Return to Transcripts main page


Texas Prepares for Hurricane Harvey; Samsung Chief Found Guilty of Corruption; Trump Personal Touch in White House Renovations; State Department Science Envoy Resigns Over Trump Remarks. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 25, 2017 - 02:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Build that wall. It was a Trump campaign rallying cry, but will the president really shut down the government to get it done.

VAUSE: Judgment day in Seoul. The head of Samsung awaits a verdict in his corruption trial, a scandal which took down the company's president.

SESAY: And the White House renovations are done. We'll get a look at the Trump approved changes inside the West Wing.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is the third hour of Newsroom LA.

SESAY: Well, we're waiting for verdict in what's being called South Korea's trial of the century.

VAUSE: A court is set to decide on a string of corruption charges against Jae Y. Lee, chief of the powerful Samsung Group.

SESAY: Well, for more, let's go live to Seoul and join CNN's Paul Hancocks. Paula, just explain to our viewers what's at stake here with this trial of Jae Y. Lee, one of South Korea's most powerful and influential men.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is certainly a very significant court case, the verdict being read out right now. We know there's three judges in there.

They are going through each charge individually and assessing why they came to their decision, but we don't have a steer at this point as to which way it's going to go.

But Jae Y. Lee is one of the most powerful men in South Korea. Samsung is the biggest company in South Korea. It drives the South Korean economy. It is, for some people, the face of South Korea to the rest of the world because it is such a well-known brand. So, the fact that the head of Samsung is on trial is certainly significant. It's not unprecedented, though. This has happened before. Many heads of these big family run conglomerates in South Korea over the years have been tried and convicted of different white collar crimes.

In fact, Jae Y. Lee's father was tried and convicted twice, never actually spent a day in prison, though, and subsequently had a presidential pardon.

But it's a different time in South Korea now. There is a real sense among many South Korean people that they are sick of corruption. They are fed up with what they see as this very cozy relationship between the government and businesses here in South Korea.

So, there's certainly a lot of people in South Korea who are going to be watching this very closely. Isha?

SESAY: So, that being said, the level of interest and just the mood, if you will, in the country as a whole, how much pressure is there on prosecutors to get a guilty verdict here?

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly, the courts, the judges will say that they are following justice. They are not going to be pressured or swayed in any way by public opinion.

But just on the other side of the building, right now, there are protests ongoing, not large protests, but protests of people who are supporting the Samsung chief because they are supporting the former president Park Geun-hye, who is linked to the same corruption scandal, who was also going through the court cases at this point.

And certainly, there is a lot of interest because whatever happens today with Jae Y. Lee could well have an impact or give a little bit of guidance on how the eventual verdict will go for the former president as well.

Now, just remember, a matter of months ago, there were hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of people coming on to the streets in these candlelight vigils in Seoul and around the country protesting what they saw as a corrupt system.

Moon Jae-in, the current president of South Korea, campaigns on an anti-corruption ticket that he was going to clean up government, clean up business, and so, certainly, there is a lot of interest in this verdict to see what that means for the future. Isha?

SESAY: Paula Hancocks joining us there from Seoul, South Korea. Thank you, Paula.

VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump's relationship with Congressional Republicans appears to be getting worse just when he needs them the most. The president wants funding for his border wall. And if he doesn't get it, he is warning of a possible government shutdown.

SESAY: Mr. Trump seemed spoiling for a fight Thursday morning as he went after both the Senate majority leader and House speaker on Twitter.

This is what he said, "I requested that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan tie the debt ceiling legislation into the popular VA bill, which just passed, for easy approval. They didn't do it, so now we have a now big deal with Dems holding them up as usual on debt ceiling approval. Could have been so easy, now a mess.

VAUSE: Well, despite the angry tweets, the White House press secretary told reporters, everything's just fine.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think the relationships are fine. Certainly, there are going to be some policy differences, but there are also a lot of shared goals, and that's what we're focused on.

We're disappointed that Obamacare, they failed to get it repealed and replaced. But at the same time, President Trump has worked with leader McConnell to reach out to other members and to work on those shared goals and we're going to continue to do that when the Senate comes back from recess.


[02:05:12] SESAY: Well, joining us now Democratic strategist Matthew Littman and CNN political commentator and Trump supporter John Phillips.

VAUSE: Also, with us here in Los Angeles, CNN senior reporter for media and politics Dylan Byers.

Dylan, first you, a government shutdown over a popular issue, that's one thing. But poll after poll after poll has shown that American voters in an increasing number and in a majority don't want this wall.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: No, that's absolutely right. And, look, like you said, even when you try and force the government shutdown over a popular issue, that is still an extraordinarily controversial move to make.

To do it over an issue that the majority of Americans oppose, to do it while you are sort of insulting or at least worsening your relationship with Congress, and then on top of that to have all of this come in the wake of an election in which you promised time and again that you would get Mexico to pay for that wall, and now you're threatening a government shutdown to get funding from the government for that wall, none of this looks terribly good for the president.

And I would just say you go back to those tweets you showed against the House speaker and the Senate majority leader, it really speaks to how isolated Donald Trump has become in Washington.

Why he is trying to antagonize the people who might be able to help him in this process, it seems to sort of pass the buck of responsibility. I think there are probably a lot of people in that White House tonight who are wishing that Trump hadn't written those tweets.

SESAY: Matt, to bring you in here, are you taking him seriously here? There are those who say this is just bluff, there are those who say he's crazy like a fox. Where are you with the -?

MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Dylan said that there are a lot of people in the White House wishing he wouldn't send out those tweets, we could have said that every day for the last eight months, right?

LITTMAN: The problem is that a lot of Trump supporters don't care if he gets any legislation passed. They like the professional wrestling aspect of this. They just want to see Donald Trump pick a fight.

That Donald Trump is now down to, in his support, the base of the base. That's where - he's somewhere like 33 percent support and that's really who he is trying to appeal to at this point.

The chances of him - tax reform, he was supposed to be doing that, right? They have no tax reform plan. They're not putting out a tax reform plan. They said that they would. How are we even going to do tax reform, which is the biggest thing that they said they would do this year.



VAUSE: Dylan brought up the fact that, this was raised over and over again during the campaign. Let's remind ourselves, before we come to John, about exactly (INAUDIBLE) the president said. Roll the tape.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to build a great border wall.

We will build a great, great wall.

We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it.

Oh, we'll build a wall.

We will build the wall 100 percent.

I promise we will build the wall.

And who's going to pay for the wall?

CROWD: Mexico.

TRUMP: And who's going to pay for the wall?

CROWD: Mexico. TRUMP: Who?

CROWD: Mexico.

TRUMP: It'll be a great wall. Mexico is going to pay for the Wall.

Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

Mexico will pay for the wall.

And Mexico is going to pay for the wall and they understand it.

Mexico is going to pay for the wall, believe me, 100 percent.


VAUSE: John, I had some audio troubles. I didn't hear the last bit. What was that? Who was going to pay for the wall?

LITTMAN: The only thing bigger than his promise to build the wall are his hands.

VAUSE: Seriously, (INAUDIBLE). This wasn't like, we're going to build the wall and Mexico is going to pay for it, but if we can't get them to pay for it, well, then I'll shutdown the government and we'll work out things -

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND TRUMP SUPPORTER: We'll end up taxing remittances or something. I have to pay for all kinds of crap I hate from the government. I have to pay for this bullet train to nowhere that Jerry Brown is obsessed with.

At least with the wall, that's something tangible that I want. And illegal immigration has fallen off the cliff since he's been elected.

The 20 years from now when Skippy Bush III gets elected and decides to open up all the borders, we need something there.

And last week was a bad week for Trump. You look at polling numbers in swing states, it was not good.

LITTMAN: Another statement that could have been repeated -

PHILLIPS: However, there was something that happened that was very important that everyone in the country should pay attention to.

And that is, if you look at The Cook Political Report, which tracks all of the US Senate races, they move five different races one way or the other. Four of the five moved in the direction of the Republicans, all of them happened in red states, all of them happened in places where they want the wall.

They want the wall with great vigor, and I'm absolutely in favor of him tying this to a government shutdown, force Claire McCaskill to vote against the wall, force Heidi Heitkamp vote against the wall, forced Joe Manchin to do it. I think it's good politics. [02:10:05] SESAY: All right. Dylan, to bring you in here, before you respond to whether or not it is good politics, listen to what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the White House press briefing when she was asked about Mexico paying for the wall.


SANDERS: We're committed to making sure the American people are protected and we're going to continue to push forward and make sure that the wall gets built.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he threatening a shut down over paying for it? Again, he said over and over - he talked about in the campaign, over and over again, he said Mexico is going to pay for the wall. He asked people - his crowds chanted back, Mexico is going to pay for it. And now, he is pushing - threatening a shutdown (INAUDIBLE) government.

SANDERS: No. Once again, the president is committed to making sure this happens, and we're going to push forward.


SESAY: Dylan, is the estimation on the part of the president and this administration that they are in a stronger position with Republicans and those in Congress, so they can push this issue of shutting down the government because ultimately the president is going to come out looking better than them?

BYERS: Well, I think that's part of it. And I think the other part of it goes back to what Mathew, which is he's appealing to the base of the base.

What's curious to me, and it's the same question that we ask so many times on this show and that everyone in the media I think has been asking for so many months, is at what point does that base start to care that the narrative has consistently changed, at what point do the promises that were made during the campaign not seem to matter so much, now that he's president of the United States.

And then, again, just to return to this issue, how is it in the interest of the American people to force a government shutdown, to do something that the majority of them don't want? Remind me how that is good for the American people because I don't know.

VAUSE: Look, I just want to do a quick fact check on something that Huckabee Sanders said in the briefing about the Democrats who supported this. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney first brought up that claim saying Democrats had voted for a border wall.

PolitiFact says that's a half-truth because the wall they voted for was 700 miles long, nothing like the one the president wants. That was about 10 years ago. And Donald Trump actually said that was not a wall.

But, Matt, as far as the Democrats are concerned, Donald Trump seems to have let them off the hook completely by putting all the blame on the Senate.

Littman: Yes. By the way, this is a winning issue for the Democrats because if Donald Trump shuts down the government over a wall that nobody wants, that he said that Mexico was going to pay for, then Democrats, in that case, win.

I'm not sure exactly what polling is in some of those states, but the Democrats in some of these swing states actually seem to be doing pretty well.

But to shut down the government - Donald Trump was supposed to be talking about - where's infrastructure, right? Where is tax reform? They don't even have any plans for these things. They're not - Donald Trump doesn't go out. He gives these big speeches in Phoenix and all these other places. He doesn't push for anything for the government to do, except to list his own grievances toward newspapers and toward Mitch McConnell and toward Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona. None of it is about actual legislation and getting anything done.

SESAY: And, John, what about that point that this just comes off to many as just about his ego, what about those other elements that were a part of his agenda?

PHILLIPS: No, this is issue number one, two, and three for Donald Trump.

SESAY: It was an issue that Mexico was going to pay for.

PHILLIPS: The reason that Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and the reason that Donald Trump won the general election and won so many of those Rust Belt states that Mitt Romney and John McCain lost is because he took on the elite consensus in Washington DC on any number of subjects, immigration being the first one, but also foreign trade and foreign wars.

And those are the three issues - with what he's doing right now in Afghanistan, the jury is still out as to which direction he's going to go, and now that Steven Bannon isn't at the White House anymore.

But he's got to come through with his position on trade. He's got to come through with his position on immigration. If he doesn't, he's toast. This is my read-my-lips moment or his read-my-lips moment. He can't go back on this. He's got to put the wall up.

VAUSE: Dylan, if we take John's point, this is good politics, that this is about Donald Trump appealing to the base of the base of the base of the base, he's done this as well when it comes to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia appealing to the white nationalist violence on both sides.

Not very good for the country, but it may be good politics. Shutting down the government would cause economic turmoil around the globe and a whole bunch of problems, but it may be good politics.

BYERS: Right. And again, it goes back to this appeal to the base of the base strategy. And John is absolutely right that this is a moment where the president has to follow through on this promise, otherwise what does he have left.

I guess what I question are two things. First, how much is he following through on his promise, if he's not actually going to have Mexico pay for the wall, how much is he setting himself up to look like a failure if he can't push this through even with government funding and is passing the buck of responsibility to Congress.

[02:15:04] And then secondly, again, like when does that moment happen that the president of the United States thinks maybe it would behoove me to act on behalf of the interests of the American people, maybe it would even behoove my own reelection prospects if he even does want to run for reelection at this point.

So much of what he's doing, it's not just that it's driven by ego because ego would suggest that he sort of wants to cement his place in history as perhaps a halfway decent president.

A lot of it seems to be driven by this sort of narcissistic petty grievances that he can't go more than a day or an hour without sending a nasty tweet in someone's direction to sort of offload responsibility for his own ineptitude and pass it on to someone else. And it's pretty staggering to watch that happen even on the principal issue, like John said, that he ran on which was the border wall.

SESAY: So, Matt, what do Democrats do? Obviously, the blame has been shifted to Republicans, in the way the game is set up right now with the president? But what do they do? Do they just get back chairs and cigars just watch this play out?

LITTMAN: It does sound good. I'd like to refer to it as Trump's Alzheimer's. Forgotten everything but the grievances.

Listen, they need Democrats to get this debt ceiling - the budget fight that's about to happen. They need the debt ceiling to go through. They need eight Democrats on their side.

VAUSE: And those things have sort of been intertwined here, which is why there's such -

LITTMAN: Exactly right. And then tax reform has to come out of the budget process.

And right now, none of it looks like it's going to happen. And Donald Trump isn't trying to appeal to the Democrats or trying to work with the Democrats.

I would just say this, though, about Donald Trump and his poor relationship with Mitch McConnell.

I think if it were up to - like, if Donald Trump really wanted to, he gets along with Chuck Schumer much better than he does Mitch McConnell. I don't think - I really don't think he likes Mitch McConnell at all. He is forced to work with McConnell.

In a sense, he's right in terms of the fact that McConnell did promise for seven years to get healthcare reform through and he was not able to, but let's remember that Donald Trump didn't fight for healthcare reform.

He is not fighting for infrastructure reform - for infrastructure. He is not fighting for tax reform. He is not fighting for many of the issues that people elected him on, especially one that John left out, jobs, wage growth is not high. It's lower than it was under Obama. Job growth not high, lower than it was under Obama.

VAUSE: We're almost out of time, but let's get to the tweet of the day. The tweet de jure. It was the retweet.

SESAY: Yes. It was a retweet. President Trump on Thursday retweeting the meme of the best eclipse ever. Let's put it up. It features a montage of four photos that show Trump, as you see there, blocking former President Obama, as you see, the best eclipse ever.

But did I mention that this was a meme that was shared by YouTube personality Jerry Travone, who previously shared an extremely anti- Semitic tweet on Sunday, John.

PHILLIPS: I think that photo is hilarious. However, my favorite of the memes is the one where Chris Christie is sitting in the beach chair and just comes in right over the sun and that's what I call a total eclipse.

LITTMAN: The guy who tweeted this, he also said to tweet out saying he wants to get rid of all the Jewish drivers.

VAUSE: He's an anti-Semite, he's a misogynist, he's a total freak.

LITTMAN: Here is the question, how do you know that the drivers are Jewish? How does he know? Are we gesticulating? Are we saying (INAUDIBLE)? How does he actually know who the Jewish drivers are?

VAUSE: Dylan, what is the responsibility of the president here because this happens a lot? Should he be aware of the background of the person that he's retweeting here?

BYERS: Yes. But, well, look, what I'm reminded of is when, very early on in the presidency, people were accusing the president of doing all manner of things that were "unpresidential" and she said well he's the president, so it is presidential.

He is the president of the United States. He sets the tone now and going forward of what is acceptable behavior by the president of the United States.

The problem is that it's embarrassing frankly for America on the world stage. It's embarrassing, I think, for many of the citizens how the president of the United States is retweeting a sort of dumb meme from a guy who clearly has anti-Semitic tendencies.

And it goes back for me about the character of Donald Trump and this question of how do you take on the greatest office in the land, how do you assume the responsibility of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world, and how does that not impress itself upon you and force you to sort of rise to the occasion and be better than re-tweeting an anti-Semite's dumb meme? I think it's embarrassing.

So, look, it's presidential because he is the president, but it's a sad day for the office of the American presidency.

VAUSE: We are out of time. But the other thing too is that when those retweets are put out there, it emboldens those hate groups. They think it's great that they're being retweeted by the president. But we'll leave it at that.

Dylan, John and Matt, thank you so much.

[02:20:01] SESAY: Thank you. Thank you. All right. Time for a quick break now. And if you have a dream of sticking it to your boss after quitting your job, take note how one scientist really spelled it out for President Trump in his resignation letter. Next.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. The science envoy to the US State Department resigned over President Trump's remarks on white supremacist violence in Charlottesville. UC Berkeley Professor Daniel Kammen listed some other reasons too, like leaving the Paris climate accord and undermining environmental research.

VAUSE: But it's the way he wrote his resignation letter that has attracted so much attention. He spelled out the word impeach with the first letter of each paragraph, a not so subtle nod at what things might just be coming for Mr. Trump.

SESAY: Well, Daniel Kammen joins us now live from Berkley, California. Thank you so much for joining us. Let me start by asking you this.

Given the focus of your work, it might strike some as odd that you didn't resign as science envoy when President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, but rather you took the step after the president's response to the events in Charlottesville. Why was this the moment you felt you could no longer stay?

KAMMEN: Well, I really wanted to give the president and his team the benefit of the doubt. I was very much opposed to pulling out of the Paris climate accord. After all, the US was a big part of why it was so successful.

And when the president did it, he did say that he wanted a better deal for the United States. And I was quite frankly curious to see what the effort would be to get a better deal. I actually think we had a great deal to begin with, producing jobs, protecting the environment, protecting women, our communities around the world.

And I waited and waited. And that was clearly just words. There was no action behind it. There was no effort to work with the other countries. And that was the first big sign because the Paris Climate Accord is exactly what I work on.

But then we got to the bans on - efforts to ban immigration, the real horrific events in terms of a lack of appropriate response after what happened in Virginia, the president's speech in Arizona and those things made it very clear to me that the direction he was taking was exactly opposite of the reason why I was brought on to be a science envoy, to bring science as a tool for partnerships between countries, United States, Middle East and Africa.

SESAY: I want to read part of your letter, which you also posted on Twitter and it has now gone viral, as you know, with tens of thousands of likes.

You wrote this, "particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with the broader pattern of behavior that enable sexism and racism and disregard to the welfare of all Americans, the global community and the planet. Examples of this destructive pattern have consequences on my duties as science envoy."

[02:25:01] So, I wanted to ask you this, in your experience in this role, what have been the consequences, what have you seen that has changed in terms of your interactions with other countries and individuals as a result of the actions and statements of this president?

KAMMEN: Right. Well, Paris was a real high watermark for international cooperation. Countries, very different perspectives, came together to find ways to invest in a cleaner planet, but also to create jobs, to create more equitable societies, to really work together.

And everything, in my opinion, we've seen out of this president has worked against that. It's been a politics of division. It has been blaming both sides in events like the Virginia attacks where the left was blamed whereas this was clearly an event that was driven very much by hate politics of the right.

So, those are all events that demonstrated a pattern. And that pattern was not of cohesion, of even trying to build bridges. It was of taking advantage of differences to belittle some, to marginalize others, in particular disadvantaged people around the planet.

SESAY: Eight months into this administration, and by now, you know this president is no stranger to controversy.

Let me remind our viewers, a total of 127 tech companies joined the fight against the president's travel ban back in February.

And most recently, with his response to Charlottesville, 13 business leaders publicly distanced themselves from the president and, ultimately, he had to fold his two business councils.

So, professor, you are part of a long list of people expressing their disapproval. Do you believe this president actually wants to unite this country?

KAMMEN: Well, I really can't speak to what he wants to do. I can look at the actions and the words. And the words demonstrate at least so far, there is very little interest to take advantage of what I think makes America great, which is really an opportunity to make an inclusive society, to build bridges. I don't see that.

And I think that even goes one step further. And that is that we used to be a country that really valued science, whether science uncovered troubling things like pollution or discover new technologies, it was seen as a positive.

And I haven't seen any evidence, politics aside, that science and innovation and making the quality of life better, for particularly the poor, is of any interest. And that troubles me further.

And again, that works exactly against the reason why I was brought on as a science envoy, which is why, at least from my perspective, we parted ways in terms of this presidency.

SESAY: Well, you letter made headlines also for its clever use of words. The first letter of each of the paragraphs spelled out impeach. I want you to tell us where that idea came from. And also, is that your hope or fear of how this presidency will end up?

KAMMENL So, the reason why I did it was because I certainly am very concerned about the direction we're going, but I also wanted to pay tribute to the president's council on the arts that last week did a similar thing and embedded the words resist in their mass resignation letter.

And so, I don't know if I hope or fear it will happen. What I do know is that everyone has an opportunity to change and to see the value of science and to see the value of partnerships and to see the better side of human nature.

And I would like to think that anyone can take those signs and say, hey, I was wrong on this or that and it's time to start a new alliance, a new path. And that's really my hope, much more than the ugly road of impeachment for anybody.

SESAY: A scientist who is also an optimist. I didn't think I'd hear that. Professor Kammen, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

KAMMEN: That's a pleasure. Thank you.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, we are standing by for the verdict in the corruption trial of the head of Samsung, the billionaire businessman facing up to twelve years in jail.

SESAY: Plus, Hurricane Harvey is getting stronger as it heads for Texas and could be the biggest hurricane to make landfall in the US in 12 years.


[02:31:32] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour -- (HEADLINES)

VAUSE: People are hunkering down or they're on the move in Texas ahead of the worst storms in years. Hurricane Harvey is intensifying in the Gulf of Mexico, bringing high winds and heavy flooding. The U.S. government plane flew past the eye of the storm trying to gauge just how big of a punch Harvey is packing.

SESAY: Harvey is set to make landfall in Texas Friday or Saturday. But other states are also feeling its impact. And Louisiana has declared a state of emergency.

VAUSE: Harvey a few hours ago was a category one. It has now intensified to a category two.

Karen Maginnis now joins us from CNN Center in Atlanta.

Karen, how strong will this storm get and how quickly?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the computer models are saying, John, that this could be a category three, with rapid intensification.

Let's give you the latest information that we do have from the National Hurricane Center. This is new. The last time that I was with you about an hour ago or so, the winds were at 100 miles an hour, now up to 105 miles per hour, with wind gusts that are higher. Certainly, in the northeast quadrant of the system, that's where we pick up the highest wind. That's when you get the biggest storm surge. Winds coming -- or the movement is moving towards the northwest just about 10 miles an hour. So it is not moving fast. It's not moving slow. But is it expected to slow down right before landfall.

It's still several hundred miles offshore the coast of Texas. We have to go back about 12 years to see anything like this.

But now it is intensifying. Why? Because there's nothing interfering with it. There is no shear. And we've got a very conducive environment with water temperatures here running about 30-plus degrees Celsius, right around 85, 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Already a few areas picking up some showers. Nothing heavy. I did see a report coming out here cross this northeastern coast of Texas. Just over an inch of rainfall, just about 25 millimeters.

But look at this. They call this the spaghetti model. And what could be a better depiction of what is going to happen with Hurricane Harvey in the next several days. This is the big problem. It looks like it's going to scoot on in towards the coast. Where? Right now, probably around Corpus Christi. And then what? It is going to linger. That will be the worst aspect of this. The computer models, some have it turning to the right, spinning in circles, the other has it going a little bit to the south. Either way, the projection is it could possibly move back out into the Gulf of Mexico and really linger along the coast, not move very fast. So as a consequence, now the computer models are saying over 40 inches of rain. It has been between maximum 30, 35 inches or about a meter of

rainfall, which is staggering. This is a very low-lying area. It's also very scrubby in a lot of places. There are so many coastal counties, Refugio (ph) County, Kennedy County, Brazoria County that are under hurricane warnings because the impact here is imminent. It's within the next 24 hours. With wind gusts. We've got that storm surge pushing that wall of water onshore. This is going to be devastating. They are estimating the storm surge could be nine to 12 feet. That is very typical if you have a category three hurricane.

All right, the loss of life is very high here. We have seen people get out of town, out of Corpus Christi, out of Houston, out of Galveston. Interstate 37, Interstate 35, Interstate 45, the roads have been packed. Gas station, full. People trying to get water and supplies, boarding up their homes. This is a particularly dangerous situation because of the power and the lingering of this storm system as it moves onshore. Already impacted by some gusting winds. And we're looking at the heavy rainfall expected across this area.

When do we anticipate landfall? Looks like that's going to happen just about midnight. Can't say exactly where. But anticipating that Corpus Christi area. We're staying on top of it for you.

Back to you guys.

VAUSE: OK, Karen, thank you so much for giving us the very latest on Hurricane Harvey. A lot of people very concerned about that.

We have a verdict, it is in, for the Samsung trial of Jay Y. Lee. It is a guilty verdict. We'll got Seoul, South Korea in just moments. Stay with us. As short break and then live to Seoul for the very latest.

You're watching CNN.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. A verdict in, in what's being called South Korea's "trial of the century."

SESAY: The court has sent to jail electronics chief, Jay Y. Lee, for five years after he was found guilty of bribery and other charges.

For more on all of this, let's go live to Seoul and CNN's Paula Hancocks.

This is a trial, a case that had gripped the entire country. This is an incredibly powerful man from an incredibly wealthy family. He has been found guilty. Tell us more, Paula.

[02:39:50] HANCOCKS: That's right, Isha, guilty of bribery, other charges. There were certain charges that the judges said they couldn't find him guilty on. But overall, they said that they felt it appropriate to sentence him to five years. Now what this means, this five years, it means it can't be a suspended prison sentence. It means he will be going straight back to jail now after this sentencing has finished. Certainly, a significant result.

We saw protesters just on the other side of the court building behind me. They were calling for Jay Y. Lee to be released. They were pro- Park Geun-hye, former president's supporters, who believe that there has been a travesty of justice. Many of them were very saddened, we understand, as soon as the verdict came down. Some were seen crying as they were reading the news on their phones. And the man in charge of the microphone was shouting towards the court building, You foolish judges." So certainly not everyone will be happy with this verdict. But it is a minority that still supports the former president, supports these big businesses who are on trial here. It seems the majority of South Koreans, if you look at the amount of people that were on the streets in recent months, do support an end to corruption. They support the severing of that close link between business and government here. Certainly, everyone will have an opinion about what just happened here in South Korea -- Isha?

SESAY: Paula, what will this mean for Samsung, the world's largest maker of Smartphones, a conglomerates and accounts for a huge amount of South Korea's GDP?

HANCOCKS: Well, the overwhelming feeling among experts, Isha, is that it won't really make much difference because Jay Y. Lee was not involved in the day-to-day running of any of these businesses. It is a massive conglomerate. It has a huge number of affiliates. And it is not just one man who runs the overall group. Every single different affiliate, every single group has its own head. So in some respects, the day-to-day running will make no difference whatsoever. As we've seen, the share price is doing well. We saw just yesterday another device being released to the public and advertised. So in the short term, people are not expecting it to make much difference at all. Of course, longer term, when you're looking at the direction of the company, do you need the man at the helm to be steering? Potentially, yes. But from a day-to-day perspective, it is not expected to have much impact at all. And bear in mind, there are four other executives in Samsung that where on trial here as well -- Isha?

SESAY: Paula, as you touched upon, this was a case just about Jay Y. Lee and Samsung. It was also about the powerful ties between these families and political individuals, people in government. With this verdict, do we think this is truly at an end. I mean, if you are a member of one of those families, does this verdict strike fear in your heart?

HANCOCKS: Well, in the short terms, Jay Y. Lee and his defense attorneys can appeal. They can appeal to the high court like that, and they can appeal to the Supreme Court. So it isn't over by any stretch of the imagination. Whether or not they will accept this particular verdict, we will just have to wait and see and try and get in touch with them. But, yes, there are other court cases ongoing at the same time. The head of one of a big group here, for example, is currently under investigation and has a court case ongoing. Also the former president, Park Geun-hye, has a court case ongoing as well. She has been linked to Jay Y. Lee, so certainly her defense team will be looking closely at this verdict to see what implications it might have for the former president. The judges went through every single charge very carefully and obviously we'll have to look at it at a closer level to see what exactly what the implications might for the former president. But it's certainly something that is going to be looked at very closely. It's not over. This is a very significant verdict today, but it's certainly not the end of it -- Isha?

SESAY: Paula Hancocks, joining us from Seoul. Paula, appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: We will stay with this story now. And joining me from Oakland, California, tech journalist, Jacob Ward.

Jacob, good to see you again.

We just heard Paula Hancocks talk about the short-term impact this will have on Samsung, which most people agree will be pretty negligible. What about long term? Does Samsung need Jay Y. Lee at the head of the company or can it just go on and continue to launch phones and have the share price go up by 35 percent so far this year?

[02:45:51] JACOB WARD, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY JOURNALIST: Certainly, John, you're right. If you look at it in the short term, quarter by quarter basis, this huge company, this family dominated conglomerate, which is the backbone of the culture and the economy of Korea, yes, I guess it can just continue to truck along doing what it's always done. But a couple things to notice that are breaking the trend when it comes to a long traditional of white-collar crime and sort of a slap on the wrist from the government. In the past, there's been a traditional of what people call a three to five rule, which was the idea you would get three years sentencing and you get suspended and then you do five years of probation. That went on whenever somebody was caught at the head of ones of these companies doing something corrupt. They could get this suspended sentence. This is a break from that. We've never really seen this before where somebody gets handed this.

And the current president, Moon Jae-in, who replaced President Park, has made it sort of the core of his political identity that he is going to remake these rules and really bring people to account at these family dominated businesses. So perhaps this is a change in the long-term trajectory of how Korea thinks of these businesses. It could be the end of a sort of too-big-too-fail attitude.

VAUSE: This point, Jay Y. Lee's father was actually convicted of crime.

As far as the new president, President Moon, is concerned, he campaigned on a promise to break up the cozy relationship between these conglomerates and the government. It would seem he has a lot more leverage to push on and do that.

WARD: That's right. Absolutely. Coming out of this, as Paula mentioned, there's incredible, I'm sure, nervousness on the part of President Park's team because this certainly does not bode well for her. It really suggests that having taken this bribery so seriously, they're going to probably come down pretty hard on her. And so I think this really could be a big shift in that way. For me, the thing that is sort of hardest to figure out what I'm trying to think about the implications here, it is just to think about the business culture of South Korea, in which titans like Jay Y. Lee are raised to take over these companies. This guy literally came up from childhood being taught how to be the head of a company that represents one-fifth of its nations GDP. This is a Jedi. He has been built to do this. The fact this person will now go to jail, it suggests this really could -- he could appeal. But the fact they're coming down with that kind of sentence on somebody who was literally built to do this, is just, to me, is a big, big shift for --


VAUSE: Almost out of time, Jacob, but I remember when the Galaxy Note 7 burst into flames and the workers at Samsung, they were in tears, they were in so much shame, they were shamed by it. This is a much bigger deal. How does it affect the corporate culture within that massive company?

WARD: It's a good question. There are 60 units selling everything, ships and all these things. It's a lot of people. Your business identity, your professional identity in Korea is very strong. It really goes to the heart of people's psychology. So I think it will be hard in the short term. It really depends on who will step in. There is no real succession plan, no company plans for this kind of thing. So it is really a matter of who steps in next and can the employees there, with 300,000 employees of this company, take heart from that leadership in the future.

VAUSE: Jacob, thank you for staying up late again for another day. We very much appreciate it6.

WARD: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Giving us insight into what is a pretty big story. A lot of implications to still be worked out.

Thank you.

WARD: Appreciate it. Thank you.

SESAY: Alright, 300,000 employees.

Thailand's Supreme Court is issuing an arrest warrant for the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, after she failed to appear in court for a verdict. Right now, her whereabouts are unknown.

[02:49:04] VAUSE: She faces up to 10 years in prison, accused of mismanaging a controversial rice subsidy program, which cost the country billions of dollars. The court has set a date for her verdict. It's scheduled for next month.

Well, he's being in office since January, but now Donald Trump's personal touch is finally in the White House. After the break, we'll look at president's renovated Oval Office.


VAUSE: The White House has had a makeover with the president said to personally be involved in many of its decorating decisions. Donald Trump was on a working vacation in New Jersey while the workers moved in. The renovations continued 24 hours a day for 17 days, replacing the heating and air system, refreshing the flooring and changing the decor.

SESAY: The renovations reportedly cost more than $3.5 million. And all materials used were made in America.

VAUSE: OK, let's get a professional opinion on how it all played out. Joining us now is Jarrett Hill, an interior designer.

Jarrett, thank you for coming in.


VAUSE: Let's start with the wall paper for the Oval Office. Personally chosen by the president. We are looking at a creamy gray, sort of look. There it is. It replaces the yellow candy stripe of the Obama era. There's also new carpet, which features a floral motif, which has been described by a critic of "The Guardian" newspaper who said, "It look like it has been lifted straight from a mid-range chain hotel. It is clearly a look" --


HILL: Go figure.


VAUSE: "Forgettable. And good for hiding stains."

How do you see it?

HILL: OK, the new rug I actually really hate.


HILL: It's completely apolitical, but I really don't like the new rug with the leaves all the way around it. The old rug that came from the Obama era had quotes from former presidents, and including Kennedy and both Roosevelts and Lincoln, and including Martin Luther King as well. Obviously, not a president. I thought it was a little bit more modern. This one, it fits with the traditional decor of the White House though.

VAUSE: This makeover, this is a CEO president, and now the White House kind of looks corporate.

HILL: Yes. Well, there are certain elements of the White House I feel like there's some unwritten rule that it has to be like the most basic looking stuff you can possibly find. The designers are the General Services Administration, which is a sexy name for a design firm. But, yes, the carpets look like they come from hoteliers or from


HILL: I'm sorry.

VAUSE: Talk to use about this. So the Roosevelt room, it had a makeover as well. So everyone playing along at home, can you guess which photo is, in fact, the new look of the Roosevelt, "A" or "B" or is it "C"?

HILL: I thought this was going to be easier.


HILL: I'm pretty sure it's "B" though.


HILL: Is that right?

VAUSE: It is "B."


VAUSE: The flags gave it away.


This is a criticism that there is nothing distinctive about this. This is the peoples' house.

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: The Roosevelt room.

HILL: I tell you, if I were president, it would look a lot more modern in there. We'd have to change out some of that stuff.

VAUSE: Like I said, you sort of have to be all things to all people, right?

HILL: Yes. I'm very glad that it didn't end up looking like Trump Tower, like gold all over the place.

VAUSE: Fresh coat of paint outside, the stone steps at the south portico replaced. So this is the new. It looks really bright. It's whiter than white.

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: The steps on the south portico, that's where Mrs. Obama did a photo shoot.

HILL: Obama famously --

(CROSSTALK) HILL: Closely, you can see those stairs are like really cracked and old. And I didn't notice that until we were talking about the story today. But those stairs, you can tell, they definitely --


VAUSE: But isn't that part of the charm of the place? I mean, the Wisteria, that's all been cut back. Now everything is kind of bright, new and shiny.

HILL: The plants, charm. The cracks in the steps, maybe not so much.

VAUSE: We're told the president wanted to bring back the luster and the glory, which means there are a lot of eagles now, in light shades and everywhere. Which might be traumatic given this moment of the president two years ago.

HILL: Ouch. Yes. This is as golden as --



HILL: I mean, this is great. You would think he wouldn't want more eagles in the --


VAUSE: But what do you make of all these eagles working in with everything else going on in the White House right now?

[02:55:04] HILL: It kind of speaks to Donald Trump's bravado, that big, strong, masculine thing he always --


VAUSE: They look terrifying.

HILL: They're horrifying. And you would think that he'd have a little bit of PTSD after his experience with the eagle.

VAUSE: That may be why he's --


HILL: When he walks into the office and has that flashback every time.

VAUSE: OK, you mentioned Trump Tower. This is not the Manhattan Donald Trump because his apartment is full of gold and marble. He has gold everywhere. It would make Louis XIV blush. This is how Donald Trump talked about his apartment on "The Apprentice." Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're standing in my apartment in Trump Tower. Some people consider it to be the greatest apartment in the world. I would never, ever say that myself. But it's certainly a nice apartment.


VAUSE: He would never say it himself. Really, it you look at the Trump Tower apartment, it's obviously done it for some people. But there does appear to be a great element of restraint here from this president and what he's chosen for the peoples' house.

HILL: I think when you're Donald Trump, he had a lot of input in the changes that were made. But you have to remember, like, this isn't your house. This is a house that will -- these changes will last beyond him. Who knows how long he'll be there, four years, eight years or much less. But you have to consider the fact that it has to live on beyond you. Luckily, the walls are not gold plated and gold leaf everywhere. That's what I was thinking when they said he was going to make some changes. I was a little concerned about that one.

VAUSE: People say you have nothing positive to say about the president. A positive review about his taste. Appreciate it.

HILL: His wall paper choice was decent.

VAUSE: You liked it?

HILL: It was better but not good.

VAUSE: OK, well, that's honest.

HILL: Was that a compliment?

VAUSE: It's a start.


Thank you.


SESAY: Well, President Trump is back in the White House. And Alec Baldwin is back playing the president on a special week-day edition of "SNL."

VAUSE: Just like the leader of the free world, it has Donald Trump hating on the media.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR & COMEDIAN: People ask me, why are you doing a rally only eight months in. Folks, it's never too early to campaign for 2020.


Mike Pence is already doing it. But first, I want to talk about Charlottesville. As we all know,

there was a tragic victim that came out of Charlottesville, me.



VAUSE: Oh, dear.

SESAY: Alex Baldwin.


SESAY: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

Please follow us on Twitter, @cnnnewsroomla. You'll see highlights --


VAUSE: That's your job.

The news continues with Natalie Allen and George Howell.

Your job.

SESAY: You're doing it.