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North Korea Back on the List of Terror Sponsor; Nuclear Weapons Heavily Guarded. U.S. Generals, I Won't Follow An Illegal Nuclear Order; South Korea On Firm Readiness After U.S. Action; Merkel Faces Political Challenge Of Her Career; Former Vice President Calls On Mugabe To Resign; UCLA Players Dad Refuses To Thank Trump; AT&T CEO Says Government Lawsuit Makes No Sense. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 21, 2017 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and Welcome to our viewers around the world, I'm Max Foster in London. This is CNN Newsroom.

The daily allegations now of sexual harassment currently affecting both political parties in the United States. And now the latest involved prominent members of the media. CBS has suspended host Charlie Rose after eight women accuse him of unwanted sexual advances and groping. PBS has stop the distribution of his talk show.

A top New York Times reporter who covers the Trump administration is being suspended. A Vox Trump stories said three women and the article's author accused Glenn Thrush of unwanted kissing and groping and sexual encounters involving alcohol. Thrush apologizes to any women who felt uncomfortable in his presence. The Times launch its own investigation.

And republican Senate candidate Roy Moore continues to deny sex abuse allegations from a number of women. One of his accusers spoke out on Monday describing her encounter with him when she was just 14 years old.

Now, though, many republican leaders have outspoken, been outspoken in their rejection of Moore's candidacy.

Ryan Nobles report that President Trump has been notably silent.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has weighed in on a number of topics over the past 48 hours. He's talked about those basketball players from UCLA who he helped to free after being caught shoplifting in China. He also weighed in on North Korea announcing a new round of tough sanctions. And adding, North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terror.

He even talked about Jeff Flake, the republican senator who is in a bit of a war with, and Flake's hot mic comments where he talked about how if the Republican Party becomes a party of Roy Moore and President Trump then the party is toast.

But the president is still not talking about Roy Moore, that controversial Alabama Senate candidate accused of sexual indiscretions with underage girls.

And the White House repeatedly turning down opportunities to weigh in. This is what Sarah Sanders said yesterday in the press briefings.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, obviously the president wants people both in the House and the Senate that support his agenda. But as I've said and as the Hatch Act prohibits me from going any further, we certainly think that this is something that the people of Alabama should decide. And I'm not going to be able to weigh in anything further beyond those comments.


NOBLES: Now despite the fact that Sanders said that they're going to leave it up to the voters of Alabama to decide who to support. There have been some mixed messages by members of the administration.

In fact, in that same press briefing, Sanders said that of course the president would rather see people in the Senate who support his agenda in the case of the Alabama Senate race that would certainly be Roy Moore.

And Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser said on Fox that people in Alabama should certainly not support Doug Jones, the democrat and also said that they'd like to see someone who will vote with the president.

So even though the White House is remaining coy, it seems that they are at least sending somewhat of a mixed message to the voters in Alabama as on to who they would like to see be elected on December 12th.

FOSTER: As Ryan mention though, it's been a week of silence on Roy Moore for President Donald Trump. But the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is doing some talking on his behalf.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts, he's weak on crimes, weak on borders, he's strong on raising your taxes. He's terrible for property owners.



CONWAY: And Doug Jones is a doctrinarian (Ph) liberal which is why he's not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.


CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.


FOSTER: That was Conway's not so subtle endorsement on Roy Moore on Monday. But last Thursday she had a pretty different take.


CONWAY: The principle, the incoercible principle is that there's no Senate seat that's worth more than a child.


FOSTER: Leslie Vinjamuri, professor of international relations of course of the University of London. How do you reconcile those two Conways?

LESLIE VINJAMURI, SENIOR LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: It's a funny move. It's a funny especially since these allegations are not going away since the polling data has shifted, right? He looks like he's about a percentage point behind -- remember this was a candidate who's been deeply controversial for a long time.

[03:04:59] He was -- he was not polling very strong even before the allegations came out by the Washington Post. So it looks like, you know, the White House is just trying to manage this. Doesn't want to lose the seat but at what cost?

Then of course, it's too late to put another candidate in. There could be a write in campaign. Donald Trump didn't support Roy Moore in the primaries, he supported the other candidate. So this is a, you know, this is a very difficult response, and not one that plays well to the White House.

FOSTER: I mean, there's so many different stories swirling around here, aren't there? Isn't it unfair to suggest that the allegations are part of the White House decision-making process here? They're just looking at it as pure politics. They desperately need that seat?

VINJAMURI: Well, they need that seat but it plays very badly. Remember, that the -- that Mitch McConnell has already walked away from this candidate, that he doesn't have support amongst the establishment Republican Party at the national level. He does also have the support of the Republican Party in Alabama.

So I think, you know, really this is going to be a decision that comes out in the elections. It's a political decision that will be made by the people in Alabama.

But again, this was a candidate who was only, even before these allegations he was only six percentage points ahead in a state that is very strongly republican. Trump won the state by 28 percentage points and Roy Moore has been very well supported by his base, by the Evangelicals who probably aren't shifting on these this because they have questions about the credibility of this.

But he's been divisive because he hasn't supported, you know, he was asked when he was chief justice of the Alabama state Supreme Court to remove the statute of the Ten Commandments, he wouldn't do it, he refuse to stop enforcing the ban on same sex marriage, right.

So, he's deeply controversial far beyond what's happening right now. And this is just playing right against...


FOSTER: What would be an alternative strategy for the White House? Could they have not encouraged the party to replace Roy Moore as a candidate? Why didn't they go down that route? What are the other alternatives available?

VINJAMURI: Well, right now it's too late.

FOSTER: Too late.

VINJAMURI: It's not possible to replace him. There is the possibility...


FOSTER: So they let it, too late.

VINJAMURI: Well, there is a possibility of a ride in campaign.


VINJAMURI: But if they remain silent. The question is then what happens, right? And it looks like the seat right now will go to the democratic candidate and, of course, that's not what the White House wants as we've just heard.

They're desperate to have this tax proposal go forward and they feel like they need that seat. But weighing in in the way that we've just seen is very problematic. I think and risks losing them a lot more creditability, a lot, you know, and moving the tide even further against as it comes up to the midterms.

FOSTER: There's been allegations, haven't it, you know with the famous Access Hollywood tape from the campaign about, you know, Donald Trump's treatment of women as well.


FOSTER: there's nothing substantive there. But do you think he should have been more forthright on the Roy Moore issue, just to assert his own respect for women, as it were?

VINJAMURI: Yes. I mean, we are right now in the middle of a tidal wave of allegations coming out against a number of people of the Me Too campaign, which has been tremendously important, which isn't, you know, targeted necessarily against individuals, but this is the way that -- this is the sort of move, right, to recognize and to give legitimacy to the fact you can't, you know, you can't do these sorts of things.

And so to have a person in the White House who's not getting behind that, it's unwise morally, it's unwise politically, and there's got to be a moment where there's a decision made to recognize the direction of morality and politics in the United States right now.

FOSTER: Leslie, as always, thank you very much indeed for joining us.


FOSTER: As we mentioned earlier, long time journalist Charlie Rose is facing several allegations of sexual harassment. He released a statement on Monday, saying in part, "It's essential that these women know I hear them but I deeply apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I am embarrassed. I behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that. Though, I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.

Amy Brittain broke the story in the Washington Post and spoke to CNN.


AMY BRITTAIN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: The allegations are certainly very troubling and the reporting took weeks of speaking with women who worked with Rose from the span of the 1990s until very recently.

And the very troubling thing about their allegations is that there were so many similarities in the stories that they told. And let me reiterate that these are women who, in many cases did not know -- did not even know one another and worked for Rose at different points in their life.

And there were certain patterns of behavior that were alarming concerning the groping, the nudity, touching them, and late night sexual phone calls, and there seems to be very clear consistencies and sort of how he would carry out these interactions towards women.

You have to look at the Charlie Rose show and look at the amount of power that he has. I mean, he is one of the most respected journalists and TV hosts in the station.

[03:09:59] And the unique thing about is show is that it's a very small staff, roughly about 12 to 15 individuals, here's no H.R. department. The only person essentially that anyone could report a complaint to would be his executive producer, who had been with him since 1991.

And multiple women told us that they felt like they really could not report this behavior. We did speak to one woman who did report it and she was fired soon after reporting it.


FOSTER: Well, Brittain says the Washington Post sent Charlie Rose a detailed list of every allegation in her story. He did not want to challenge the accusations line by line.

A second woman is accusing democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken of inappropriately touching her. And she says Franken grabbed her rear while posing for this photo taken to the state fair back in 2010. She posted the picture on Facebook at the time, commenting the senator was a creeper who molested her.

Franken tells CNN he doesn't remember taking the photo, but he feels badly that she felt disrespected. This comes on the heels of accusations made last week by radio host Leeann Tweeden that Franken forcedly kissed and groped her on a comedy tour two years before he ran for office.

Now, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation moving on into President Trump's inner circle now. How more White House officials are being questioned now in the Russia investigation, coming out.

Plus, the leaders of Syria and Russia meet in Sochi to talk about Syria's future and say the fight against terrorism there is winding down.


FOSTER: The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, plans to discuss Syria's future with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Mr. Putin met earlier with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Sochi, Russia.

The Russian president reportedly praised Assad for his for work fighting ISIS and stressed the need for peaceful political solution to the crisis in Syria.

CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now from Moscow. Are we talking here effectively about, you know, a post-Civil War settlement to the terms of that?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's certainly what Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, wants to put across. I mean, he had this sort of unexpected or unscheduled meeting with Bashar al-Assad in Sochi in southern Russia.

It's only the second time that the two figures have met as far as we know face to face since October 2015 just a few weeks after Russia embarked on its military intervention in Syria, and intervention of course which involved large scale air strikes and effectively turned the tide of the conflict in Syria in Bashar al-Assad's favor.

And one of the main things if not the main things that they discussed was as a result of that the conflict in Syria had changed, they said this is according to a readout from the Kremlin from military operations to a focus more on a political solution.

And so, it's in that context that Vladimir Putin met Bashar al-Assad in Sochi -- it was under a shroud of secrecy as well. This meeting actually took place yesterday but no one ever heard about it. It was only this morning that the Kremlin announced that this meeting had taken place. Presumably by this time Bashar al-Assad is back firmly in his palace in Damascus. And the meeting comes just a few days ahead of a summit that's being

held in Russia later on this week between the leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey to discuss the political future of Syria post conflict.

FOSTER: So presumably President Putin is going to take this plan of talks, the skeleton plan to Donald Trump, what do you think he'll make of it and what sort of interventions do you think he'll want to make?

CHANCE: Well, you're right. And that's one of the other issues that came out in this Kremlin statement about this meeting with Bashar al- Assad that Vladimir Putin is now going to be calling other world leaders.

They mentioned the emir of Qatar and the Kremlin mentioned a phone call to Donald Trump as well, the U.S President, to discuss with him the Syrian political situation, a resolution to the conflict.

It's one of the areas where Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have spoken about in the past. They've come to some agreement about, you know, for instance, the introduction of de-escalation zones, as they're called. A Russian attempt to impose peace on areas of Syria.

And that despite the fact, that on the face of it the Russians and United States are meant to be on opposite sides of the conflict. The Russians backing Bashar al-Assad, the Americans saying he must leave in the future -- for the future of Syria. But it seems that the Russians at the moment are getting their way, Max.

FOSTER: OK. Matthew in Moscow, thank you very much indeed. We'll come back to you when we get the results of the call.

Meanwhile, the Russian investigation is getting closer to President Trump's inner circle. The White House is hoping the interviews will end soon, but investigators are planning to question even more senior officials. That includes one of Mr. Trump's most trusted confidant.

Our details now from our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider in Washington.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indications that new revelations could soon emerge from the special counsel's probe. The Washington Post reports investigators are asking witnesses about foreign contacts and meetings that haven't yet been made public.

The investigators are specifically focused on President Trump's fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and his foreign contacts according to the Post.

Flynn is under scrutiny for the undisclosed lobbying he did during the presidential campaign on behalf of the Turkish government according to sources. The special counsel is also takling about the possibility that Flynn was part of discussion and a plot that was never carried out, seeking the removal, possibly by force, of a Turkish cleric Fetulleh Gulen living in exile in the U.S.

The special counsel will be interviewing key White House staffers in the coming weeks including communications director Hope Hicks, who has been a crucial part of the president's inner circle since his campaign begun in June 2015 and White House counsel, Don McGahn.

Meanwhile, the British publicist who arranged the now infamous July 2016 meeting at trump Tower between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort is now breaking his silence.

[03:20:02] Rob Goldstone tells the Sunday Times of London that he has accepted special counsel Mueller's invitation for an interview. Saying he feels, "It's time for me to explain what happened." And dismissing any suggestion he was part of a Russian plot to influence the election. "I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. That doesn't mean that maybe there wasn't any Russian interference or Trump campaign collusion in other ways, I don't know, but I'm sure I wasn't part of it."

No date has been set yet for Goldstone's interview with Mueller's team but Goldstone is now insisting that he didn't mean to say outright that the Russian government supported candidate Trump when he wrote that e-mail to Donald Trump, Jr. on the summer of 2016.

Instead, Goldstone now says he was speaking generally about the aberration he'd seen for Donald Trump when he was in Moscow and he said that the misinterpretation was likely the result of a rushed e- mail.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

FOSTER: The Trump administration officially labels North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, for the backing Mr. Trump's rhetoric against the Kim Jong-un's regime.

Anna Coren has regional reaction ahead. Anna?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, coming up, South Korea and Japan support Donald Trump's decision to put North Korea back on the list as a state sponsor of terrorism. We are monitoring reaction out of Pyongyang join us live from Seoul ahead on Newsroom.


FOSTER: Welcome to our viewers around the world and in the United States. I'm Max Foster. Now for some quick headlines for you.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syria's Bashar al-Assad say the fighting against terrorist in Syria is nearing an end.

[03:25:00] The leaders of a meeting in Sochi in Russia Mr. Putin reportedly told Assad the priority now is to move towards a peaceful political solution in Syria.

A CNN exclusive report found hurricane Maria may have killed many more people in Puerto Rico than originally thought. The official death toll is 55 but CNN has learned from funeral homes almost 500 people are believed to have died. That's nine times as many government officials says they will investigate. Time may be running out for 44 Argentine crew members missing before a

submarine. Argentina's navy now says underwater noses -- noises have detected -- have been detected recently and they're not from the missing crew.

Before disappearing, the captain was ordered to return because of a failure in the battery system the navy heard from the submarine one last time after that.

Now we have new video and comments from North Korea a day after the U.S. put the North back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. State run media showed Kim Jong-un at a truck factory touting his country's spirit of self-reliance. That spirit may seem be tested though with the U.S. about to announce even more new sanctions on North Korea.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorists. It should have happened a long time ago. It should have happened years ago.


FOSTER: Well, North Korea's state newspaper run report on Tuesday calling Mr. Trump a lunatic. They should be sternly punished for hideous crimes. It's unclear if that was a direct response to Mr. Trump's latest comments.

Our CNN's Jeff Zeleny looks at the implications though of those moves.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making a major designation against North Korea here at the White House. Adding them back to the list of state sponsors of terrorism joining Syria, Sudan, and Iran.

Now this is something that is a reversing course from a decision that President George W. Bush made in 2008 in the final months of his administration when he took them off the list as part of a nuclear deal that ultimately did not go through.

President Trump making the declaration, he said it is part of an effort to continue to squeeze the North Korean regime.

Now there is a question what actually does this mean? Is it more symbolism or substance? We do know the Treasury Department will be announcing new sanctions on Tuesday. It will be again economically squeezing the North Korean regime.

The question here, though, is what does it mean beyond that. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged that it was steeped in symbolism, no question. He also said though, it was a serious matter, again, using diplomatic efforts to try and bring North Korea to the negotiating table and to squeeze them economically.

The question here what does this mean going forward? It does mean that this administration clearly keeping the diplomacy door open. That's what this move is, not a military operation.

Jeff Zeleny CNN, the White House.

FOSTER: Meanwhile, some blunt talk about tensions with the north from a general in charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more on that.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump designating North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism also has a military objective.


TRUMP: The North Korean regime must be lawful, it must end its unlawful nuclear ballistic missile development.


STARR: The president's tough rhetoric about North Korea's nuclear weapons.


TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.


STARR: Causing deep worry he might suddenly order a nuclear weapons launch.


CHRIS MURPHY, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile as a decision-making process that is so quick that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is widely out of step with U.S. national security interests.


STARR: General John Hyten, the respected four-star in charge of U.S. nuclear weapons, says if he got an illegal order from President Trump to launch nuclear weapons, he would not follow it.


JOHN HYTEN, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES STRATEGIC COMMAND: I provide advice to the president. He'll tell me what to do, and if it's illegal guess what's going to happen.


HYTEN: I'm going to say, Mr. President, that's illegal. And guess what he's going to do, he's going to say what would be legal. And we'll come up with options of a mix of capabilities respond to whatever the situation is and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated.


STARR: The weapon must be proportional to the threat, especially because nuclear weapons can kill tens of thousands of people.


STEVE WARREN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think the general's remarks were very forceful, they were very plain spoken and they were very blunt, and frankly, they were also very refreshing.

It's very important I think for the American public to understand the types of safeguards, the types of security measures we put around our nuclear arsenal and our nuclear strike capabilities.

[03:30:04] STARR: Commanders continue to say the obligation is on them to not obey an illegal order.


MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It might surprise you if I told you I have been in situations in combat where we have had to take orders that were given to us and go back to our commanders and say, hey, the lawyers say this may not be legal to do these things.


STARR: All of this taking on considerable urgency, because the U.S. intelligence community and the South Koreans, believe that sometime in 2018 the North Koreans may have a working long range missile with a warhead on top that could potentially strike the U.S. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


FOSTER: A lot to cover. Let's bring in CNN Anna Coren also Robert Kelly, he is an associate professor political science at National University. First of all to you. Welcome news I gather in Asia to the White House.

COREN: Certainly here in South Korea and Japan both countries believe that this is a step towards denuclearizing the Korean peninsula that this will in fact place more pressure on North Korea to halt the nuclear weapons programed come back to the negotiating table. A short time ago, we heard from China, from the foreign ministry spokesperson, who said his is a sensitive situation and called an all parties ease tensions and return to the negotiating table, I think if you read between the lines basically imply that this announcement by Donald Trump is extremely unhelpful to what China is trying to achieve. And, of course, we know, Max, that China sending the special envoy over the weekend to discuss its concerns over North Korea's nuclear program.

I guess it really is a problem for China because the world is looking to China to really step in here and get North Korea to come to its senses. But any progress, Max, that was made over the weekend, you would assume has now been eroded. As far as North Korea goes, you mention that there was an opinion piece in a state newspaper in which it said Trump should be sternly punished for hideous crimes against North Korea. In announcement the likely that it would come from state media KCNA. So, that is the thinking here that we are yet to properly hear from North Korea, get a proper reaction because most analysts feel that there will be quite harsh rhetoric teats and then more threats of further test, Max.

FOSTER: So, Professor Kelly, this idea that China would send an envoy to North Korea was quite a big move, wasn't it, after the visit from President Trump to China seen as a triumph for President Trump as well, do you think there is concern Trump could be derailing Chinese efforts with North Korean negotiations if they're working towards that?

ROBERT KELLY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR RUSSIA NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: If the envoy really is that, I think there's a lot of hope that the envoy is that, that Trump had a pressure President Xi into some kind of change or movement on North Korea. Wanted this for a while obviously. There are hints that China has been changing its position on North Korea in the last few months in our direction.

It's a bit of a stretch to suggest the envoy is directed, because of Donald Trump. Probably because North Korea are afraid of what Donald Trump is saying in twitter for the last couple months and they want to know what is going on, they want to hear what China thinks of Trump as a person. I mean if he is stable, the things he says on twitter I would be surprised if the envoy translated on to the major Chinese pressure on North Korea, because what we need really id economic, it is not the leadership level, it is really economic level.

FOSTER: We talked about the stability Donald Trump, Anna. Concern in the United States the power to flip the nuclear switch. How fear is there in Asia that he is not the right person to be uncharged of that massive arsenal? T

COREN: Well, certainly I think when the rhetoric is red hot as we have seen certainly earlier in the year here were grave concerns here in South Korea that what was coming out of the mouth of the U.S. Commander in chief is certainly not what they need. They are used to the rhetoric out of North Korea, but certainly not about of the mouth of the U.S. President. There are concerns. Donald Trump, however, had a very successful trip to Asia. Not too many miss steps and you'd have to say that after that trip he is garnered quite a bit of support certainly here in South Korea.

[03:35:08] He was welcomed with open arms, certainly by all the leaders of Asia and certainly President Moon who he had quite a strained relationship. They patch things up while he was here in Seoul. At this stage I think that people are confident that this is perhaps the right way to deal with North Korea as long as it remains, somewhat on an even keel, as long as it's diplomatic and economic pressure it drags the Korean peninsula to the brink of war, Max. FOSTER: Professor Kelly, it is all predicate to those now on the main

idea that North Korea could potentially one day enter negotiations. That is very unlikely at this point. And if you look at other countries, Libya, for example, where they negotiated and then their nuclear arsenals and it hasn't work out for them he probably looking at those example and thinking, actually, I'm going to keep these nuclear weapons, no matter what and that doesn't fit into the current strategy Washington and Beijing are looking at.

KELLY: Yes, I think that is exactly right. And the North Korean save said this to us. The North Koreans have said to us if Gadhafi had nuclear weapons he'd still be alive, it certainly accurate. You could say the same about Hussein and some others. I think the primary reason the North Korea want with their weapons is to defend against American-led regime change and put them on the axis of evil which is rhetoric. Talking go getting rid of North Korea, we don't negotiate with it. I think that scare the North Koreans and they said we need a nuclear weapon. I do think on the other hand that North Koreans have negotiated with us in terrible bad faith for several decades. There were many efforts the North Koreans have foregone to come to the table and genuinely negotiate on stuff they made concessions. They made in my mind pseudo concessions things like the primary unions that don't rally cost North Korea very much at all. They are very emotional but not a genuine concession on the behalf of the north.

FOSTER: We are still looking. I think this is where the President is, President Trump is correct in talking about pressure. We are still looking for North Korea to actually give us something that would actually make it feel like it's worthwhile to come back to the table. We need some real concessions with North Korea, something substantial on human rights, nuclear proliferation. Something and the North Koreans just had not done it, they just seem hell-bent on developing this weapon and that is why we are talking about missile defense and sanctions and terrorism and everything else. They don't seem to be coming around.

FOSTER: Okay, Robert Kelly also, Anna Coren, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

KELLY: Thank you for having me.

FOSTER: Coming up, coalition talks in Germany collapsing, pressure on Angela Merkel. The latest ahead when newsroom continues.


[03:40:51] FOSTER: German chancellor Angela Merkel is facing the political challenge of her career. She is been a dominant European figure for 12 years leading Germany to economic power. She is been able to work with President Vladimir Putin relationship with President Trump has been strained at times, and negotiations to form a three-way coalition, when the liberals free Democrats party walk out, Atika Shubert joins us now from Berlin with more. Really big decision here, isn't she? Does she try to government minority or does she go back to elections? ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is really an unprecedented

situation for Germany. Chancellor Merkel has already ruled out leading a minority government. She said last night to state broadcaster ARD that she would rather see new elections than try to lead a minority government. So, their basically two options now, first one is what President Stein Meyer said yesterday which is everybody's got to knuckle down and try to get back to the negotiating table and that is why what we'll see today is President Stein Meyer meeting with the Party leaders who failed in those governing talks, specifically the free Democrats and the greens today. Tomorrow he will also be meeting with the social Democrat who are in the opposition. But it is all sort of another attempt to give this governing -- trying to get these talks going with this governing, possibility of a governing coalition.

If that fails, however, then we are looking at the likelihood of elections next year after what was already a pretty bruising election season this year and the most recent polls show that about 51 percent of respondents and a ZDF media poll, for example, want to see new elections. It's quite possible the public is saying, listen if you can't get your act together with this, and then let's just do the elections over again.

FOSTER: Has Angela Merkel's position anyway since the last elections or has she dealt erupted there? Suggesting she might get a stronger mandate this time?

SHUBERT: You know this is probably the weakest we've seen her in years. And this is very unusual for Chancellor Merkel, she is known for being steady and stable and very pragmatic, sort of wrestling opposing Party members to the table and hammering out a solution. But in this case she failed. So, it does not look good for her. And there's a lot of concern that this could actually benefit far-right parties like the IAFD.

FORBES: OK. Interesting. Atika thank you very much indeed.

Zimbabwe the country there appears to be on the verge of ending the reign of its 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe. His own party passes an impeachment motion in the parliament in the hours ahead. Mr. Mugabe has resisted efforts to step aside after an apparent military coups last week. His former Vice President says he will return to Zimbabwe only when satisfied his personal security. CNN David McKenzie joins us now live from Harare. Take us through the process of impeachment here and says how long Mugabe will stay in office?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, certainly the ruling party is trying to say they can rapidly push through this impeachment procedure where they are trying to throw out the president from within his own Party in parliament. Some constitutional lawyer I've spoken to seems to suggest that it could take longer than they hope. Still have this immense pressure on Robert Mugabe to step aside, pressure he appears to be resisting. And this morning we've heard from Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Vice-President that he sacked speaking in a statement from exile. The Vice president has in fact been missing since this all unfolded, since he was fired and then this apparent coup took place. He is he is -- he won't come back to the country and discuss issues with President Mugabe, because he is not sure of his safety. He said that there were attempts to assassinate him before he fled the country. He is also calling for President Mugabe to step down. This came after a rare press conference here in Harare from the military, right inside headquarters of the military where they describe that this was all part of a military operation.


[03:45:16] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We remain ceased with the operation code name operative restore legacy. We are confident to take our beloved country out of these present circumstances.


MCKENZIE: Well the military is still very much on the streets here. And sometimes it is easy to think of this to some kind of a smooth transition, no political power play that might -- it might be. But still the military is in charge here. And it is still, to me, looks like a coup that perhaps just a coup in slow motion, Max?

FOSTER: David, you were there a while. Thank you very much indeed for joining us from Harare.

Optics aren't looking good for the Trump administration meanwhile following the U.S. Justice Department moves to take legal action against a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, which is CNN parent company, we'll discuss the implications of that next.

Plus, they apologized to the father of one of the UCLA basketball players caught allegedly shop lifting China, refuses to thank President Trump. His heated exchange on CNN next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you take on Donald Trump after he helped your kid? T

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. What do you mean take on Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a good question. I know what he did for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he do for me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An instead of saying thank you, you took a shot at him.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quickly approaching the busiest holiday weekend here of the season across the United States, at least when it comes to not only travel, but of course shopping as well. Here is how it looks over the next 24 hours at least. Much colder air filtering into the northern tier of the U.S. cooler but dry are in place on the eastern half of the country. It is back towards the northwest that we think inclement weather really expect to persist in the weekend as well. Vancouver 8 degrees, 8 below in Winnipeg. Chicago 7 for high temperature, even Dallas cooling off a little bit, upper 20 lower 20's across that region. You notice the heat is on across the southwest. The colder air on the opposite side of the spectrum across parts of the great lakes. Some lake effect snow expected across this region as well. Notice what happens here. Saturday into Sunday, expect major cities across the northeastern U.S. to get in on some of the cooler air here as we work our way towards the weekend. In New York about 14 degree, eventually down to 6 could be back to 9 by Friday afternoon.

[03:50:04] Across the western U.S., this is a problem here when it comes to travel I think on Wednesday and Thursday. As we could see a lot of heavy rainfall and a lot of mountain snow to really pile up across the region the next several days. Chihuahua around 26 degrees, Havana Cuba looks to be around 30 around 32 NASA into the Bahamas, morning thunderstorms upper 20s is what we're looking for Tuesday. Bogota around 21.

FOSTER: The father of college basketball player in the U.S. arrested of shoplifting in China is firing back at Donald Trump. LaVar Ball son Liangelo and two team mates are now back in the U.S. And have thanked the President for helping secure their release. But Ball's father refuses to say thank you. That prompted the President to tweet, I should have left them in jail. The White House now says that was a rhetorical response, but Ball's father is not changing his tune, he spoke to CNN's Chris Cuomo.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It seems like you're in a little bit of a war of words with the most powerful man in the world.

LAVAR BALL, LIANGELO BALL'S FATHER: Why would I be in war with a guy with the most powerful man in the world?

CUOMO: That is my question. Why would you take on Donald Trump after he helped your kid?

BALL: I don't know. What do you mean, take on Donald Trump? Take on him for what?

CUOMO: That is a good question. I know what he did for you.

BALL: What did he do for me?

CUOMO: Instead of saying thank you, you took a shot at him.

BALL: What did he do for me?

CUOMO: He helped get your son get out of China where he could have been in jail for a long time.

BALL: What about some other -- why was he going to be in jail for a long time?

CUOMO: Because he stole something, according to the Chinese authorities. Would have been a long time. Carries a minimum of three years.

BALL: You know what, he is ok. He has so much character in 18 years that he allowed to have a pass for that.

CUOMO: That is your son.

BALL: One bad decision at a time --

CUOMO: And he said thank you to the President of the United States. Something his father didn't want to do. What kind of -- what kind of example is that to your son?

BALL: Is that to my son? I tell you what type of example it is. You know where my boy is at right now? Because of me, I spent all that time and love for him. Don't come here one time and son. To be 19 years old.

CUOMO: It's a big one time if he is in jail in China. It not like he is some AAU coach.

BALL: Is he in jail?

CUOMO: Not anymore.

BALL: I taught him how to be exactly how he is. A respectful young man. That is what he is.


FOSTER: The Justice Department is suing to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner the parent company of CNN and some are questioning if that is because of the White House animosity toward the network. Donald Trump vowed to block the deal during his Presidential campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: AT&T is buying Time Warner that is CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.


FOSTER: President's repeatedly criticized CNN and other news networks and now his words are weighing other companies involved.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has been a lot of reporting and speculation of whether this is all about CNN and, frankly, I don't know. But nobody should be surprised that the question keeps coming up, because we've witnessed such an about change in the application of antitrust law here. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter has more now, on the proposed merger and those new road blocks.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. The stage a now set for a blockbuster legal battle. This lawsuit by the Justice Department against AT&T and Time Warner was filed on Monday evening, after weeks of negotiations between the companies and the federal government. Normally a Republican administration is seen as pro- merger, pro-business, and anti-regulation. But in this case, we are seeing a very different response from the Trump administration to this proposed megamerger. According to the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department, the government believes this entire deal will be bad for consumers. Anticompetitive and a violation of antitrust law. Quote, AT&T would likely use it control of Time Warner's popular programming as a weapon to harm competition.

The government also alleges that the deal would result in fewer innovative offerings and higher bills for American families. Now AT&T vehemently disagrees. A press conference here in New York on Monday, the companies CEO, Randall Stephenson said he does not understand where the government is coming from. The company says the position is inexplicable and against decades of legal precedent. That is partly why AT&T and Time Warner, which remembers CNN's parent company, think maybe there is something fishy going on. Maybe this is part of a political plot. Of course, President Trump said he opposed this deal back when he was on the campaign trail in October of 2016.

[03:55:16] Ever since then, he hasn't comment directly on the deal, but he has constantly criticized CNN in tweets and public appearances. That is one of the reasons why there's been suspicions that maybe somehow he is been meddling in this deal, encouraging or justice department to block it. Now, DOJ officials had denied that, but AT&T officials want to pursue that possibility. Now of course, in court. This case will go before a Judge unless the two sides can come up with some kind of settlements.

And this process could take several months. In the meantime the AT&T and Time Warner deal is on hold and other possible deals in the media industry are also on pause as rival companies look around and say we're not sure what the government is thinking. We are not sure what the new rules of the road could be. Brian Stelter CNN New York.

FOSTER: We'll see. Thanks for joining us. I'm Max Foster "Early Start" next for viewers in the U.S. for our international viewers I'll be back with more news after this short break. Do stay with us.


FOSTER: Government in crisis in Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe faces the start of impeachment proceedings by the very Party he has led.