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Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Taken from Homes; North Korean Sub Activity; U.S. Moves out of Russia; Kelly Considered Quitting over Comey Firing, Los Angeles to Host Olympic Games. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 1, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:51] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a startling scene in Venezuela where two opposition leaders, men who have criticized the country's government, were taken from their homes in the middle of the night.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Their families posted these videos showing those opposition leaders being led away. They posted them on social media. And the action follows the weekend election that critics are calling a sham. Of course, it sparked all of those protests in Caracas. And in response, the United States has slapped sanctions on the man who overwhelmingly benefited from that election, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us from Caracas.

What do we know? Any update on where these two leaders have been taken?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Poppy and John, the government has actually just said that they were taken into custody because they violated their conditions for a house arrest. Apparently there was some sort of condition that restricted and limited what kind of political message they could put out there.

So we know now why the government is claiming -- and when you talk to the family of Antonio Ledezma, a former mayor of Caracas, who was taken from his home overnight, they tell you that they believe he is in prison.

Now, a very dramatic video from the middle of the night when Ledezma was essentially taken out of his home by a group of officials. You can see him resisting. And you actually hear a man yelling (INAUDIBLE), yelling for help, as neighbors congregate around him to see what's going on. And they start yelling "dictatorship," and start yelling, they're taking Ledezma, trying to fight those officials taking him.

And he's not alone. Leopoldo Lopez also taken in the middle of the night. You can see surveillance video marked around 12:27 exactly, actually. And he is taken into custody as well. Again, the government just now saying that that is because they violated the conditions of their house arrest. When you talked -- or when the families expressed themselves on social

media, they're saying, look, this is the President Maduro. He is responsible. And we are on the way to dictatorship. Something that the United States has backed. Just yesterday we heard from President Trump in the White house placing sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro himself, saying that if he does not change some things, you know, or, excuse me, they are moving forward with those sanctions that could really impact the way he does international banking, freezes his assets. And he is one of several on that list of sanctions.

[09:35:18] And yesterday, when I spoke to Trump administration officials, they also told me they're considering placing some sanctions on oil, which could really have an effect on this economy that is already collapsing, already dealing with food and medical shortages.

Poppy. John.

BERMAN: Yes, deeply concerning what is happening right there. Two opposition leaders now in custody. Leyla Santiago, thank you very, very much.

All right, highly unusual and unprecedented. That's how the U.S. military is describing newly detected submarine activity in North Korea. Activity that comes just a few days after the country's second intercontinental ballistic missile test in just one month.

HARLOW: Let's go to Seoul, South Korea, where we find our Alexandra Field.

And, Alexandra, the United States -- the military's also saying there are some proof that North Korea has conducted what they're call an ejection test. What is that and why is it significant?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me walk you through it, Poppy.

Look, North Korea obviously proved that they were going to be relentless in their pursuit of an ICBM that led to two tests in the space of a month and that speaks to their capability to attack by land. What we're also looking at now is North Korea's focus on the capability to attack by sea.

The ejection test, as you point out, is actually a test that happens on land but it's the test of a part of a system that's used in a missile launch from sea, from a submarine. Now, North Korea has test launched missiles from submarines before, but the U.S. intelligence analysis is that the programs remains in its early stages.

They say that North Korea's fleet of submarines, which numbers about 70, consist mostly of pretty old vessels. They say that a lot of those vessels wouldn't be capable of firing off a missile. But development of that program, the ability to fire missiles reliably from submarines would give North Korea the added advantage of more mobility and a greater element of unpredictability.

So we are seeing signs they're working toward that. This was the fourth ejection test that has happened since just the start of year.

Of course, don't forget what's been happening on land. You've seen 12 different ballistic missile launches from North Korea. Those two ICBM launches. They have rattled much of the world. You've got a lot of powers involved now trying to figure out how to deal with the situation. Washington saying that this falls on Beijing. Beijing pushing back saying that it involves a lot of people and that there are a lot of countries that need to be involved in the response.

Where does this leave us now? Well, it was just yesterday that President Donald Trump said from the White House that the U.S. will handle it. No clarity at this point on how exactly.

Poppy. John.

HARLOW: Alexandra Field in Seoul. Thank you very much.

We also now know when President Trump will sign that Russia sanctions bill that overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, sort of. Vice President Pence, who is currently visiting several Baltic States on a visit clearly designed to reassure some nervous NATO allies on Russia, well, he announced the president will sign that legislation, quote, "very soon."

BERMAN: Well, that could mean anything in this administration. That news as we're getting new images of one of the U.S. properties in Moscow that was seized by Russia in retaliation for those sanctions.

Let's get the very latest from CNN's Claire Sebastian in Moscow.


CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we're getting the first images now that do really showing the U.S. drawing down, reducing its diplomatic presence in Russia. As you say, the retaliation taking effect even before President Trump has signed that bill.

This is a (INAUDIBLE) or country house to the northwest of Moscow. One of two properties that were seized under these retaliatory measures by Russia. We've seen trucks with diplomatic plates leaving this morning. A clear sign that the U.S. is complying with this order.

Now, as for the other elements of this retaliation, the cuts to the U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia by more than -- by around 60 percent, that takes effect September 1st. We don't know exactly yet who will that affect. The U.S. gets to decide. But the impression that we're getting is that they haven't done so yet. So we don't know what kind of material impact that will have on the diplomatic mission here in Russia.

Now, the president hasn't made any comment about this, President Trump, in the four days since we've known that these measures were happening, but his vice president, Mike Pence, has had plenty to say about this and he's saying it right on Russia's doorstep. He's just wrapped up a trip to Georgia, a tiny former Soviet state on Russia's southern border. He was speaking there. He said that the U.S. will not be deterred by these military -- these diplomatic actions by -- from Russia. He said that they reaffirm their commitment to NATO. It condemns what he called Russia's destabilizing actions in Ukraine and its support for rogue nations, like Iran and Syria. And he supported Georgia's eventual accession (ph) to NATO, something Russia strongly opposes.

So we have actions and words from both sides today, John and Poppy. And clearly the tensions are rising, even as we wait for President Trump to sign that sanctions bill.

[09:40:06] BERMAN: All right, Claire Sebastian for us in Moscow. Thanks so much, Claire.

We have exclusive new details about an intriguing conversation. You'll never guess who called James Comey after he was fired from his FBI gig, the new White House chief of staff, who apparently suggested that maybe he would quit himself.


HARLOW: Exclusive new details this morning about White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Sources tell CNN Kelly was so upset by how President Trump handling the firing of FBI Director James Comey, he actually called Comey and told him that he was considering resigning over it.

BERMAN: All right, let's bring is CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, who broke this story.

And, Shimon, this is really interesting, this phone call after Comey was fired.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So this dates back to May 9th, when Comey, obviously, was fired. The day he was fired he was in Los Angeles speaking to FBI agents at a scheduled meeting. And it's when he first learns, you know, watching the news in this room that he's in, that he's been fired. So, you know, they kind of get their act together and then they leave.

[09:45:13] And while he's on his way back to Washington, we've been told by at least -- by two sources that he gets a phone call from John Kelly, who was the head of Homeland Security at the time, basically expressing his outrage at what Trump did and how he fired him. There was a lot of talk about how angry he was, the frustration he felt in the way the president fired Comey. And then, during the conversation, we're told, that Kelly even suggested, perhaps, quitting, resigning from the top job at the Homeland Security, and we're told Comey kind of calmed him down saying, you know, this is not necessary.

But the sense that everyone sort of -- who is familiar with this conversation got was that, you know, Kelly wanted to do this kind of in solidarity, to show his support for Comey.

HARLOW: What's interesting is the two were not particularly close. These are not like best buds from way back in the day.


HARLOW: But they had a deep, mutual respect for one another.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's exactly right. So they developed this relationship working together basically. You know, he's the FBI director, Comey, Homeland Security. They worked together on terrorism cases, cyber cases.


PROKUPECZ: So there was a mutual respect for each other. It did catch us by surprise when we learned of this because we -- no one certainly expected this. And certainly now that he's, you know, the chief of staff over at the White House, it's very interesting.

BERMAN: Well, look, because it begs the question, does the new White House chief of staff not think that the various investigations into possible collusion with Russia, does he not think they are a witch hunt like his boss, the president of the United States, does?

PROKUPECZ: Right. Right. I mean that certainly does. I mean he clearly believed what happened to Comey here and how he was fired was wrong, and he expressed it.

BERMAN: Fascinating. All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much for that report.

You know, it got lost a little bit over the last 24 hours in a lot of the things going on because there has been a lot going on.


BERMAN: Thanks, Shimon.


HARLOW: What are you doing in like 11 years? The Summer Olympics are coming back to the United States. It took a lot of wheeling and dealing, though, to get this done. We'll explain. A live report from Los Angeles is next.


[09:51:46] HARLOW: You got money in the market? If you're not short, you're going to like these numbers. Dow pretty close to 22,000. That would be a record high for the market. Just a little over 30 points shy. We'll keep an eye on the market. And the president talking a lot about the stock market as well today.

BERMAN: Flirting with 22,000.

HARLOW: Flirting.

BERMAN: Which begs the question, how does a stock market flirt?

HARLOW: Yes. Don't have an answer for you on that one, but it's a good question.

BERMAN: All right, big news this morning for the city of Los Angeles. Is it enough to keep that city happy for 11 years? Because that's when the city will host the Summer Olympics.

HARLOW: The two-part plan with the International Olympic Committee is said to be finalized next month. It calls for Paris to host 2024, L.A. to take 2028.

Our Paul Vercammen joins us from the future host city of Los Angeles.

So, are people dancing in the streets?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are dancing in the streets. And, in fact, Poppy and John, someone from overseas asked me, well, isn't L.A. a little disappointed that they didn't get 2024? And the answer is no. I liken it to somebody going to the Jay-z or the Beyonce concert or let's say a Paul McCartney. And instead of going on Friday night, they're now going on Saturday night. L.A.'s getting exactly what it wanted and also a $1.8 billion investment from the IOC to put into youth sports programs.

Among those just absolutely ecstatic, Janet Evans. You may remember her, the swimmer, from Seoul and Barcelona. She is thrilled to see that all of these recreation sports programs in Los Angeles are going to benefit from the Olympics coming here in 2028. Let's take a listen.


JANET EVANS, 5-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST: And we're going to introduce people to sports they might never have heard of. And we're going get kids in the water. We're going to get kids in the gym. And we're going to get kids on the playing fields. And I just -- there's nothing greater than that. And, for me, I think about it through the eyes of my own children, who will be, by the way, in their 20s at the time. But, still, the opportunities and the excitement and the things that sport does to bring people together, is unprecedented.


VERCAMMEN: And I know Poppy always interested in those markets. It was back, when, in '84, when Peter Ueberroth and Lou Wasserman (ph), you may remember, he was the dean, if you will, of the universal empire, they took that surplus and they wisely invested it. And that's how Los Angeles benefited and still, to this day, 150,000 poor or underserved youth are going to these recreation programs because of that Olympic surplus.

HARLOW: I love that. I don't -- I don't remember that from 1984. However, I am glad to see that the reverberations of it after today.

Paul Vercammen, thank you very much.

BERMAN: Look, '84 was a success story for Los Angeles --

HARLOW: Yes. BERMAN: But a lot of cities have not fared as well since. So this was a story of L.A.'s success in getting it.

HARLOW: They're a good example.

BERMAN: But a lot of cities, they didn't want it this time.

HARLOW: Think Ashton Kucher's "Punked," OK. You remember that show? I do. Except these pranks are not targeting Hollywood celebrities. Ahead, how an e-mail prankster dubbed --

BERMAN: Duped.

HARLOW: Duped. Duped.

BERMAN: Duped -- White House officials.


[09:59:20] BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

The president had nothing, nothing at all, to do with that misleading statement earlier this month about his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer, or so said his attorney over and over again. But now reporting this morning from "The Washington Post" shows that is not the case at all. The president accused of personally dictating that misleading statement for his son so that Don Jr. could obscure the true reason for his meeting with that Russian attorney. The stunning reports in "The Washington Post" fueling new political and potentially legal concerns for this administration.

BERMAN: Now, so far this morning, no words from the president about this, either out loud, on paper or on social media. So we know that the president's staff and family now reports to the man you're seeing on your screen right there, the new chief of staff, General John Kelly, but does the president's Twitter account report to him as well.