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Ten Sailors Missing in U.S. Destroyer Collision; Trump to Announce New Strategy for Afghanistan; Pyongyang Threatens "Merciless Strike" on U.S.; International Manhunt for Barcelona Attack Suspect; Inside Quiet Town Where Suspected Terrorists Lived; Trump White House; Solar Eclipse. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM -- everyone.

We're starting the hour with breaking news. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing after a U.S. guided missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship near Singapore early Monday morning.

The U.S. Navy says ten sailors are missing from the USS John S. McCain and five re injured. We're told there is some damage to the ship with flooding in several places but for now it's moving to port under its own power.

Now this is the fourth mishap involving a U.S. Navy warship in the Pacific this year. The U.S. president tweeted about the collision a short while ago saying "Thoughts and prayers are with our U.S. Navy aboard the USS John S. McCain where search and rescue efforts are under way."

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Tokyo monitoring. Kyung -- tell me about the search and rescue efforts first and foremost.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We just got a release from the U.S. Navy. And we are hearing that the search is still ongoing as we speak. They are searching for ten missing sailors at sea after this collision between the USS McCain and this oil tanker.

So what we are told is that multiple items are being deployed to that region for that search and rescue. The U.S. Navy has deployed helicopters. The U.S. Marines have deployed their Ospreys. The Singaporean navy as well as the Malaysian Army -- Navy, excuse me, have all deployed resources to that area, with the goal of trying to find those sailors.

We are also hearing from the U.S. Navy that five sailors were injured -- four of them have been air-lifted to a Singaporean hospital. They're injuries are described Cyril as non-life threatening and of the injured sailors, we understand, does remain on the USS McCain. But right now, that search effort focusing on trying to find those ten missing -- Cyril.

VANIER: So look how did this collision with a tanker happen in the first place?

LAH: Well, we don't know the details as of yet. We are told that the damage to the USS McCain did happen to the rear left. That's about as much detail as we're getting from the U.S. Navy right now.

But let's take a look at what the Strait of Malacca is. This is a heavily congested port. It is a narrow port. There is a lot of traffic through this area. And in most narrow part of the strait, it's only about two nautical miles across.

So this is a heavily congested area. We don't know exactly what led up to it. We are hearing, though, from the U.S. Navy that the USS John McCain did briefly lose steering power right before the collision. That's a U.S. Navy official speaking to CNN.

We do not know specifically if that was the exact cause of it. We just know that as far as timing, that that is what happened right before but that the steering has now been regained -- Cyril.

Is the ship at this hour and the rest of the crew safe, as far as we know?

LAH: As far as we know, USS John McCain is returning to port on its own power. That's about the extent of it. It's moving, so we know that, you know, it's able to steer ahead. As far as whether or not the crew is safe, what the Navy is telling us that the emphasis remains on finding the missing.

So our belief at this point is that the McCain is able to return to port, that the other sailors are safe, and that they are trying to simply find those ten missing -- Cyril.

VANIER: Yes. And a word to our audience, I'm asking whether the U.S. military ship is safe. The reason I'm not asking the same thing about the tanker, you have to understand these tankers are far bigger, far heavier and sustain a lot less damage in this kind of collision.

Kyung -- there have been multiple collisions involving the U.S. Navy this year alone in that part of the world. I mean it's surprising, you can put it that way.

LAH: Well, you know, there's been a review of the collision, the most recent collision in the last two months between the USS Fitzgerald and a container vessel. So that review is ongoing and a report was just issued. There was another collision earlier in the year, and then another ship -- another ship that also went aground.

All of this happening in this region so certainly we anticipate tha the U.S. Navy will also issue some sort of review, try to figure out exactly how this accident happened.

VANIER: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. We're monitoring from Tokyo and, of course, we're wondering what the fate is of those ten sailors that are missing.

We'll bring in our CNN military analyst Rick Francona shortly. I want to tell you about Republican Senator John McCain. He tweeted his best wishes to the crew of the ship saying, "Cindy and I are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain in our prayers tonight. Appreciate the work of search and rescue crews."

You will have noticed, of course, that that ship carries his name. The destroyer's named after the Senator's father and grandfather. They were both Navy admirals. He himself was a captain in the U.S. Navy.

[00:05:06] Now, U.S. President Donald Trump will address the nation Monday night to explain his strategy for Afghanistan. The President's team has been working on new military plan for months now.

Mr. Trump is said to have been frustrated by the lack of progress against the Taliban and other militants. The U.S. has more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Here's Defense Secretary James Mattis.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: -- not willing to make significant troop (inaudible) until we make certain we knew what was the strategy, what was the commitment going in.

In that regard, the President has made a decision, as he said. He wants to be the one to announce it to the American people so I'll stand silent until then -- until that point.


VANIER: General Mattis had told lawmakers in June that he would be able to present a strategy by mid-July. Now, that didn't happen. Deliberations dragged past that deadline.

Advisers have been presenting President Trump with a range of options including a surge in troop numbers or a full withdrawal.

CNN's Elise Labott has more on those.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has decided on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan -- the longest war in American history.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that on Monday the President will lay out that strategy in an address to the American people.

Now, on Friday the President met at Camp David to review his options with his top national security aides including Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Vice President Mike Pence.

The White House has been taking an exhaustive month-long review of U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and has been accused by many in Congress of dragging its feet.

Now, back in February, General Nicholson, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan requested a few thousand troops to break what he said was essentially a stalemate with the Taliban.

Now Secretary Mattis said all options are on the table, ranging from a surge in troops to a complete withdrawal. Now, one proposal, former White House strategist Steve Bannon argued for involves a shifting of responsibilities to private contractors or mercenaries, if you will.

We're hearing a bump of about 4,000 troops, mostly advisers that would embed with local units of the Afghan National Army is likely. It's not a major departure from the current strategy being pursued in Afghanistan. But a decision on troop levels is just component of the strategy.

Defense Secretary Mattis noted this is a full South Asia strategy including the need to pressure Pakistan to stop providing safe haven to the Taliban, and other extremist groups operating in the country.

Elise Labott, CNN -- Washington.


VANIER: We've got CNN military analyst Rick Francona with us now. Rick -- good to have you with us. There are two big stories that we need your military expertise on. I'll get your tugs on the missing sailors -- we were talking about that -- in just a moment.

But first let's continue on Afghanistan for a moment. Is a military victory in Afghanistan possible?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it depends on what we're willing to do to achieve it. If we're going to continue the current strategy, it doesn't appear to be. And I think that's what the big problem was with getting a strategy articulated by the President because there was so much disagreement among the National Security Council and national security staff on how to pursue the goals in Afghanistan. And no one really had a clear vision of what we wanted to do.

And the President is weighing all of his options. I think we have to do something different because as you say, 16 years, what do we have to show for it?

I think Secretary Mattis said we seem to be fighting the same war, you know, a one-year war 16 times. So we' got to do something different. What we're doing now is not working. So we'll find out tomorrow night what that strategy is going to be.

I'm hoping that if he does put more troops in there, these not just be will the continuation of the train, advise, and assist. We'll also put some U.S. combat forces in there, particularly in that area near Jalalabad where the ISIS Korasan group is. We have to go after them. That seems to be one of the priorities right now. VANIER: Rick -- you mentioned something that seems to me to be the

key here is the goals in this war -- the goals of the United States. I mean, it's been 16 years, and that seems to have been lost in the conversation. What's in it for the United States? Why is the U.S. even staying in Afghanistan that warrants a military effort?

FRANCONA: Yes, good question. And, you know, people are asking, why are we still there, what was our original goal in Afghanistan 16 yrs ago? It was to defeat al Qaeda and then all of a sudden we were in nation building and now we're taking on the Taliban.

So we have this shifting goal post. We're not quite sure why we're there. So hopefully the President will articulate just why we're there and how we go about achieving whatever that goal is.

[00:09:59] How do you define victory? Is it the removal of a safe haven for ISIS and al Qaeda? Is it the defeat of the Taliban? Is it the replacement of the current structure in the government? I'd like to hear what the President has to say.

VANIER: And Rick, the other big story we need your expertise on, we opened the show with this collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a tanker off the coast of Singapore. What's your outlook right now on the missing sailors? We're some seven hours after the crash right now.

FRANCONA: Yes, this is not looking good. Of course, the longer the time goes, the less the chances are. Although it is daylight, that's a good thing. We've got a lot of search and rescue assets involved in looking at this.

And you know, the water is relatively survivable. So if they're in the water that's -- they have a chance. And we are putting the assets to go out and get them. I'm hoping that as they do a head count on the ship, some of them will turn up.

The focus on the ship right now is keeping that ship afloat. It's moving under its own power. The fact that it's moving and not remaining in the area means they have to get to port.

If you look at the picture of the damage, you'll see that the puncture was below the waterline -- at the waterline and below. That's because these -- as you mentioned, this is a 30,000-ton tanker with a protruding bow. And it punches a hole in that hull and causes water to flow in very quickly so they've only got a few minutes to water seal that ship and get it to port.

So I think they're focused on that. Everybody is really, really concerned about these ten sailors.

VANIER: Look, Rick -- what surprises me even more than the fact we're having this conversation and that there was this collision is that we had the same conversation less than two months ago at the time of another collision -- at the time it was the USS Fitzgerald. Seven sailors died in that one. So do you think that -- I mean is this just the cost of doing business for Navy in busy shipping lanes or does something need to change within the U.S. Navy?

FRANCONA: Once we find out what happened, I think we'll have the answer to that. But this is eerily similar. And you're right, we had this conversation two months ago and we were amazed at how a Navy destroyer with all of the sophisticated electronics and communications gear couldn't get out of the way of these commercial ships.

So we're going to have that same investigation now. I think what we're going to see, at least in the Seventh Fleet is a top-to-bottom review of procedures and maritime protocols and find out what's going on.

You saw that the three senior -- the two senior officers and the command master chief onboard the Fitzgerald were relieved for cause. So there was something there that was not going on. Poor seamanship was what the report said. We'll have to see what happened on the McCain as well.

VANIER: All right. Rick Francona -- appreciate your expertise at this hour. Thank you very much.

And the U.S. is facing other challenges in East Asia. It's taking part in the military drills getting under way in South Korea and that has Pyongyang issuing new threats now.

On Sunday, North Korean state media called the drills reckless and said that they were a move towards possible nuclear war. It also said its military can target Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland at any time with a quote, "merciless strike".

Now, the Kim regime sees the annual drills as practice for an invasion but the U.S. and South Korea say they're purely defensive. All this comes after North Korea threatened to fire missiles towards Guam earlier this month.

Paula Hancocks is in Seoul monitoring this, of course. Paula -- are these specific military drills any different this year now that North Korea has intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril that's not the sort of information we can get from the U.S. military but what you do know is that they are obviously trying to make sure that they are ready to fight given the threat that is currently over the Korean Peninsula.

So even though these drills, they say, are planned months in advance, you would imagine that -- that they may have changed something, or they would be taking into consideration what the so-called enemy can do. Now they do always say that they're not specifically thinking about North Korea when they're planning these military drills but clearly that is why these U.S. troops are stationed here in South Korea. Now, we heard from the Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He spoke to reporters saying that North Korea knows that these drills are defensive in nature. He says clearly they have to say something different for their domestic audience, but there shouldn't be even any room for miscalculation because they know they're defensive in nature.

The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-In just this morning saying they're defensive in nature. Also saying that they are not intended to raise tensions -- Cyril.

VANIER: And yet are they more dangerous this year in light of the recent comments and the recent rhetoric by the U.S. President? I mean he said fire and fury could come down on North Korea the likes of which has never been seen. He said the U.S. military is locked and loaded. Does that make things more volatile?

[00:15:09] HANCOCKS: Certainly. When you have this kind of bellicose rhetoric on both sides of the argument, it is going to raise the tension.

We've seen the fact that it has raised tensions here in Korea. You have these military drills, which there are big ones happening in the spring and then big ones that are happening right now in late summer. And without fail every single year, North Korea reacts to them. They see them as a dress rehearsal to an invasion. They condemn them. And they call them provocative by the U.S. and South Korea.

But of course, this time when tensions are already higher, when you have this kind of threat from North Korea saying there will be a merciless strike, this is reckless behavior, it is a little more concerning. But of course, these are the threats that they give every single time there is a military drill.

These particular ones, Ulchi Freedom Guardian -- they start today. They go on for ten days. They're more of a computer simulation. So you're not going to see the images of thousands of U.S. Marines landing on a beach in South Korea. You're not going to see the very dramatic live-fire drills that you see in the spring.

Potentially that could be seen as less provocative to North Korea. But quite frankly, we jus have to wait and see what kind of reaction they have -- Cyril.

VANIER: Absolutely. And wait we will.

Paula -- you'll be here to comment on this and help us understand every step of the way. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, as Barcelona tries to heal from last week's deadly terror attack, the hunt for the man responsible is going beyond Spain's borders.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good day to you. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri here on a Monday looking at what's happening on a picture across the North America region plus into the United States where we have generally clear skies across the northwestern corner of the U.S. and onto southern British Columbia.

But you notice as you approach the eastern half of the country, you get a lot more cloud cover, a lot more thunderstorm activity as of course, you would expect into the heart of the summer season. A lot of people are going to be out there looking for the eclipse across this region.

And guess what, there's going to be a lot of clouds to go with that as well as it's scattered about this region in particular as you approach portions of say Southern Illinois into Missouri as well where thunderstorms are expected to blossom into the afternoon hours.

So we'll shoot for around 30 out Denver, Winnipeg 20 the best we can do for you, Chicago around about 31 degrees afternoon thunderstorms but s Sunshine should prevail out of Atlanta make it up to the lower 30s across that region.

And it looks like finally a little bit of a cooling trend across the southern tier of the United States -- Charlotte and Atlanta get it on a slight cooling trend by late week. Same goes for Washington and in New York City, around 27 by the time we approach the latter portion of the week.

Into the tropics we go where we have a trio of areas of disturbed weather. The best bet, work your way down towards areas around Costa Rica and Nicaragua where an 80 percent probability we have any disturbance here over the next several days but right now, just watching for some thunderstorms. Belize City around 30 degrees, Guatemala City into the middle 20s.

[00:20:09] Weather photos -- please share it.


VANIER: A search for a suspect in Spain's twin terror attacks is now an international manhunt. Spanish police fear that he may have fled the country. Meanwhile, investigators are learning more about the terror cell and the extent of its plans.

Isa Soares explains.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Standing strong and united, a defiant Barcelona living up to its motto, "More than a club". Today -- a city -- a fitting ending to what had been a solemn day.

Earlier Spaniards gathered outside the symbolic Sagrada Familia. Inside, Spain's King Felipe and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pay tribute to those who died and the more than 100 injured. But prayers hadn't even been heard when the tragedy of August 17th was relived once more. Authorities telling CNN seven-year old Julian Cadman thought to be missing was confirmed dead.

As the country continues to come together, both to grieve and to mourn, police are making strides on what has become an increasingly complex investigation.

JOSEP LLUIS TRAPERO, HEAD OF THE CATALAN POLICE (through translator): They had planned one or more attacks in Barcelona with explosives that were made during these days in the hopes of causing even greater damage.

SOARES: The grand plan orchestrated from right here. They may have long gone, but their shadow continues to haunt the sleepy town.

For days now, controlled explosions have rocked Alcanar. Police carefully sifting through rubble and the pile of explosives, taking stock of the magnitude of what was being planned.

TRAPERO: The number of canisters is more than 100 at the moment. But the inspection isn't over yet. It will probably last days, because it's a very slow process.

As you know, this is the kind of explosive used habitually in Daesh attacks. And we're finding the ingredients to make this kind of explosive.

SOARES: For six months they squatted in this house, until a mistake by them forced their hand. Since that explosion, police say they discovered human remains belonging to two suspected terrorists. A third suffered serious injuries and is now under arrest.

As the pieces of the puzzle come together, this man, Younes Abouyaaquob, is still on the run. Police may have intensified the hunt with reinforcements in highways and borders but five days on from the terror attack they acknowledge he may have fled through the night.

Isa Soares, CNN -- Barcelona.


VANIER: And Spanish police arrested several suspected members of that terror cell in the quiet town of Ripoll.

Melissa Bell went there and this is what she found.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, the quiet town of Ripoll was known mostly for its ninth century monastery -- until now.

In the town's center, the families, not of the victims of Barcelona and Cambrils but of the suspected attackers -- among them, Fatima Abouyaaquob, whose brother Mohamed Hychami was one of the five men killed by police as they launched an attack in the town of Cambrils.

FATIMA ABOUYAAQUOB, SISTER OF SUSPECTED TERRORIST: I'm still waiting for it to be a lie. That they've made a mistake. What can it be? It's not my brother because my brother is very normal. He's friends with everyone. Just ask his colleagues at (inaudible). His friends, they're Catalans.

BELL: Her brother was not alone. Eight of the suspected Barcelona and Cambrils terrorists from this small town. Their families gathered Saturday night in grief. But also, to disown the terror attacks. The placards read "Not in my name".

On the outskirts of Ripoll, investigators have sealed off an apartment where the youngest of the alleged attackers Mousa Oukabir lived. One of Mousa's cousins turns up. He says he wants to collect belongings but is quickly escorted out. In shock, he can't believe what's happened. Mousa, he says, must have been brainwashed.

A neighbor tells us what the family was like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they were normal people but they didn't talk much. No, no, they didn't talk.

If they could avoid saying hello to you, they would.

[00:25:05] BELL: The Cafeteria Esperanza is a Moroccan bar where most of the Ripoll suspects would meet to drink mint tea. Even today, their former friends are inside doing just that, but watching the news with a sense of disbelief.

They simply can't believe, they say, that the men they knew so well, men who drank, men who ran orderly lives and who particularly religious might have carried out such atrocities. They also expressed a sense of anger, that they should have been committed in the name of Islam.

Only 5 percent of Ripoll's 11,000-strong population is Muslim. The town is peaceful and although proudly Catalonian, happily integrated, say local officials.

JORDI GUNNI MENINO, RIPOLL ASSISTANT MAYOR: We work together, the Muslim community and the local (inaudible) to make different activities and built bridges to be a normal community.

BELL: A normal community whose peace has been shattered. The makeshift mosque where Mousa Oukabir prayed is now shuttered to the outside world and to its many questions.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Ripoll.


VANIER: President Trump returns from vacation to fresh upheaval in the White House. The political turmoil when we come back after the break.


VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

Let's look at your headlines this hour.



VANIER: The U.S. president's announcement of his plans for Afghanistan are following an exceptionally tumultuous week for Donald Trump. His statements on the deadly white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, triggered a tsunami of political fallout.

His two business advisory groups fell apart as CEOs quit in protest over the president's remarks. Here is now a reminder of Mr. Trump's comments after the Charlottesville protests.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.

It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time.

I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it, and you have -- you had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say. But I'll say it right now.

I think there's blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it. And you don't have any doubt about it, either. And -- and -- and if you reported it accurately, you would say.

QUESTION: But (INAUDIBLE) neo-Nazis started this thing in Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville --

TRUMP: Excuse me --

QUESTION: -- to protest the removal --


TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) and you have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.


VANIER: And just days after that, Mr. Trump's controversial White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was ousted. Bannon is viewed as an architect of the president's nationalist views. The criticism from within the president's own party is becoming more pointed. The only African American Republican in the Senate said the

president's moral authority had been compromised.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R): At this point it's not what the president says next. It's what he does. We are at a very critical and sensitive time in this nation. We need our president to sit down with folks who have a personal experience, a deep connection to the horror and the pain of this country's provocative racial history.

If the president wants to have a better understanding and appreciation for what he should do next, he needs to hear something from folks who have gone through this painful history. Without that personal connection to the painful past, it will be hard for him to regain that moral authority, from my perspective.


VANIER: And here's the Ohio governor, John Kasich, who lost to Mr. Trump in the Republican primaries. He says he's hoping for more stability now in the White House.


JOHN KASICH (R), GOVERNOR OF OHIO: I'm rooting for him to get it together. We all are. We're only like seven months into this presidency. And what we have to start thinking about, all of us, not just the president but down where we live, in the neighborhoods, in the communities, we've got to build a stronger America.


VANIER: Earlier I spoke with Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia. He's a regular political analyst on the show. He also had a front row seat to the deadly protest in Charlottesville. I asked him whether Mr. Trump's response to the protest would become a defining moment of his presidency.


LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I normally bet on anything saving with time and maybe that's true for this. But I do think it has been a defining moment because it's really the first time that Republican officeholders have done more than criticize a Trump or something minor or a passing incident.

This has been sustained criticism for days from senior people. So I do think it's a watershed and Trump's ratings clearly have been damaged all across the country.

VANIER: And about that, I want to look at some numbers with you. Let's look at this new NBC Marist poll. And three key states that got Donald Trump elected, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, strong majorities in each of those states say they're embarrassed about the president's conduct. You see it there left of your screen-- [00:35:00]

VANIER: -- 64 percent and, on the other hand, the other column, just about a quarter of people saying they are proud of his conduct.

Are you surprised, first of all, Larry, by those numbers and, more importantly, do you think it matters politically for Donald Trump?

SABATO: Well, the next election is 14 months away for Congress and the next presidential election isn't until November 2020. So there's plenty of for those numbers to change.

But it is significant in one way other than generally being a shocking number who are embarrassed by their own president. It's the fact that these three states gave critical pluralities to Donald Trump, which put him in the White House, put him over the top in the Electoral College.

He didn't win any of those three states by much. It was a percent or less. But to see essentially the electorate decide 2-1 against Trump, that means he's a deep hole. He's got to start doing some things right. This president needs to become President of the United States instead of president of the Trump base.

VANIER: But, Larry, consider the other side of the argument, even if people are embarrassed, when they're faced with a choice during the next presidential election, between Donald Trump and say a Democratic candidate, that they -- they may go with someone who's embarrassing but still closer to their views politically.

Don't you think?

SABATO: Yes, well, that's what he did the last time. So absolutely. And the problem for the Democrats is you can't throw a rock in Washington without hitting two candidates for president who are Democrats. There are going to be a record number of Democrats running.

And it's very easy to see the party splitting six ways to Sunday or nominating a weak candidate of what is essentially a smaller faction within the party.

VANIER: Donald Trump is going to be explaining his vision for Afghanistan, his general -- his overall strategy for not just Afghanistan fact but the region, South Asia.

Do you think that that's possibly intended to put the Charlottesville controversy behind him, some (INAUDIBLE)?

SABATO: Well, I'm sure that it's designed partly to turn the page. But of course you have to look at the page he's turning to. This is an insoluble war, in many ways. It's the longest war in American history. And we can't seem to put it away.

So whatever he does, he's got a split party. His base doesn't want foreign involvements like Afghanistan. The traditional Republicans want him to put in tens of thousands more troops, which he is not going to do.

So, again, welcome to the real dilemmas of the presidency.


VANIER: That was Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics of the University of Virginia.

Now for many, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it will start to sweep across the continental U.S. in about 12 hours. What to expect from the total solar eclipse when we come back after the break.





VANIER: So millions of people in the United States are going to have their eyes on the sky Monday to see the first total solar eclipse across from coast-to-coast in nearly a century. Planets and stars will be visible as day briefly turns to night and light to darkness. And many animals will go into their nighttime routines.

The path of totality where people will experience total darkness is about 112 kilometers wide. The total eclipse will start on the West Coast just after 10:00 am Pacific time and ends on the East Coast just before 3:00 pm Eastern time.

But what you will actually see depends a lot on your local weather luck.


VANIER: We're going to take a short break. "WORLD SPORT" is up next and I'll be back at the top of the hour with more news. Stay with us.