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Novichok Victim Found Substance Disguised As Perfume in Sealed Box; Anguished Parents Beg For Their Children; Ivanka Trump Shutting Down Her Clothing Company; Gym: Judgment Free Zone Doesn't Mean No Clothes. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 25, 2018 - 02:00   ET


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: The poison was in a perfume bottle. How an innocent British citizen was killed by a military grade nerve agent, and the warning to residents of Salisbury, England.

Jumping into the sea hundreds of Greek villagers sought shelter from a deadly wildfire. And dozens were killed. The country is in morning. Our correspondent is on the ground.

And a CNN exclusive, then candidate Donald Trump reported by his former lawyer weeks before the Presidential election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes time for the financing which will be implicit (core financing) (ph). We'll have to (inaudible) his phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no.


VANIER: Live from the news room here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us. So we're learning new details in the investigation into the chemical poisoning of a former Russian spy and three others in England.

According to CNN's sources investigators believe that there might have been two teams involved, the drop team to place the poison for a hit squad to pick it up and then use it in the attack. CNN's Nina dos Santos is following this story. Nina what are we finding out?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much Cyril. Well what's significant about this is that it does raise the specter of their potentially having been more than one drop of the nerve agent novichok. And it also raises the prospects that the two individuals who were poisoned in a separate poisoning incident in Amesbury in June.

A number of months after Sergi Skripal were originally attacked with novichok. May have been poisoned by a completely different stash of this particular nerve agent which could have been left in a location, a public place, secreted somewhere in a public place that they then intercepted and found.

This coming from sources telling CNN that this is an active line of investigation. That investigators are pursing there's of course still hundreds of officers on the ground in this big multi agency investigation taking place in Salisbury and also Amesbury.

But also Charlie Rowley one of the victims of the second poisoning in Amesbury has now spoken out speaking to CNN's affiliate ITV, ITV News. And he has said that he believes that the found the original novichok that poisoned his partner Dawn Sturgess. Tragically she lost her life in that poisoning.

In what seemed to be an intact branded box with a perfume bottle inside. This is how he describes that particular item. What she then gave to his partner.


CHARLIE ROWLEY, NERVE GAS VICTIM: It was three by three inch box a half inch thick, which contained a glass bottle. So you had to remove the bottle from the cellophane wrapper. Put the pump dispenser on the bottle and it poured. I ended up tipping some in my hand.


SANTOS: Well Charlie Rowley says that he ended up washing his hands quite quickly afterwards. He believed that the substance was an oily substance and that it didn't actually smell like perfume at all. His partner Dawn Sturgess however applied, spayed some of this to her pulses, her wrists. And then eventually became ill quite soon afterwards.

So the question for authorities as they continue with this very wide scale operation and clean up operation is, is there more of this substance actually out there in the public domain?

VANIER: And that's an extremely worrying thought. What are they saying to locals, to residents of that area?

SANTOS: Well we've had very consistent messaging from public health bodies who are also involved in the clean up operation. And also from the metropolitan police essentially saying if you're in and around this area do not pick up foreign objects. If you didn't drop it on the ground, if you find a syringe, a reseptical, a vile, a little bottle.

So on and so forth in a public place please do not touch it. And also the health messaging continues to be the same serial as we've heard after the March 4th poisoning. The orginal poisoning of Sergi and Yulia Skripal, which is if you believe you are in the vicinity of any of these locations that have been contaminated wash your clothes if you believe you may well have interacted with anything suspicious.

Also when it comes to devices such as Frances iPhones, tablets so on and so forth. Wipe them down with a cloth with baby wipes and so on and so forth to cleanse them, because it's the prospect of cumulative exposure towards substances like novichok that really concern authorities at this point.

So I should point out that also in the mean time the metropolitan police which is leading this investigation has been handling inquiries. No comment for the moment to CNN because it's an active instigation. I've also reached out to the home office, the foreign office, and the department of the environment which is handling this significant clean up operation. And they have referred all comments to the Met.

VANIER: Well you know Nina, relative to all the details you're giving us today, in the early hours and days after that investigation the local authorities, British authorities and investigators, in retrospect had downplayed the risks of there being not a (inaudible) in the area. Nina, thank you very much. We'll talk again next hour. Thanks.

In Greece one of the worst wildfires the country has seen this century; the Prime Minister has declared three days of mourning. Dozens of people were killed, trapped by the flames unable to escape. Melissa Bell spoke to some residents who did make it out alive including a man who says he lost everything he owns.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wildfires rage across the hills surrounding Athens forcing many to jump into the sea to escape the flames. A wall of fire so hot it melts the tires of cars in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Interpreted by Bell): I saw fire at the back of the house. After that it came here in the front. It was sheer hell.

BELL: And moving so fast that dozes were trapped as they tried to escape. Some of the victims in Mati to the East of Athens were found clinging to each other.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: (Through interpreter) Yes it's true. It seems like some of them, the deceased, knew each other because they were found in groups of three and four so they could be friends or relatives or families who tried to protect themselves by hugging each other.

BELL: In Mati, the fire has now been put out and locals like Doris Contriotis(ph) are returning to size up the damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people who were during the fire yesterday, they say if it (inaudible) within minutes and the temperature was so high so nobody could do anything just in this area. As you can see houses, cars, everything destroyed from the fire. I have lost everything.

BELL: But elsewhere the fires continue to rage as 500 firefighters battle to put out the flames. Hundreds have been evacuated and a state of emergency has been declared. The Greek Prime Minister has urged people in threatened neighborhoods to flee immediately. On Tuesday, he declared three days of mourning. ALEXIS TSIPRAS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER: (Through interpreter) Now is the time for normalization and fighting. The fight to save what can be saved but fight to defeat the fire; the fight to find the missing so that we don't mourn any more lives and we may soothe the pain of those affected.


VANIER: Melissa is with us now. She is in the popular resort village of Mati that she told us about in that report. Melissa, first things first, is the fire actually over now?

BELL: It is largely contained for the time being Cyril. There is one area to the West of Athens where we're hearing there are two uncontained fires this morning but very much around here the fires that were still breaking out yesterday evening have died. You can see though the devastation that's been left on this coastline behind including in the far of that picture, Cyril, the very place where those 26 people were found having failed to find the stone staircase that led down to the sea.

They were found clinging to one another and you can see of course to my left here the remains of what was a restaurant by this seaside camping ground. So much devastation and so much to come to terms with in terms of loss of life in this particular town of Mati. On the road just alongside the cars that had been charred and in which and by which as they tried to flee so many people were found dead. Many of those cars have now been removed but the mourning here, the attempt to come to terms with a fire so scorching, so intense and so devastatingly fast that the only escape route was through the sea. That is something people are still trying to come to terms with Cyril.

VANIER: Yes, the village where you are is really one of the absolute worst stories to arise from this tragedy. The death toll so far is 70 plus dead. We're afraid that that's still going to increase. Melissa, do we know how the fire started?

BELL: There's an awful lot of speculation. For the time being we're waiting for investigations that are underway to complete in order to work out whether this was arson or simply the result of those scorching temperatures and the unfortunately fast winds that we saw developing throughout Greece and culminating on Monday afternoon in the outbreak of those fires.

Alesis Tsipras has indicated, has suggested that the scale of the fires perhaps were suspicious. But for the time being there is while we await the investigation, its results and the final conclusions about how these fires began, Cyril in the mean time a great deal of anger this morning in the Greek Press about the fact that so many of these towns and this town in particular, which by its geography was so vulnerable to these sorts of fires and precisely the kind of tragedy that unfolded here over the course of the last 48 hours were so ill prepared by authorities.

That is one of the big talking points here in Greece this morning, the fact that these are recurring incidences we have, wildfires in this part of the world, regularly we had then in 2007; we had them in 2009. Why were the escape routes, why were the - was the organization of the town not such that more people could escape. Essentially they were trapped in their cars by a fire that surrounded the town and meant that all they could do was jump into the sea to save their lives. A great deal of anger with authorities for the lack of preparedness and the slowness of the response, Cyril.

VANIER: All right Melissa Bell reporting live. She's on the ground in Mati, Greece, which is one of the worst tragedies in this entire very sad story happening in Greece. We'll want to hear more about how the villages are recovering, how they're doing now so we'll talk again Melissa. Thanks.

After the Southeast Asian country of Laos where hundreds of people are missing after a dam collapsed flooding six villages. Thousands of people have also been displaced. The Red Cross is helping to carry out the search and rescue mission. Now the electricity company that owns the dam which was under construction says that heavy rain led to this collapse. Our Nikhil Kumar is following this from New Delhi. Nikhil, the fact that hundreds of people are missing is extremely worrying at this hour. What are the chances of finding them?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Cyril, if you look at the images that are coming out of this area, this is in Southern Laos, Cambodia is just below. Over there, if you look at the images that are coming out it looks like just a sea of muddy water which is inundated from what we understand to be six villages. Thousands of people have been affected, rendered homeless and as you said hundreds are missing.

We believe that some people have died; we don't have the precise figures of fatalities yet. What we do know is that they're trying to get in to get these people out. They're trying to make sure that there's provision, I'm sorry of clean water, of medicine, and of boats to go and rescue these people many of whom are stranded on the tops of these structures. You can see in the images coming out that are submerged in this water.

This was a giant dam. The disaster occurred Monday evening, late Monday evening around 8:00 p.m. and from what we understand is that when the dam collapsed, or a portion collapsed, as much as five billion cubic meters of water, an immense amount of water was let loose which is what inundated all of these villages. So there is this urgency now to get in there to rescue the people who are stranded and have been displaced and also to get a full sense of the extent of this disaster. Cyril.

VANIER: And why did the dam collapse?

KUMAR: So from what we understand Cyril, this area has been hit by heavy monsoon rains in recent days. All of this part of Asia, the monsoon has been working its way through over the previous few weeks and this area has been hit by heavy rainfall. That rainfall hit - affected sorry, one of the reservoirs around this dam which sort of got too much water. That excess capacity ultimately led to this. This is from the electricity company that you mentioned earlier which

owns this dam. The dam itself is mostly constructed. It's been built; it has been under construction over the last several years. It was meant to be fully completed this year. The company building it is a South Korean construction company. They say that they had 53 people on sight; 53 South Koreans on site who were thankfully evacuated before the flooding occurred but the villages around the area they weren't so lucky.

So now, as I said, they're trying to get in supplies, get in medicines. The NGOs in the area, the U.N., we know that they're meeting with the government to coordinate relief efforts to get down there. The Prime Minister of the country has suspended a regular meeting of the government so that all the resources and all the attention can be focused on this to get at a sense of the tragedy and to make sure that everything can be done to bring safety - to bring help to the people who are stranded in this sea of mud in that area. Cyril.

VANIER: All right, Nikhil Kumar in New Delhi. We appreciate all the information. Thank you very much and this appears to be a part of a wider regional weather pattern that the meteorologist at the CNN Weather Center have been reporting on now for several days. And Japan was also the victim of deadly weather patterns. At least 65 people are dead there. Tens of thousands more are in hospitals as Japan grapples with a persistent and dangerous heat wave.

The region has been sweltering under high temperatures for more than two weeks and officials warn that there may not be much relief until early next month. We'll speak to the CNN Weather Center a little later on.

For the first time in almost four years Israel has shot down a Syrian fighter jet. The rare military confrontation is raising fears that it could escalate hostilities near the Golan Heights. As often happens there are competing explanations for this incident. Israel says that the Syrian jet entered Israeli airspace on Tuesday. However Syria says the jet was targeting terrorist groups over Syrian territory. Syrian forces are trying to retake areas held by rebels along the frontier with the Golan Heights.

Only a few days ago we learned about secret recordings between Donald Trump and his former lawyer. Well now CNN has them. What the tapes say and what they could mean for the president next.

Plus Donald Trump has a deal for the European Union. Drop all trade barriers. But even he doubts that they'll take him up on it.


VANIER: To our CNN exclusive now we have the recording of a private conversation between Donald Trump and his then attorney Michael Cohen, made just weeks before the presidential election.

The audio appears to show that Donald Trump was not being honest when he denied knowing about payments related to his alleged affair with a former "Playboy" model. Michael Cohen once known as the president's fixer, secretly recorded this. And CNN just obtained it from his attorney.


MICHAEL COHEN: And I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with -


COHEN: Funding - yes. And it's all the stuff, all the stuff. Because here you never know where that company, you never where he's going to be.

TRUMP: (inaudible) maybe get's hit by a -

COHEN: Correct. So I'm all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing which will be -

TRUMP: Listen, what financing?

COHEN: We'll have to pay (inaudible).

TRUMP: We'll pay with cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, no. I got - no, no, no.


VANIER: So the audio quality there is not perfect. And the precise words that were said are a matter for debate. Donald Trumps attorney Rudy Giuliani says the recording helps there case because there's no indication of any crime being committed.

Senate legal annalist and civil rights attorney Areva Martin is with me. Areva there's honestly, there's a lot I don't understand here. So help me out. Donald Trump and Michael Cohen are talking about buying the rights to the story of Karen McDougal, that now famous or infamous playboy model. And there talking about how their going to do it.

How their going to proceed, is there any legal exposure there for the president?

AREVA MARTIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Cyril on that in what we heard, in that brief tape that was played tonight on Chris's show.

What we hear is an effort by Trump and Cohen to determine how they can set up a company perhaps, how they can use either cash or check or finance to get the funds necessary to buy this contract that AMI has entered into with Karen McDougal or her story - her story being that she had an extramarital affair with Donald Trump.

So crime per se in what we've heard but we have to keep in mind this tape is a - has to be viewed in the context of other information, other evidence that hasn't been revealed as of yet. So although Rudy Giuliani is saying that this vindicates the President, I think he's over speaking when he makes that claim because we don't know what other evidence exists.

We do know that this tape confirms that Donald Trump through Hope Hicks was lying; he wasn't telling the truth when he had no knowledge about Karen McDougal being paid to be silent about an affair that she claims that they had for over 10 months. So if nothing else this tape shows that the President misrepresented the facts about what he knew about the Karen McDougal payment and contract with AMI and it raises real questions about what this whole issue has been in terms of campaign finance violations.

Although in the tape there is no statement like we have to suppress this information before the election or we can't let this get out before the election. There is conversation in the tape about the fact that there's some divorce issues with Donald Trump and his first wife and they need to make sure that doesn't come out for the next couple of months.

VANIER: Yes, they talk about the fact at the time that the "New York Times" had position to get the paperwork for Donald Trump's divorce with his previous wife, Ivanna Trump. But when Lonnie Davis, the lawyer for Michael Cohen who released this tape to us at CNN, when he went on Chris Cuomo's show earlier, a couple hours ago, he made a huge deal out of the fact that Donald Trump uses the word cash.

He says cash when they're talking about payments to buy the rights of the story. Now we can't quite make out whether he's saying use cash or don't use cash; the negative is probably going to end up being crucial but at the end of the day what does it matter if they had bought the rights of the story in cash or using a check?

MARTIN: Well, you know Cyril, Mannie Davis says only mobsters and drug dealers talk about using cash. I don't think the real issue in this case is about cash or financing or use of a check, I think the bigger issue here is what else was Donald Trump engaged in. How many other agreements like this was he attempting to purchase? Was he doing this for the purpose of trying to silence someone like Karen McDougal or perhaps other women leading up to the campaign. I think those are some of the bigger issues that Robert Mueller and his team are going to be looking at to determine was there some crime committed?

We know that Rudy Giuliani thinks that this again somehow vindicates the president. I don't know as a lawyer why they would want to release this tape, why Trump and his team waive privilege and released this tape. But we do know that because Mannie Davis went on Chris' show tonight, there's been a reset button set by Michael Cohen and his team clearly this, "I'll be loyal to the President until I die. I'll take a bullet for him." All of that has changed and Michael Cohen now is coming out swinging saying he wants to tell the truth.

So hopefully this is just the beginning and if he has other information that is pertinent to what was going on with Donald Trump leading up to the election, he'll come forward and share that information with the American public. VANIER: Ultimately, I do want to remind our viewers, ultimately there was no payment made. In that tape sure they're discussing potentially buying the rights to that Karen McDougal story of an alleged affair but - and they created the company which was supposed to make the payment for those rights but ultimately they didn't make the payment, didn't buy them. All right, Areva Martin thank you for joining us.

MARTIN: Thank you Cyril.

VANIER: Now the Trump Administration's escalating trade war is about to take center stage at the White House on Wednesday. Donald Trump will meet with the President of the European Commission. Remember the E.U. is one of his favorite targets when it comes to trade. The U.S. President appears ready to make a deal albeit it an unlikely one, Tweeting that he wants the U.S. and the E.U. to drop all trade barriers and tariffs. He's also taking credit for the timing of Wednesday's meeting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What the European Union is doing...

VANEIR: (voice over) This is perfect timing.

TRUMP:, is incredible. They're all coming to the White House. I said you have to change. They didn't want to change. I said, OK good. We'll get a tariff for your cars; they sell millions of cars - Mercedes, all of them, BMW, so many cars. I said we're going to have to tariff your cars. They said when could we show up?


VANIER: But at the same time the President is moving to ease the impact of his trade war and the impact that it's having on American farmers, CNN's Tom Foreman has the details on that.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump loves tariffs. In fact he has said tariffs are the greatest and when he looks at imports to the United States from China, more than $500 billion worth, he believes he can slap tariffs on at least half of them, maybe all of them in an effort to force China to the bargaining table.

China has responded by saying, "Look, we'll put tariffs on the $130 billion or so coming in from the United States." It's a lot smaller amount but it could still have an impact. That's why the President is now saying he wants to put $12 billion of aid into U.S. agriculture. What he's really talking about there is soybeans. This is the biggest agricultural export of the United States to China; almost $22 billion worth of soybeans are exported from the U.S. every year and more than half of them go across the ocean to China.

If China stops that because their tariffs make them noncompetitive with Brazil and Argentina and other countries, effectively that could force them to stay at home creating a glut in the market here and farmers could see their prices go through the basement. So that's where you turn to the $12 billion. The idea is they can pour this money into the green areas here on the map which is the heavy soybean producing areas and help farmers and their communities which interestingly enough serves a political purpose too because those areas voted heavily for Donald Trump.

Does that deal with everything though? Maybe not. We don't know how long the trade war will go on and we know that soybean prices are already in trouble. Back in 2014 a bushel was about $15 or more. Now a bushel is about $8; this is a 10-year low. So that stimulus money has to overcome not only the fears of the impact of a trade war but also this trend. If it does not, a lot of farmers in Trump country could be in a lot of trouble.

VANIER: American singer and actress Demi Lovato is in hospital after an apparent drug overdose. The 25 year old has had problems in the past with addiction. A representative says she is with her family who wants to express thanks to everyone for their prayers and support. Lovato revealed in a just-released song called "Sober" that she had relapsed, this after being clean for six years.

Coming up a Cricket legend could become Pakistan's next Prime Minister but many suspect the country's most powerful institution is trying to tilt the election in his favor plus French President Emmanuel Macron is taking the blame in a scandal over his former body guard. What does this mean for his presidency? We're back after this.


[02:30:22] VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN Newsroom. Here are the headlines today. The British investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy is looking at whether a drop squad planted the nerve agent and then a second hit team carried out the attack with it. Authorities warn more vials of Novichok may be hidden in the Salisbury area. Months after the ex-spy and his daughter became ill, two others were exposed when they found a vial of Novichok, one of them died.

At least 74 people have died in Greece in the worst wildfires to hit the country in more than a decade. Some who survived had to flee into the sea to escape the flames. The Greek Prime Minister has declared three days of mourning. Pakistan's powerful military has been deployed across the country as voters head to the polls in the country's second ever civilian transfer of power. The military is denying that it they tries to tilt election in favor of cricket legend Imran Khan.

He also denies having any military support and just in the last few moments we have reports of violence in -- on this Election Day. Sophia Saifi is in Islamabad reporting for us. Sophia, how is the voting going? What's going on?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril, polls opened about hours ago and we've already tried getting reports of violence in two different parts of the country, one just right now in the south. We just got a report that there's been a blast in the City of Quetta which has left around seven people dead according to the police sources that we've spoken too with about a dozen people injured. This so far not been a claim of responsibility, but do keep in mind that Quetta (INAUDIBLE) where Quetta is located was the same part of the country where there was a massive suicide blast aimed at a candidate about 10 days ago which left up 150 people dead.

That was the deadliest attack that has happened in Pakistani -- second deadliest attack in Pakistani history with regards to militancy. So, you know, there already has been the sense of fear amongst voters who are coming out. But, you know, as we're seeing as the day is progressing, there always this fear that they might be some violence whether on 350,000 military personnel kind of located across the country who had been deployed.

But, you know, as the day goes ahead and with many hours left for polls to be open, we just have to wait and see how safe this polling -- this election cycle continues to be, Cyril.

VANIER: Sophia Saifi reporting live from Islamabad. Thank you. Donald Trump is pushing a new narrative in Russia's attack on the U.S. elections. This one comes with quite a twist. On Tuesday, he tweeted, I'm very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming election. Based on the fact that no president has been tougher on Russia than me. They will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely do not want Trump. American intelligence officials say the Russians already are targeting much more than U.S. elections including nuclear power, water, and aviation. CNN's Jim Sciutto has the details.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, top officials charged with protecting the nation's voting system say Russia remains a threat to upcoming midterm elections this is November.

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, UNDERSECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Based on this prior demonstration of capability and intent, we are planning and preparing as if they'll try again this fall and beyond.

SCIUTTO: The Justice Department recently indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for leading Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. These just days before President Trump ones again questioned the U.S. intelligence community's confident assessment blaming the Kremlin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me, Dan Coats, came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia.

SCIUTTO: Other members of the Trump administration continue to cast a much darker view of Russia.

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We don't trust Russia. We don't trust Putin. We never will. They're never going to be our friend. That's just the fact. SCIUTTO: And tonight concerned that Russian government hackers have

carried out probing cyberattacks on vital U.S. infrastructure including the power grid potentially giving the Kremlin the ability to turn off the lights. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI detailed a two-year multistage effort by Moscow targeting hundreds of companies that they believe is still ongoing. The hackers first gained access to small energy-related companies planting malware that then allowed them to move into larger networks. Once inside the energy suppliers, the Russians collected information on the facility's control systems attempting to acquire the ability to turn those systems off.

JAMES LEWIS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: They're identifying targets. They're positioning malware, so they could pull the trigger when they wanted to. But they're also sending the United States a message. We are in position to cause harm if we wanted to do it. And so you, the U.S. should be a little more careful.

[02:35:12] SCIUTTO: A spokesperson for DHS cautions that while hundreds of companies were targeted, the Russian access was limited and, "Would not have had any impact on the larger grid if taken offline." The Russians targeted other crucial sectors as well including nuclear power, water, aviation, and manufacturing. Experts see the intrusions as a possible precursor to an unprecedented Russian cyberattack that could in the event of all-our war devastate the U.S. Homeland. The director of the NSA and commander of U.S. Cyber Command says that Russia presents a clear and present danger.

PAUL NAKASONE, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES CYBER COMMAND: Our adversaries will continue to penetrate and try to penetrate such things as our critical infrastructure. What should we do about that? And I say I think it's both the idea of being vigilant about that, certainly. It's also the idea of being able to act forward.


SCIUTTO: The U.S. has significant capabilities to carry out cyberattacks on adversaries abroad as well. But the concerned had been that using such weapons could escalate a conflict into all-out war. Jim Sciutto, CNN Washington.

VANIER: Let's head to France. With his political image on the line, French President Emmanuel Macron is taking the blame now for the worst scandal of his young presidency. This is how the scandal began. A video of one of his bodyguards beating a protester while posing as a police officer. Initially, Macron's response was to simply suspend the bodyguard for two weeks, but not fire him. On Tuesday, Mr. Macron broke his silence about this.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (via translator): Never, never in our republic since a year ago has there been anyone protected or exempt from the rules or from the law of the republic because that is what our fellow citizens expect from us. And if they're looking for the person in charge, tell them, tell them every day, he is standing before you. The only person responsible for this case is me and me alone.


VANIER: Journalist and political commentator Agnes Poirier joins me now from Saint-Malo, France. Agnes, look, it's refreshing to hear a political leader take responsibility, but it's also not an apology. What do you make of this?

AGNES POIRIER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's not going to apologize for what is and in fact the dysfunction and real mismanagement. I mean, you know, it was high time. He came out and actually took publicly which he did yesterday evening. And, you know, he (INAUDIBLE) he should have said that much earlier really and that's really what we're facing here and plus blunder rather than scandal of his presidency. What happened, you know, in a way (INAUDIBLE) French rise of the 19th century.

He is (INAUDIBLE) little experience, great ambition becomes, you know, part of the inner circle of a man equally young who in just a few months is going to become France's next president. And of course not being a police officer and certainly not (INAUDIBLE) who is the elite police service that belongs to the Army, and he commits a terrible mistake, an unacceptable mistake, and that is to say pretending and posing as a police officer doing in May Day demonstration.

The problem is or if you like the scandal is really the very light suspension, two weeks suspended after the fact. It's not the appropriate response. It should have been suspension, you know, two weeks suspended just after the fact is not the appropriate response. It should have been dismissed and this is exactly what happened. But it happened only because the French daily newspaper in there came out with the story.

And in France, the position being left only to the far right and the far left it -- this political crisis which not an institutional crisis in anyway has been completed into the sort of hysterical, you know, fear of cover-ups. There are four ongoing inquiries at the moment, two parliamentary, and one criminal, and one internal police investigation. So we'll see how it's, you know, develops over the weeks. But it's, you know, an unacceptable behavior from one individual. So it's a --


VANIER: And Agnes, just to be clear, you say there's hysteria from the opposition over a cover-up. But there was a cover-up. We know there was because in the days after the video emerged, the Elysee have told us that the -- that Alexandre Benalla, the former bodyguard was no longer working with the president and then we saw pictures show that he had been with the president. He'd been with the president and early July and then on Bastille Day celebrations, and then again when he met with the -- with the French World Cup soccer stars.

[02:40:12] There was a lie. There was a cover-up and it took them almost two months to fire him.

POIRIER: Yes, absolutely. But he was fired. Thanks for the investigation of the French daily newspaper, Le Monde, you know, it's great we're on a democracy works well. We have a press that is independent. I mean you're saying there was a cover-up, yes, but they are not -- if you'd like, the far right and the far left in France that there is the police. We've been -- police, you know, there are semantics that's extremely, you know, flamboyant as you might expect and in a way hysterical. The Elysee Palace tried to hush up the men. I mean they're too inaction, but far too light action which is this --


VANIER: I want to -- I want to ask you one more question before --


VANIER: I want to ask you one more question before I have to go which is, how this plays into the image of the French president because he has already seen as the president of the elite and the privilege, so this is just about the worst thing he could have done given that image he has.

POIRIER: Well, they submit is very much what the extreme right and left want to, you know, convey. But you're absolutely right. I mean the government -- he campaigned on the platform of moralizing French politics, you know, new blood, new generation, and there's this however we're coming back to (INAUDIBLE) and that's really is damaging and his popularity is plummeting at the moment.

VANIER: All right. Agnes Poirier joining us -- Agnes Poirier joining us from the Brittany Coast, Saint-Malo in France. Thank you, Agnes. Still to come, a closer look at why the deadly wildfires in Greece caught so many people off guard. And the clock is ticking for the U.S. to reunite migrant parents and children's separated by the Trump administration.


VANIER: And we were telling you earlier on the show about the devastating fires in Greece. So let's find out if there is any relief on the way from meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, where do things stand as we speak?

[02:44:53] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: I have some rain in the forecast. That is the good news definitely across this region. But, you know, when you think about how this is all played out, the concern is all related to what's happened of course in recent days. We got gusty winds. Some of these storms have had had the characteristics of producing some thunderstorms associated with them. So you get the rainfall and then you get some thunderstorms.

So, some benefits to that, and of course, some gusty winds with the thunderstorms and certainly lightning strikes not good either. But, you take a look at the perspective in Athens and notice the trend is a cooler one over the next several days, but again, the thunderstorms here could be fellow concern across that region. And we know with these, you have not only gusty winds but again, the lightning strikes that can kind of allow the fires to really fan out and be more of a dangerous scenario even with the rain across this region.

But, where we all began was Monday afternoon reached the high of 38 degrees. We had some four consecutive hours with winds as high as 80 kilometers per hour. And if you've been to this area in Greece, and certainly around Athens, very mountainous region, very hilly across parts of town.

In fact, the western periphery where these fires are, and we have terrain as high as 1300 meters high. And, of course, winds will tend to want to go downstream and as they do down and out inside, they'll speed up and also be able to heat by compression as they're working downstream and on the eastern side of Athens.

This is the area we have some of the tourists working their way towards the beaches there to get away from the incredible expansion of wildfires thereon Monday afternoon. And again, these are regions we saw winds as much as 80 kilometers per hour.

But, look how things have played out here. We know the city of Athens much like the city of Los Angeles when it comes to climates. Back, rainfall amounts roughly the same in an annual perspective. About 400 millimeters comes down across the region.

And you take a look, the month of June and the month of July have been surprisingly wet. So, this is certainly not a drought-stricken situation that led to these fires, but the recent heat and the gusty winds really allowed the flames to fan the way they did.

And, those -- what we're watching here with the scattered storms across this region that some of these winds certainly could be possible. But it does take quite a bit of rainfall which this is not what we're looking at unfortunate, we're not looking at for much rain to fall besides a little bit that could come on and off into the afternoon hours.

But it would take about 13 millimeters on average to stop the spreading of wildfires in a rough number we typically give is about 50 millimeters to put the fires out in their entirety. Again, these are not what are expected in the forecast.

We're expecting just some light showers and unfortunately, some of them could have some connection with them which means thunderstorms and that, Cyril, would be our watching carefully here over the next couple days for.

VANIER: Yes, and the very latest thing that our report is on the ground, we're saying was that there is -- there are still some firefighters trying to put out the blazes, and the death toll for this is already very high. More than 70 people killed, sadly, including children.

Pedram Javaheri from the CNN Weather Center, thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, Cyril.

VANIER: The U.S. government faces a Thursday deadline to reunite children who were separated from parents at the border with Mexico. The Trump administration says, more than a thousand families have been brought together since the federal court mandated it.

But it's become complicated as some parents have already been deported and others may have criminal records making them ineligible to join their children. The painful separation is too much for some of these parents to bear.

They don't know if or when they might see their children again. CNN's Nick Valencia reports.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the Port Isabel Detention Center, the stakes couldn't be higher. An audio exclusively obtained by CNN, the anguish of parents separated from their children pours out in immigration court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am begging, Your Honor. Please do not remove me from the country. Do it for me and for my son.

VALENCIA: The clips were recorded earlier this month at the ICE run facility in Los Fresnos, Texas.



POWELL: And where is your child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, but they told me he was here in Texas.

VALENCIA: The audio is of two mothers at what are known is credible fear reviews. It's a last chance to prove that they have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home countries. If parents like these fail, they may be faced with a heart-wrenching decision. Be deported as a family, or leave their children behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not know anything about my son when they interviewed me.

POWELL: What did you want to say that you weren't able to say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To please give me an opportunity to remain here in this country. I want -- I need to save my life and the life of my son.

VALENCIA: The proceedings take just a few minutes. Stunning in their bravery even the weight of the decision.

POWELL: All right, thank you. Having considered all the evidence, I would find you have not established a significant possibility that you could establish eligibility for asylum, or withholding of removal under the immigration laws of the United States. The court hereby orders that the decision of the asylum officer is

affirmed, and your case is returned to the Department of Homeland Security for you to be removed from the United States.

[02:50:00] VALENCIA: In audio from a second hearing, a detainee is so distraught over being separated from her son, she can barely continue.


VALENCIA: You don't have to speak Spanish to hear the pain in her voice.

POWELL: I understand that ma'am. Is there anything you want to say regarding your case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I want is to be with my son.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


VANIER: Britain's Prince Harry is teaming up with Elton John in the battle against AIDS. The two took to the stage Tuesday in Amsterdam to launch the men's star coalition. The $1.2 billion project will work to boost HIV diagnosis and treatment among young men, focusing on those who have low testing and low treatment rates.

John tells CNN, AIDS could be ended if outdated attitudes would change.


ELTON JOHN, MUSICIAN AND ACTIVIST: We have seen dominoes fall on people have gay marriage just over there. But there's a lot of -- a lot of battles to conquer because people are still being stigmatized and marginalized by society.

And if that wasn't happening with this, we wouldn't be sitting here talking to you right now. Because we could end this disease. We have the drug now to end this disease. It's just getting old-fashioned attitudes change, which you know, doesn't take five minutes, it takes a while.


VANIER: And Prince Harry praised Elton John saying, he always puts people at the center of his work.

Her father's election as president certainly brought attention to Ivanka Trump's clothing and accessory company. Now, the first daughter has decided to shut down her brand. CNN's Kristen Holmes reports.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER: Ivanka Trump is shutting down her fashion company and pursuing a career in public policy, instead. The first daughter and advisor to the President were retained the ownership of her brand after her father took office.

But the business was operating with limitation to reduce potential violation of ethics laws and perceptions she's profiting from the White House job.

Ivanka Trump, issuing a statement saying, "I am beyond grateful for the work of our incredible team who has inspired so many women, each other and myself included. While we will not continue our mission together, I know that each of them will thrive in their next chapter."

And the company saw an increase in profits in 2017 after Donald Trump's presidential win, but since then, profits have declined. Reporting in Washington, I'm Kristen Holmes, back to you.

VANIER: Coming up, a man walks into a gym for a little-naked yoga. The best part though, the excuse he gave to police.


VANIER: The American politician that we told you about yesterday, the one who yell racial slur -- racial slurs and dropped his pants in a T.V. prank is going to resign.


REP. JASON SPENCER (R), GEORGIA: I'll touch you, I'll touch you with my buttocks. I'll touch you, you better drop the gun, or I'll touch you. USA.


VANIER: Yes. That makes a difficult to pursue your political career. Georgia representative, Jason Spencer was punk by Sacha Baron Cohen on his new series, "Who is America?" Cohen was pretending to be an Israeli anti-terror expert.

Spencer says the show exploited his state of mind because he's received death threats for pushing a bill to ban Muslim women from wearing face veils in public.

All right, Planet Fitness is a chain of gyms in the U.S., and it builds itself as a judgment-free zone. Well, there is one customer who decided to test that claim. Workers it turned out were still a little judgy when he assumed a yoga pose totally nude. Here is Jeanne Moos.


[02:55:22] JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a stretch even for yoga.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your aura was so amazing. MOOS: More amazing than an auras', the sight of a naked guy doing yoga at a Planet Fitness gym in Plaistow, New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Greg texts in and says, naked yoga guy? I hope he brought his own man.

MOOS: 34-year-old Eric Stagno, walked into the crowded gym, took off his clothes, and position himself on a yoga mat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I have the good sense to put my clothes on before I come to the gym, then so should he.


MOOS: Police found him naked on his knees in a yoga-type position. He was charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. But everyone's favorite part of the story?

He told police he thought what he was doing was OK because he was in a judgment-free zone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Planet Fitness, the judgment-free zone.

MOOS: Hey, they say judgment-free, not pants free. This is billed as a gym for regular folks, not musclebound mirror addicts.

Looking at me. Looking at me looking at you to see if you looking at me.

MOOS: Everybody was looking at him. Police said Stag no was in possession of a glass bong and a grinder. He did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

MOOS: No need to avert your eyes. We have no video of the nude yoga guy posing.


MOOS: The story had T.V. anchors practicing.

JERRICK: Namaste. No, I'm not going to stay. I'm nama-go.

MOOS: Yoga inspired banter.

JERRICK: Hopefully, he wiped his equipment. Yes.

MOOS: It may be a judgment-free zone, but getting out on bail cost him $40 bucks. And isn't it weird that the guy in the Planet Fitness ad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt like it was amazing.

MOOS: Bears a certain resemblance to the bare naked yoga guy? Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: And that does it for us, although, not quite because I'm back at the top of the hour with another hour of world news, stay tuned to CNN.