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North Korea Accuses Trump Of Declaring War In A Tweet; North Korea Reserves Right To Shoot Down U.S. Bombers; U.S. Says It Will Protect Korea Peninsula; Dallas Cowboys Kneel Before National Anthem; White House Defends Trump Attacks On NFL Players; White House Defends Trump Attacks on NFL Players; Puerto Rico In Desperate Need of Help; Interview with Puerto Rico Governor; Merkel Faces Tough Options to Build Coalition Government; "Star Trek" Spinoff's Limited Availability. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 26, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, the back and forth between North Korea and the United States takes another sharp turn. Kim Jong- un's regime accuses Donald Trump of declaring war on their country.

VAUSE: Plus America's team takes a knee. Join the growing list of NFL players, described by the U.S. president as those sons of you- know-the-rest-rant of witches and they should all be fired.

SESAY: Also ahead, horrific devastation on Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, but help has been slow to arrive in the U.S. territory.

VAUSE: Hello, everybody, thank you for being with us for another hour. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A. Well, the fiery language between the U.S. and North Korea is reach reaching a dangerous new level.

VAUSE: And that's raising fears of some kind of miscalculation which could lead to being a military confrontation. North Korea's foreign minister says the U.S. president has declared war after a tweet claiming North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un won't be around much longer if he follows through on his threats against the U.S. or its allies.


RI YONG-HO, FOREIGN MINISTER, NORTH KOREA (through translation): Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive countermeasures including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country.


SESAY: Well, U.S. bombers flew in international airspace close to North Korean's coast just Saturday, but the White House insists there's been absolutely no declaration of war.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've not declared war on North Korea, and frankly, the suggestion of that is absurd. It's never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country's aircraft when it's over international waters. Our goal is still the same: we continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


SESAY: Well, U.S. Defense official says naval exercise with South Korea will go on as scheduled next month. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Tokyo and joins us now. So, Ben, as you speak to people here in Japan, obviously, they're well accustomed to the fiery rhetoric from North Korea. Do they -- do they feel that this is more of the same -- just bluster with this talk about the U.S. declaring war, or does it feel different?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's definitely different, Isha because they are accustomed to this sort of bluster going back many years. The difference is that within the last month, North Korea has fired two missiles over Japanese territory. And in addition to that, we did hear Ri Yong-ho, the Foreign Minister of North Korea, saying that North Korea might explode a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific. And the assumption here is that that would mean that they would fit a missile with a nuclear warhead and fire it over Japan. So, as opposed to just talk, they're actually seeing real action taking place, and that is really kind of shifted the whole atmosphere.

And that explains, for instance, why last night Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, has called for snap elections to be held on the 22nd of October because he has seen sort of the Kim Jong-un effect, so to speak, in politics of people rallying around the leader who just a few months ago had his approval that levels around the levels that President Trump is enjoying, if you can use that word. So, definitely, there has been an effect on politics and simply the state of mind of people here in Japan in the last month, Isha.

SESAY: Ben, you made the point of the effect on politics and state of mind. What about defensively speaking to the extent that Japan can take steps? Does this heightened rhetoric add to, of course, the actions of flying two missiles over Japan in the recent weeks? Are we seeing a focus, a renewed focus on stepping defensive efforts in Japan, and, of course, U.S. allies of South Korea?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, in Japan, we've seen in the last few months they've beefed up their anti-missile capability with patriot missiles deployed in Hokkaido, the Northern island of Japan where those missiles actually flew over. And of course, there is continued pressure or rather Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister, is calling for the modification of Article 9 of the Pacifist Constitution imposed by the United States after World War II. He would like to see Japan have a proper military force. At the moment, they have what's known as the self-defense forces which

are restricted by the Constitution from being deployed abroad. They have, in the past, deployed peacekeepers with the United Nations, but, as I said, their mandate is strictly limited. And that, Shinzo Abe, would like to change if, of course, he's given the mandate to do so in this election. So, definitely, the whole sort of footing of the country could change if this nuclear crisis continues to become more aggravated. Isha.

[01:05:40] SESAY: Ben Wedeman joining us there from Tokyo, Japan. We appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. More now on the situation in North Korea. We're joined now by Maj. Gen. Mark MacCarley, Paul Carroll, Senior Adviser at N Square which aims to reduce the risk from nuclear weapons. Paul, first, to you. Here's an anecdote from a reporter with the New Yorker who was in Pyongyang, when he asked a Senior Diplomat, named Jo Chol- su, to respond to a Trump tweet about Kim Jong-un. So, "he asked me to read it out allowed and he jotted it down as I read it. When I was done, Jo looked up and said," through his translator, "'once more, please.' I read the tweet again. Jo stared at his paper." That seems to be a pretty good example of how the North Koreans are just baffled to say the least by, you know, how this U.S. president expresses himself and the sheer confusion at times among the North Koreans.

PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISER, N SQUARE: Yes, it's the proverbial, you know, palm to the forehead, so to speak. And I think that is the difference today in what we are seeing in the rhetorical exchanges between Pyongyang and Washington. A couple of things have changed. I mean, the North Koreans have demonstrated a greater capability and more consistency in both their rocket and their nuclear tests. You add to that a president, a U.S. president who, while surrounded by some very seasoned and measured advisers, goes off script. And the question is: will he literally will go off script with the United States military? Will he respond to a North Korean provocation with as they say kinetic response? That is the type of thing that can easily snowball into a war, and in this case, a nuclear war.

VAUSE: And, General MacCarley, on the flip side of all of this, is it fair to say that the U.S. president doesn't really understand how the North Koreans talk a well? They've been making the top threats against the United States, South Korea, or Japan for years, and most of the time, it's purely for domestic consumption.

MAJ. GEN. MARK MACCARLEY, DEPUTY COMMANDING GENERAL, UNITED STATES ARMY: John, if this were merely a, you know, war of words as North Korea and the U.S. engaged in that type of conversation for and since the Korean War, then, I don't think we have the level of concern that we are addressing tonight. But as other speakers have discussed, you have the confirmation of the ability of North Korea, really, for the first time to deliver nuclear weapons. It went forward with the nuclear test of significance on September 4th. It established, quite clearly, that it could successfully miniaturize deliverable nuclear systems that could be emplaced on intermediate-range missiles and intercontinental missile. So, you add this all together, and all the sudden, what was once a

somewhat humorous, a matter of concern to some extent -- exchange between world leaders. Whether it was Kim Jong-un's father, his grandfather, and the then current president or that young president at that particular point in time have significantly escalated. And now, the question is: whether in this war of words, both sides understand that those words have significance. And in some senses, they are fighting words and potential is the misinterpretation and miscommunication which could be a precedent to war.

VAUSE: OK. So, to Paul, over the weekend, there was this very big anti-U.S. rally in Pyongyang. So, with that as the background here, explain, you know, the sacred position, the ruling family in North Korea has in politics -- you know, like Asian Emperors. So, is it possible given that President Trump could be goading the North Korea into some kind of response by insulting Kim Jong-un?

CARROLL: I think that's precisely what he's doing. And as the general said, this is exactly what a U.S. president should not be doing. It's one thing to show that you have a determined U.S. military and allies in the region and that you've got their back. It's another to taunt a leader whose entire existence is one in the same with his state -- it's like Napoleon in France. And to insult Kim Jong-un personally, as reprehensible as a leader and a dictator as he may be, you're driving him into exactly the corner you don't want to drive him into.

[01:10:07] Now, I do want to offer one small beam of hope and that is this: Kim Jong-un's sole priority is survival. His own survival and the survival of his family dynasty. And so, if we think about that as a way getting out of this mess without stumbling into war, what are things that the U.S. and the allies can do to send signals to Kim Jong-un that, look, you can get out of this, but there are things that you need to do to get out of this. And if you begin to take those steps, we will take some steps. That is what is absent from this rhetoric.

VAUSE: The other thing, too, which we have at present though, is this risk of miscalculation. So, general, you know, in World War I, (INAUDIBLE), he took a wrong turn, he turned left, didn't turn right in the Vietnam. There are still questions over the Tonkin incident which lead to the U.S. declaring war. Here's a clip from our documentaries called "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg" of the Pentagon Papers. Here, Ellsberg talks about his first day at the Department of Defense.


DANIEL ELLSBERG, FORMER U.S. MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I'm glad a career came running in with a flash cable saying that American warships were under attack in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of North Vietnam. And I was getting these because my boss was already down the hall with McNamara picking targets to retaliate against, against North Vietnam. Minute after minute, more cables came in -- three torpedoes have been fired. We are taking ease of action. In about 1:30, our time, comes new cable from the Commodore of the two ships -- hold everything in effect. All previous reports of torpedoes are in question.


VAUSE: So, general, you know, there's always this dangerous starting of war, and it often is not how people thought it could start. But it's underway, there's just no turning back.

MACCARLEY: Right. It's irreversible and you don't really know what the outcome is regardless of the enthusiasm or the interest of a nation, the nation's leader, and starting a war that should never have taken place. Look, I think that historical references have great value and there are multiple instances in history in which statements have been made with the intent -- my view is, with the intent to find justification for war. And since we're looking at the Gulf of Tonkin, and we have Dan Ellsberg who's made that wonderful commentary which was incorporated in the documentary we saw a couple of nights ago. You know, that was an issue. That was an instance in which we had a president of the United States who, for a lot of reasons, was committed to moving forward to, from his perspective, restoring democracy and stability in Vietnam.

And whether it was this alleged attack on the USS Mattox in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, or it could have been any incident whatsoever. He needed a justification for going to Congress to secure that Tonkin Golf Resolution which justified going to war. Frankly, we went from 28,000 advisers in early '64, and by a year later we were up to almost 200,000. And we can look at any number of incidents, historically, in which there has been a misinterpretation, words have been used, words have been used to initiate action which culminates in war and horrific loss of life.

VAUSE: In Vietnam's case, it was 54,000 dead Americans when it was all said and done. General MacCarley and Paul Carroll, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

SESAY: Well, with us now, Democratic Strategist Matthew Littman and CNN Political Commentator and Republican Consultant John Thomas. Guys, thanks for sticking around. John, to you. I mean, the president has consistently, in recent weeks and months, really, drawn these red lines which Kim Jong-un continues to leap over. I mean, he's like high-jumping over them at this stage. At some point, doesn't this just become an issue of credibility for the president which kind of pushes him into taking some action?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, it does. But I think the president, initially, his strategy was to re-define America as a powerful entity -- something like Barack Obama drew a literal red line that other people would step over. So, he's trying to reposition him, but, obviously, Kim Jong is as full of bluster as the president is. So, he is putting our back up against a wall. But let's not forget, there is a diplomatic component. Things are -- sanctions are being talked about. I thought Trump's speech at the U.N., did strike the right tone. But, look, at the end of the day --

SESAY: Not many people in the room, judging by the commentary afterward.

THOMAS: That may be true, but as an American, I felt it was the right tone. But I think -- I think the key thing here to remember is, what you were talking about earlier is North Korea is concerned about self- preservation. So, that's really the only chit we have in this process.

VAUSE: Matt.

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Donald Trump's staff asked him to not personally attack the leader North Korea at the U.N. Donald Trump couldn't help himself, that's what he does. So far, what is the good of what Donald Trump is doing, he keeps saying over and over again: North Korea shouldn't do this, can't-do this, we're going to destroy them if they do this, and they keep acting. Every other week there's some new test, a missile flies over Japan. The other thing is from the North Korean perspective: Saddam Hussein didn't have nuclear weapons -- he's dead. Gaddafi didn't have nuclear weapons -- he's dead. Kim Jong-un wants to stay in power, and the way that he sees himself being able to stay in power is by having nuclear weapons. So, that's what he's doing.

[01:15:32] SESAY: But to add to that. Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you, but just to follow his line of thought, then you add to that the Iran deal that this administration wants to rip off. I mean, if you're North Korea --

VAUSE: Why make a deal?

LITTMAN: Let me just say that I don't think that a lot -- some people in the administration wants to rip this up. Donald Trump clearly wants to rip it up. I think there are a lot of people don't think that would be a bad idea because we're preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for ten years. Now, getting Iran all this money, I think, is terrible. But we are preventing the situation with Iran that we're having with North Korea.

THOMAS: Or delaying the imaginable. We'll have another North Korea on our hands.

LITTMAN: Could you imagine. It's actually not necessarily inevitable, but, yes, could you imagine if we were doing right now, North Korea and Iran at the same time, which is what Donald Trump is talking about doing.

VAUSE: So, John, when the president says North Korea is developing an ICBM that will reach the United States, will not happen, and then it happens. And then, he says, if they threaten or carry out, you know, other tests, you know, there'll be fire and fury and we're locked and loaded to respond, and he doesn't follow through. How does that strengthen the U.S. position in the world, when, essentially, it's bluster with nothing to back it up?

THOMAS: Well, it's funny. On the one hand, you're advocating that we shouldn't go in and go to war, and Trump is using restraint --

VAUSE: I'm saying he shouldn't say it in the first place because it's nonsense with all the excuses.

LITTMAN: You said that Obama has literally drawn a red line, which he certainly did not literally stand there and draw a red line.

THOMAS: He did. He --

LITTMAN: But Barack Obama said that they -- talk about Syria, you're right. Donald Trump has now said 15 different things that North Korea shouldn't do, and they just keep doing it.

VAUSE: So, how does that strengthen the U.S. position, though?

THOMAS: Well, I think just in general, the U.S. needs to project more strength.

VAUSE: Is that projecting strength, though? Listen to --

THOMAS: It is. And in a way, I like the idea that Kim Jong might think Trump is crazy enough that he might actually --

LITTMAN: So far, nothing has happened that we'd wanted to happen with North Korea since Trump became president. None of this has worked out so far. When Barack Obama was president, we didn't have the exact same problem. We always have problem three.

THOMAS: They didn't have the missiles that they're testing.

LITTMAN: But they're testing every week.

THOMAS: You're right. Because Obama put us in this situation.

LITTMAN: He certainly didn't put us in the situation. The situation has gone on for a long time and they're doing it more under Donald Trump. Donald Trump keeps saying we're going to --

THOMAS: You're right because it wasn't stopped earlier. So now, we're stuck in this rotten situation.

LITTMAN: He hasn't acted. So, what's going to happen? How is that to the best of the world?

THOMAS: Well, General Mattis says that we have military options that do protect Seoul and can neutralize their military --

SESAY: OK. So --

THOMAS: isolation.

VAUSE: I can't wait to see that turn to pixie dust.


THOMAS: I mean, I can just listen to what the general said.

VAUSE: Well, OK.

SESAY: All right.

VAUSE: I hope so.

SESAY: For everyone's sake. There are millions of people's lives at stake, so we all hope so. Gentlemen --

VAUSE: Gentlemen, thanks, guys.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. Short break. President Trump taking new shots at pro athletes who kneeled during the national anthem. How the White House is now playing defense, more on that in a moment.

SESAY: Plus, if you thought German politics were boring, think again. Historic breakthrough for the far-right followed by leadership walk out and a party, in total disarray. Stay with us.


[01:20:35] VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump's feud with protesting NFL players is heading into overtime. The Dallas Cowboys took a knee before the national anthem during their Monday night game against Arizona Cardinals. Both teams then locked arms during the anthem.

SESAY: Well, on Monday as Mr. Trump tweeted: "tremendous backlash against the NFL and its players for disrespect of our country. Stand for our anthem."

VAUSE: Well, for more joining us now, retired NFL Player Ephraim Salaam; and back with us Republican Consultant John Thomas and CNN Contributor as well. OK. The Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver, Doug Baldwin, he was asked by Jake Tapper if the president's attacks on those NFL players who approached yesterday, if it was motivated -- if they were, in fact, motivated by race. Here's what he said.


DOUG BALDWIN, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER FOR THE NLF: So, Do I think that some of these comments are racially motivated? They might be. There might somebody implicit bias that, you know, our president just doesn't understand, which is OK because he's human. We look to him to be a little less in his flaws. We look to him to have fewer flaws than us because is he the leader of our country. But at the same time, I think, you know, we all have to realize he is human and he is flawed.


VAUSE: So, how do you feel?

EPHRAIM SALAAM, RETIRE NFL PLAYER: Everything he's built his platform on has had something do with race, whether it'd be immigration, Hispanics in this country, not denouncing what happened in Virginia, and now this. So, when he starts using terms like you people should be fired, and you people aren't patriotic, and when you look at the landscape of what's going on in the NFL, it's African-American players who are protesting.

A few White players protest with their teammates because of they, you know, they're teammates, that's what they do. But as a whole, its African-American players. So, when you look at it, if it sounds like a duck, looks like a duck, then it must be a duck. And right now, Donald Trump is a duck. And no matter how you try to get out of it, you send your minions out there to say, oh, no, it's not a race thing, it's not a race thing, it's not this, it's not that. It's very disheartening as an African-American in this country, I love this country. To feel like the person who' leading this country doesn't have your best interest at heart.

SESAY: John, to pick up on what Ephraim just said, the president decided to escalate this fight with the NFL, because he has made comments in the past about Kaepernick. But he decides to escalate this fight Friday night in Alabama, a state with its ugly slaveholding history, like many parts of this country but he did it in Alabama. He did it in Alabama and picked a fight where league there that's 95 percent, Black. Is it a coincidence that he chose that place to launch this attack?

THOMAS: Well, Alabama loves their college football, so it's no surprise that he talked about football state in a state that the does love the sport. But look, I think it's fascinating because Trump --

SESAY: So, it was football, not race that drove, is that the point?

THOMAS: Here's the thing. I mean, the person that you had the clip of, somehow there's ascribing intent to something Donald Trump -- they're saying he was racist, I have yet to hear Donald Trump-related to the NFL explicitly say that. So, we're trying to get into his head where he's never said that. Well, it's a dog whistle. Perhaps, it's your interpretation, but I find it fascinating, in the 2016 election it was Hillary Clinton that ran on identity politics, and Donald Trump ran on class and economic prosperity. And so, I just don't think it's warranted.

VAUSE: Let me just throw this in there. So, the players who are exercising their Constitutional rights by protesting, the freedom of speech, they're sons of, you know, witches. The people who march with the Nazis are very fine people in Charlottesville, Ephraim?

SALAAM: That says it all. Right there. And if you can sit up here and say, well, Donald Trump, he didn't say anything about race, he didn't make a racist comment or anything, you can keep skirting around the issue without actually saying, I don't like Black people, or those Black athletes need to get in line. You can just -- you can do all the posturing you want to do without saying those keywords and get away with it.

Well, that's not true. We're going to hold him accountable for what he says, and his intentions. Whether he comes right out and says it or not, it needs to be brought to attention that the things he's done since he's been in office have not benefited the majority of the country in terms of minorities. I would like to know if you think -- if you agree with that or not. Obviously, you know. [01:25:24] THOMAS: I mean, the stock market is at an all-time high, I

think it does help everybody. But I think the key thing is --

SALAAM: The stock market?

THOMAS: Yes, it does.

SALAAM: I'm talking about race relations. I'm not talking --

THOMAS: Well, economically, people are being lifted up by the president. But I just find it fascinating -- hold on -- that we're taking this conversation to race, and I'm happy to have that conversation, but what President Trump was talking about, he wasn't saying that they don't have the right to speak, he's just saying don't speak then because at that point it's about honoring our country --

SESAY: I'm going to push back on that.

THOMAS: Honoring our troops. That's not the proper venue for that.

SESAY: You're absolutely right, the president did not say you don't have the right, he just said you don't get to choose when you speak and we don't want you to speak right now, it doesn't suit us for you to speak now. That was the president was saying --

SALAAM: What does this sound like to you?

SESAY: I mean, surely --

THOMAS: Because the president's saying let's honor the country, let's honor this wonderful country that's enabled you as an NFL player to succeed and make millions of dollars, let's honor the troops that have sacrificed for your first amendment right.

SESAY: Eph, would you take that point, this point that's being made?

SALAAM: Let me ask you this: through some of the things that Donald Trump has done and said in his past, do you think he's patriotic, honestly? Just be honest with us.


SALAAM: You think Donald Trump is patriotic?

THOMAS: I do. He's -

SALAAM: Was it patriotic -- was it patriotic for him.

THOMAS: He's responding to the military, is that not patriotic? He's run an American First platform is that not --

SALAAM: Listen to what I'm talking about, all right.


SALAAM: You can do all of that stuff and all that posturing, well, he's money here and money there. I'm talking about him, personally, not as the president. I'm talking about him as an individual when he was a (INAUDIBLE), we know that.

THOMAS: Then he --

SALAAM: Wait a minute.


SALAAM: It's not a secret, right? When he attacks John McCain as a war veteran, a POW, called him a loser because he got caught and heroes don't get caught. The attack on the Goldstar family that lost their son in battle. Is that patriotic to you? Just take Donald Trump out of it. Is that patriotic to you?

THOMAS: No, no, or when he wouldn't debate and instead he held a fundraiser for our vets and our military.

SALAAM: Just yes or no is that -- if it's not Donald Trump if it was Barack Obama.

THOMAS: Is President Trump perfect, absolutely not.

SALAAM: If it was Barack Obama.

THOMAS: Absolutely not.

SALAAM: Thank you.

THOMAS: No. He's not perfect. I can judge him by expanding, expanding fund together military. His statements about, when I go to a football game, I love that few moments where we all come together as Americans and celebrate what this country is about -- and that's all President Trump is saying.

SALAAM: Have you ever been to a football game?

THOMAS: Yes, I have.

SALAAM: Come on, man, this is ridiculous!

VAUSE: This is what Eric Reid wrote last year, an op-ed, and a teammate of Collin Kaepernick about why they decided to kneel during the national anthem. "We choose to kneel because it's a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy. It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag, and military personnel. We chose it because it's exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society which includes the right to speak out in protest."

SALAAM: Do you agree with that statement?

THOMAS: You can protest all you want, protest after the game, before the game. VAUSE: On Twitter?

THOMAS: However you want to do it, not during the national anthem because that's the moment when you need to be grateful for being American rather, than being divisive and having political speech.

SESAY: You know what's interesting as you say that is the fact that a lot of people, and by inference, John, you include that you say, I don't know what's in the president's heart, so I can't speak to what his intention. I don't know. But with these people who have said what their intentions are --

VAUSE: They're still not going to --

SESAY: It's still, you don't scribe the same nuance that Kaepernick and other who say they love this country but still say it the same time, they don't.

THOMAS: First of all, when can parse Colin Kaepernick's words. They weren't American loving words, most of what he said. But the issue is I'm saying we don't want political speech of any perspective other than standing in unity and being grateful for what this country has given us.

SESAY: And what about -- Ephraim, you speak to this. I mean, what about the reality that exists for men of color, people of color that really --

VAUSE: Why are they protesting?

SALAAM: So, that's what the narrative. And Sarah Sanders said it today, well the narrative has changed, that was last year, this is the new narrative. Well, we didn't change the narrative. Those athletes didn't change the narrative. The White House, Donald Trump, is trying to change the narrative. What these players have been protesting for over 15 months is the behavior and the treatment that African-American minorities are at the hands of the police, the injustice that they have to deal with. Now, that's a secret. It's a lie --

[01:30:13] THOMAS: And no one --


SALAAM: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

THOMAS: I'm not having that argument with you. That's the point.

SALAAM: You don't want to have that argument.

THOMAS: No. We're saying --


SALAAM: You don't want to talk about that? We're talking about this is unpatriotic, which it's not. Kneeling at the flag is not unpatriotic. It is not. There's no bylaws or guidelines to say it's kneeling at the flag is unpatriotic. You know what it unpatriotic about the flag? When you put it on a shirt and wear it, when you drink out of cup, or when you have an American flag bikini, all of those things are unpatriotic according to bylaws of the American flag. So kneeling is not one of those. So for you to take it from this is a symbol of protest to bring awareness to the injustice that African- Americans are having by the hands of the police to now it's unpatriotic, that's ridiculous.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We're out of time.

Last word.

THOMAS: The NFL tried to silence the Cowboys when they tried to have counter speech as well. So the NFL has weighed in before that you can't have certain kinds of political speech. Now they're saying others. We're just saying this isn't place and time for that --


SALAAM: And I want to say what the Cowboys did, that wasn't same thing. They tried to get off kneeling before the national anthem, that's not same protest.

VAUSE: We've got to wrap.

Thank you so much.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you. Appreciate the honest conversation.

VAUSE: Yes, thank you.

SESAY: Thank you.

We're going to take a very quick break here in the NEWSROOM L.A. Stay with us. We'll have more of today's top stories. We'll be right back.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. I think we have some rats here in the studio. We'll check the headlines anyway.


[01:35:02] SESAY: Well, Hurricane Maria left millions in Puerto Rico without power or running water, and now they are running out of food. Federal emergency officials are there to see for themselves just how bad things really are.

SESAY: The U.S. president will be briefed on the situation Tuesday.

In the meantime, victims of the disaster are growing increasingly desperate, especially in the more remote parts of the island.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has more on that story.



LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This woman doesn't even know who I am. But I'm the first person she's seen land here since Hurricane Maria battered the island. The floods, the debris, the lack of power, all making already hard-to-get to areas even tougher to reach. Even FEMA hasn't set foot in some parts of Puerto Rico.

We took a chopper from San Juan to remote areas, like this small town next to the Guajataca Dam on the northwest part of the island. The dam has been breached, and the government ordered 70,000 nearby residents to evacuate.

It is here where I was met with such emotion. The people starving for assistance.


SANTIAGO (on camera): She says, if something happens to that dam, that's could be just as bad as the hurricane itself.

(voice-over): Communications are so poor, many are asking us to send messages to their families.

From the air, you can see why. More than three million U.S. citizens could remain in the dark for months.

(on camera): This is the problem. This is why Puerto Rico, 100 percent of the island, doesn't have power right now. Granted, the infrastructure was vulnerable before Hurricane Maria passed by. But you can see with these power lines down what the challenge is. They're completely collapsed.

(voice-over): Heading further inland, the death toll is among the highest here.

This is where we meet this 56-year-old woman. She's diabetic, just had surgery, and is unemployed. Now she doesn't have a home either.


SANTIAGO: This is what Maria did to her home. Water spewing from every corner.

By now, she thought help would have arrived. It hasn't.


SANTIAGO (on camera): Was she's hopeful that someone will help her?


SANTIAGO: To be able to rebuild this.

(voice-over): Flying south to even more revote village. The roads are blocked, forcing us to find another way to get to this home. Coffee grower and this man tell us the problem here is food. Most of what they have left has gone bad.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): He says you work and work and work and it's for nothing, because he's lost everything.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): A common theme on an island of 3.4 million U.S. citizens. Now waiting and hoping that help is on the way.

(on camera): And we're happy to report that we were able to reach out to people in New Jersey to let them know about their family here in one of the towns we visited there, as we promised. We communicated their message, and their family in New Jersey said they had not slept in days waiting to hear of how they were doing.

As for the government, we asked them why they have not been able to get to those remote areas. They continue to say that the roads are a challenge. But they are also now calling on the U.S. Congress to develop an aid package that is flexible with money and time.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


SESAY: The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is with us now, from San Juan.

Governor Rossello, thank you for joining us.

You've described the damage to Puerto Rico as apocalyptic. What's the greatest need right now?

RICARDO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: Well, the greatest need is for us to be able to get food, water, and fuel to all the areas in Puerto Rico and to make sure that those that need rescue have a safe passage home. We have rescued over 1500 people in Puerto Rico in the past couple of days so all of those are priorities right now.

SESAY: All right. You said you've rescued about 5,500. Do you have a clear idea of how many more people in need to be rescued?

ROSSELLO: Well, right now, what we have a lot of information that we didn't have couple of days. We have communication with all of the municipalities. And what we're trying to isolate are little neighborhoods that dis the rest of the municipality really, make sure that they have had some communication with the local authorities and, if not, we're going to do flyovers and take some food and water to those places or establish rescue missions. [01:39:56] SESAY: Governor, how satisfied are you with the level of

federal assistance and, crucially, the speed with which it is being delivered to Puerto Rico?

ROSSELLO: Well, this -- this has been an unprecedented catastrophe here in Puerto Rico and, quite frankly, unprecedented catastrophe overall. Five hurricanes two weeks to the same area is unheard of. I have to say, from the administration, from the president, they have responded quickly. FEMA has responded appropriately. We're working here and make sure that we can save lives and execute appropriately. But, again, there are some challenges. And we need more resources. We recognize that it's unprecedented. But now what we're doing is asking Congress to establish a package for Puerto Rico so that we can start rebuilding, we can have the resource, we can have flexibility in execution, and then we can avoid what could be a crisis here in Puerto Rico

SESAY: OK. You're clearly saying that more is needed to support people living on the island at this point in time. In the last couple of days, President Trump has gone off to NFL players in a speech in a series of tweets. Said comparatively much less about the devastation on Puerto Rico. Late Monday, Governor, he did put out a tweet abo the situation on the island. Let me read it to you. He said this: "Texas and Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble. It's old electrical grid which was in terrible shape was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks, which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water, and medical are top priorities and doing well. #FEMA."

You know, Governor Rossello, a number of people have made the point that the president should have been more focused on the plight of American citizens facing a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico rather than picking fights with athletes. Where do you stand on this issue?

ROSSELLO: Well, I haven't really had the time to see what the president has said. I can tell you what he has done over here. He has issued two free landfall emergency declarations for Puerto Rico. He has spoken to me on several occasions. Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, was here making sure that things could push forward. He has been attentive. And what we're stating is that a lot of those things are true. There's collapsed infrastructure, the energy grid was old, not well maintained. Now it's a matter of logistics, executing, and doing it in a proper and safe way so that people can get the resources. We can stabilize the emergency and start thinking about the rebuilding process.

SESAY: Governor Rossello, I'm going to ask you about those living in the vicinity of the damage near Guajataca Dam. We know the damage -- the damage it's leaking water you're worried about a full-on breach. Has everyone in the area surrounding the dam, has everyone been evacuated now?

ROSSELLO: Yes. The areas close to the dam have been evacuated. We brought in some engineers, two sets of engineers to analyze the situation, to provide mission strategies. They have determined that there was indication on Friday that there was an eminent collapse of this dam. Part of it collapsed, but right now it seems to be stable, at least this is the opinion of the engineers. And what we're trying to do is execute a mitigation strategy so that we can, you know, get people back into their houses and you know, fix the dam.

SESAY: OK. Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, thank you so much for joining us. It's a long road ahead, but you and all the people of Puerto Rico are in our prayers. We wish you the very, very best.

ROSSELLO: Thank you. Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Well, we wish them well. A long journey ahead.


[02:44:20] VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, a surge for Germany's far-right AFD party, but the joy of success quickly followed by turmoil, within fighting among the party leadership the highest levels.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. Some breaking news to bring you now. A gunman killed three Israelis and wounded a fourth at a crossing between Israel and the West Bank.

VAUSE: Police say the attacker came to the back gate of the settlement, which is open every morning to let Palestinians to enter Israel for work, and then opened fire on security forces. The officials say the attacker has been killed. No more details at this point. As soon as we get more, we will bring them to you.

SESAY: We certainly will. Watching the situation closely for you.

Turning our attention to the aftermath of the German election, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to build a coalition government by Christmas. Sunday's general election weakened her political power, and her options are slim.

VAUSE: She's facing the rise of populism felt across Europe in an unexpected surge from the far-right Alternative for Germany Party. Deep divisions have already emerged within that party's leadership.

Here's Atika Shubert, reporting from Berlin.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a victory lap, a press conference to trumpet the arrival of a new far- right political force, the AFD Alternative for Germany. It ended in disarray. The co-chair, Frauke Petry, citing an arctic dissent, and the party walked out.

FRAUKE PETRY, AFD PARTY CO-CHAIR (through translation): I have decided not to be a part of the AFD parliamentary group anymore, but will be an independent deputy in the parliament. Rest assured that I will still be involved in active politics. My political aim is that we will bring about a conservative turn for the parliament, 2021, in this country. For that, I will do everything.

SHUBERT (on camera): So you might be wondering, who are these guys, what do they stand for, and who is in charge? Those are questions German voters may also be wondering the day after they were elected into parliament.

(voice-over): The AFD was only founded in 2013 as an anti-Euro party, railing against Germany's debt bailout of Greece. They barely made a dent, missing the 5 percent threshold for parliament seats. But 2015, this happened. Germany opened its doors to nearly a million refugees, and the AFD jumped on the issue with an anti-immigration platform. The party wants to seal Germany's borders and ban mosque minarets and Muslim face veils, claiming that Islam, quote, "contradicts Germany's constitution."


SHUBERT: The party tapped into the unease of many Germans wondering how they would accommodate so many new arrivals, as well as the ground swell of anger from far-right extremist groups.

So who's leading the AFD? Let's start with co-chair, Frauke Petry, a former chemist, she's the moderate. Although, she did suggest last year that police should shoot at migrates crossing the border illegally, though she claimed it should be a last resort. The other, softer face is Alice Bydell (ph), a former investment banker raising a family with her female partner in Switzerland. She represents a paradoxically friendly face to a party that advocates traditional families and fights gay marriage.

Both of them have found themselves having to defend or qualify the fiery statements of their fellow party leaders, including a former member of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats, Alex Gowland (ph). Gowland (ph) says he believes in the need for a German dominate culture and a change in how the country deals with its war time history. He famously said people would not want, quote, "Someone like Jerome Guate (ph), Germany's celebrated black footballer, as their neighbor." And within hours of the first election results, he threatened to, quote, "Hunt down Angela Merkel while in parliament."

Fighting words. But if Monday's press conference is any indication, the AFD may be too busy battling itself.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


[01:50:35] SESAY: All right. Well, we'll continue to watch the situation in Germany.

Still ahead, "Star Trek Discovery" is boldly embarking on a new frontier of streaming service. And CBS and its fans will pay for that. But the question is, is it worth the price? VAUSE: Yes.

SESAY: Reviews of the sci-fi spinoff, coming up next.

VAUSE: I didn't see it.


SESAY: So, for 50 years, Star Trek has taken fans on a journey to the final frontier. The latest in the sci-fi franchise, "Star Trek Discovery," premiered Sunday, more than a decade after the last episode ended.

VAUSE: CBS aired the first episode hoping the network exposure would get fans to sign up for the subscription streaming service.

SESAY: A gamble.

VAUSE: Trekkies took the bait. CBS says the show broke a record for single day subscriptions.


UNIDENTIFEID ACTRESS: I'm the commander. I'm from the United Federation --



VAUSE: Joining us now, film and entertainment journalist, Sandro Monetti.

Sandro, good to see you.


VAUSE: So my mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts.


SESAY: Leave me out of it.

VAUSE: Does this Star Trek complete the prime directive of all "Star Treks," which is appeal to the Trekkies whilst the pulling a new audience that's never been into "Star Trek" before.

MONETTI: That's the mission this time because "Star Trek Discovery," at least here in the states, has been flagship snow for CBS All Access. They currently have a million subscribers. They won't have to four million by 2020. So the idea is to leverage the fandom of "Star Trek" devotees to pay $5.99 for the service. Having seen the premier episode, I wouldn't pay five cents for it.


SESAY: What's wrong with it?

MONETTI: It has more executive producers than cast members. Too many cooks in the kitchen is always a problem in creative endeavors.

VAUSE: This was back in March, wasn't it?

MONETTI: Exactly. Brian Fuller was the first executive producer and he had the old creative differences and stepped aside. As soon as the credits started on the first, he signed saw nine executive producers. I thought, that's always a bad sign. It was muddled. It was a mess.


SESAY: Dialogue wasn't very good.


MONETTI: Let's have special writing. It was absent. There was no heart. There was no wit. There was no charm. All of these things made the original "Star Trek" a success.

VAUSE: To lose one director, it's unfortunately, to lose another one, careless.

MONETTI: Exactly.

VAUSE: I'll give you the reviews because the reviews have been pretty good. Let's go for the "Independent." "Where Discovery goes from here is anyone's guess, but it's first two episodes have set up compelling central characters, placed her in a world and then completely wiped away that world. This new harder "Trek" feels" -- I can't read that without my glasses -- "Post "Game of Thrones, landscape but it remains to be seen how much of idealism can survive in 2017."

[01:55:20] SESAY: What did they get wrong there?

MONETTI: Clearly, they're not a "Star Trek" fan because it's blown away a world of "Star Trek." This is supposed to be set 10 years before the original series.

VAUSE: That's right.

MONETTI: But they have 24th century technology. It just has no -- the Klingons look different, everything is different --


VAUSE: The faces are different, the sounds are different, the ship looks different.


SESAY: You guys are really nerding out now, and it's freaking me out.

VAUSE: No, you just don't get it. SESAY: But the new central character, the African-American lead,

that's a big move. And it's being heralded.

VAUSE: It's been done before.

SESAY: No, I'm talking about "Star Trek."

VAUSE: They've done it before in "Star Trek."


SESAY: As a central character.

VAUSE: Yes. She was in the "Walking Dead" before.

MONETTI: But she's been thrown under the bus with a terrible character because she's set as the hero and she commits mutiny in the opening episode. This is what I mean. How are you supposed to cheer for a hero who commits mutiny?

VAUSE: She brought the "Walking Dead" writers with her and brought the zombies in with her.

MONETTI: I wish she brought zombies into the script.

SESAY: Oh, yes. I get it.

VAUSE: No brains here.

SESAY: Oh, my goodness, I get it. Both of you, enough. You don't like it.

VAUSE: I haven't see it but I'm going look at it.

Thanks, Sandro.

SESAY: Thank you, Sandro.

MONETTI: It can always get better.


VAUSE: Optimism.


VAUSE: You're watching, have been, CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.


SESAY: You've been watching CNN.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. We'll be back with more news right after this.


VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --


SESAY: Hello, and welcome to our viewers from all around world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

This is NEWSROOM, L.A.

SESAY: Well, the White House insists the U.S. has not declared war on North Korea, calling that suggestion absurd.

VAUSE: On Monday, the North Korea's foreign minister accused the U.S. president of declaring war with just a single tweet.


[02:00:05] RI YONG-HO, NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translation): Last weekend, Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn't be around much longer. And, hence, at last, he declared a war on our country, given the fact that this comes from --