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Russia Orders U.S. to Cut Diplomatic Staff; New Challenge for the General as Chief of Staff; Preparations Against North Korea; Maduro Rules Again; Australian Authorities Foiled Alleged Airplane Terror Plot. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 31, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Russia retaliates for new U.S. Sanctions, ordering the U.S. to cut its diplomatic staff in the country by hundreds of people.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, putting a House in order. Retired Marine Corps general, John Kelly, is about to begin his new role as White House chief of staff. We look at challenges that he faces ahead.

ALLEN: Also this hour, violence in Venezuela as President Maduro's government holds a controversial vote some say can bring peace to the country or divide it even more.

HOWELL: Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for joining us. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Our top story, Vladimir Putin confirmed Sunday he has given up on improving relations with the U.S. for the time being.

HOWELL: The Russian leader orders the U.S. to slash its diplomatic staff in Russia by more than half. Seventy hundred fifty five people to leave their posts by September 1st. He said, pending U.S. sanctions forced him to retaliate.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We waited a long time for things to perhaps change for the better. We had such hope that the situation would change. But judging by the situation, that will not be soon.


HOWELL: The U.S. announced the order as regrettable and uncalled for. Let's go live to Moscow. Clare Sebastian following the story for us this hour. Clare, to have the staffs slashed by more than half, what does that do to the U.S. mission in Russia? CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George,

that's an extremely serious move however you look at it. It's not exactly clear at the moment who this will apply to, whether the 755 people are going to be diplomats, technical staff, a combination of the two. And whether or not it will include Russian local staff because we know that the diplomatic mission near the diplomatic employs Russians also in various capacities.

We do know it will affect not only the embassy in Moscow but three other consulates around Russia. And as you say, it doesn't look like it will be cut by more than half. The foreign ministry went into initially announced, they said the final number could no more than 455. And of course the president has now said that the number that will be cut is 755.

So it is an extremely serious measure. And the problem that you have of course is that there are two completely opposing views of this. The State Department officials has told CNN that it's uncalled for and they are assessing how they might respond to this.

Russia says, Russian President Putin says that it was provoked by an act by the U.S. that he calls unprovoked this passing of the sanctions bill through Congress. So, you know, I think it's fair to say that as the U.S. diplomatic mission here in Russia is facing deep cuts. It's coming at a time when diplomacy is getting increasingly difficult, George.

HOWELL: Difficult for many diplomats there who have expressed incidents that they say have happened to them just trying to do their job there.

With regards to this approval though of new U.S. sanctions against Russia, the E.U. is also saying that it could be effected by way of its energy security. Effectively siding with Russia on this matter, Clare.

SEBASTIAN: I think on the face of it, George, the E.U. would probably dispute at siding with Russia. But you're absolutely right, they are extremely worried about this. They say that it will not only effect their energy security in the region but they're also concerned that the U.S. is acting unilaterally after three years of U.S. and E.U. coordinating very closely on how to sanction Russia particularly over its actions in Ukraine.

The German foreign minister said they do not accept this kind of action. And essentially accused the U.S. using sanctions to promote its domestic energy sector. A tone that's also been struck here in Moscow. But it is clear that it is likely to affect the E.U. energy sector.

One French energy company R.G. told us Friday that they will pull out of a gas pipeline construction that they are involved in financing with Russia's gas from, it's called the Nord Stream 2 set to stop pumping at the end of 2019. They will pull out if this sanctions bill is signed. They will pull out the money they've already invested, they simply won't invest any more. So certainly this is only the E.U. is extremely concern about the

President of the E.U., Jean-Claude Juncker said that they will prepare to react within days should this bill get signed.

HOWELL: Siding as you rightly point out but certainly urging the United States to reconsider this move of sanctions. Clare Sebastian, live for us in Moscow. Thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: Now the story we're following closely. Japan and U.S. want further action against North Korea after its latest missile test. The White House says Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump agree North Korea post a grave and growing direct threat. And they are calling for more economic and diplomatic pressure.

[03:05:05] HOWELL: The Vice President of the United States Mike Pence also addressed the North Korean situation on Sunday. Here is what he had to say.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are continued provocations by the rogue regime and North Korea are unacceptable. And the United States of America will is going to continue to martial the support of nations across the region and across the world to further isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically. But the era of strategic patience is over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It China not doing enough?

PENCE: We believe China should do more.


HOWELL: The United States is trying to stay ahead of North Korea's test. U.S. tested the THAAD missile defense system Sunday intercepting a missile over the Pacific. But THAAD is not capable of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles like the one that Pyongyang fired last week.

ALLEN: For more on the threat, our Will Ripley joins us from Beijing. He has also reported from North Korea several times.

Interesting, Will, with what vice president said, continued provocations are unacceptable. That's something we hear time and time again when North Korea continues to do what it does and keeps getting better at it.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And the Vice President of the U.S., Mike Pence, also said, Natalie, that North Korea must walk way completely from its missile program and its nuclear program. I can tell you from conversations that I've had repeatedly with officials inside North Korea, including as recently as last month, for them that is absolutely not an option.

And if you think about it, if you step back, why would they give up these weapons considering that they made so much progress despite the U.S. and its allies best efforts to slow them or stop them. Sanctions round after round haven't stopped them. China has upheld, they say, their commitments under the U.N. Security Council. They've stopped buying coal from North Korea cutting off a major source of cash for the regime.

And yet, trade between China and Russia and North Korea continue. The North Korean economy grew by 4 percent last year. So why would they give up their bargaining chip? Why would they give up the leverage that they have especially when they are so close, experts say, to having an ICBM that could carry a nuclear tipped warhead to most, if not all, of the mainland U.S.

Right now they can strike Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, and by early 2018, analyst say they should also be able to hit New York and Washington theoretically in the event of a conflict.

ALLEN: And still there is just talk and talk and talk. And the problem, too, is we saw the president, President Trump, Will, this weekend kind of sent out a text blaming China for all of this. And at the same time, relations between Russia and the U.S., as we just saw from Clare Sebastian, aren't very good either. So you don't exactly have the world rallying around this problem at a time when it needs to be.

RIPLEY: And the U.S. and its allies, South Korea and Japan, really have limited options in terms of what they can do regarding North Korea. None of those three countries have a trade relationship with North Korea. China and Russia do. But they continue to trade with a country that they consider an ally.

While here in Beijing over the weekend they did condemn the North Korean ICBM launch. They also place a lot of the blame for the escalating tensions on the United States and South Korea and Japan for these shows of force. These military exercises that they say only provoked Pyongyang and its leader Kim Jong-un and encourage North Korea to continue developing these weapons.

So when you had the U.S. launch missiles into the ocean and then bombers on the Korean Peninsula, from the Chinese perspective that's what's causing this arms race not their trade relationship with North Korea.

ALLEN: Well, hopefully the countries can go beyond the blame game and start talking real, real possibilities of stopping, somehow, North Korea. All right. Will Ripley, as always, thank you.

HOWELL: Certainly some big issues on the president's plate and in Washington, a new chief of staff is set to begin work at the White House this week.

The retired Marine Corps General, John Kelly, he will try to lead a bitterly divided White House team. Political observers say that Kelly's ability to control the chaotic infighting in the White House, that will depend upon how much authority he is given. But the chain of command remains unclear. ALLEN: Kelly takes over for Reince Priebus. Priebus resigned last

week one day the new communications director Anthony Scaramucci went on a profanity-filled tirade and accused Priebus of doing all the leaking.

HOWELL: All right. Let's get some context here with Jacob Parakilas live from London, he is the deputy head of the U.S. and America's program at Chatham House. Good to have you with us.

Jacob, so let's start again with the president's new chief of staff, General John Kelly. His role to reign in who has access to the President of the United States. Given what we have seen from the Trump administration from the past six plus months, what impact could this happen for the Trump White House?

[03:09:59] JACOB PARAKILAS, ASSISTANT PROJECT DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, I think it is two-fold. On one hand, you have Kelly who has a huge amount of experience managing very large very complicated bureaucratic structures, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Southern Command to name a couple.

So I think he brings a level of organizational expertise to the role of chief of staff that Priebus didn't have. On the other hand, Kelly doesn't have the kind of connections on Capitol Hill. He doesn't have the in with the republican leadership that Priebus did.

So, on the -- you know, on the one hand you have Kelly sort of bringing this, sort of sense of discipline. On the other hand, he may make it more difficult for Trump to coordinate legislative agenda.

And of course, as you say, there is a question of whether he is going to be able to impose some order on what's been an extraordinary fractious White House. You know, having command of a military organization where people are required to follow order, it's a very different from commanding a civilian structure where people have been unwilling to do so.

HOWELL: That is interesting. Priebus has always been seen as the person who would to connect this president to mainstream Washington. So that he could have those connections as you point out.

Let's talk about one of his connections to his voter base. His Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he's described, Mr. Sessions, as beleaguered and there is some concern among many in Washington that the president might try to reassign Attorney General Jeff Sessions. What would be the plus minus be for a move like that from President Trump?

PARAKILAS: I think if Trump moves to get rid of Sessions, then you will see an enormous backlash from republicans in the Senate. And you will see a separate backlash from democrats in the Senate and elsewhere but for different reasons.

Republicans in the Senate have a great deal of respect for Sessions. They're friends with him. He is a colleague of long standing and I think they review that as a sort of assault on them collectively. Democrats have made numerous complaints about Sessions. They don't

like the way that he is managing the drug war. They don't like his approach to voting rights, and so on and so forth. But they view him as a sort of someone who has done the necessary thing and recused himself in the investigation between of Russian links with the Trump campaign from the 2016 election.

And the concern there would be that if Trump gets rid of Sessions he might bring in somebody who is more willing to bring that investigation to a premature end.

HOWELL: So, for voters to, the media, world leaders and legislators, everyone getting used to new commander-in-chief who uses Twitter a lot, the president took to Twitter to lambast GOP legislators over the healthcare vote.

Here is a look at what he said. I'll read this to you. He says, "Don't give up republican senators. The world is watching. Repeal and replace go and go to 51 nuke option. Get cross state lines and more."

Jacob, OK, so on the face of it, the tweet, just a bit confusing when it comes to the process.

PARAKILAS: I'm sorry, I didn't catch the end of that.

HOWELL: The tweet itself as I read it just a bit confusing as it goes to process. But the other question that I raise here is, will this work to pressure his fellow GOP colleagues?

PARAKILAS: I think the very simple answer it that is, no, it won't. One problem that he was facing was that the votes on healthcare didn't pass by -- it wasn't an issue of not having of 60 votes, it was not having 51 votes. So it didn't, that wouldn't matter whether the Senate was operating on a 51-vote rule or 60-vote rule.

Mitch McConnell has been very, very reluctant to get rid of the rule for filibuster for the legislation because he thinks that when the democrats have a majority again in the future they would use that to pass legislation and republicans won't have any say.

So it's kind of a strategic decision on McConnell's part to keep a legislative filibuster in place.

In terms of the process, I mean, the things that Trump would like to see in that healthcare bill I think don't necessary address the fundamental problem with the, and fundamental reason why those bills failed which is that they resulted in millions more people becoming uninsured.

And would have result in millions more people becoming uninsured and that was judged by republican senators including Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins to be an unacceptable price for the repeal of Obamacare.

HOWELL: Jacob Parakilas, we always appreciate your insight here on the show. Thanks for being with us. ALLEN: A manhunt is underway this hour in the U.S. State of Alabama.

Four inmates are still on the loose after making their escape from the Walker County Jail in Jasper.

HOWELL: Now we have been following this story for several hours now. Originally 12 individuals broke out but most were quickly rounded up by authorities. A $500 reward was offered for information leading to their arrest. Two of the inmates were in jail for attempted murder.

ALLEN: A possible turning point for Venezuela. A controversial vote that sparks more violent protest. And the opposition says the country's democracy is in even greater danger.

[03:15:04] We'll get into that story as we push on here in CNN NEWSROOM.


HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM.

In Venezuela, and as expected the, the president of the nation, Nicolas Maduro is claiming victory in a vote that could give him sweeping new powers. Supporters of the president are expected to control a new constituent assembly and that could rewrite the Constitution.


NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (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 frm its conscience.


ALLEN: Well, there were violent protest across the country during the votes since most of the people did not want this to go through. Those demonstrations despite a ban that Maduro put in place. At least 10 people died in clashes Sunday including two teenagers. The opposition says the new assembly could weaken the country's democracy even more.


HENRIQUE CAPRILES, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): We do not recognize this fraudulent process. For us it is known. It doesn't exist. And we are going to continue fighting until the government reestablishes constitutional order and democracy for Venezuelans to be able to exercise our right and let us be clear to the government.


[03:20:11] HOWELL: The opposition is called for massive protests to start in just a few hours' time.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has more from Caracas. And we do warn you, some of the video you'll see in the story it is disturbing.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After months of demonstration and strikes in Venezuela, yet another day of violence as a blast rocks a motorcycle convoy of police officers. One officer set ablaze by the explosion police officers scrambling to his aid and to put out the fire. Whose responsible remains 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 hoped would never come. They are not backing down.


SANTIAGO: This is the obstacle that the opposition has set for the National Guard should they come this way. Old washing machines. Rocks. Tin signs. And even if you look closely on the ground they have what they call 'miguelitos,' these were create to pierce through the tire of any motorcycle that comes their way.

The opposition is hoping it will help them fight against Venezuela's National Guard.

The government deployed hundreds of thousands of troops Sunday troops after banning protest 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 polls, voters and many government supporters waited in line to elect Maduro's new assembly. This voter says 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.


ALLEN: Let's talk more about it now. Diego Moya-Ocampos is a Latin American analyst for IHS market. He joins us now from London. Thank you so much for joining us, Diego. Watching that story there to see the defiance of the people on the street, it doesn't seem like anything that Nicolas Maduro does, certainly just taking more, stripping the opposition of more of their duties is bringing this country closer. But it's having the opposite effect.

DIEGO MOYA-OCAMPOS, POLITICAL ANALYST, IHS: Absolutely. And we expect protest, anti-government protest to continue escalating. However, the stronger the protest the stronger the government, the military, the police repression. Yesterday we saw more police and military guards repressing the population that people voting for these national constituent assembly to rewrite the Constitution.

And so far it seems that the high military command continues siding strongly with the president so what we can expect in the next days is more oppression that they are told to continue increasing and no solution in sight to the humanitarian political economic crisis which Venezuela is going through.

ALLEN: Why is the military continuing to stand by him?

MOYA-OCAMPOS: Well, it's a complex patronage system, the one which is in place in Venezuela. And the high military command basically runs the economy. They are in charge or they benefit from these complex patronage system. They control food and basic goods imports where basically they benefit directly from these humanitarian crisis. They control all services. They control illegal money link, some of them are highly involved in drug trafficking activities.

So the high military command does not have any economic incentive for Maduro's government to fall down. Actually, the weaker Maduro government becomes, the more influential they become the scenes.

So what we're seeing now in Venezuela is confrontation between struggled civilian population demanding elections for a change and the military are quick to proceed which is basically confronting an unarmed civilian population in the streets, as if it were an enemy combatant. More than 110 people killed and so far no signs of any change in sight.

ALLEN: What about change coming from countries. Oil is so important. Exporting their oil is so important to this country. United States talking about not buying oil. What if other countries joined in that? Could that have an impact on Maduro?

MOYA-OCAMPOS: Absolutely. So far we've seen individual sanctions from the U.S. targeting top military commanders and top government officials involved in acts of corruption and human rights violation.

[03:25:06] This seems to be the only thing that the military and top officials do fear. And certainly there is a debate over whether economic sanctions should be applied to this regime. Oil, the oil sector is essential, it's a lifeline to this corrupt regime. The oil sector provides 25 percent of GDP in Venezuela. Fifty percent of fiscal revenues and 56 -- sorry, 96 percent of revenue for foreign exchange.

So absolutely the oil sector is crucial. And sanctions on the oil sector could indeed create the conditions for the military and the government to sort of assume a different stance towards the population which are demanding early elections.

ALLEN: We will wait and see.


MOYA-OCAMPOS: And of course...

ALLEN: Go ahead.

MOYA-OCAMPOS: ... whether the government will withdraw these national constituent assemble to rewrite the Constitution.

ALLEN: Yes, exactly. So they can get back in the game of governance for sure. It couldn't happen it a nicer country. The people of Venezuela deserve so much better. We thank you for your comments, Diego Moya-Ocampos. Thank you.

HOWELL: In the United States, senators may be eager to move on after failing to repeal Obamacare. But President Donald Trump says not so fast. We'll have more on that story ahead.

We're coming to you live from Atlanta, Georgia from both our networks on the United States and around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


[03:30:02] ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us.

We are following the headlines for you this hour. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Sunday said that 755 personnel at U.S. missions in Russia must stop their work come September 1st. This order slashes the U.S. diplomatic staff by more than half. It comes in retaliation over pending new U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. State Department denounced the order as quote, "regrettable and uncalled for."

ALLEN: The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. says the time for talk is over when it comes to North Korea. In a statement, Nikki Haley said "There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence." Haley also says "China must decide whether it will challenge North Korea over its missile program."

HOWELL: Crews are trying to restore power to two islands on the other banks chain of banks off North Carolina's coasts. Thousands of visitors people there they were ordered to evacuate after a transmission cable was accidentally cut during a construction work on a bridge. Official say it could take up two weeks to fully repair the damage there.

ALLEN: Well, President Trump still want senators to repeal and replace Obamacare after failing to do so last week.

HOWELL: CNN's Athena Jones has more now on what he is trying to do to motivate them.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president is keeping the pressure on Senate republicans to continue working on efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. He tweeted about this numerous times over the weekend. Some of the tweets that got the most attention came on Saturday.

The president issuing what many viewed as a pair of threats. Writing, "If a new healthcare bill is not approve quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for member of Congress will end very soon." Now the president is referring to two things here. One is this idea of

ending the employer contributions for health insurance for members of Congress. That's the contribution that lawmakers get from the federal government.

The other point he makes has to do with the cost sharing subsidies that help deductibles and co-pays for some 7 million lower income people across the country. That is a threat that has drawn fire from both sides of the aisle.

Maine GOP Senator Susan Collins took issue with the word bailout and argue that getting rid of the subsidies which insurance countries rely on would hurt the most vulnerable people and communities across the country.

Now uncertainty about the status of those cost-sharing subsidies is one of the main reasons insurers companies have been reconsidering their participation in the healthcare exchanges next year. And insurers also warn that premiums could rise for people buying coverage both on the exchange and off the exchange if these subsidies are ended.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Sunday that the president will be making a decision about whether cost-sharing subsidies which right now are being paid out on a month to month basis. Decision on that would be made at some point this week according Kellyanne Conway.

Now the other tweet that got a lot of attention over the weekend was this one where the president calls on GOP senators to vote again on repealing and replacing Obamacare before they move on to any other bill.

The problem is at least right now, it's pretty clear there is no GOP repeal and replace plan that could get the 50 republican votes necessarily. Vice President Mike Pence of course, serving as the tie breaking 51st vote if they can get to 50.

It's also clear that the Senate is ready to move on. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell used those exact words on the Senate floor last week saying it's time to move on. We know the Senate has a slew of other priorities to get to from raising the debt ceiling and funding the government to approving the defense spending bill, and approvaling some of the president's nominations.

So it's anyone's guess at this point if the pressure the president is trying to put on his fellow republicans on Capitol Hill to get something done, to get a repeal through of Obamacare, it's not clear if it's going to prompt any real action on healthcare on the Senate floor any time soon.

Back to you.

HOWELL: Athena Jones, thank you so much.

Now a new White House chief of staff is set to start work in the coming hours after a shakeup last week. The retired Marine Corps General John Kelly comes on board as Mr. Trump's agenda is stalled and infighting among senior staffers has been on the rise and publicly bitter.

ALLEN: Reince priebus resigned the chief of staff position last week one day after new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci in a profanity lace tirade accused him of leaking information.

HOWELL: Earlier, my colleague Rosemary Church spoke CNN political analyst and historian Julian Zelinzer -- Zelizer, I should say, about a chief of staff shakeup at the White House. Take a listen.


[03:34:57] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: You wrote an opinion piece for And 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." So Julian Zelizer, why do you think it won't work?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm very skeptical this will change the White House. Most importantly, the president himself is the source of a lot of the 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, Steven Bannon and I think it's going to be hard for Kelly to centralize control. So, I'm suspecting that within a few months Kelly will be in the same situation as the former chief of staff had 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'm quoting here of course. "Don't give up republican senators. The world is watching. Repeal and replace. And go to 51 votes. Nuke option. Get cross 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: Well, 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 him.

And even in that tweet he gets it a bit wrong. The process to which healthcare was considered was with only a majority of 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've had since 2001.

CHURCH: And of course Mr. Trump's ideas that the Senate needs to change its rules isn't 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: All right. So, two points raised there. First, it seems like republicans more and more are willing to disagree with the president and secondly could this result perhaps in republicans turning to democrats for help here?

ZELIZER: I think both are possible. We have seen in the past week it's a big story. More republicans openly criticizing the president. Whether it's through voting the healthcare bill, passing the Russian sanctions 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 were saying, look, your plan failed, work with us on something that fixes the Obamacare program so that the Republican Party doesn't own the problems of that program themselves. And it's 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: Yes, interesting. And 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 benefitted from some insider knowledge. Trump seemed to have almost no idea how the legislative process worked."

So, give us some context here. Historically what do president need to do to pass major initiatives. And how surprise 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 in their own party and in other parties.

They have some respect for Congress if they are going to try to push legislation, meaning they give Congress some room to work out deals and 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 hasn't done any of that and he has shown a kind of disdain for the legislative process which doesn't work well in Washington. And so he is paying the cost of some of that outsider politics. And congress just showed him what the cost will be.

[03:40:06] CHURCH: Just very quickly, how much chaos can a presidency absorb here? ZELIZER: Well, we're now at the end of July, so we've seen 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. You have more unrest from within the party of the president.

And so, now in the next two or three months we're really going to see how far the president can push this without having an open revolving door from members of his own party who just will turn their back on him. These next few months are critical.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. Julian Zelizer, great to get your perspective and of course your analysis. I appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.


ALLEN: Well, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no stranger to criticism nor is he shy about going after his detractors.

HOWELL: That includes hecklers at a baseball game. During Sunday's game in Milwaukee between the Brewers and Chicago Cubs the governor got testy with one man calling him a big shot. Now Christie then departed. The Cubs fan later told affiliate WISN what he said to provoke the governor. Let's listen.


BRAD JOSEPH, CONFRONTED GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: When an issue was going up the stairs I yelled his name. He was already quite a bit past me and probably I was 30 feet away. I yelled his name and I told him that he sucked. But I called him a hypocrite because I thought, you know, it needed to be said. And he then turned around and walked all the way back towards me and got up in my face for what seemed like a long time. It was probably only about 30 seconds or a minute but was yelling at me.

First told me, hey, why don't you have another beer? Which I thought was kind of fun and playful. A descent come back. Although we hadn't really been drinking at all. But, so, first he said have another beer. And I thought that was kind of funny and maybe he was, you know, taking in stride. And then he started calling me a tough guy.


HOWELL: All right. There, Governor Chris Christie. Christie is one of the least popular governors in New Jersey history. And often gets heckled when he is out in public.

ALLEN: He's probably got his comeback game there.

HOWELL: Guess he's been working on it.

ALLEN: He's been working on it. Well, beefed up security and travel delay at Sydney airport in Australia after a plot to bring down a plane is foiled. Ahead here, we'll go live to talk about what are officials saying about the investigation?


ALLEN: Welcome back. Four men are in police custody after Australian authorities foiled an alleged airplane terror plot in Sydney. Police say they rounded up the suspect in the city suburbs over the weekend.

HOWELL: The Prime Minister of the nation Malcolm Turnbull says extra security measures are now in place at Sydney airport. He called the allege terror plot an elaborate conspiracy that involved bringing down an airplane but authorities aren't sharing any more information than that at this point.


ANDREW COLVIN, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE COMMISSIONER: The plot that we are investigating, we believe was an attempt to put a device on an aircraft. But beyond that the speculation is just that speculation. Until we finish our investigation, until we know no which of our many working theories we have and so we can put that information for the courts, it's not helpful to keep circulating.


ALLEN: CNN's Sherisse Pham joins us lives from Surry Hills that's one of the suburbs of Sydney where one of the suspects was rounded up. What are people there saying about this situation?

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, people in this neighborhood were saying look, we didn't know the family very well. That they were friendly and they were, you know, friendly enough to say hi and hello. Not much more is known beyond that.

Now right behind me is one of the houses where one of the raids were carried out over the weekend. As you say one of the men that was arrested, those four men have been arrested and no charges have been brought up against them under counterterrorism laws here in Australia. They can be held for up to a week before charges are brought.

And look, because this was a plot, a sophisticated plot, to bring down a passenger plane, and kill innocent civilians, security at the airport has been beefed up. We were at the Sydney airport earlier this morning where there were long delays and huge lines and look, passengers are weary but they are not letting this interrupt their travel plans. Have a look into what some of them told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm feeling reasonably confident. You know, I mean, it seems that the authorities have done a very, very good job in this situation. It is quite alarming and is concerning and it is something we're going to have to live with. It is very troubling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all because it is safe for everybody. So, I mean, they should do this and I think this is the best way to protect everybody. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm confident that whatever they were looking for,

whatever they found, was all that we need to worry about.


PHAM: Now that last passenger said whatever they were looking for, whatever they found, that's what we have to worry about. That is really an interesting thing that he told us because they did find something during those raids over the weekend. They found a suspicious device.

Officials are not going into further detail as to what that device is but it is something that was part of this elaborate conspiracy. And that language is also very interesting because it's the first time that officials are using sort of heightened language to describe a terrorism plot here in Australia. And this investigation is ongoing. Natalie?

ALLEN: Yes. And maybe we'll find out if they were, these four are working alone or part of the other network who that remains to be seen as well. Sherisse Pham there for us there in Sydney. Thank you.

HOWELL: All right. Still ahead in parts of the eastern United States, streets are littered with mud and debris after significant flooding. Details on the state of emergency in West Virginia. Stay with us.


ALLEN: A dramatic rescue you're watching here. Caught on video on Cologne, Germany. More than 100 passengers were stranded when their cable car, which runs over the river Rhine derailed Sunday.

HOWELL: Wow. Look at that. Thirty two cars were in the operation at the time of that accident. Emergency officials used crane answers ropes to rescue everyone trapped, including some children. It's not known yet what caused that car to derail.

ALLEN: Yikes, I wouldn't want to be the last one on the cable car. All right. People in part of the U.S. State of West Virginia are cleaning up after heavy rains caused significant flood damage.

HOWELL: The state's governor toured the area just a day after declaring a state of emergency there. The National Guard has also stepped in to help with the recovery effort.

Now the threat of flooding is shifting to the south as forecasters eye a potential tropical storm activity near Florida.

ALLEN: Karen Maginnis is here with that for us. Karen, hello.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, and Natalie and George, the area of low presssure not tropical yet but they're looking at it and the references that maybe two to five days from now we could see this area of low pressure that has now developed into the eastern Gulf of Mexico could become tropical. And if it does, if it's named storm, will be Emily, the fifth named storm of the season. Already we're picking up significant rainfall from around Tampa Bay

area down towards Naples, Florida. But here is the area about 40 percent chance, a medium chance, as we go into the next 48 hours and indeed the next five days.

The latest radar imagery shows some of the heavier bands already moving onshore. We don't have flash flood watches or warnings out for this area. But I dare say that we probably will fairly shortly should this moisture continue.

In the meantime, high pressure builds across the eastern third of the United States. But we're still shifting a lot of that moisture down across the Florida Peninsula. Even into the Panhandle, you could see significant rainy weather there.

[03:54:59] Monsoon moisture in the southwest, high pressure builds across the west. And we have seen so many fires, now it is fire season from Montana to Arizona to California into the Pacific Northwest, something we haven't talked a lot about is in British Columbia. They have seen nearly a million acres burn so far this fire season.

So this heat that's going to be building up even into southern British Columbia is going to be devastating for people who are battling the blazes, whose homes or farm lands have been affected by this as well. It has been devastating.

Portland, Oregon. Look at this. Wednesday and Thursday, triple digits that could soar to 107 degrees. We look across Las Vegas. The temperatures triple to just there. But nothing like Portland, Oregon where you wouldn't typically expect these types of high temperatures for this time of year.

So the fire season is on, Natalie and George, and they're not getting much help. The firefighters that are battling these blazes have really been suffering.

Back to you guys.

HOWELL: Really hot there in the west part of the country. I've got some friends in Seattle who are really worried about these 95, possibly 100 degree temperatures. They don't have air conditioning in a lot of the homes in that part of the country.

ALLEN: I feel for them.

HOWELL: Yes. Thank you. Thanks for being with us from CNN NEWSROOM. Early Start is next for viewers here in the United States.

ALLEN: For everyone else, stay with us for more news with Isa Soares in London. We're done. See you later.

HOWELL: Take care.