Return to Transcripts main page
North Korea Threatens To Launch Four Missiles Near Guam; Trump Touts U.S. Nuclear Capabilities; North Korea Warns It Could Attack U.S. Mainland; FBI Raids Home Of Trump's Former Campaign Chairman; FBI Seized Some Of Manafort's Financial And Tax Records; NASA Searches for Planetary Protector. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 10, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, threats turned to insult. North Korea's military says the U.S. president is bereft of reason and getting on their nerves.
SESAY: A dramatic twist in the U.S.-Russia investigation, the FBI raided the home of Donald Trump's former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort.
VAUSE: And help (INAUDIBLE). NASA is looking for a new guardian of the galaxy.
SESAY: Well, hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, great to have you with us for the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A. North Korea says in just days a plan will be in place; awaiting approval by Kim Jong-un for a military strike on the U.S. territory of Guam. The senior officers say the plan which the four missiles flying over Japan landing the waters of Guam.
SESAY: Pyongyang is also lashing out at U.S. President Donald Trump and his threat to respond with fire and fury, state media called it a load of nonsense, saying dialogue with someone bereft of a reason is impossible.
VAUSE: U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, says the fire and fury threat was just Donald Trump using language that Kim Jong-un would understand.
SESAY: But others in the White House are echoing the president's harsh tone. CNN's Jim Sciutto reports.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, North Korea put on notice. Defense Secretary James Mattis, warning the regime away from any attack on the U.S.: "The DRK should cease any consideration of actions," Mattis said in a statement, "it would lead to the end of its regime, and the destruction of its people." Despite the calamitous tone, the comment appeared to be part of a delicate walk-back of President Trump, surprising bellicose and apparently improvised threat to the North on Tuesday.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
SCIUTTO: Overnight, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to calm fears as he traveled through Asia.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours. And I think Americans should sleep well at night and no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.
SCIUTTO: This morning, the president put an even finer point on his fire and fury comments, touting U.S. nuclear capabilities on Twitter. "My first order as president was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before." In fact, Trump has ordered a review of U.S. nuclear weapons though set reviews aren't required by Congress every eight years. And it was President Obama who ordered the modernization of the U.S. arsenal last year. Though, that process will take years, not months, and cost an estimated one trillion dollars. There is no indication that the nuclear arsenal is measurably different today than it was when Trump came into office.
Hours after President Trump warned Pyongyang, North Korea had already threatened the U.S. again, warning it would strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear missile if there was any sign that the U.S. plan to attack the North. Today, the head of U.S. missile defenses expressed confidence that the U.S. could destroy an incoming North Korean ICBM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to believe that currently deployed ballistic missile defense system could meet today's threat. I'm confident about it because we have done the analysis, we've built the system, we've done the model simulation, and by the way, we've done the test.
SESAY: All right. Jim Sciutto, reporting there. CNN's Alexandra Field joins us from Seoul, South Korea with the latest. So, Alexandra, amid the heightened rhetoric between Pyongyang and Seoul, Seoul has made it clear that they are committed to the U.S.-South Korea alliance. But with Kim Jong-un crossing the line drawn by President Trump on Tuesday, are tensions now rising in Seoul?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You're hearing strong words from defense officials here, who are saying that further provocation would be met with military response. They're calling these latest threats from North Korea a strike around Guam absurd, and they're saying that it isn't just a threat to the United States; they're calling it a challenge to the alliance between South Korea and the United States. So, they are calling on North Korea to stop this kind of rhetoric, to stop these kinds of threats as the tension clearly does accelerate and elevate here on the peninsula, but they have been very square in placing the blame on Pyongyang for creating this kind of environment.
Officials are weighing in on what to do next, on how to stay best prepared, on how to maintain defenses to the highest possible level. There will an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, taking place this afternoon; that's typically the kind of action that this government will take after a provocative move from North Korea, like, say, a ballistic missile launch. So, you'll have those officials talking this afternoon about what steppes could be possible going forward. After those two ICBM missile launches, South Korea did move to take some additional steps to show force against North Korea, and also to warn North Korea from further provocation.
[01:05:35] That obviously has not stopped North Korea from making threats. But you did have the president who came out after that ICBM just speaking very forcefully about how North Korea needed to stop these provocative measures and about what he was doing to build up the defenses in South Korea, like working with the U.S. to increase the payload capacity on South Korea missiles. Also, participating in joint military exercises after those ICBMs were fired off to show some military strength in the region. Those are measures, of course, that Pyongyang found to be equally provocative. So, you have seen how this tension has been created, and it has continued to mount, putting aside this point. Isha.
SESAY: All that being said, I noted that there is a meeting that will shortly, but right now, at this point in time, what is North Korea's ability to defend to against a North Korean missile attack?
FIELD: South Korea has been preparing for the possibility of an attack from North Korea for decades, because North Korea doesn't need an ICBM, and they need a nuclear weapon in order to state an attack. You've got a city of more than 20 million in this wider Metropolitan that is Seoul, the capital of South Korea, just 35 miles away from the DMZ, and that's where they've got a whole range of conventional weapons, traditional artillery.
It is estimated by many experts that if for some reason North Korea decided to unleash that artillery on this city, it could lead to thousands of death almost instantly; a truly catastrophic kind of outcome. That is the reason that the tension is so high here. Nobody wants to see a misstep. And look, this is held like this for many years, for many decades. It's the threat that people in South Korea are used to living under, but they do, of course, again want to try and lower this tension, because threats are multiple down -- not just regional, also global as we know. Isha.
SESAY: And joining us is Alexandra Field there in Seoul, South Korea, thank you.
VAUSE: Well, for more, joining us now: Victoria Leon Guerrero is the Co-Chair of Guam's Independence Task Force, which is pushing for independence. Victoria is also a Managing Editor of the University of Guam Press. Victoria, thank you for being with us. Guam is being put in the crosshairs, partially by the comments made by the U.S. president, he didn't get to vote for. Does that make this security threat part of the (INAUDIBLE)? VICTORIA LEON GUERRERO, CO-CHAIR OF GUAM'S INDEPENDENCE TASK FORCE AND
MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GUAM PRESS: Absolutely. I mean, I think for the people of Guam, this isn't a surprise that we've always been sort of the -- at the whim of other nations caught in between their conflicts. And you know, Guam has been colonized for centuries, and you know, particularly under American colony, and that we've already been attacked by Japan and the same as Pearl Harbor. And you know them, and now this is a conflict that had nothing to do with us. But you know, we regularly hear a threat that we could be bomb by North Korea, or China, or Russia.
And I think, you know, critically for me, as a mother of young children, this is unnerving because this is my homeland. This is the land of the tomorrow people. This is our place in the world, and yet because we were made a colony of the United States, we are not able to make decisions that will allow us to have more peaceful partnerships in our reach, and that could make it a safer place for us to live.
VAUSE: Do you believe all of this could've been avoided if the U.S. president did what other U.S. presidents have done? Lower the tension; lower the tone, instead of matching the North Korean leader threat to threat?
GUERRERO: Absolutely. And I think that you know, there's a lot of back and forth about it. It's a real threat or not a real threat. And that, you know, earlier in your program, you said Americans can sleep well at night. But that's, you know, American's in the continental U.S. Here in Guam, you know, at night, we have U.S. (INAUDIBLE) over our homes almost daily. It's a regular sound that you hear, because of the U.S.'s (INAUDIBLE) on the island. With regards -- which I (INAUDIBLE) to allow the U.S. military to train and test, you know, in the air and the ocean around us. And so, we're very familiar with the sound of bombs.
And as a mom, you know, this is something that I feel very sad for my children, for they're so used to it; it's almost become background noise. And I think often is, one of these bombs were -- were a bomb, right, that was to drop a bomb on us, would we know the difference? That is terrifying. And you know, to know that our people are -- stand the risk of genocide. One bomb could annihilate the Chamorro people.
[01:10:04] VAUSE: We're almost out of time, Victoria, but I want to read part of what you posted on Facebook, and it's addressed: Dear America, I'm sorry that it is only when we are the subject of bombs and you even attempt to say the Guam, because there are so many more interesting things I wish you would want to know about us. We, on the other hand, are not as surprised by the latest bomb threat. We are quite used to hearing Guam and bomb in the same sentence."
It's a clear, you know, at least from your point of view, you had this belief that most Americans either don't know or just simply don't care what happens to Guam. It's 13,000 kilometers from the U.S. mainland. It's the other side, it's out of mind.
GUERRERO: Absolutely. I mean, just take a lot at yesterday when the threat came. When you do a Google search for Guam, all of the Twitter comments were: what is Guam? And so, you know, this is something that I'm very aware of, and you know, we are brought up in this American colony where we are indoctrinated. We read all about America and American history, but America's actually don't really learn much about Guam. Except, maybe a few sentences about our role in the war, and even at that there is no mention of the 20,000 people who were here and left defenseless to the Japanese, and all the people who suffered in that war. Or (INAUDIBLE) American war since that had died in higher rates per capita than other Americans. So, you know, and particularly most Americans don't even realize that the U.S. is still colonizer and that Guam is a U.N. recognized as a non-sub-governing territory.
VAUSE: Victoria, I wouldn't be too concerned about Americans not being able to find Guam on the map. The last survey I saw found six percent of (INAUDIBLE) can't actually find the mainland United States. But good to speak with you Victoria, thank you.
GUERRERO: Thank you very much.
SESAY: Well, North Korea's repeated missile tests have given the outside world an indication of the arsenal that Kim Jong-un has on hand.
VAUSE: The missile program has grown increasingly successful with few failed launches, even so, it's still unclear if Pyongyang has the technical ability to accurately deliver a nuclear bomb. Nick Robertson takes a close look at the North's stockpile.
NICK ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: North Korea's missile tests are common knowledge, but precisely what fire power does Kim Jong-un have hidden in his hermit kingdom? He says, he has a miniaturized nuclear warhead. U.S. intelligence analysts have assessed the claim but don't believe it's been tested. Kim's focus is on the global he represents are his missiles, and how far he can send his alleged bomb. Last month, he tested his most advanced missile so far twice. The liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, the KN-14, flew almost 1000 kilometers, and 625 miles.
U.S. experts predict, potentially, the missile might reach the western half of continental U.S. Kim, claims he can target anywhere in the world including the whole of North America. This year alone, he has conducted 12 tests on various missiles, ranging from the solid-fueled medium-range ballistic missile, the Pukkuksong-2 that flew 500 kilometer; to the Hwasong-7, a short to medium-range solid-fueled ballistic missile; and then, at least two KN-17, solid-fueled short- range ballistic missiles; A liquid-fueled intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12; and the sub-launched surface, a ship-cruise missiles.
So far this year, Kim's missiles have had a two-third success rate, better than 50 percent failure rate last year. And Kim hasn't just made his missiles more reliable and capable of flying further, he has also made them harder to thwart by using mobile launchers. Beyond the threat of his missiles, their capital, and Kim's army can pack a punch as of 2015; about 1.19 million active service personnel, 3.5 thousand battle tanks, and of real concern on the densely populated Korean Peninsula, more than 21,000 artillery pieces. Kim has the means to create mayhem. The question is: does he have the will for what would be a hugely ugly war? Nick Robertson, CNN London.
SESAY: Well, joining us now: CNN Military Analyst, Lt. Col. Rick Francona. Col. Francona, good to speak to you once again. Let's, first of all, acknowledge the fact that Pyongyang has crossed the red line drawn by President Trump those comments on Tuesday. So, the ball is in the U.S. court. What should President Trump's next move be?
[01:15:12] LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You know, that's a problem with making these statements, that now you have to act on them if they -- if they cross this signal, this proverbial red line. I suspect we're going to see increased U.S. military operations in the area, more maneuvers, additional B-1 flights, that sort of thing. I think that we're going to be very careful not to invoke something that would cause the North Koreans to react too harshly. What we don't need, is to start a shooting war. And as Alexandra pointed out, and as Nick pointed: how many missile launchers they have, how many artillery tubes they have.
Any provocation, any war that starts out will mean the destruction of Seoul as a city, and will probably mean the end of the North Korean regime. So, whatever happens, if there's a war, it will be catastrophic. So, I think we're going to try and walk back from the brink. We see Secretary Tillerson making the right noises now; he says we need to get back to diplomacy. I think that's probably where we're headed.
SESAY: It's not by coincidence that North Korea in-telegraphing their possible next move; says that the missiles they would launch would target the waters off the coast of Guam. That's not by coincidence, correct?
FRANCONA: Yes, that's a really interesting message that we got from the North Koreans. First of all, it came from the head of the strategic rocket force; it did not come from Kim Jong-un. So, first of all, Kim Jong-un can also intervene and say, that's not where we're going. I'm going to step in, and pull us back from the brink. It makes him look good. Also, telegraphing that you're not going to strike the island itself is very interesting because it gives the United States to say, well, they're not actually firing at Guam; they're firing in the vicinity of Guam. And it's very specific, they did target international waters. So, technically it's not an attack on the United States. They're walking a very fine line here, and I think they're getting too close.
And at some point, if you fire a missile in the direction of Guam, what is the commander of U.S. force of Guam is supposed to do? Is he sought to sit and let these missiles approach his installations without trying to intercept them, without trying to react? We're getting too close to a real confrontation. And I suspect that the two leaders are going to intervene here and back this off a little bit, because I think it's starting to get a little dangerous, a little out of control.
SESAY: Yes. I mean, as you talk about that possible scenario, if indeed those missiles were launched, be that as it may, and they target off the coast of Guam, is President Trump compelled to respond?
FRANCONA: Yes. I think we're going to have to respond in some manner because as we know, the North Korean missiles -- they're talking about using this Hwasong-12. They've only fired it four times; three of them failed. So, we're not sure how reliable this missile is, we're not sure how accurate it is. So, they may be aiming for a spot in the water, and they may actually hit Guam. So, I think that the interest of protecting American forces, we will try and intercept these missiles. And I suspect that once we do that, we're going to be in some sort of a military confrontation with North Koreans. Hopefully, it won't be on the Korean Peninsula. Hopefully, it will be limited somehow to maybe something in the ocean, maybe in the air. But what we do not want is to start a land war on the Korean Peninsula because we all know how that turns out.
SESAY: We certainly do. Col. Francona, joining us there from Oregon. Col Francona, thank you.
VAUSE: Well, a summer anniversary in Japan; thousands gathered in Nagasaki's Peace Park on Wednesday marking the moments in 1945 when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The immediate death toll on both cities: more than 110,000, thousand died later. Japan surrendered just days after that, ending World War II. And Wednesday, a moment of silence was followed a (INAUDIBLE) ceremony by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. And we will take a break. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., the FBI raiding the home of a former Trump associate; what was found and where it leads? In just a moment.
[01:19:25] SESAY: Also ahead, a tall order for a job requirement to protect Earth and the Milky Way. Pull out your resume's everyone, NASA is hiring.
VAUSE: And we're following major developments in the criminal investigation of the Trump campaigns contacts with Russia. A source tells CNN, the FBI raided the home of former Trump campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort; this happened last month. The documents seized included financial and tax records.
SESAY: The information included materials that had already been provided to Senate investigators. And Manafort's spokesman said, he has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and did so this time also. Well, CNN Law Enforcement Contributor, Steve Moore, joins us now with his analysis. Steve, thank you for staying with us. You have made the observation that it is, in your opinion, more significant that a dawn raid was launched on Paul Manafort's home. This is more significant, in your view than the impaneling of that grand jury a couple of weeks ago. Explain, why. STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Because the impaneling
of a jury is something -- a grand jury is something I would expect in case of this magnitude. It allows you to bring evidence forward, and even if the head investigator, the Robert Mueller type, is removed or leaves later, the grand jury still has the information. But if this was indeed what they call a no-knock warrant, it was probably one of the most significant things I've seen in a political type investigation.
SESAY: The point that you made that Paul Manafort has known this investigation, and has been going on for as long as it has, for a while now -- to put it mildly. Is he, is indeed hiding something? If he was hiding something wouldn't he have already destroyed the documents?
MOORE: Well, apparently, the investigators don't think so. And even if he was hiding or may have destroyed it, they're not going to say, he probably destroyed it anyway. They're going to try to go get them any way they can. And so, what amazes me here -- what surprised me is to get this kind of -- to get a warrant for a search to begin with, you have to go before a magistrate or judge and say, this is our evidence that a crime has occurred, it has to be substantial, and that this person was involved, and evidence of the crime is in this location. So, this isn't just an impaneling of a jury just in case something might come up or getting subpoenas. This is using evidence that has already been obtained.
SESAY: All right. So that leads me to the question of does this raise the chances or signals that an indictment is likely?
MOORE: Again, it doesn't -- innocent until proven guilty; it doesn't prove that there's a crime, but it proves to me that there is more than just smoke here. And the other thing is, this is what's called a no-knock warrant. I was in the FBI for 25 years. I was on SWAT. I never executed a no-knock warrant without a helmet on. How they got a no-knock warrant authorized for this type of investigation, would fascinate me. I would really like to see the warrant.
SESAY: Given everything, the president has said about this Russia investigation; he's called it a witch hunt, he's called it fake news, and all the rest of it. Does this raid -- does it constitute a shot across the bow in your opinion, a shot across the bow to the president, to his associates?
MOORE: There were two shots across the bow, really. Number one is that they chose to do a no-knock warrant at 4:00 or 5:oo in the morning when he's usually gone off. That was a sign from Mueller saying don't even think about messing or obstructing this investigation. That was one. The other shot over the bow is there's more than just speculation, there's more than just innuendo or rumor. There are hard facts upon which a search warrant can obtain. And so, I think this changes the ball game.
[19:25:34] SESAY: And it tells us that this investigation is not winding down.
MOORE: Oh, no, no. You don't -- I mean, this is beginning. This is at the beginning stages and they started big.
SESAY: Steve Moore, always a pleasure. You know what they say, go big or go home.
SESAY: All right. Well, unarmed air force jet got a rare up close look at key landmarks around Washington and New Jersey. It's too low altitude flight, on Wednesday, were permitted under a long-standing Open Skies Treaty; the agreement the U.S. and Russia to observe each other's military site. The jet, first, overflew the Capitol building, the Pentagon, (INAUDIBLE) headquarters, and Joint Base Andrews, home of Air Force One. Later, it went ahead Bedminster in New Jersey, where the president is on that working vacation. U.S. Air Force personnel were on the Russian jets for the tour up.
Next up here, Donald Trump and nuclear weapons; does the U.S. president understand the real world implications of using the most destructive weapon ever invented?
SESAY: Plus, terrorist are force the vulnerable to do their killings; details on some sparkling tactics by Boko Haram.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour: North Korea is offering detailed plans for a military strike on Guam. An army general says Pyongyang would launch four missiles that would cross over Japan and land in the waters near the U.S. territory. The military said it will prevent the plan of Kim Jong-un by mid-August.
VAUSE: The U.S. Defense Secretary, James Mattis, is warning North Korea to cease any actions that "would lead to the end of its regime, and destruction of its people." He says Pyongyang would lose any arms race or conflict which it begets.
SESAY: A new twist in the U.S.-Russia investigation: the FBI raided the home of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former Campaign Chairman, late last month. It happened the day after Manafort sat down with investigators of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Well, President Trump's fire and fury threat to North Korea took many by surprise.
VAUSE: But looking back, the president has weighed in on the threat from Pyongyang for years. Here's Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice over) It's not the first time the president has brought up using nuclear weapons, but it's the most stark.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
MALVEAUX: For those left wondering what the president meant, a clue in a pair of interviews from 1999.
TRUMP: First, I'd negotiate. I would negotiate like crazy. And I'd make sure we tried to get the best deal possible.
North Korea is totally out of control. And would you rather have a very, very serious chat with them now and, if necessary, you might have to do something fairly drastic, or would you rather have to go after them in five years when they have more nuclear warheads and missile than we do?
MALVEAUX: It's not just talk. President Trump now holds the nuclear codes and has the sole discretion to launch an attack. And he hasn't ruled it out.
TRUMP: He does a nuclear test, I will not be happy.
UNIDENTIIED REPORTER: Not happy, meaning military action?
TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.
MALVEAUX: Candidate Trump's apparent lack of understanding about nuclear weapons was often on display, like in this CNN debate when he was asked about the so-called nuclear triad.
HUGH HEWITT, DEBATE MODERATOR: Three legs of the triad, do you have a priority. And I want to go to Senator Rubio --
TRUMP: I think nuclear is just, the power, the devastation is very important to me.
MALVEAUX: The nuclear triad refers to the three ways the U.S. is capable of launching nuclear weapons, either by plane, submarine or missile silo.
Another eye-popping campaign moment, this from "Morning Joe" on Trump's foreign policy briefings.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MORNING JOE: Three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked. Now, at one point, "If we have them, why can't we use them."
MALVEAUX: The Trump campaign denied the exchange, but Trump said he would consider using nuclear weapons against another foe, ISIS.
TRUMP: I'd be the last one to use the nuclear weapons.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can you tell the Middle East we're not going to use nuclear weapons.
TRUMP: I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.
MALVEAUX: While the president wants his card on the table, North Korea's Jim Jong-Un wants a seat at the table of nuclear nations.
TRUMP: Obviously, he' a pretty smart cookie, but we have a situation that we just cannot let -- we cannot let what's been going on for a long period of years continue.
MALVEAUX: So as North Korea escalates its threats, President Trump is doing the same.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN
TRUMP: We would have gotten it --
VAUSE: Carl Baker joins us now. He's with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank dealing with global challenges.
Carl, thank you for being with us.
Giving everything that we've heard from the U.S. president over the years, and particularly in the recent election campaign, how confident are you that he understands the full implications of just threatening to use nuclear weapons?
CARL BAKER, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERANTIONAL STUDIES: It's clear from the background that you've just provided that he has not fully understood the implication of either the use of nuclear weapons, nor even the threat. But I'm sure over the last 48 hours, if he is paying attention to his cabinet, that he's learned a lot, because I think that Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson do understand. And they've definitely dials back some of his harsh rhetoric.
VAUSE: But he was again tweeting about updating the nuclear arsenal and it was one of his first executive order. There's a theory that if there was to be a U.S. nuclear strike and the president wanted to go ahead with that, then cooler heads would prevail, General Mattis, defense secretary, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. That they would sort of defy the president in some way. Do you buy into that?
BAKER: Yes, I do. I think the cabinet has demonstrated that ability to actually push back when he does go too far off the rails. And I think that's -- this is certain the case in this stance that he has overstated the case. And he's playing to his domestic audience. I think that's what we need to appreciate, is the rhetoric about the nuclear weapons, it's clear that that's not changed since he took office. He didn't - that wasn't his first act as the president. So I think it's clear he's making these statements to play to the domestic audience. What he needs to appreciate is that there's an international audience listening. And again, I think that his cabinet understands that and that's why they basically come back and try to play down a little bit of what he's saying. VAUSE: The decision of the U.S. to launch a nuclear first strike is
the president's and the president's alone. Congress doesn't weigh in. The president will get some advice from military leaders. How long that goes it up to him. Should that not be revised? The system is signed for speed, not debate.
[01:35:03] BAKER: It's a little more complicated than you state because there's a context there. That context is the Cold War. And the context is that it's in retaliation to an anticipated strike from someone else. So I don't think we want to get in a position where we're making this as an assertion that the president along makes the decision to do a first strike. That has never been part of U.S. doctrine. So I think that's a bit of an overstatement of the case of how it would come about that he would do a nuclear strike.
VAUSE: How serious is this threat coming from North Korea, for these military plans for an attack on Guam. They launch 12 missiles. They're talking about using. They've tested successfully once. The range and accuracy are questionable. How do you see it?
BAKER: I agree. I think it is very questionable. As your previous speaker was talking about, there has only been one successful test. And that's a test. That's not a test with a warhead and a reentry vehicle and a guidance system that actually directs a weapon to a particular point. So there's a lot of questions about that their real capability is. And even as far as the distance is concerned, we're basing that on some assumptions about that they've done with their short-range tests because they've launched them at a high launching. But we really don't know what happens when you launch it at a traditional trajectory that would allow it to go the 3500 kilometers that it would take to get to Guam.
VAUSE: I don't know if you want to do hypotheticals here, but if that attack did happen, that North Korean attack on Guam did happen, assuming it was carried out with some success, a conventional U.S. military response could take months. A nuclear response by the U.S. could take minutes. Which would be more likely?
BAKER: I think the United States would respond military with a conventional response. I think it's quite likely that, in fact, you know -- in the case of Guam, if you actually do have missiles approaching Guam that there would probably ben an attempt to take those missiles that are approaching out. But I think in a response, if an attack was actually on Guam, it would be a conventional response. I think that the United States, as a country, has gone through the Cold War. It recognizes the importance of restraint when it comes to nuclear weapons. So I think if there was a response -- and again, it's a very hypothetical -- a lot of conditions could change that evaluation. But I think it would be a conventional response and it would not be an all-out conventional response.
VAUSE: OK. We'll leave it there.
Thank you so much for being with us. Much appreciated.
BAKER: Thank you. SESAY: Now Kenya remains on edge over allegations of fraud after
Tuesday's presidential election. Police reportedly killed two protesters on Wednesday in the slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Unrest broke out after opposition leader, Raila Odinga, disputed early results. He claims election systems were hacked and that numbers were manipulated to favor incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who holds a commanding lead. Kenya's election commission denied the claims but says it will investigate.
To Nigeria now, and the terrorist group, Boko Haram, is using violence and brainwashing to force women and children, mostly girls, to become suicide bombers.
Robyn Kriel has more on the chilling tactics of this ISIS affiliate.
ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A young child walks down a crowded market street somewhere in northeastern Nigeria. It's territory controlled by Boko Haram. The child detonates a suicide vest, killing and maiming dozens of people. A woman that enters the scene detonates a second devise.
The scenario is hypothetical, but the reality on the ground in Nigeria, according to American researchers, is that Boko Haram's use of women and children in its suicide bombing campaign is staggering, never before seen and highly successful.
A new study reveals that a startling 72 percent of Boko Haram's suicide bombing arm with an identified gender were women.
Since the group's first recorded suicide bombing in 2011, Boko Haram has used 244 female suicide bombers.
And the terror group, the researchers say, is on the forefront of normalizing the use of children as suicide bombers. Of those bombers whose age was identified, 60 percent were teenagers or children.
The report found, of 134 suicide bombers whose age was determined, 53 were identified as adults, 53 as teenagers, and 28 as children. The youngest suicide bomber thus far was just 7 years old.
Boko Haram, also, the evidence suggests, uses four times as many little girls as they do little boys.
[01:40:09] (on camera): The study also finds that men, women and child suicide bombers tend to target different locations. Women and children are more prone to detonating in civilian locations, markets, bus stops or internally displaced peoples' camps. Men are more likely to target Christian or pro-government institutions.
(voice-over): The reasons behind the terrorist heinous logic, according to the researchers, is this, women are less likely to be searched and they can hide their explosives under their billowing clothing or inside handbags or strapped on their backs with infant children. There are also cases of men dressing as women to slip through security more easily.
Women and children, according to the report, are more easily recruited than their male counterparts, whether it be through violence, brainwashing or false promises. Women and female children, in particular, are seen as expendable by the male terrorist leadership. Their vulnerability, in these cases, a destructive deadly curse.
Robyn Kriel, CNN.
VAUSE: Coming up next on NEWSROOM L.A., one of Donald Trump's spiritual advisers says God gave the president authority to take out North Korea's leader. Not everyone in the religious community agrees.
VAUSE: On his showdown with North Korea, the U.S. president has an evangelical preacher on his side, Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the Southern Baptist mega-church in Dallas, Texas.
SESAY: Well, he developed a relationship with Mr. Trump during the election campaign and, has since become one of the president's spiritual advisers. He's now given his approval to any action the president might take against North Korea's leader, saying God has given Mr. Trump that authority.
Joining us now with his perspective on these comments by Pastor Robert Jeffress is CNN religion commentator, Father Edward Beck. He joins us from New York.
Father Beck, thank you so much for joining us.
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Sure.
SESAY: So according to Robert Jeffress, a Texas mega-church pastor, and Trump supporter, God has given the U.S. president the authority to take out North Korean leader, Jim Jong-Un. And this pastor is using the Biblical passage Romans 13 to justify his statement. I want to read part of the passage. "For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid. Rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
Father Beck, do you interpret Romans 13 in the same way as Pastor Jeffress?
[01:45:03] BECK: No, I don't at all. That's the problem with literal interpretations. So does that mean that Hitler was ordained by God as well? We can use the same argument to say that Trump has the authority to take out Kim Jong-Un, but what about why isn't he a rightful authority then if you look at Romans 13? So, no, everything needs to be put into context. Scripture needs to be interpreted as at certain times for a certain group of people and you can't just lift out a text and say, well, this is what God meant/
I'm really suspect of anybody, especially political leaders, who speak in the name of God or for God.
SESAY: The "Washington Post" also quotes Pastor Jeffress as saying that Romans 13 gives the government the authority to do whatever, whether it's assassination, capital punishment or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong-Un. The thing that struck me is that it would seem we are living in a world where the power of rulers is absolute and above man-made law. I mean, how do rationalize, if you can, Pastor Jeffress' world view.
BECK: Well, again, I think it's people picking and choosing what they want from the scripture. What about the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says loves your enemies? What about when he says turn the other cheek? What about when he preaches nonviolence? So you have to take the scripture as a whole. You can't just pick out what serves your purpose and what you like.
And again, unless you contextualize scripture - I mean, this was written during a period of the occupation of Rome. Again, it's going to be written in a certain fashion for that particular group. And, yes, you can say it's the revealed word of God, but the interpretation of that would be that God can speak through governmental and human agencies for the good of people. But you can't just take that carte blanc and say, therefore, it means that God says you can do what you want if you are a government leader. It doesn't say that at all.
SESAY: Pastor Jeffress also put out a tweet to declare his sport for President Trump's comments, the ones he made on Tuesday regarding North Korea. Let's put that tweet on screen. He says, "When POTUS draws a red line, he will not erase, move or back away from it. Thank God for a president who is serious about protecting our country."
It would seem, Father Beck, that Pastor Jeffress is throwing his support behind a war, one which, if it ever happened, would most likely be a nuclear one. I know that many Christian groups in the past stood with the anti-nuclear movement. Is Pastor Jeffress on the fringe with his support for a possible war with North Korea?
BECK: I would say he is on the fringe with most Christians. There may be a very righteous group of evangelical Christians who interpret scripture very literally. And again, have supported this Republican president pretty vociferously. And they will use that as their agenda to push forth their point of view. However, if you were to poll most Christians, I don't think they would support the president's comments on this. I think they would consider the dangers. I think they would consider it even anti-Christian because the Jesus of the Gospels, first and foremost, is pacifist and nonviolent and said that we should work in all ways for a peaceable solution. To amp up the rhetoric like this does not seem to be in that role at all.
SESAY: Well, Pastor Jeffress was on President Trump's evangelical advisory panel during the campaign. And we know, since his election, Pastor Jeffress has spent time with the president. Does it concern you that someone who holds these kinds of views, which as you have said, is on the fringe when it comes to many Christian positions, does it worry you that someone like this has the ear of the president?
BECK: I just hope that other people have the ear of the president as well and he gets a very balanced perspective. I think the danger is that we only want to listen to people with whom we agree, necessarily. And I think that as long as you have other voices in there and there is some kind of discernment. My fear is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of that kind of spiritual discernment with this administration. Now I don't know what's going on behind the scenes. And there may be may spiritual advisors, and this is but one, and the president takes all of that into account. I have no way of knowing that. However, I am concerned that -- this is a pastor who spoke at the inauguration. This is the pastor who has been in the president's presidential meetings. So he seems to have a heightened position of power and, indeed, has the president's ear. And I would just hope that the president is also consulting other religious and spiritual leaders that may have an opposing view.
SESAY: Father Beck, we're grateful for your view. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
BECK: Thank you.
[01:50:06] VAUSE: Coming up here next on NEWSROOM, L.A., did you know there is a job opening at NASA?
VAUSE: You need to apply.
SESAY: Well, it comes with a six-figure salary.
SESAY: And it's interplanetary guardian.
VAUSE: Right up your alley.
SESAY: I need to get some cool boots.
VAUSE: Right now, while the U.S. government's employment Web site, there's one opening which isn't your typical 9:00 to 5:00 job with the public service. Job number HQ170010 is a permanent position with NASA, annual salary up to 187,000, which is good money because the successful applicant will be responsible for protecting life here on earth and across the entire galaxy. The official title is planetary protection officer. Here's part of the job posting: "Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic constituents and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration."
Catharine Coney is the current planetary protection officer. Has been doing the job for 11 years. She joins us now from Washington.
Catharine, good to see you.
Dr. CATHARINE CONLEY, PLANETARY PROTECTON OFFICER, NASA: Very nice to meet you.
VAUSE: So this has to be the world's greatest job title. What do you do?
CONLEY: Well, mostly, I send e-mails, I read documents, and occasionally I get to go spacecraft rooms and take samples of spacecraft.
VAUSE: So your job is to make sure no bugs go into space and no bugs come from outer space?
CONLEY: Yes. That earth life doesn't get introduces into places where it could grow in our solar system. And if we bring samples back that we don't bring something unfortunate back with us.
VAUSE: It's grand title. The job doesn't seem to live up to the title in some ways.
CONLEY: I always say that the planetary protection officer is the second-best job title at NASA. We used to have a director of universe.
VAUSE: OK, used to.
CONLEY: It's now called astrophysics.
VAUSE: OK. The earlier title was much better.
NASA has been worried about biological contamination long before the first space flight. The 1967 space treaty includes a provision for countries, "to avoid the harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the earth resulting in the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, when necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose."
How serious is the threat of contamination here on earth from outer space and vice versa?
CONLEY: We actually don't know. We have no idea, really, what the risk is from contamination from outer space. But we do know that there has been a significant amount of risk and negative consequence from contamination moved around by humans on earth. That's really the basis of the policy, is the recognition that, on earth there have been problems cause. So we want to be careful to try and reduce those similar potential problems to be caused as we explore space.
VAUSE: So essentially, what you guys do, or what you do, you're almost like a quarantine point?
CONLEY: That's actually the former name of the planetary prot3ection function at NASA. We used to have a planetary quarantine officer. The first one actually was appointed from the Public Health Service to NASA in 1963 to the Apollo program. VAUSE: Well, I image many people have been applying for this.
Possibly, the cutest application so far is 9-year-old Jack Davis. This is part of his handwritten letter explaining why he's especially qualified. "One of the reasons is my sister says I'm an alien. Also I have seen almost all of the space and alien movies I can see. I am young so I can learn to think like alien."
And NASA's response was pretty cool. "We are always looking for bright future scientists and engineers to help us so I hope you will study hard and do well in school. We hope to see you here at NASA one of these days."
So young Mr. Davis aside, how much interest has there been in this job?
[01:55:29] CONLEY: An enormous amount, based on the media attention and also the e-mails I've been getting from people. I'm not actually supposed to be able to see the applicants because they need to go through the USA jobs Web site. But we do have a Web site for planetary protection, planetaryprotection.nasa.gov. Unfortunately, there's been a lot of people making the mistake of sending me e-mails instead of submitting their applications properly.
VAUSE: What are the qualifications here?
CONLEY: The qualifications?
VAUSE: What are they? What do you need to have?
CONLEY: According to the job advertisement, you need to have an advanced degree or even equivalent experience in physical sciences, chemistry, some sort of engineering. I have a biology degree, which is actually critical to understand concerns of planetary protection. And I have post-doctorate work doing experiments to understand how the potential for contamination transfer would be an issue potentially for spacecraft. In addition, you need to have former past experience, or at least the job ad says you need to have experience in planetary protection and demonstrate technical proficiency, all the kinds of things you would expect for a senior and technical senior leadership position in the U.S. government --
CONLEY: -- having to do with U.S. space exploration.
VAUSE: It's not quite Will Smith in "Men in Black," is it?
We should note that the applications close on Monday.
Catharine, good to speak with you.
CONLEY: Thank you very much.
SESAY: It sounds very cool, but I don't think it comes with cool boots.
VAUSE: No, it's not quite.
She told me earlier she gets a chance to travel because there's a lot of diplomacy with other countries as well.
VAUSE: Yes. Lot of e-mails and bureaucracy.
SESAY: E-mails I can deal with.
You've been watching NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: You are Isha Sesay.
And I'm John Vause.
Don't forget to join us on Twitter at CNNnewsroomla, right? Isha will respond to every single tweet you send in the next couple days.
We'll be back right after this.
[02:00:05] SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
VAUSE: Ahead this hour, the war of words over nuclear weapons. North Korea responding to Donald Trump's threat by mocking him.