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North Korea-U.S. Tensions; Trump on Venezuela; Trump Feuding with Congress; North Korea-U.S. Tensions; U.S. Diplomats Targeted in Cuba; Judge Dismisses Deejay's Case against Taylor Swift; Archeologists Dig Up "Little Pompeii". Aired 4-5a ET

Aired August 12, 2017 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Locked and loaded. The U.S. president Donald Trump claims the U.S. is ready to strike North Korea.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And it doesn't stop there. Trump says a U.S. military option is also possible in Venezuela. The country's president asks the White House for a phone call.

HOWELL (voice-over): Plus the victory for Kenyatta, Kenya's incumbent president is declared the winner of the presidential election there.

From CNN World Headquarters from London, we to welcome our viewers from around the world. I'm George Howell in Atlanta.

JONES (voice-over): And I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones this Saturday morning here in London. Thanks for your company. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast.

From North Korea to Venezuela, the U.S. president is putting the U.S. military front and center. First his latest threats to North Korea, that the military is locked and loaded. The Chinese president Xi Jinping urged restraint toward North Korea and a phone call with U.S. president Donald Trump.

The call of Mr. Xi follows a stern new warning from Mr. Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whose regime has threatened to fire missiles toward the Pacific island of Guam.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If anything happens to Guam, there's going to be big, big trouble in North Korea.

QUESTION: Have you ordered any change in our military readiness?

TRUMP: I don't want to say. That, I just -- I don't talk about that. You know that.


HOWELL: The U.S. has a large military presence on Guam, dubbed the tip of the spear. North Korean missiles could reach it in less than 15 minutes. Mr. Trump wouldn't say if the U.S. was prepared to go to war against Pyongyang.


TRUMP: We think that lots of good things could happen and we could also have a bad solution. But we think lots of good things can happen.

QUESTION: What would be a bad solution, sir?

TRUMP: I think you know the answer to that.

QUESTION: When you say bad solution, are you talking about war?

Is the U.S. going to go to war?

TRUMP: I think you know the answer to that.


JONES: Addressing another global hot spot, Mr. Trump also took a jab at the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, suggest that U.S. military intervention there is a possibility.


TRUMP: I'm not going to rule out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. This is our neighbor.

This is, you know, we're all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they're dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.


JONES: We will have plenty more on Venezuela in just a moment. But first let's get the very latest on North Korea. We are covering the story from all over the region with David McKenzie in Hong Kong, Anna Coren in Seoul and Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo.

David, let me start with you first there in Hong Kong. Donald Trump, the U.S. president, and Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, have had this phone call now. We understand that their reiterated their mutual commitments but there are also many stark differences between the two.

Is it fair to say that, on any level, that the U.S. and China are on the same page now as far as North Korea goes? DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hannah, ultimately they are on the same page in that they want the North Koreans to stop their steady progression toward developing nuclear weapons and placing those weapons on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

So to China, again from state media's assessment of that phone call, saying Xi Jinping told President Trump that there is a lot in common that the two sides have, particularly trying ease the tensions.

And what can be seen as a rebuke in some way, President Xi Jinping said that all sides should try and ease the tensions, given the fact that President Trump in recent days has doubled down on this strident rhetoric, saying that military options are on the table, fire and fury could be on the cards.

The Chinese perspective on this is that they want everyone just to take a step back, calm the situation and ultimately they are saying that the U.S. and the North Korean side needs to ease off on the rhetoric and try and push toward some kind of negotiated settlement and, at the very least, some kind of early stage talks on the issue -- Hannah.

JONES: David, thanks very much indeed.

HOWELL: Let's cross over now to Anna Coren, live in Seoul, South Korea, Anna, on the story there.

Great to have you with us. So the president's commemorates, that the military is locked and loaded, how is that being perceived there --


HOWELL: -- in South Korea because there's been no additional troop deployment as per our latest report, no evacuation of diplomats or military families.

Is the comment taken seriously in a part of the world where, if something were to happen, lives would be on the line?

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): If anything was to happen, George, it would be catastrophic. That is the reality. People are used to hearing inflammatory language come out of North Korea. They've been used to it for the past four decades under the Kim regime. Kim Jong-un, his father, his grandfather.

What they are not used to is this sort of rhetoric coming from the U.S. president, that being Donald Trump. People here just shaking their heads in amazement and confusion, thinking what is the end game?

Because as we know, no one wants war. War would be catastrophic. And for the North Korean regime, it would be self-annihilation. So certainly from the people that I've spoken to here in South Korea, they think that Donald Trump's comments are highly irresponsible if not potentially dangerous.

And there really is a feeling that what is coming out of the U.S. is just escalating tensions here on the Korean Peninsula. Now as far as the government is concerned, George, we know that the defense ministry has spoken to commanders, telling them to combat ready, the 600,000 troops stationed here in South Korea need to be ready to go respond to any provocation out of the North.

As far official word from the government in response to those Trump comments, we know that overnight Donald Trump said that South Korea's very happy with the way that he is handling the situation, that he's doing a much better job than previous U.S. presidents.

When we put that to the government, to the defense ministry, to the foreign ministry, we got absolute silence, no comment, George, which I think is very interesting.

HOWELL: No comment. So, Anna Coren, on the story there, Anna, thank you.

JONES: Elsewhere in the region in another country taking a close eye on what's going on on the Korean Peninsula is Japan. Let's go to Kaori Enjoji, who's stsanding by for us in Tokyo.

Kaori, Japan is not taking any chances in light of all of this escalation on the Korean Peninsula. Talk to us about these PAC3 interceptors that are being deployed.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: That's right, Hannah. These PAC-3 missiles are the last line of defense that Japan has in case of a missile attack. Over the night and throughout this morning here in Japan, they have been deployed from areas within Japan toward the central region of Japan, areas like Hiroshima, areas that were cited specifically by North Korea as a flyover zone when they launch missiles toward Guam.

So that deployment has been completed this morning and the public woke up to these images of heavy artillery being moved throughout the region. l do stress, however, it's a Saturday evening here. And you ask anybody here on the streets of Tokyo, they are aware the tensions are escalating.

But it is not as if their daily lives have been disrupted as a result of this. And that, I think, there are a number of reasons for that. Over the last 20 years there have been two missiles that have already flown above Japanese territory that did not result in any kind of military clash.

However, they are aware that this is a new area, where we have very fiery language being exchanged between the North and the U.S. president. And they are a little concerned as to what that might entail.

I think they are aware that these initiatives are being put in place by the self-defense forces. But the self-defense forces means exactly that. They can only defend if Japan is under attack. And as I say, these so-called PAC-3 missiles, these are land-to-air missiles with a very short range. We're talking anything between 10 and 20 kilometers. So this is really a last line of defense. What Japan is hoping is that it won't come to that. It won't come to the PAC-3s being used and instead the naval destroyers that the U.S. has around the seas of Japan, along the coast of the western area of Japan, in that peninsula, off the peninsula, the Korean Peninsula, those Aegis- equipped naval destroyers, which have longer ranges, would able to intercept it before these PAC-3 missiles are deployed.

So definitely from a political perspective, this is a very tense time. But they average public here, I think, is a little bit wary of some of these -- this rhetoric going on, particularly on a week like this week. We are heading into the anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Japan as you know, was the only country in the world to have come under atomic attack.

So at no other time in the year does Japan really try to stick close to its past (INAUDIBLE) constitution -- Hannah.

JONES: A tense time indeed. We've been coverage this story from across this region.


JONES: My thanks to you, Kaori, there in Tokyo; to David McKenzie in Hong Kong; also to Anna Coren in Seoul. Thank you.

HOWELL: So, again, that's a snapshot of the situation throughout the region from our correspondents on the ground. Let's take a look again, though, at the U.S. president, his tweet on that matter, saying the U.S. is essentially prepared for anything Pyongyang might do. Here's the tweet.

Quote, "Military solutions are now fully in placed, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!" from the U.S. president there.

Now right now it's just a war of words but it is worrying to the former U.S. deputy secretary. Leon Panetta spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday and indicated this current crisis is one of the worse in U.S. history.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We're dealing with probably the most serious crisis involving a potential nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis. And it's a time , frankly, where need a president to speak in a steady and calm and stable and responsible way because the rhetoric that's going on is simply fueling this situation and creating something that concerns me , which is that at some point there's a miscalculation. There's a mistake by someone in North Korea or someone in South Korea or someone elsewhere that suddenly has us into a war on the Korean Peninsula. I really do think that what is required now is a lessening of this rhetoric and allow our actions to speak for the United States, not our words.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: We're joined now by Martin Navias, he's a military expert at

Kings College in London.

Thanks so much for joining us, Martin.

Leon Panetta saying Donald Trump is fueling the situation. When we look at the tactics behind this, this latest rhetoric, if you like, this idea of like calling each other's bluff, you hit me and I'll respond in the worst possible way, is there a rationale behind it or just off-the-cuff talk?

MARTIN NAVIAS, KINGS COLLEGE: Well, firstly, I don't agree that it's President Trump's rhetoric that's fueling the situation. OK.

JONES: You --


NAVIAS: I have a different view. If we draw down into what President Trump is saying, there is no difference between what was previously said by U.S. administrations. They have made absolutely clear to the North Koreans if they launch attacks against American territory -- and Guam is an American territory -- then there will be a significant response.

Now the North Koreans are not saying, from my understanding of the statements, that they would actually attack Guam. They say they're bracket it, which means they will try to land missiles to the northeast and west of the island.

But if they do, the Americans now are going to have to respond. Look, the key change here has not been President Trump's rhetoric; the key change has been the ability, which we now believe that the North Koreans have the capability to hit the United States with an nuclear armed missile.

That has changed everything fundamentally --


JONES: But then Donald Trump says that there has been another key change and that's his admission is different to past U.S. administrations and he says something has to be done. I've got to be the one to do it.

NAVIAS: People are quick to very criticize President Trump and sometimes they are correct.

But if we look at the previous administrations, they did not take this rhetorically bombastic approach, bellicose approach, but we have ended up in a situation where, while they may not have appeased North Korea, we have a situation where they've allowed North Korea to acquire the capability to hit the United States with nuclear weapons.

And I don't believe that that is tolerable to the American administration. JONES: What are the options on the table for both the North Koreans and the Americans at the moment?

If you think the Russians and Chinese are still trying to push forward with some sort of denuclearization, if that's completely unpalatable, unacceptable for Pyongyang, what can it do in light of this aggression and this defense from the U.S.?

NAVIAS: There are two issues here, one is the media crisis and one is the general crisis.

In respect of the media crisis, we don't know how Kim Jong-un will respond to the rise in American rhetoric. He may escalate. He may back down. If he escalates and brackets Guam with four Hwasong-12 missiles, the Americans will have to respond.

I suspect the way they will respond is to attempt to shoot it down. I will shoot it down either using Aegis systems deployed on destroyers in the region or using THAAD. If they miss those missiles, that will be an embarrassment and a serious problem but that will be their first response.

JONES: I want to ask you about the rhetoric. We talked about it just now and fire and fury, locked and loaded.

What does this sort of Hollywoodesque rhetoric language used by the U.S. president tell you --


JONES: -- about the mindset and the understanding of the commander in chief?

NAVIAS: I'm not interested in his mindset. I don't know what he's -- whether he has a strategic rationale. I do focus on North Korea. I know the North Koreans take this rhetoric very seriously. It's the first time that the North Koreans are finding rhetorical pushback.

I mean they've been allowed for decades to engage in this bellicose, aggressive behavior. And now it's the first time they are meeting fire -- being met with fire from fire.

JONES: And you applaud that?

NAVIAS: Beg your pardon:

JONES: You applaud that?

NAVIAS: I don't applaud that. I'm saying we don't know whether this will escalate the situation or will downplay the situation.

If I was Kim Jong-un, I would take a step back because Donald Trump is clearly unpredictable and if Kim Jong-un thinks he can carry on with the way that he's carrying on in terms of his deployment and now threatening American territory, the situation may escalate.

JONES: Fascinating to get your insight. Martin Navias, thanks for coming in.

NAVIAS: Thank you.

HOWELL: So that's the situation on North Korea. But the U.S. president also has another nation in mind. Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, President Trump sparks a furious reaction in Venezuela with his suggestion the U.S. might take military action there. Details ahead.

Also protesters hit the streets in several Nairobi neighborhoods after Uhuru Kenyatta's reelection as Kenya's president is confirmed. Around the world this hour, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.




HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM.

So we've been talking about at the top of the show the U.S. president's stern warnings, his words regarding North Korea. Now add to that list Venezuela. President Trump said he won't rule out military intervention in that country. And that has Venezuelan officials expressing disbelief and even defiance.

The nation's defense minister said it would be a, quote, "crazy act."

Also the president of Venezuela's constituent assembly says that Mr. Trump is making, quote, "cowardly, insolent and vile threats."

The White House says Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro asked to speak with Mr. Trump by phone on Friday and was told the president will talk with him when democracy is restored in Venezuela.

Venezuelan government officials plan to issue a formal response to President Trump later on Saturday.

JONES: Earlier, my colleague Kristie Lu Stout spoke with CNN's Rafael Romo about the situation in Venezuela and the reaction there to President Trump's comments.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: You can bet your bottom dollar that over the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro is going to say something over the last few weeks he has been railing against President Trump for different things that his administration has said, including the fact that his government is not a legitimate government and that there needs to be respect for democracy in Venezuela.


ROMO: But so far we haven't heard anything from the regime yet. KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: The situation in Venezuela, it was already in a very unstable situation before those comments by Mr. Trump. After the election, after months of protests and food shortages, what is life like for the people of Venezuela today?

ROMO: Nothing has really changed with the exception of really taking away the last bastion of power that the opposition had. Remember the prior national assembly was under the control of the opposition in Venezuela. So that's over now.

And when it comes to the relationship between Venezuela and the United States, it's important to say that what the president said this Friday about leaving the military option open when it comes to Venezuela, this is very different from what the national security adviser, H.R McMaster said earlier this month on a cable news network here in the United States, MSNBC.

He said -- let me read it to you, Kristie.

He said, "What's really required is for everyone to have one voice about the need to protect the rights and the safety of the Venezuelan people," meaning not the military option but trying to come up with a coalition of countries in the region that can tell Venezuela, this is the way it has to be.

So there's a bit of a difference regarding what the president said and what one of his cabinet members is saying.


HOWELL: Rafael Romo there, speaking with my colleague, Kristie Lu Stout earlier.

So the question remains now, what will the U.S. president do with regard to Venezuela?

I posed that question to the chief legal officer for Human Rights Foundation. Here's what Javier el-Hage (ph) had to say about it.


JAVIER EL-HAGE, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: If the U.S. government were (INAUDIBLE) acting military on military on government in Latin America that threatened U.S. national security and that threatened most importantly the security and the basic premise of their people, they would act regarding Cuba, not in Venezuela will be probably the second country who would think to act.

But so to say today that they're considering a military action against Venezuela, it just doesn't make any sense or against the regime in Venezuela doesn't make any sense in the conflict. So prior U.S. action after the old Soviet Union.

HOWELL: OK, so a lot to talk about here. We've covered a lot of ground here in the last 22 minutes. Joining us live now here in London, Inderjeet Parmar, professor of international politics at City University.

It's always a pleasure to have you here on the show, Inderjeet. So two different nations, Venezuela and of course the rhetoric that we've heard between North Korea and the U.S. president, the one central theme, how seriously should the president's comments be taken?

So the first question, President Trump's comments that he wouldn't rule out military intervention in Venezuela, this is not in line with what we've heard before from his national security adviser.

So what do you make of it?

INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY LONDON: Well, I think what we have to make of President Trump's words is very often that he speaks off the cuff. He speaks about actions which haven't actually been discussed with the relevant bureaucracies within Washington, D.C.

So as soon as he made the statement to that, military options are on the table with regard to Venezuela, the Pentagon actually contradicted him. So I think this part of the kind of unpredictability of Donald Trump's statements. And I think causes a great deal of disruption in understandings among those who may be foes of the United States but also very critically among his allies as well.


PARMAR: -- adds to the feeling on unpredictability.

ALLEN: That's the point that I was going to ask you about, the word "unpredictability," the question now North Korea, who is more unpredictable?

The President of the United States or the leader of the DPRK?

The president, the U.S. president said the military is locked and loaded, escalating rhetoric there for sure.

But as far as the deployment of additional resources or the evacuation of civilian personnel, that has not happened yet as per our most recent reporting.

All the while, we understand, diplomatic efforts are under way in the background.

So again, how might this be perceived by the leader of North Korea and his next steps?

PARMAR: I think that unpredictability that we've just talked about, I think is going to probably suggest that the North Korean leader, who is the grandson of the original leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is probably going to react very predictably; that is he's going to probe the United States.

He's going to look at all the past comments and statements made by the Trump administration and about his perceived unpredictability. He said that Donald Trump, for example, has said that he would like to have a burger with Kim Jong-un at some point. Then he's threatened that country with fire and fury. So therein lies a big problem --


PARMAR: -- that is, what exactly is the United States going to do?

The U.S. has vacillated on many big international questions, whether NATO is obsolete or not obsolete; whether to interfere in Syria or not to interfere and so on.

So I suspect that Kim is going to react very predictably; that is he's going to probe further exactly what the Trump administration might do. And I think that's what really escalates the situation.

And effectively what happened is that the two leaders have talked themselves up to such a high level of tension that their credibility is on the line, at home and abroad. And I think that is where the danger really lies, is what are they willing to do in order to maintain their credibility, given that each one is drawing red lines around what each might do if the other does something else.

HOWELL: Let's shift over now to more domestic issue here in the United States, this feud that's taking place between President Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Health care is still the point of difficulty. Let's listen to what President Trump had to say and we can talk about it here in a moment.


TRUMP: This is very important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, a number of Republican senators have (INAUDIBLE) and said that you're -- Senate majority leader McConnell in the last day or so.

What do you make of that?

And have you reached out --


TRUMP: I don't make anything of it. We should have had health care approved. He should have known that he had a couple of votes that turned on him and that should have been very easy to handle, whether it's through the fact that you take away a committee chairmanship or do whatever you have to do.

But what happened in my opinion last week is unacceptable. People have been talking about repeal and replace for seven years, long before I ever --


HOWELL: So just a few weeks back, the president's attorney general was on the hot seat; now Mr. McConnell.

What's to be gained, Inderjeet, by a president openly attacking members of his own party?

PARMAR: Well, he's not just attacking members of his own party; he's attacking the leadership of the Republican establishment. And we've known from the beginning of Donald Trump's candidacy for the Republican Party nomination and so on is that he's very much against the establishment of both main political parties, including the Republican Party itself.

And I think he's now basically trying to position himself in various ways. He's got a mass base of voters. That mass of voters does not trust the Republican establishment within the Congress, either and I think he's really playing to that particular set of people.

He wants to differentiate himself from the failures of replace and repeal in order to shift the blame onto the Senate and onto McConnell and the rest of the Republicans, some Republicans and the Democrats and effectively come out unscathed as if he has nothing to do with this kind of failure.

HOWELL: Inderjeet Parmar for us in London, thank you.

PARMAR: Thank you.

JONES: We turn our attention to Kenya now, where demonstrations broke out in several neighborhoods of the capital, Nairobi, after electoral officials declared on Friday that President Uhuru Kenyatta has been reelected.

Police say one person was killed during protests in the town of Kisumu in Western Kenya. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga is among those rejecting the final election tally, claiming that the vote last week was hacked.

Mr. Kenyatta will now serve a second term. He's urging peace and says it's time for Kenyans to put their differences aside. Our Farai Sevenzo joins me now live from Nairobi.

Farai, deadly clashes over the night.

What's the latest on the streets?

Are these protests continuing?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's been rumblings, Hannah, in Mr. Odinga's strongholds, mainly here in the high-density suburbs of Mathare as well as in Kibera.

But overnight -- and we must also remember that there was a lot of exuberance on behalf of Mr. Kenyatta's supporters and the police tell us that four people died.

But the real worry is what's going to happen to this entire bloc of Odinga supporters, who continue to claim that these elections were rigged. So we are waiting to hear from the security minister, Mr. Fred Matiang'i, about half an hour's time, when he will address these issues to the local press. JONES: Uhuru Kenyatta as well, trying to do the -- what seems like an

insurmountable challenge, trying to unify a very divided country. Raila Odinga, is he also on board with that, trying to unify the country?

And does Kenyatta have the mandate and the support of the people to do the job?

SEVENZO: Absolutely not, Hannah. I'm afraid to say that when opposition left the tallying center yesterday, they were very emphatic in their rejection or the polls and the 54.24 percent that they gave to Mr. Kenyatta.

Remember, Hannah, this is a long, rumbling kind of competition between the two men. And that competition has seeped into their supporters. The opposition said they don't even want to go to the cause. They say that it is not an alternative to them, that they've been three before, which begs the question, what is it that they're going to do?


So we're anxiously awaiting to hear from Mr. Odinga's party. And of course they also rounded on the observers. We're talking about John Kerry, the former president of Ghana, former prime minister of Senegal, and said these people should have been vetted, that -- allegations that they're (INAUDIBLE) that this has been a free and fair poll was way too early. They rushed to judgment.

So it remains very contentious on the political side and that seeps in into the streets -- Hannah.

HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: Farai Sevenzo with the very latest from Nairobi on the fallout from the Kenyan elections, thank you.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, how Russia is reacting to the escalating threat between the United States and North Korea. Stay with us for that.




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 4:33 am here on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

JONES: And I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. It's 9:33 this Saturday morning here in London. Let's bring you up to speed with the headlines.


HOWELL: Russia's foreign minister is weighing in on the escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea. He says that Moscow -- [04:35:00]

HOWELL: -- is concerned by the belligerent rhetoric and is urging both countries to keep calm.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The risks are very high, especially taking into account the rhetoric, their direct threats to use force and the U.S. Defense secretary Mattis once again said yesterday that it would involve a huge number of human casualties.

Nevertheless, the discussion about the need to carry out a preventative strike on North Korea continues and the talk from Pyongyang about the need to strike Guam and the American military base does not stop. This is very worrying.


HOWELL: Let's talk more on the Russian position about this situation with Phil Black, live for us in Moscow.

Phil, Russia joining with China here, urging restraint, saying essentially the burden is on stronger nations to walk away.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was the message from Sergey Lavrov, George. What Russia wants, what China wants, what they've both been talking about for some time is that you must talk. It's the only solution here. There is no military solution to this.

So everyone's got to get around a table and try and thrash something out. Now that's obvious easier said than done; how do you achieve that?

Well, they're advocating a so-called double freeze whereby if North Korea promises to stop testing its missiles and nuclear devices and the United States promises to stop holding big military drills with South Korea, then it's possible an atmosphere could be created where everyone is able to open some sort of dialogue.

Sergey Lavrov says the Americans have always rejected that approach because they argue that North Korea's tests are outlawed by the Security Council. There is nothing wrong with allies like the United States and South Korea holding military drills and exercises together.

But Lavrov's message is that he believes that when it's getting this close to a fight then, yes, it comes down to, in his words, the stronger and the smarter person to step away from the dangerous line.

He is really saying, implying that he believes it's up to the United States here to take a step back from the sort of heated language and rhetoric and the tension that has marked this crisis so sharply over the last week or so -- George.

HOWELL: All right. We're also hearing more about Mr. Trump's initial comments, thanking the Russian president for reducing staff essentially there at the embassy in Moscow. Here's the most recent comment from the president. We can talk about this here on the other side, Phil.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, were you being sarcastic when you thanked Vladimir Putin for expelling 755 diplomats from Russia?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order to reduce our payroll, absolutely. I think you know that. I think you know that. We'll see. In fact, I was just speaking to the secretary and we're talking about coming up with an answer...

When, Rex?

Tell me.


TRUMP: By September 1st we'll have a response. But we have reduced payroll very substantially. Yes.


HOWELL: The president there, loose, very -- you know, owning what he had to say there. You could see that Rex Tillerson a little more, you know, of course, representing the State Department. We understand that the comment didn't go over so well among staff.

The question here, Phil, how is that being perceived, with the president just saying hey, being sarcastic?

BLACK: Remember, George, this forced reduction in staff here is a direct result of U.S. Congress passing the new sanctions bill against Russia. This was the Russian response too that, to, as you heard there, reduce the number of workers at America's diplomatic mission, hereby around 755 people.

That's a huge number. That's more than 50 percent. By reducing payroll, to use the president's terminology, you must inevitably reduce capability as well. So what we will hear on September 1st, when the State Department officially responds to the Russian order, is, well, just how the American diplomatic mission is going to continue to function with such a reduced staff.

The expectation is that it will be local Russian workers that bear the brunt of the cuts. That said, these are important workers who maintain the support, the facilities that allow America's diplomats and others to continue to do the work that they do here.

So the interesting thing ultimately, and it is perhaps why it's not going over so well with some people, is that the American president is essentially thanking the Russian government for forcing it to scale back, hollow out one of its most important diplomatic missions anywhere in the world. HOWELL: Phil Black, live for us in Moscow. Thank you for the reporting today.

JONES: With a lot of focus on the rhetoric from the U.S. at the moment, I'm referring to the U.S. military as locked and loaded, Mr. Trump, Donald Trump went back to Twitter to illustrate that point.

He retweeted U.S. Pacific Command, which had posted pictures of B-1 bombers stationed in Guam. The U.S. has made it clear that it does not want a shooting war with North Korea.


JONES: However, if missiles do indeed start flying, CNN's Tom Foreman explains what would likely happen next.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If North Korea were to launch one of these Hwasong missiles toward Guam, it should take between 14 to 18 minutes to arrive but the moment it lifts off the U.S. would initiate something called the THAAD tracking system.

This involves very sophisticated land-based radar as it passed out to sea, sea-based radar, there would be another radar system in Japan that would be triggered and even some monitoring from space that would be involved.

All aimed at determining how big this is, how fast it's moving and precisely what it is headed toward. If through all of that they determine that they needed to take it out in flight, then they would launch missiles from Guam, aimed in a countervailing way to come in and meet that threat. Theoretically to hit it in the sky and tear it apart.

If they don't successfully do it in this way, there are Patriot missiles on Guam which could also be use to try to stop the incoming threat if that were the case.

What happens afterward?

That is another big question. We don't really know. We're not saying the U.S. should respond or would respond. We're saying when they talk about being locked and loaded, that's because there are a lot of assets there if they wanted to respond.

Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base, this is the home, by the way, to some of the most advanced attack aircraft in the U.S. arsenal: F-22, F-35, B-2, these are all stealth aircraft which could be sent in very quickly to try to take out the radar systems in North Korea and their air defense systems, which are quite robust, and they could be followed by the B-1, which carries the heaviest bombs in the U.S. arsenal, aside from nuclear bombs.

And they would be capable of busting up four to five bunkers underground for the nuclear program and the missile program. And in addition to all of that, bear in mind, there are about a dozen destroyers and cruisers, which could launch Tomahawk-guided missiles at more than 500 miles an hour toward other targets in North Korea.


HOWELL: Tom Foreman with an explanation there.

Tom, thank you.

Officials in Guam have posted emergency guidelines in case of an attack but they are also urging calm. CNN's Ivan Watson reports from the island at the center of this geopolitical showdown.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. B-1 bombers taking off from Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam, part of daily operations at this strategic U.S. launch pad in the Western Pacific.

Forty percent of Guam's economy depends on military spending. So installations like Andersen Air Force Base are small cities, home to thousands of service personnel and their family members.

There are around 5,300 military personnel stationed at Andersen and at Guam's naval base. U.S. officers here emphasize Guam is more than just a military posting.

CHRIS OCCHIUZZO, DEPUTY OPERATIONS GROUP COMMANDER, ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE: The majority of the people here, we live here. So I live here. My wife lives here. My two daughters live here. My son lives here.

We go to Tumon Bay, my son go - they go to school here, we go to Jeff's Pirates Cove, so we obviously have a vested interest in here. And we feel safe here right now. And that's what this continuous bomber presence does. It assures our allies and deters our adversaries.

WATSON (voice-over): It is Guam's military installations and its geographic proximity to the Korean Peninsula that have made it the target of verbal threats from the North Korean regime.


WATSON (voice-over): Guam's homeland security advisor says it would only take 14 minutes for a missile to reach Guam from North Korea, provided the weapon penetrates multiple layers of missile defense.

Local authorities also published this emergency fact sheet, advising civilians what to do in the event of an attack from a missile armed with a nuclear warhead.

And yet the governor insists the threat level to Guam has not been raised.

EDDIE CALVO, GOVERNOR OF GUAM: When the drumbeats of war are being beaten so loudly, it's important to really be clear about the facts and with the facts represented to the people and also urge everyone to be vigilant but also not to panic.

WATSON (voice-over): More than 160,000 American civilians call this island home. While there's no sign of panic here, there is concern.

ASHLEY FLORES, GUAM RESIDENT: It's natural to be scared. We're human.

Ashley Flores says she's instructed her 6- and 8-year-old children what to do in the event of a missile attack.

FLORES: They're in school, to follow the teachers' rules. It's scary if Mommy and Daddy's not there. But as long as you have instructions and you listen --


FLORES: -- try your best to follow it.

WATSON (voice-over): Difficult lessons to teach anyone living in this tropical paradise -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Guam.


JONES: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM this hour, American diplomats in Cuba targeted in a bizarre attack. Why U.S. officials are taking that situation so seriously.




JONES: Welcome back. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London.

U.S. authorities are investigating a so-called acoustic attack on American diplomats in Cuba. Their symptoms resemble concussions but one official say they could also suffer permanent hearing loss. Our Patrick Oppmann explains how this attack ties into the long troubled relations between the United States and Cuba.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba has gone from being a foreign posting to a possible crime scene.

At least five U.S. diplomats in late 2016 mysteriously fell ill, some suffering from concussion-like symptoms and hearing loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our Americans were not safe. They were not secure, obviously, because something has happened to them. We take that very seriously. OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. officials blame acoustic attacks carried out by sophisticated devices that emit a sound that isn't audible but can cause physical harm. Who carried out the attacks isn't known but the U.S. says Cuba didn't do enough to protect the American diplomats and expelled two Cuban diplomats working in the U.S.

OPPMANN: Cuba denies any involvement in attacks and says it is cooperating with the investigation, even allowing FBI agents to travel to the island. One U.S. official says the United States is looking into whether a third country could be involved, perhaps seeking payback or trying to create friction between the U.S. and Cuba.

OPPMANN (voice-over): But this incident is hardly the first example of undiplomatic behavior between Cuba and the U.S., who, for years, have harassed each other's diplomats.

Former U.S. diplomat James Cason says that thousands of Cuban state security agents monitored U.S. diplomats when he was in Havana and often let them know they were there.

JAMES CASON, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: They would break into your house and do things to show you that they had control of your existence. In my days, if they knew you didn't like spiders, you would find a tarantula walking around your house.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. and Cuba broke off relations shortly before the CIA's failed Bay of Pigs invasion. But 16 years later they reopened intersections in each other's capitals.

Soon the U.S. intersection in Havana became another front line in the Cold War. Fidel Castro led marches there, attended by hundreds of thousands of people. They called the U.S. diplomatic mission a, quote, "nest of spies."

Occasionally the strong-arm tactics backfired. When the dog belonging to the family of --


OPPMANN (voice-over): -- U.S. diplomat Vicki Huddleston was kicked out of a Cuban dog show club, the Cuban government was shamed for harassing even diplomats' pets.

VICKI HUDDLESTON, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: The government became sufficiently embarrassed that Fidel said to a visiting delegation, I'm going to give her husband's dog a pardon (ph).

OPPMANN (voice-over): But after the U.S. and Cuba resumed full diplomatic relations in 2015 and then President Barack Obama's visit to the island, U.S. officials said they were hopeful that they would enter into a new more professional era of relations with Cuba.

But it may be that with these new mystery attacks on U.S. diplomats in Havana, that old habits are hard to break -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

HOWELL: Patrick, thanks for the report.

A judge has dismissed a disc jockey's lawsuit against Taylor Swift for lack of evidence. David Mueller says that he was fired from his radio job because the pop star accused him of groping her at an event in 2013.

Swift's attorney argued in court that the deejay's issue was with the radio station and not his client. Here's what he said after the ruling.


I couldn't be more proud (INAUDIBLE) situation like this. And I am grateful to say Judge Martinez (ph) (INAUDIBLE) people (INAUDIBLE).


HOWELL (voice-over): Mueller's case against Swift's mother and the radio promotions director will continue on Monday, along with Swift's countersuit against the deejay. She says that he touched her inappropriately, which he denies.

JONES: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, buried under fire and at an ancient city has finally been discovered. We'll tell you how Little Pompeii has been preserved for centuries.




HOWELL: The world's oldest man died in Haifa, Israel, on Friday. He was 113 years old. The Guinness Book of Records recognized Israel Kristal as the world's oldest man last year. He was born in Poland on September 15th, 1903.

Kristal lived through two world wars and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp but he lost his first wife and two children in the Holocaust. After World War II, Kristal remarried and then moved to Israel. He is survived by two children, multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

JONES: Archaeologists in Southern France have uncovered a Roman settlement that dates back to the 1st century. It's nicknamed Little Pompeii because ash from fires helped to preserve these ruins.

Much as ancient Pompeii was buried under the volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius, our Erin McLaughlin takes a closer look now.



ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nestled near the town of Vienne, an amphitheater thousands of years old, a reminder of the town's past as a connecting point for the great cities of ancient Rome.

Not far away, a new and extraordinary discovery, part of the ancient town perfectly preserved. Thousands of years ago, a fire ripped through it, encasing the foundation in ash. They call it the French Pompeii.

Archaeologist Ben Clement is leading the excavation.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Before, this area was to be turned into a construction site. The company he works for discovered the ruins.

BEN CLEMENT, ARCHEOLOGIST: It's really, really crazy, we think. It's like a dream for me.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The site's split into two main discoveries, an ancient shopping mall and a great house, once belonging to a Roman aristocrat. At the entryway of the house, a symbol of the empire's far reach.

CLEMENT: So just right here, I'm standing on the marble floor. To highlight the color, the decoration, and you can see chromatic innovation of the glow which purple, white here, is one of mother come from Turkey. Here we have a green mother, come from Greece. And here we have a yellow-pink mother, come from Tunisia.

MCLAUGHLIN: So this is a real representation of the Roman Empire.

CLEMENT: Exactly.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): It's a treasure trove of artifacts, many of them already lifted from the soil and sent away for study. Breathtaking mosaics, a depiction of Bacchus, the god of wine, and a rare honor medal, a gift from the emperor Commode.

The most extraordinary find, the shopping mall, where Roman craftsmen once plied their wares. Here, the remains of a food stall. Porcelain canisters once used to hold wine, oils and fish, each a rare glimpse into what it was like for the Roman middle and lower classes.

CLEMENT: IT's exactly the same life as us. You have some ways to (INAUDIBLE) cook your little part and the back of the stove for your family and to live. So we find exactly the same system we can find in India or in North Africa.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eventually this slice of history will once again succumb to the needs of the modern world. Once this area has been completely excavated and artifacts removed to nearby museums, this site will be totally leveled to make way for a parking garage and housing complex.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): So take a moment and imagine what life was like all those years ago -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Vienne.


HOWELL: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

JONES: And I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. George and I are back with more news from around the world right after the break. See you then.