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North Korea Ballistic Missile Test Shows Regime Closer To Hitting Everywhere In The World; U.S. Tax Reform Legislation Clears Key Senate Hurdle; Pope Calls For Compassion Without Naming Rohingya. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 02:30   ET


[02:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: This is CNN Newsroom Live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: Kim Jong Un launches his most advanced missile yet. The U.S. says North Korea now has the ability to hit anywhere in the world.

VAUSE: In Myanmar, Pope Frances preaches forgiveness, peace and respect at a public mass but avoids sparking a backlash and does not mention the Rohingya by name.

SESAY: And, standing up for President Trump top democrat ditches meeting and he simply couldn't resist the empty seat photo op. Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is Newsroom L.A. The North Koreans have launched another ICBM but this appears to be the most advanced missile the regime has ever made. Seventy-four days had passed since Pyongyang's last missile test. Many believe that lull may have been a sign leader Kim Jong Un was open to demand (ph) talks but not now.

The missile was in the air for almost an hour before landing within Japan's economics exclusion zone. Experts say the concern is not so much the trajectory but rather the potential range.

SESAY: Analysis suggests this missile could hit just about anywhere including the east coast of the United States. North Korean media agreed with that assessment proudly announcing the successful test and showing leader Kim Jong Un signing the order. All the same President Trump is offering reassurances.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you probably heard and some of you have reported a missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea. I will only tell you that we will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us and we've had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.


VAUSE: Well, for more now Paula Newton standing by live in Seoul, South Korea, also Andrew Stevens in Beijing. But Paul, first to you, is there anyway to know for certain the weight of the payload of the missile because that answer will reveal just how advanced the North Koreans are right now with their missile program?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't have any details on that yet and normally we would wait for at least the Pentagon to have some pretty interesting calculations in terms of that. They would actually want to try and look at any photographs that they might have. Why is that significant though? You make a very good point.

The point is can it actually have that nuclear take - tipped capability. And keep in mind this awkward translation that we have of a super large heavy warhead that is our English translation from the North Koreans making the point. They underscored that for a reason because they know that's what everyone is looking out for.

They now claim to have had significant progress in their nuclear capabilities and interesting that although General Mattis even said they could hit anywhere in the world they chose to highlight that they could hit anywhere in the mainland U.S.

And this, you know, we've heard it so many times before, John, how many times can we come on and say that this is a game changer but you do see an escalation here and you certainly see a lot of nervousness amongst South Korean officials.

VAUSE: A lot of nervousness, as well, among U.S. lawmakers. One of them U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham who is warning that this escalation is leading to the real possibility of war. So, Andrew what has been the reaction there from Beijing and also from other countries in the region?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still waiting for the reaction from Beijing officially, John. The daily briefing will happen in a couple of hours from now and what's very, very likely is that Beijing will reconfirm its commitment to a denuclearized peaceful Korean Peninsula and urge all parties to go back to the negotiating table because it has been their position.

Their unwavering position for a long time now. And, they will add that they are abiding all the U.N. sanctions, the later sanctions. And, I should point out that those sanctions will really start to bite (ph) in early next year. So, there will be additional pressure on Pyongyang, on the North Korean economy from these sanctions.

But certainly even if this is a game changer it's very unlikely to change the calculations here in Beijing. Basically, John, they do have economic leverage. As we know they import all - the North Korean import some 800,000 tons of crude oil we believe because there are no official figures available from China each year.

They could turn those taps off. The result of that most likely would be a regime change. Sort of a chaos in North Korea which would bring in South Koreans and a U.S. ally on China's doorstep. That is a redline for China obviously. So, what can China do at this stage it will continue to say what its always said. VAUSE: But, Andrew, we saw, what, a couple weeks ago, China set a delegation and envoy (ph) to Pyongyang. There was a lot of expectation, maybe a lot of hope that that could've reduced some kind of results. Clearly not this missile test is not the result they were looking for obviously.

STEVENS: Clearly. This was a very unsuccessful trip if you look at it globally - from a global perspective of this envoy to North Korea. He went in there. He was expected to meet with Kim Jong-un. It doesn't look like he actually met with the North Korean leader.


The Chinese were hedging this all the time saying that this was all about explaining what had happened in the latest party conference in China to North Korea which is a political ally. But let's remember there is no love loss between these two. North Korea has continually snubbed China's efforts to try and bring it to the negotiating table. It continually goes ahead and does these missile tests against China's very strong advice.

China's Xi Jinping is known to personally dislike Kim Jong-un, and there's no love loss between them. And some would argue - also, John, and some are arguing - that fact that this leverage we talk about with China, if China did turn off their oil taps, could Russia step in and do it? So how much real leverage does China have? That is also a theory, and at this stage it is just a theory.

We know Vladimir Putin says that the North Korean's will "eat grass" rather than give up their nuclear program, and he's right. This is an existential threat to Kim Jong-un. They're not going to give up their nuclear program until it has something. They said this today, til they have something which works, which is verifiable, which can hit the U.S. which is a bona fide deterrent. They can start talking to the U.S. (ph).

VAUSE: Yes. For a final very quickly to you (ph), the North Korean's told CNN the world should prepare for another nuclear test. It would be 7th. It could be an above ground test of a hydrogen bomb. How likely is that? Has there been any indications that those preparations are underway? And I guess should we, at this point - at this stage, should we just be taking the North Koreans at their word?

NEWTON: Absolutely, John. Took the words right out of my mouth. Just take them at their word. That's certainly I can tell you what South Korean officials are expecting, and our Will Ripley who is there often and is often in communication with North Korean officials says the exact same thing.

If key what Andrew said, and the fact that even here in South Korea they're coming to the realization that if they get North Korea to the table it will be as a nuclear powered state.

VAUSE: OK. Paula, thank you. Paula Newton. I was going to say Paula Hancocks, our other Paula, but, Paula Newton there in South Korea and Andrew Stevens with us also in Beijing. Thanks to you both. SESAY: Well quick break here. Next on CNN Newsroom, Pope Frances side steps a diplomatic land mine during his Myanmar trip, but he makes a backlash but not directly mentioning the Rohingya crisis. That's next.


ISHA SESAY, CNN HOST: Hello everyone. Pope Frances is urging Myanmar to respect human rights without mentioning the Rohingya. He addressed the country's violence in general terms during the mass of 150,000 worshipers Wednesday.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: Just a day earlier, the Pope announced that San Suu Kyi made public remarks while Myanmar's de facto leader mentioned violence in (inaudible), the Holy Father was calling for (inaudible) and respect the ethnic groups that made no mention of the rage of Muslim minority, no mention of the military crisis they're facing.

SESAY: Well, let's bring in CNN Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher. She's traveling with the Pope in Myanmar. Delia, the Pope did not use the word Ryhingya in public. The question is when he meets with Buddhist leaders shortly, what his tone will be, what his message will be to the leaders of a community where some of their members have been implicated, at least there are allegations of them being involved in atrocities targeting the Ryhingya.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely I should. This is an important meeting for the Pope because, of course, Buddhism is the main religion here. There are some 500,000 Buddhist Monks and he is meeting with the Supreme Council of this group. As you mentioned, there is a nationalist group of Buddhist Monks who are accused of having extremist views and expressing them. They go in the name of Ma Ba Tha, a kind of association, a patriotic association of Myanmar that claimed to be protecting they say the pure race of the Buddhist Burmese. So this is kind of a nationalist rhetoric that is coming [smunk] influential in society.

So one of the things for Buddhists to do in this country, and Buddhist leaders and apparently the Supreme Council is doing it is to try and reign that kind of rhetoric and of course the Pope will be encouraging that not only for the Buddhist leaders but especially for an openness towards minority religions. Yesterday he met with a whole interreligious panel of people from Hindus, to Buddhist to Muslims to Christians and saying that they must be the example of tolerance and unity and harmony. Because obviously if there is to be long term democratic stability in this country it will require that the people at the ground level accept one another. There is a rising Islamic phobia here and that will have to be countered mostly by religious leaders. I just -

SESAY: Well Delia, from Myanmar the Pope will head to Bangladesh where he will see the suffering of the Rohyngya first hand and meeting with those in refugee camps. Some of those refugees would be undoubtedly looking for the Pope to use the word Rohyngya. He did not. What will the Pope's message be to this displaced community there in Bangladesh? GALLAGHER: Yes, that's right. I think it will come as a

disappointment to human rights workers and many others that the Pope did not specifically publically mention their plight. However, he did from the Vatican call the Rohyngyians our brothers and sisters. He's been very clear on his position on the crisis. He met privately with the military general of Myanmar but against him there are, the Myanmar military are accused by the U.N. and the U.S. of ethnic cleansing of the Rohyngya. So the Pope is walking a fine line between condemning military action and trying to support a democratic reform via Aung San Suu Kyi. He will be meeting with a group of refugees at an interreligious meeting. We don't think he is going to the council that Pope Frances has always surprised us. And that will be an important symbolic meeting as well. Isha.


SESAY: Delia on the phone there from Myanmar, appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Well a chair is just a chair even when no one is sitting there. But at the White House those empty chairs represent a political spat which could lead to a government shutdown. Details in a moment.


VAUSE: A week from Friday the U.S. Government runs out of money and negotiations to avoid a government shutdown went off the rails on Tuesday after this Tweet from the President. "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked. Weak on crime; wants to substantially raise taxes, I don't see a deal."

Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi skipped the meeting saying they'll work with Republicans in Congress to strike a deal. Even so the President left empty chairs and place cards just in case they turned up.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did not show up for our meeting today. I'm not really that surprised, we have a lot of differences. They're weak on crime, they're weak on illegal immigration.

They want the illegal folks to come pouring into our border and a lot of problems are being caused, although we've stopped it to a large extent, as much as you can without the wall, which we're going to get.


VAUSE: For more on that let's bring in Democratic Strategist Caroline Heldman and Conservative Commentator Joe Messina; thank you guys for being with us. Joe welcome, let's start with you. Look at the visuals here, if the empty chairs and the name cards,

Chuck and Nancy, were meant to shame the two Democrat leaders, do you think it worked? Because you know if you take a real close look at that photograph, if we bring it up, first (ph), all alone, maybe a little bit sad, all by himself, no friends, what do you think?



VAUSE: OK. What do you got?

MESSINA: Did you expect a different answer? No, I mean, you look at him sitting there with the empty seats. You know it's really they're not doing what they were called to do. They're not doing what they were voted to do.

Whether you think you're going to lose or not, you go and you fight. You're not fighting when you sit at a podium in a different room and start telling people why you're not going there to play because you don't think you can win.

Come on give me a break, it's really not what it's all about. Back in September they put up a fight and they got what they were looking for, didn't they? When Nancy and Chuck showed up with the President, now whether he did to prove a point to Republicans really doesn't mean much to anything, they got what they wanted or most of what they wanted.

VAUSE: Yes, and that's why he's in this situation right now. Caroline, you can blame the democrats for playing games and not turning up. You can blame the president for giving him the excuse to play games and not turn up but at the end of the day the democrats have deliveries here. So, explain why the president needs the democrats more than they need him right now.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he needs the democrats more because he needs eight of them in order to avert a government shut down on December 8th and if the government shuts down on that date there is not there is no doubt in my mind given the fact that the republicans control all branches of government that they would be blamed.

And so, I think Donald Trump was pretty smart in staging this today because Nancy and Chuck as he puts it are really showing him and taking a strong stance against him dismissing them. I mean let's remember that he initially tweeted that I don't expect to get a deal today.

So, he was trying to provide some leverage in their negotiation and it backfired and he had to respond in such a fashion because he does need to be worried about this - the government shut down being pinned on republicans.

VAUSE: OK. You see they control the White House, Congress, it would seem that they would be the ones who are blamed. We mentioned this - the president tweeting a few hours ago, "After the North Korea missile launch it's more important than ever to find our government and military then (ph) shouldn't hold troop funding hostage for amnesty and illegal immigration. I ran on stopping illegal immigration and won big. They can't now threaten a shut down to get their demands."

But Joe, is defending the U.S. from a rogue nation and an illicit nuclear program, is that something which you can make a part of that issue out of?

MESSINA: I do. I think -- well, not a partisan issue. I mean, if we're all Americans, it doesn't matter whether you're a Dem, Republican, a -- in California decline the state (ph), you should be willing to fund our military. And I'm tired of hearing this -- this argument that we -- we have the highest percentage towards our military.

You know, we protect many other nations as well. We have agreements to protect many other nations as well. We can't send our men and women out there to fight and not give them what they need to fight with. So if you want to hold us hostage and -- to give money to illegal immigrants, to give money -- now, I've got a different -- a little different spin on DACA but to give money straight out to illegal immigration or illegal immigrants, I think it's wrong.

Especially when you have vets dying in the street. We have 22 vets dying a day. Why are we giving money to people that are here illegally?

VAUSE: Carolyn? (ph)

HELDMAN: Well, I would counter that by saying that people who are here illegally pay, over the course of their lifetime, $80,000 in tax benefits that they never receive back. And so we -- it's not a matter of funding our military and having a humanitarian policy for immigrantion. That is not the calculus at all.

I think we can agree that we need to fund the military to a certain extent. The fact that we spend on average about 11 times more than other countries I think is a little exorbitant and ties into this military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about. But again, the calculus, it's not either or.

We can have good policies on both sides.

MESSINA: OK, when you say $80,000 tho. Come on, it's sales tax, most of it. I mean that's what it is. They're not filing -- what illegals are actually filing legitimate tax returns?


HELDMAN: I'm not saying they are, I'm saying that we as American taxpayers are making money off of them, so let's debunk the myth that somehow they're siphoning funds from the system. They're not.

VAUSE: Let's go into the -- what has been sort of seen as a -- as a win for President Trump. Because there hasn't been a lot of wins with this administration over the last 12 months when it comes to, you know, legislation. Tax cuts passed the Senate Budget Committee by one vote along (ph) party lines. It still has to go through the Senate. But Joe, there were some Republicans who were on the fence.

Bob Corker, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins sounding a lot more positive now than they were just a few days ago.

MESSINA: Well I think Rand Paul kind of brought some of that to the table for them. But I find it really interesting that all of a sudden -- forgive me, but all of a sudden the Democrats figured out what a budget is. All right?


MESSINA: We've gone 10 trillion -- we've gone -- we've doubled our deficit, all right? $10 trillion over the last eight years or so. And we're screaming about $1.4 trillion. That's what the -- that's what the deficit's going to go up, by $1.4 trillion. And we're having a heart attack over this. And I don't yet know what the benefits are.

You know, the CVO's come out plenty of times that we were going to -- we were going to come up short and we didn't. They told us we were going to be fine and we weren't.

VAUSE: OK. I guess, you know, the Republicans have been deficit hawks (ph) for eight years during the Obama administration but deficits are OK now?

HELDMAN: Well, and let's look at what happened under the Obama administration. It was really about the liquidity crisis, right? Which was primarily caused by both a Democratic and a Republican president relaxing regulations on Wall Street. So I don't think the last 10 years is actually a good point of comparison.

And the tax plan that we have in front of us is the same debunked triple down -- trickle down economic theory that Regan put in place that tripled the deficit. So I think $1.4 million is probably a pretty conservative estimate as to what it will add. And Republicans, you know, have always been concerned about this.

So I think it's a little hypocrisy now that -- that that's a flip.

VAUSE: OK, well can we move on because I want to get to former Arkansas governor, the Fox News host wannabe, Mike Huckabee, you've entered into the Pocahontas controversy. The president used that as a slur while honoring Native Americans at the White House on Monday. Huckabee had this defense for the president. Listen to this.


MIKE HUCKABEE, COMMENTATOR, FOX NEWS: One of the people asking that question is employed by ABC, which owns Disney. Or maybe Disney owns ABC. They've made a billion dollars off the Pocahontas franchise. And let me ask you something. Is that racist? Have they made money off racism? Because if so, then they need to apologize and they need to discontinue all of their merchandise and all of their movies regarding Pocahontas.


VAUSE: Joe, that argument is beyond moronic.

MESSINA: You know, I don't -- I don't know where he's going with that. And I like Mike Huckabee, but I don't know where he was going with that. But what I will say do you really -- can you really tell me sitting here that you think the president planned out going in there using the word Pocahontas to be racist? Are you -- do you really believe that?

VAUSE: I do think that is what he believes. I think he needs to be aware of how others feel. And I think as the president of the United States in the White House, in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson, you need to be aware of your audience. And he stopped and thought about it and said it. And I think that could be seen as a big problem.


MESSINA: Yes. I -- I really get a kick out of this, though. We've got a guy lobbing missiles in North Korea and we're talking about him using the word Pocahontas. And as far as the racist term goes, you know, I believe that we've gotten to the point where racist and bigot almost means nothing anymore because it's a word we throw around to try to scare somebody into being quiet.

VAUSE: OK. I've got to move on very quickly because this concerns CNN International. This is the real world consequences from the president's tweet. In particular, that tweet over the weekend which labels CNN International as fake news. Well last week, one of our best reporters ever, Nemma Albegarth (ph), she filed this incredibly powerful story about human slave options in Libya, here's a look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man addressing an unseen crowd, big strong boys for farm work he says, 400, 700, 700, 800, the numbers role in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libyan pounds, 400 dollars a piece. You are watching an auction of human beings.

VAUSE: OK, well now media outlet in Libya among, many there using the President's Tweet to question the credibility of our story with an article with, is titled, Trump said CNN Live, what about the slavery report from Libya? (Joe), do you think that was the outcome the President intended with him Tweet?

MESSINA: I don't, when when you say what happened directly because of his Tweet? We (INAUDIBLE) that are questioning-

VAUSE; --There are now multiple news organizations within Libya which are questioning the credibility of that report. And that report was rock solid.

MESSINA: OK, I I, you know what, again not knowing enough about it we really didn't get a chance to dig into it. But I've got to tell you something, with what we've seen in the past with some of the stories that come across along this slavery, is a bad thing to begin with. We know that, sexually we've seen even worse. So when you see what's happening across the country, across the middle east, and over in Europe, we should be reporting this. I have not problem with somebody reporting on it, who else has picked it up thought? With what other collaborating do we have, I use Nancy Pelosi's line.

VAUSE: Well, with this (INAUDIBLE) race around the world, I mean, and other's have followed up the reporting, the Libyan government said that they're going to look into it, but now we've got this situation where the creditability of the reporter is in question and a human rights investigation may not go ahead.

HELDMAN: Well and I would add to that, reports that have come out in recent weeks that reporters have faced threats, both being detained in war zones. There was an exchange between a Playboy reporter and Sarah Huckabee Sanders about this. So it's not just that stories are being discredited in the Libyan government, as you noted, is now investigating this as a way of dismissing it. He, his basic totalitarian tactic of trying to silence the free press, is having serious implications for reporters globally and some even in the United States who are facing violence and threats.

VAUSE: And we'll leave at that. Joe, good to see you, thank you very much and Caroline as well.

HELDMAN: Thank you.

ISHA SESAY: An important conversation, you've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE: I'm John Vause, news continues with Rosemary Church in Atlanta, after the break.


[02:30:10] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A missile was launched from North Korea. It is a situation that we will handle.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The best outcome is not to have a war but we're not going to let this crazy man in North Korea have the capability to hit the homeland. And if we have to go to war to stop this, we will.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: North Korea's latest threat, a new intercontinental ballistic missile supposedly capable of reaching all of the United States. President Trump says the U.S. will handle it. And Senator Lindsey Graham says handling it could mean war. Hello everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. Welcome tour viewers in the United States and of course all around the world. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

North Korea has tested 23 missiles since February but the latest launch appears to be a major upgrade, well beyond what they've been able to do so far. It reached a higher altitude than any previous missile and experts believe it could reach any part of the mainland United States as Pyongyang itself is claiming. As a result, the State of Hawaii is starting monthly tests of a nuclear siren system for the first time since the Cold War. Meanwhile, North Korean officials tell CNN they are not interested in diplomacy with the U.S. at least not until they have proven their nuclear capabilities. U.S. President Donald Trump reaction to all of this was fairly muted saying he will handle it but he said little else.

Well, we have reporters around the globe covering all angles of this story. Let's start with our senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny with the response from Washington.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President was watching -- he was actually giving a briefing while the missile was still in the air. Of course, it was It was flying for some 50 minutes or so. The President meeting later in the Roosevelt room here at the White House with Republican Congressional leaders had this to say about the latest strike.


TRUMP: A missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea. I will only tell you that we will take care of it. It is a situation that we will handle.


ZELENY: So saying it's a situation we will handle. Certainly, a far more muted response than calling Kim Jong-un Rocketman or saying North Korea will see fire and fury unlike the world has never seen. Certainly, this is a different time, a different moment, the President just back from a traveling in the region just a couple weeks ago here. So clearly trying to put diplomacy on the front lines here even as this White House is keeping a very close eye on North Korea. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: And now we turn to the Pentagon for more reaction. Here is CNN Ryan Browne.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN REPORTER: Now, U.S. officials tell me that North Korea's latest ICBM launch traveled higher than any of its previous tests going some 4,500 kilometers in the air into outer space. Now Secretary of Defense James Mattis speaking alongside President Donald Trump acknowledged that this represented a new milestone for North Korea.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It went higher frankly than any previous shot they've taken. It's a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that could threat everywhere in the world basically.


BROWNE: Now a U.S. officials tell CNN's Barbara Starr that the latest missile test by North Korea represents a significant improvement over previous ICBM launches. Now, U.S. officials will be closely analyzing the latest missile test mostly to determine whether or not the missile's re-entry vehicle survived coming back into the earth's atmosphere. That capability Pyongyang has yet to demonstrate and is necessary for them to have a working ICBM capable of housing a nuclear weapon. Ryan Browne, CNN Pentagon.

CHURCH: All right. Let's go to Paula Newton now joining us live from Seoul with regional reaction and the latest response from North Korea. So, Paula, what more are you learning about this latest intercontinental ballistic missile launched by Pyongyang and what might its capabilities be?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. As we just hear from Ryan, you know, especially here in South Korea they do view this as an escalation and literally, the capabilities of this new missile are actually quite menacing. And the reason is that as you just heard it flew higher and was in the air longer. What does that mean? It means they are very -- they're getting much closer, North Korea is to being able to have that nuclear-tipped missile. And what was interesting was even before this launch, Rosemary, we had been speaking to South Korean officials yesterday who told us that look, they believe that they could complete their nuclear cycle as North Korea calls it by sometime in 2018. That brings up the timetable by at least two or three years from what experts were saying just earlier this year.

[02:35:05] And what is unclear is how the United States and obviously the Asian region is going to confront this kind of nuclear-armed North Korea. You know, you could -- it's palpable here while the people on the streets of Seoul and throughout South Korea have certain resignation to this, they are used to it. It's, you know, clear that the South Korean government is showing more and more unease. Especially as you have those from the Trump administration being a bit vague as to what their next strategy is. Now, of course, there are open communications obviously with the allies here in Asia, the Trump administration is obviously talking to them quite a bit but it is not clear exactly what options are on the table at this point. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. It has many concern throughout the world, doesn't it? And North Korean officials have told CNN they're not interested in diplomacy with the U.S. Is that just bluster or is there a chance that Pyongyang would give diplomacy a chance once it has achieved its full nuclear capability?

NEWTON: Well, I think you just hit the nail on the head. That is the strategy here. The point is they want to go to that table as a nuclear-armed nation. They feel that that will give them so much more leverage in terms of trying to have this peaceful detente as it were. That is the goal and they are now so much closer to it. And, you know, again, and speaking to South Korean officials you see their attitude changed and the fact that perhaps they are trying to bring the United States along with them to say, look, this might be the new reality in Asia and on the Korean peninsula and we may need to start to face that because the military options are not good.

I will point out that South Korea launched quite a reaction as the missile was still in the air, it's what they call a precision strike and they simulated three missiles hit at the exact location in waters off the Korean Coast. And the point of that is saying, look, if we want to retaliate, we can. Obviously, that kind of escalation hopefully will never happen but South Korea is clear. They will continue to defend themselves but they are looking at this point for other options.

CHURCH: All right. 4:36 in the afternoon in Seoul, South Korea. Many thanks to our Paula, Newton.

So let's talk now with our CNN political analyst Molly Ball, a national political correspondent for TIME, and David Drucker, a senior political correspondent with the Washington Examiner. Thank you, both for being with us.


CHURCH: Three big stories on our radar, North Korea, the fight overspending and debate over the tax reform bill. So let's start with reaction to the intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea Tuesday, this is what Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had to say about it.


GRAHAM: The President is not going to allow North Korea to have a nuclear weapon in their hands that can hit America with an ICBM that can make it to the United States. And if we have to go to war to stop this, we will.


CHURCH: Molly, to you first. Is war with North Korea inevitable? Is that what's happening here? And if that is the case, what about the impact on South Korea particularly the capital, Seoul with the lives of tens of millions of at stake? Is there no room for diplomacy anymore?

BALL: I think that Senator Graham is certainly not saying that war is inevitable. He is saying that in his view, war might be necessary. And I think he's very much speaking for the President and for the administration there. He spends a lot of time with the President talking about international issues and many members of the administration including the President have drawn this same red line saying that they must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. The question is what is going to be done to enforce that. And the administration has sent a lot of mixed signals about diplomacy versus military intervention. The President asking for military options. And doing a lot of saber rattling and of course have the North Koreans. If there were to be an armed conflict, it would, of course, be catastrophic for the Korean peninsula and for our allies, the South Koreans.

CHURCH: David Drucker, your response to that, where are we with the issue of North Korea?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think one of the problems we're having is that China is never going to be as helpful as the administration would like it to be. I think you've President Trump try and utilize levers of diplomacy to diffuse this without a military conflict. And one of the challenges he's dealing with is from the Clinton administration through the Bush administration and the Obama administration. All three tried different avenues to get a -- Kim Jong-un and his father's regime to stand down, denuclearize and not be a threatening menace. And none of it worked and you can't criticize any of the President's predecessors for trying different things but, you know, what we know now is a lot of those diplomatic avenues fail. And now the President, of course, is trying to push China perhaps more than other Presidents did. The problem for him and for the United States is that China doesn't have an interest in helping the U.S. diffuse this.

[02:40:03] CHURCH: And I do want to read out President Trump's latest tweet where he actually links the North Korea issue with the fight over spending and this is what he said. After North Korea missile launch it's more important than ever to fund our government and military. Democrats shouldn't hold troop funding hostage for amnesty and illegal immigration. I ran on stopping illegal immigration and won big. They can't now threaten a shutdown to get their demands. He also said had this to say about Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer not showing up for Tuesday's tax meeting. Let's just have a listen.


TRUMP: Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did not show up for our meeting today. I'm not really that surprised. We have a lot of differences. They -- before this meeting and before this missile launch they've been weak on military in terms of spending and very hard to get for military, they want it for a lot of other things but the military is always secondary to them, the military to me is number one. We won't be here without our powerful military.


CHURCH: And Schumer responded, he said, if the President will work with both sides, he said, we are happy to meet with him anytime, anywhere, anyplace. So, Molly, why is the President linking the North Korea issue with the spending fight? What purpose does that serve? Is it -- is it particularly helpful?

BALL: Well, it's just a political tactic to blame the Democrats for not coming to the table. But it is a very interesting route that the President has taken on this particular fight in Congress which could lead to a shutdown of the government. He has shown before earlier this year in one very particular set of circumstances that he could get together with the Democrats and come up with a deal that could fail through Congress and he did have an opportunity to perhaps do that again here. Instead for whatever forever reason, he chose to preemptively attack the Democratic leaders on issues that had nothing to do with the budget.

CHURCH: So where does this leave the whole argument of spending?

DRUCKER: Well there's still a couple of weeks to work this out. And I think that Democrats are counted on the fact that without any control of government in Washington they don't control either House of Congress, they obviously don't control the White House. If there's a shutdown they're banking on the fact that Republicans would be blamed and that's very possible. The other thing is that while it's very standards as Molly said for Presidents to threaten dire consequences in the case of a shutdown, this program will go funded and the military will be at risk. The truth is none of those things were really true. Some things do go unfunded. The military will continue to operate as necessary. Democrats know that they've thrown these accusations of Republicans before when the shoe was on the other foot, they knew full well that it really wasn't the case.

So I also think though that the President was sensitive to the idea that the Democrats had schooled them on past budget agreements that have occurred a couple of times during his first 10 months. Usually, he would meet with Democrats where they were threatened out to go along with something. The President would cave, he got a lot of grief for that, people ask what kind of a negotiator was he if he was constantly caving at the Democrats. So I think he tried to play some hardball today and I think the Democrats played hardball right back saying that if the President was not going to make a deal, there was no point in them showing up. Eventually, these two sides are going to have to talk just because in the U.S. Senate, it's going to take 60 votes to move a spending bill and there are only 52 Republicans.

CHURCH: Let's finish on tax reform because we know that President Trump will make a critical speech we understand according to the White House on Wednesday about the need for tax reform. Of course, a lot of people asking now who benefits, who were the winners with this tax reform bill. Molly, what's your -- what are your thoughts on what the President is likely to say on tax reform and also the outcome of this bill?

BALL: Well, the outcome is very much up in the air. There are still not 50 votes in the Senate although the bill did clear an important hurdle when it passed through the budget committee today. I think the bigger problem is this is starting very much to resemble the debate over health care earlier this year here you had a bill that was worked out very much in secret and in haste and then Republicans trying to shove it through both houses of Congress as quickly as possible before it grew sale and started to smell. But the bill is not popular. The Republicans who are trying to pass it don't love it but think it's better than doing nothing. The other side Democrats are not prepared any of them to give any support to this bill perhaps partly for political reasons but in large part because of what's in the bill. And so -- and as Republicans try desperately to round up those last few votes they're going to have to make still more compromises that may dilute the intent or the effect of the original bill.

[02:45:08] They may get it done. The President is certainly more engaged in this fight and more passionate about the issue of taxes than he was with health care. And the Congress feels very much that their credibility is at stake in this last chance that they have to put a major legislative achievement on the board in the calendar year, but it is not going to be a pretty process, and it's going -- if it gets there, it's going to be limping over the line. CHURCH: David, just very quickly, the last word to you on tax reform.

DRUCKER: Well, it's going much smoother for Republicans than did health care and I know in talking to Republicans over the past few days, they've told me they feel a lot better about this that members are really trying to get the "yes." Where with the health care bill, a lot of people didn't want to vote yes and were very resistant. So, the key is whether or not they can bridge the gap between the Republicans that are fine with this and others that are concerned about deficits and how the bill would impact the economy going forward. They're going to have to make some tweaks in the Senate and we'll find out soon enough whether it works.

CHURCH: David Drucker, Molly Ball, thank you both for joining us for this discussion, very interesting indeed.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

CHURCH: And a short time ago, the pope called for compassion in Myanmar without saying the word "Rohingya." Still to come, how there's still a chance the pope could become a public advocate for the stateless refugees. We'll be right back.


[02:50:40] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Pope Francis is urging Myanmar to have compassion, but he isn't specifically mentioning its Rohingya crisis or the Muslim minority. He avoided any direct reference to the situation during a mass in Yangon just a few hours ago. The pope also didn't say Rohingya when he and Myanmar's defector leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivered speeches Tuesday. He is scheduled to give another speech in the coming hours after a meeting with high- ranking Buddhist monks.

CNN's Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen is joining us now to talk more about the pope's visit to Myanmar. John, great to talk with you as always. Now, of course, the pope has skilfully avoided using the word Rohingya so far, and by doing so, of course, he's avoided embarrassing his host, but he has talked about ensuring respect for the rights of all who call Myanmar home. How was that message received and how can we expect him to deal with this very delicate issue going forward?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Rosemary, first of all, good to talk to you. I think the most important point in terms of why he has not used the word Rohingya out loud in Myanmar, of course, we don't know what he said behind closed doors is because his own local church asked him not to. Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon appointed to head the church in Myanmar by Pope Francis publicly almost begged the pontiff in the run-up to this trip not to do it, because he warned, that was going to provoke the regime, and the consequences might be felt by the country's Christian minority. Obviously, Francis doesn't want to make life worse for his own flock. That said, as you pointed out, from the moment he landed in Myanmar, he has been delivering a message of greater democracy, greater respect for human rights, and healing of ethnic conflicts. I don't think anyone in Myanmar has missed the point, Rosemary. So, I think the pope so far has fairly artfully threaded the needle.

CHURCH: Yes. And Pope Francis, of course, accepted the invitation by defector leader Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Myanmar despite the fact that what is only one percent of the country's population is Catholic. So, why was it so important to the pope to visit Myanmar?

ALLEN: Well, I mean, first of all, Pope Francis believes very much in reaching out to the peripheries. Remember, he is history's first pope from the developing world. I think he sees himself as a tribune for all of these often forgotten and neglected corners of the world. And then, tightening the focus a bit, Pope Francis and the church, in general, have a great interest in Asia, in many parts of Asia, Catholicism is growing. And then, of course, Francis is a great champion of the underdog, he likes to stand and speak even if sometimes in diplomatically indirect ways on behalf of suffering and persecuted populations. I think all of that was in the mix when he made the decision to accept this invitation.

CHURCH: And John, the United States and indeed the United Nations have clearly stated that what is currently happening to the Rohingya people in Myanmar, amounts to ethnic cleansing. So, if the pope fails to mention the Rohingya people directly, does that help or hinder their cause and their plight, do you think?

ALLEN: Well, Rosemary, I think that's something that can only be judged with time. And we have seen some criticism from human rights groups that are interested in Myanmar. The Burma task force which is a human rights group based here in the States, publicly suggested that Francis was trading peace for justice, that is to make nice with the regime to avoid inflaming them. He wasn't pressing hard enough on the question of justice for the Rohingya.

On the other hand, you know, if we want to take a historical parallel, when John Paul II went to Chile under Pinochet in 1987, he too was criticized for not speaking forcefully enough. He actually granted Pinochet a photo-op on the balcony of the Moneda Palace which is very controversial. But behind the scenes, we now know John Paul pushed very hard to make it clear to Pinochet that he had to step aside, and within a year, he was gone. And now, that's -- to some extent, apples and oranges. Chile is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, Myanmar is not. But my point is that we don't know what's been said behind closed doors, we don't know what kind of cards the pope has put on the table in private. I think it's going to take some time to judge whether this situation has made any concrete difference.

[02:55:13] CHURCH: Yes, we don't know that. And of course, we don't know what he'll likely say once he gets to Bangladesh, where many of the --

ALLEN: Or for that matter, once he gets on the plane outside of Myanmar's airspace.

CHURCH: Yes. That's a --

ALLEN: And so, the final act in this drama has not yet been written.

CHURCH: Indeed, it hasn't. All right. John Allen, many thanks. Always great to chat with you. Appreciate it.

And still, to come, we will return to our breaking news, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis says North Korea's latest missile launch shows Kim Jong-un can hit, in his words, "everywhere in the world." President Trump says he will handle it, but what does that actually mean? Then, new reports show the Trump family claim to be Swedish, but really, they're of German descent. So, why did Mr. Trump's father hide their heritage? Watch our report on that still to come. Plus, the U.S. President won't campaign with disgraced Senate candidate Roy Moore, but we've learned former White House Adviser Steve Bannon will. He is sticking with the Alabama Republican and will campaign with him this week despite sexual assault allegations against him. The latest on that race is ahead when CNN NEWSROOM continues. Do stay with us.