barcelona had played outside of Spain. (INAUDIBLE) able to say they got to see Neyma's last ever goal, maybe, just maybe for Barca, he was heavily involved on Lionel Messi had opened the scoring (INAUDIBLE) Neymar supplied the ball for even Rakitic to make it 2-0, after just seven minutes of play. Then later he would set up the game winner, Gerard Picque to make it 3-2 in favor of the Catalan. It was a major upset in the women's European Football Championships on Sunday, for the first time since 1995, the winners will not be Germany. In the quarterfinals, they were upset by Denmark Nadia Nadim and (INAUDIBLE) Nielsen both scoring from (INAUDIBLE) and surprisingly, it's only the third time that Germany (INAUDIBLE) in this tournament and the last team to knock them out was back in '93, that was Denmark.

That's a look at your Sports Headlines, I'm Patrick Snell.

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, the U.S. faces a September 1st deadline to slash its diplomatic staff in Russia by more than half. Moscow is also ticking the U.S. out of two properties in Russia including this country home near Moscow. Russia's President said he'd be hoping for better relations with the U.S. but pending new U.S. sanctions require Moscow to take action.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translation): I thought it was time for us to show that we will not leave this without an answer. As for other possible measures, or whether it is a law or not, this is a quite sensible from the point of view of the work of the Diplomatic (INAUDIBLE) because a thousand or so employees, diplomats, and technical workers have worked, and still work in Russia. 755 will have to stop their activities in the Russia Federation.


CHURCH: The U.S. State Department responded, Sunday, with this statement. The Russian government has demanded the U.S. mission to Russia limit total mission staffing to 455 employees by September 1. This is a regrettable and uncalled for act. We are assessing the impact of such a limitation and how we will respond to it. We have no further comment at this time. CNN's Global Affairs Analyst, David Rhode, joins us now from New York with his perspective on this. Always good to have you on the show and always great to get your perspective on these matters. So, how is President Trump likely to respond to Kremlin orders to cut 755 diplomatic staff members at the U.S. embassy in Russia by September 1st?

[01:20:01] DAVID RHODE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think he'll solve them, it would be crazy, frankly, politically to United States if he were to not -- if he were to somehow, you know, not sign the bill. This is a new sanction, just an enacted by the U.S. Congress that angered Putin and have led to this move from Moscow today. So, I think, you know, Trump will sign these new sanctions and Americans of mass will leave in the numbers that Russia has demanded.

CHURCH: So, what are the likely ramifications of these expulsions and what impact will this have on U.S.-Russian relations going forward?

RHODE: It's another, you know, very troubled chapter, this will really reduce American diplomatic activities. American intelligence officials have said that they've had an increasingly difficult time operating in Russia. There was an incident earlier where an embassy employee was sort of assaulted by a Russian police officer outside the embassy. So, that was part of a campaign of sort of harassment. So, this is this sort of tit-for-tat that goes on sometimes between the countries. I -- again, the political position that Donald Trump is in if he does anything that makes it look like he's going easy on Russia, it just adds to these many, many questions about, you know, was there any collusion with Russia during the campaign. Again, there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but any action he takes that isn't seen as standing up to Putin will fuel, you know, its political -- and I'm told, a lot of opportunity for Democrats to attack Trump.

CHURCH: As well, of course, making him look weak and this wasn't exactly the relationship that President Trump wanted with Russia, quite the opposite, in fact. What went wrong and what's likely to happen next do you think with that relationship?

RHODE: I don't think there's anything that, you know, occurred directly between Trump and Putin. I think Trump has made political errors in terms of responding to this investigation. I think firing the FBI Director James Comey, you know, gave Democrats a lot of political fodder to continue these investigations. And he's also, I think, you know, lost some support from Republicans on the Hill. That's why you have, you know, such an overwhelming number of votes in Congress, both Republican and Democrat in favor of these new sanctions. It shows, you know, Trump's inability to get the Republican Party sort of back him on Russia. Russia has become -- you know, whether it's fair or not or deserved, Russia has become so radioactive in Washington that Donald Trump cannot control his own Republican Party.

CHURCH: David Rhode, thanks so much for your perspective on this matter. Appreciate it.

RHODE: Thank you.

CHURCH: Extra security measures are in place at Sydney Airport after Australian authorities foiled an alleged airplane terror plot. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says it was an elaborate conspiracy to bring down a plane. Four men are in custody. CNN's Sherisse Pham joins us now from Surry Hills, a suburb of Sydney. Good to see you again, Sherisse. So, what all do we know about this alleged terror plot and how was it foiled by authorities?

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN REPORTER: Well, here's what we know, a police official that I talked to said this all happened very, very quickly. So what we know is that the time leading up to the raids and the arrests that happened over the weekend, those were short period of time. Raids were carried out at five homes across the -- over the weekend, four men were arrested, including one man who was arrested at the house right behind me here in Surry Hills. Now, the investigation is ongoing and that is alarming in some of the people in these neighborhoods. And have a listen to what Australian federal -- Australian police Andrew Colvin told reporters this morning.


ANDREW COLVIN, AUSTRALIAN POLICE: We have search warrants still being conducted in New South Wales. The search warrants will probably last a few days. We have people who are being interviewed and no one has yet being charged.


PHAM: So, those four men have been arrested and called and said they have not been charged yet. Under counterterrorism laws here in Australia, they can be held for up to a week without charges being brought up against them. Now, this was a plot to bring down a passenger plane in Australia and kill innocent civilians. So, obviously because it involved a plane, security at the airport have been beefed up. We were at city airport earlier this morning, Rosemary, where people who usually come to the airport 45 minutes before their flight takes off domestically, they came to the airport 2-1/2 hours early -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Sherisse, just how close did these suspects get to pulling off this planned attack and are authorities giving any indication of whether this is the end of the problem? Maybe there are other attacks being planned.

[01:25:04] PHAM: Officials are keeping that information. Plus, the (INAUDIBLE) they're saying there's been a lot of speculation right now and they don't want to add to that speculation. But, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did tell Australian media early today, this morning, that the plot was "advanced." He wouldn't tell us any details into how advanced it was but it was a credible, elaborate, conspiracy. That is the language that officials are using here and that is -- that's fairly unusual. This is the first incredible terrorist attack that has been foiled since 2014, and this one is a bit of a wake-up call. So now, Rosemary, the question is, was this plot linked to overseas terrorist groups?

CHURCH: Yes, that is the big question. We hope many more answers on all of this, Sherisse Pham joining us there from Sydney, many thanks. Well, new Chief of Staff heads into a chaotic White House. A look at whether he can restore order. We'll take a look, stay with us.


[01:29:24] CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church. I want to take the headlines for you this hour.


[01:30:00] CHURCH: The new White House chief of staff begins work Monday after a shakeup last week. Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly comes on board as President Trump's agenda is stalled and infighting among senior staff is bitter and often very public. Reince Priebus resigned Friday, one day after the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, accused him in a profane tirade of leaking information. White House officials are optimistic Kelly can bring the needed discipline.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: I take Reince at his word. I do not think Reince is hiding the ball on this at all. The president wanted to change directions, wanted to go a different way in the way that office was managed. I think Reince was terribly effective but was probably a little bit more laid-back and independent in the way he ran the office. I think the president wants to go a different direction, wants a little bit more discipline, a little more structure in there. You know that he enjoys working with generals.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: We can have protocol, pecking order, ordered discipline, and a Chief of Staff that empowers the staff to succeed. I know that General Kelly has done that on the battlefield. I know he's done that as a chief military aid to former cabinet secretaries. And I know he's done it as a cabinet secretary. So we have great faith that that will be done.


CHURCH: Joining me now is CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer. He is also an historian and professor at Princeton University.

Thanks much for being with us.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you. CHURCH: Now you wrote an opinion piece for, writing this, "President Donald Trump, who is always looking for a quick fix, is hoping that John Kelly, his new chief of staff, will be the magic bullet, but it won't work."

Julian Zelizer, why do you think it won't work?

ZELIZER: I'm very skeptical that this will change the White House. Most importantly, the president himself is the source of a lot of chaos and dysfunction in the White House. So even if the Chief of Staff is able to reorganize the team, the president remains the same. And within the Oval Office, you have many other factions who will compete with Kelly, including family members, like Jared Kushner, Stephen Bannon. I think it is going to be very hard for Kelly to centralize control. So I am suspecting that within a few months Kelly will be in the same situation as the former chief of staff has been.

CHURCH: Interesting. And President Trump lost a major legislative battle this week with the failure to repeal Obamacare. And here is what he tweeted Sunday morning, I am quoting, of course, "Don't give up Republican Senators. The world is watching. Repeal and replace. And go to 51 votes. Nuke option. Get across state lines and more."

So, Julian, Mr. Trump is also telling them not to move on to other projects. What do you expect will happen with this? And is Twitter- shaming Republicans the way to win their support?

ZELIZER: No. The tweet itself has been part of the problem. His strategy has been to constantly send out these messages via Twitter. He has threatened Republican Senators, sometimes on camera, with them sitting right next to them. And even in that Tweet, he gets it a bit wrong. The process for which health care was considered was with only a majority of the Senate needed. So in some ways, that tweet reflects why it will be very hard for Senate Republicans to come back to a bill that is the most unpopular proposal we have had since 2001.

CHURCH: Of course, Mr. Trump's idea that the Senate needs to change its rules is not shared by everyone, is it? Let's listen to what Republican Jeff Flake had to say on this matter.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R), ARIZONA: We've just seen the limits of what one party can do. Even if you change the rules of the Senate, which we should not do, there are limits to what one party can do.


CHURCH: Two points raised there. First, it seems like Republicans are more and more willing to disagree with the president. And secondly, could this result perhaps in Republicans turning to Democrats for help here?

[01:35:03] ZELIZER: I think both are possible. We have seen in the past week, it is a big story, more Republicans openly criticizing the president, whether it is through voting against the health care bill, passing the Russian sanction legislation, talking about the idea of removing Jeff Sessions as attorney general, all of this. We have heard vocal Republican criticism from the president. And it is possible. There are Democrats on the Hill who are saying, look, your plan failed, work with us on something that fixes the Obamacare program, so the Republican party doesn't own the problems of that program themselves. And it is not inconceivable that that becomes a path forward. It is still unlikely. Partisanship runs deep in Washington. But that is now on the table.

CHURCH: Interesting. Julian Zelizer, President Trump blamed the swamp for his legislative failures. And this week you wrote this, if I can quote you again, "We live in an era when everyone mocks Washington insiders but the ultimate outsider president could have benefited from some insider knowledge. Trump seems to have almost no idea how the legislative process works."

So give us some context. Historically, what do presidents need to do to pass major initiatives? And how surprised are you that this president seems to know so very little about how the system works?

ZELIZER: It's not just that he doesn't know about it. He is not even trying to learn about it. Look, presidents who are successful start to understand what are the interest that motivate members of Congress and their own party and in other parties. They have some respect for Congress if they're going to try to push legislation immediately. Give Congress some room to work out deals and to work out the problems that exist in any piece of legislation. And they usually support members of their own party as they try to do controversial things. And the president has not done any of that. And he has shown a kind of disdain for the legislative process, which does not work well in Washington. So he is paying the cost for some of that outsider politics. And Congress just showed him what the cost will be.

CHURCH: Just very quickly, how much chaos can a presidency absorb here?

ZELIZER: Well, we're now at the end of July, so we see how much it can absorb since January. I do think we're getting in a situation now where you have more foreign-policy challenges taking place, more arrests within the party of the president, and so now, in the next two or three months, we're really got to see how far the president can push this without having an open revolt from members of his own party who will turn their back on him. These next few months are critical.

CHURCH: Indeed.

Julian Zelizer, great to get your perspective and your analysis. Appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

CHURCH: President Trump's sustained Twitter attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions are not playing well in Sessions' home state of Alabama.

Martin Savidge reports voters there supported Mr. Trump but they're torn about what is happening to Sessions.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Alabama, it's not political. It's personal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm extremely disappointment with what's gone on here lately.

SAVIDGE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is from Alabama. Voters electing him four times to the U.S. Senate, the last time he was unopposed.

(on camera): He's pretty well liked here.


SAVIDGE: Loved, maybe?


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Sessions was the first Senator to endorse Candidate Trump and political insiders here say that turned millions of conservative skeptics into Trump voters.

SESSIONS: Make America great again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His endorsement of Donald Trump made he pause and take back and say, hey, do I need to give this guy another look.

SAVIDGE: Alabama voted overwhelmingly, 62.7 percent for Trump. That's the highest percentage of any southern state.


SAVIDGE: So Trump making Sessions attorney general wasn't just here as reward, but right.

RUSS JORDAN, LOCAL ATTORNEY: As attorney general of the United States, you want integrity. That's the bottom line.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very disappointed with the attorney general.

SAVIDGE: The president's sudden about-face and unprecedented public attacks on their native son has many Trump voters here shocked.

KELLY PAUL (ph), TRUMP VOTER: I don't think it's right. More like drama. He could do better. There's more things to be worried about than little things like this.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Is he turning people away from the president in any way support-wise? TERRY LATHAN, ALABAMA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: There's going to be

some people that probably will. I have no polling data that shows me that.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Some in Alabama have heard enough. Congressman Mo Brooks is running for Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat. He issued a statement saying, in part, "I support President Trump's policies, but this public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama."

But despite the anger or insult, nothing here suggests that Trump voters are abandoning the president in large numbers.

[01:40:15] LATHAN: President Trump, he is so popular in this state.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Still?

LATHAN: Still. Very still, so much so.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): At Dick Russ' barbecue in Sessions' hometown of Mobile, breakfast and politics come in generous portions. And Matt Waltman is struggling.

MATT WALTMAN, TRUMP VOTER: I'm not trying to jump off the Trump train.

SAVIDGE: He's torn between his support of the president and the attorney general home-state hero.

WALTMAN: I am extremely discouraged with it. I hope that these two -- I hope these two offices can squash this and move forward, and especially don't need it being put all over damn Twitter.

SAVIDGE: The president has put many of his Alabama supporters in a political quandary, unsure of which side to choose, hoping they won't have to.

Martin Savidge, CNN.



CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. Still to come, he is a hardworking father, pays his taxes, and has no criminal record, so why is the U.S. deporting him back to Guatemala? That is next on CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. A young man fled Guatemala for the United States more than a decade ago. Since then, he has become a husband, a father, and a U.S. taxpayer. Well, now he's worried he will be torn from his family after a surprise order to leave the country.

Our Alexander Marquardt met the family and shared their painful story.


ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joel Colindres is putting the finishing touches on a playhouse, but he does not know whether he will be around to see his kids use it. After 13 years in the USA, Colindres was told to buy a one-way ticket back to Guatemala.

JOEL COLINDRES, FACING DEPORTATION BACK TO GUATEMALA: I was about to cry. But I kept myself strong for my wife. But she had a hard time. She almost dropped herself on the ground and she started screaming and crying.

MARQUARDT: At 20 years old, he crossed from Mexico illegally, but told he could stay provisionally. His mistake, missing a critical court date.

SAMANTHA COLINDRES, WIFE OF JOEL COLINDRES: He had the dream to leave where he was because it was really dangerous over there. He wanted to come over here.

MARQUARDT: Joel fell in love with Samantha, who is American. They had Preston and Lila, living a quiet life in suburban Connecticut, until now

[01:45:07] SAMANTHA COLINDRES: We took that risk. It's kind of what you do for love. I didn't know he had a deportation order. None of us did.

MARQUARDT: For years, Colindres has worked as a carpenter, paying his taxes and never breaking the law.

COLINDRES: I'm just trying to make life better for my family. That's all I'm trying to do. Working hard every day. Working six days a week. Being here, also trying to fix up the house at the same time if very hard. But, you know, I had so many dreams. And now there's no hope.

MARQUARDT: Colindres' story is far from unique. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal has been trying to help them, and others in similar situations.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D), CONNECTICUT: It's unfair and unwise. We're losing a great talent and energy, and we're ripping apart families. We're tearing apart communities. That is a tragedy for our nation. It's traumatic for them. And we need to do something better in accordance with American values.

MARQUARDT: President Trump has long vowed to be tougher on illegal immigration.

TRUMP: We are going to get the bad ones out, the criminals and the drug dealers and gangs and gang members and cartel leaders. MARQUARDT: Arrests nationwide of undocumented immigrants have spiked,

over 20,000 in the first few weeks of the Trump presidency. Overall, up by 33 percent. Arrests of non-criminals, more than doubling.

BLUMENTHAL: There are hundreds and maybe thousands in Connecticut and many, many more around the country that find themselves in this trauma and tragedy. The fundamental unfairness of it ought to strike the hearts of Americans. The trauma and tragedy can be avoided.



MARQUARDT: For Colindres, it's these moments with his children that make his legal limbo all the more real and painful.

COLINDRES: I have no idea what -- you know, at this point, it's very, very high -- very hard to hide it, you know. Trying my best.

MARQUARDT (on camera): This is the hardest part?

COLINDRES: This is it. Yes, of course. You know, how you can leave those behind?

MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt, CNN, New Fairfield, Connecticut.



CHURCH: We'll take a break here. Still ahead, half of Southeastern Asia are getting hit by powerful tropical storms back to back. We'll have the details for you.



[01:51:22] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. More flooding is expected in eastern China from a tropical system making landfall on the heels of one that just hit.

Our Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins us now with details on it.

Karen, not sounding good at all. How bad is it?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, these were two tropical system. The first was the most powerful. The second one made landfall across the eastern coast of China as a tropical depression, so much weaker, but the ground is already saturated.

But let's back up just a little bit. This moved across southern Taiwan with stunning rainfall totals. Lots of moisture being drawn up from the south, not very well organized at all. But these are some of the cities that had some rainfall reports. One of them just under 1100 millimeters of rainfall. You can see a little bit of the damage, but we've seen numerous pictures of trees down, cars, buildings that were toppled. There was massive flooding. This man tried to navigate the street with a tree down on the side of the road. Another person trying to navigate flooded waters from the heavy downpours.

Let's take you back. That was the first tropical system. It made it up to typhoon intensity. Moved across north central sections of Taiwan. Over a hundred people were injured. They do not have any fatalities reported as of yet. And it landed right around Fishu (ph). Now we have Titang (ph). It's moved across southern Taiwan to the Taiwan Strait and is within maybe 100 kilometers or so from Frizo (ph). But thing is going to ring out across this region. It's going to ring out very rapidly. But as I mentioned, because this area has been so saturated, they had schools closed in Taiwan. They haven't seen anything like this in 50 years, when they had two back-to-back systems. And on the heels of this, there were flights that were canceled as well. So phenomenal that we would see such powerful system affect two different area two days apart.

Back to you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Thanks so much, Karen. Appreciate you keeping a close eye on that.

Before he became the U.S. president, Donald Trump offered business advice in his book, "The Art of the Deal." Well, now his art of the New York Skyline is up for auction.

Jeanne Moos has that.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We see him sign executive orders. We see him sign autographs that look like seismographs. But have we ever seen President Trump draw?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is in fantastic condition.

MOOS: Up for auction online, the New York City skyline, drawn by Donald Trump for a charity event back in 2005. Of course, that is Trump Towers center stage.

(on camera): I think "The Washington Post" said the Trump Tower is really 64th in height in New York. And it kind of looks like it is right up there among the tallest in this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He's shoulder to shoulder with the big boys in the skyscrapers in this drawling.

MOOS (voice-over): And with what did the artist draw?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is sort of like a golden magic marker.

MOOS: The drawing is up for bid at Nate D. Sanders Auctions, along with items ranging from JFK's driver's license application to a ticket for Bill Clinton's Senate impeachment trial. But Trump's drawing is getting five times as many views as anything else. Even this autographed photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue with a minimum reserve bid of $100,000.

It is not the only Trump drawing up for bid. Another auctioneer, Golden Auctions, is offering another Trump skyline, created for a different charity event.

The Twitter account, Trump draws, has been mocking the president, showing him holding up childish drawings with childish misspellings.

And online posters are taking shots at the president's skyline.

"I think this needs to go back on the refrigerator that it once graced."

But the auction manager disagrees.

[01:55:37] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not bad.

MOOS: Calls the lines assured, bold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not a lot of hesitation in the skyline.

MOOS: Some don't hesitate to find hidden meaning.

"Looks like a bunch of middle finger salutes."

"Somebody should trim his fingernails."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: And just in case you're wondering, President Trump's drawing of the New York City skyline ended up being sold last week for more than $29,000.

And that wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

More news with Natalie Allen and George Howell, coming up next. Stick around.


[02:00:03] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In the face of more violence on the streets, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims victory in the controversial vote to elect a constituent assembly.