Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump: No Need For Korea Military Exercises; Putin Bows To Pressure Over Pension Changes; Pope Meeting With Abuse Victims Left Profound Mark; Trudeau: No NAFTA Deal Is Better Than A Bad Deal; Trump; French Fisherman Ram English Vessels; Tennis Embroiled In Sexism Controversy; Hurricane Maria Devastation; White House Counsel Leaving in the Fall; Putin Softens Controversial Pension Plan; China Increasing Naval Strength in the Pacific; Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[00:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: with nuclear negotiations with North Korea stalled, Donald Trump blames China while praising Kim Jong-un.

Apparently Vladimir Putin wants to be popular after all. His approval ratings took a big hit and then came a rare backdown from the Russian president over his reforms to the pension system.

And Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to rip up NAFTA but a new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico might not be that much different.

Hello, everybody. I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE: Well, twists, chaos and contradictions from the Trump administration on North Korea after a series of tweets from the White House late Wednesday. The president is putting the brakes on continuing war games with the South Koreans, contradicting his Defense Secretary, who said just a day earlier that coming military exercises with the South had not actually been suspended and no decision had yet been made on that.

Trump goes on to boast about his very good and warm relationship with Kim Jong-un. But the tweets also warn, military exercises can easily be restarted. If that happened, they would be bigger than ever. And while China is blamed for the diplomatic stall between Washington and Pyongyang, Donald Trump says his relationship with "China's great president Xi Jinping" is very strong.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is standing by for us live in Seoul. Matt Rivers also with us in Beijing. Paula, first to you. If there was any concern in Pyongyang that the United States was about to get tough, apply a bit of pressure in these negotiations, it seems Donald Trump put an end to that and, for good measure, threw in some nice words to Kim Jong-un and blamed China.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. This tweet, which was a statement that he had copied from the White House, is effectively saying to Kim Jong-un that he has a very good and warm relationship with him. But at the same time he is contradicting what his U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said just one day earlier.

As far as Mattis was concerned, there had been no discussions to suspend any further joint military drills between South Korea and the United States. But then Mr. Trump saying, as he did just after that Singapore summit between him and Kim Jong-un, that he didn't want to be spending a lot of money on these military drills.

Remember, just after the Singapore summit, he also called these drills "provocative," which is a word that North Korea uses. So really this is a fairly softly-softly approach towards Pyongyang just a week after he canceled his U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo going to Pyongyang.

So there are some mixed messages here. Obviously Mr. Trump believes that he's playing a certain game with Pyongyang. But it is a confusing message. From the South Korean point of view, they say they haven't had any consultation with this. These are joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.

But the South Korean officials, in every briefing over the past couple of days, say they haven't had a discussion with the U.S. yet on this yet.

VAUSE: In Pyongyang, they must be popping whatever champagne managed to be smuggled past the U.N. economic sanctions because this seems to be a blank check right now for Kim Jong-un. But let's go to Beijing now. Matt Rivers is there.

Matt, Donald Trump called out his good friend, his chocolate cake connoisseur eating friend Xi Jinping. But blaming China, despite calling Xi Jinping a great leader, will not go unnoticed nor, would it seem, come without consequences.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. John, I think what you are seeing the president do here is try and link these issues of trade and the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China and the ongoing nuclear issues for the purpose of trying to come up with an excuse or a reason, maybe, why the negotiations over the nuclear issue have stalled between the Americans and the North Koreans.

Basically what the president is saying here is China isn't happy about the trade negotiations, so it is exerting pressure on North Korea to somehow have a negative impact on these negotiations.

A lot of people here in China would throw cold water on that for a number of different reasons, not the least of which would be there are many people who doubt that Beijing actually has that kind of influence over North Korea and also Beijing doesn't want to go back to the days of 2017 with all the missile tests and nuclear tests.

They actually have a vested interest in seeing these negotiations go forward. Publicly, China hasn't responded to this as of yet. But when they do this afternoon --

[00:05:00]

RIVERS: -- they will likely say the same thing they always do, which is we don't link issues of trade and North Korea.

We know things don't happen in a vacuum, John. So it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, these tweets have on these negotiations. But it is worth noting the Chinese have had to react to things like this many times. They've reacted to a lot of tweets.

And President Trump's central argument here, that China is negatively influencing North Korea, he's made that argument many, many times before. This is just the latest example of that. I think it is difficult to see a scenario where these tweets have some sort of substantive effect on the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.

VAUSE: It is impressive you still go to the foreign ministry briefing at 3 o'clock there. Matt, thank you, Matt Rivers there in Beijing, also Paula Hancocks --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Thanks, guys.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Ron Brownstein is a CNN senior political analyst and a senior editor with "The Atlantic" and he's with us right now.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I haven't been in a briefing in China in a while.

VAUSE: They're fantastic, are they?

I was like Arnold Horshack, they wouldn't -- (INAUDIBLE).

OK, here's a key lesson from "The Art of the Deal," "Know when to walk away from the table."

And here the president may have tweeted that out but if he'd actually read his own book, much less written it, he should know, never appear to be too eager for a deal. And right now, it seems he's bending over backwards to make concessions you know, to keep it going while at the same time undermining officials within his own administration like, General Mattis.

BROWNSTEIN: This is -- this is the latest example of this concept which I think has a lot of validity that there is these you know, these two parallel administrations. There is kind of the administration especially foreign policy through the Defense Department and the State Department.

And there's the president who kind of you know goes and doesn't say what he will. He went out very far on a limb, as far as saying that he had basically solved this problem that it bedeviled you know, every president since Bush and Clinton.

And now when the inevitable happened, when it was not as smooth a path, I mean, toward denuclearizing North Korea as he made it sound in Singapore, he has kind of left. One thing we know by Donald Trump, he does not like to reverse course. He does not like to admit wrongdoing --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Won't take responsibility.

BROWNSTEIN: -- responsibility for wrongdoing. And so I think he is left in his position of trying to put a rosier hue on this than events justify at this point.

VAUSE: You know, at the end of the day, this all appears to be the result of the confusion born of reversed negotiation you know, having the summit and then working out the details later on. You know, this was the great strategy.

BROWNSTEIN: And it was way beyond details, right?

VAUSE: And everyone said it won't work. You know, we have to say it's all over now but it's suddenly looking like it's in trouble.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Absolutely. Look, I mean it -- one of the things -- and part of the appeal in 2016 of Trump's argument was I am not -- the politicians have kind of messed everything up. You know, Ronald Reagan said there are simple answers just not easy answers and there's kind of a version of that that Trump offered. I'm an outsider, I can see how ridiculous all of these agreements are, NAFTA for example or North Korea and I can cut all these Gordian knots just be through the force of will and intellect.

And what you see on all of these fronts is you know not all of the presidents were kind of knaves and fools. There is a reason why these problems are intractable and then in many cases in foreign policy what you're trying to do is manage problems not solve them.

VAUSE: OK. Well, you know, oddly enough the president still believes in negotiations with North Korea going well. He also believes his administration did a great job responding to the destruction across Puerto Rico. This is last year, all of the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. This is what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was actually more difficult because of the fact it's an island. It's much harder to get things onto the island.

I only hope they don't get hit again because they were by two right in a row. Puerto Rico had a lot of difficulties before it got hit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: That answer was in the context of the death toll being officially raised significantly. Here's the mayor of San Juan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: The Trump Administration killed the Puerto Rican with neglect. Shame on President Trump for not even once, not even yesterday just saying look, I grief with the people of Puerto Rico. Shame on him. 2,175 dead, is that what he's proud of?

Is he proud of that maybe this is over now and he thinks it's going to go away?

Well, it's not going to go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, the death toll went from just over 60 to almost 3,000.

BROWNSTEIN: 1,000 more than Katrina.

VAUSE: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: And it's a defining moment for George W. Bush. And on par with the people who died in 9/11. I mean, you know, these are Americans who died, American citizens who died.

How does this president get away with making you know, those kinds of just -- not just blatantly inaccurate statement but outrageous statement?

BROWNSTEIN: And you know, there's a very specific answer for that.

Is that the Republican-controlled Congress has completely abandoned its independent responsibility to conduct oversight on the executive branch?

I mean, they -- it is extraordinary --

[00:10:00]

BROWNSTEIN: -- that you would have this level of destruction among you know, in communities or you know, with American citizens and that kind of -- you know, the president tossing paper towels but, yes, failing to provide electricity and fresh water for an extended period and there not be any systemic oversight.

You know, we talk about the circling of the wagons on the Russia investigation and others but it really goes way beyond it. I mean, this is the separation at the border. There were no substantive hearings on it. Hundreds of children still separated, no substantive hearing on that.

VAUSE: But they want to investigate Hillary Clinton's e-mails. There were calls for that.

BROWNSTEIN: And so -- I mean, you see kind of the real world consequences of this kind of decision to lock arms around the president. And I think you know and basically by his political strategy that we're better off if we -- if we all stay together.

But in Puerto Rico, you see the consequence. It does no one -- you know, I remember thinking the George W. Bush administration, where there was something of the same at least on the domestic side, not on foreign policy with John McCain and others, are very tough on Iraq.

It does no one really any good in the long run to be denied oversight because it allows kind of incompetence and corruption to fester and the truth will out, as someone once said.

VAUSE: We're going to move on to Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, but just you mention electricity being restored in Florida after Hurricane Irma. Almost everyone had full service within 10 days.

Texas after Harvey, it was about two weeks. In Puerto Rico, 11 months. And you know, to be fair they had a pretty awful power grid before the storm and what they're doing is they're rebuilding it.

BROWNSTEIN: Can I have one thing real quick?

There's another reason he doesn't want to talk about hurricanes and the severity of these hurricanes because they are a challenge to the administration's effort to completely abandon any U.S. role in trying to fight the escalating risk of climate change, you know, that the climate sciences are pretty clear.

Now that we get more hurricanes but the hurricanes are more severe because the water is warmer and it creates a greater intensity. And just last week he abandoned the power plant side of what President Obama had proposed to reduce carbon emissions and before that, he has been in the fuel economy side on vehicles.

So the -- to borrow a phrase, the severity of the hurricanes that we are experiencing are kind of an inconvenient truth for their climate agenda.

VAUSE: OK, let's move on to Don McGahn, he's the White House Counsel. According to CNN's reporting, McGahn was surprised when he saw these ceremonial Twitter announcement from Donald Trump on Wednesday morning because, apparently, he's not speaking directly to the president about leaving. It was well known he was, you know, on his way out.

One reason for the timing there was a report Wednesday morning that his daughter, Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, both White House advisers, were especially critical of McGahn. And the extended time, about 30 hours he spent with special counsel Robert Mueller, who's investigating, you know, the alleged collusion with Russia. So it makes sense of all of this right now.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, if in fact that is true that he was surprised, it kind of continues the first point that there is a kind of -- there's a -- there's a President Trump lane that is separate from the kind of ongoing structural processes of the administration really in every way including White House personnel.

But I look at this removal really as him leaving as another kind of signal of what may be coming after the election. I mean, the comments by Lindsey Graham, ostensibly a maverick ally of John McCain in the last few days, in which he has said, look, this is an irreparable relationship with Jeff Sessions --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: The Attorney General.

BROWNSTEIN: -- the Attorney General. Lindsey Graham could have bought a neon sign on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the Trump Hotel, basically saying if the Republicans maintain the majority in Congress, they will go along with removal to -- a move to remove to remove Jeff Sessions.

And Don McGahn leaving is an elimination of another barrier on the internal side to that because the threat that McGahn might resign in response to it I think would, you know, cause some hesitation on the president.

I mean, what -- and Mitch McConnell said I have full faith in Jeff Sessions. He was thinking about November. He wasn't thinking about Jeff Sessions. He does not want to send a signal to voters uneasy about the way things are going.

VAUSE: I want to switch off because what started as a historic day in the U.S. for equal opportunity could become a culture war for race and political correctness.

The story here is that, for the first time, an African American will actually be on the ballot running as a Democrat nominee for Governor of Florida. That's after Andrew Gillum won the Democrat nomination. His Republican opponent sparked outrage with his appearance on FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: He is an articulate spokesman for those far left views and he's a charismatic candidate. And you know, I watched those Democrat debates, none of that was my cup of tea.

But I mean he performed better than the other people there so we've got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let's build off the success we've had on Governor Scott. The last

thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You go into -- let's put this very quickly. Here's Gillum's response on CNN just a couple hours later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW GILLUM (D), MAYOR OF TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA: He's apparently giving up the whistle. They've gone to the bullhorn with these kinds of tactics but they're not going to work. We tried this one time.

Donald Trump, this is a page from his playbook looking at the whole clip. I think he was clear about what he meant. He understood the dog whistle --

[00:15:00]

GILLUM: -- that he was blowing and I understand that he intends to speak to a particular part of the base to incite them. But the truth is I think there a majority of us who disagree with that brand of politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: What is interesting here is how the country has reacted to this because DeSantis did not apologize. He went on the attack. If you're a Trump supporter which DeSantis is, you see this is political correctness gone mad. He didn't mean any offense.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

VAUSE: If you are an anti-Trump or a progressive, you see -- you know, the racial connotation in what was there.

BROWNSTEIN: So you see -- what you really see above all is the magnetic pull of Trump on the Republican Party. I mean, not only in a language like this and taking what had been sub rosa and kind of putting it in the marquee lights at this kind of language.

But also, I am struck in policy. I mean, if you think about compared to where we are from even during the 2015-2016 campaign, the number of mainstream Republicans who are embracing the Trump agenda on building a wall cutting not only undocumented but legal immigration.

Moving away from criminal justice reform. I mean, there is a bet here in the Republican Party. I mean whether the bet the Trump imposes on the parties and you consolidate your support among the elements of American society to the most uneasy about demographic change.

Although blue-collar evangelical rural whites, at the risk of driving away more college whites, more independent voters and also antagonizing these growing population of Millennials and minorities. And really, the data is the best that he is strengthening on the one hand and creating greater challenges on the other. But the problem for Democrats is that coalition historically doesn't vote that much in midterm elections.

VAUSE: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: And if they believe that the America that they want is under siege, we'll see if that's enough to change that pattern in November.

VAUSE: Yes, this is a period of disruption to say the least, Ron. Thank you, good to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, in a national address, Russian president Vladimir Putin has softened proposed changes to the country's pension system. The plan would increase the retirement age for men and women and, not surprisingly, had already prompted a number of protests.

But then Putin started feeling the effects of his changes, you know, personally, with his normally sky-high approval rating taking a very rare hit. CNN's Fred Pleitgen now, reporting in from Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pension reform here in Russia is causing a great deal of concern not only for the Russian people but also for the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, as well, you know.

But the Russians are intending to do is raising the pension age for men from 60 to 65. And from women, it was supposedly originally be from 55 to 63. But now, Vladimir Putin has come out in a public address and said that will only be raised to the age of 60.

Now many folks in Western countries that might seem like a regular retirement age which when you take into consideration the fact, the life expectancy for instance for Russian men is 66, a lot of people here are concerned that they wouldn't have much of their pension if the pension age was raised to 65.

Vladimir Putin came out and explained all of this in a public address which is something that is very rare and shows how important this issue is. He said that this is something Russia does need to do simply because of the demographics of this country. It has an aging society.

Vladimir Putin came on and said that while he wants to soften the blow a little bit, it certainly is something this country needs to do. It is also something that is costing him politically. His approval ratings now are somewhere in the mid-60s. This is someone, of course, who normally is used to having approval ratings that are somewhere in the 80s or lower 70s. So that's probably also one of the reasons why he came out and gave that address.

Now Vladimir Putin also said that one of the reasons why Russia need to do this is the economic situation here to this country. And, of course, the Russians do have some things that are costing this country a lot of money like for instance their campaign in Syria.

And there, we've seen a ratcheting up of the rhetoric once again with the Russians sending additional amount of warships into the Mediterranean they are now saying that they have around 13 warships and two submarines in and around the area of the Mediterranean Sea.

As it seems to be looming that perhaps an offensive on Idlib, the last area held by rebels could start soon. It was a meeting on Wednesday, between the foreign ministers of Russia and of Saudi Arabia where Sergey Lavrov of Russia said that he believed that Idlib was a hotbed of terrorists that need to be eliminated -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Still to come here, a new era in naval warfare may be coming. China's navy, now the largest in the world, the U.S. concedes there is no guarantee it could win a future conflict with the Chinese.

Also a pope under pressure and staying silent about a sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:20:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: China appears to be moving a step closer to deploying its first-ever carrier battle group, with sea trials in recent days, which only domestically designed and built aircraft carrier, as well as for a new class of guided missile destroyers.

The U.S. military admits the balance of power in the Pacific is shifting. Back in March, a senior naval commander said there is no guarantee that the United States would win a future conflict with China.

And joining me now CNN's military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. Colonel, good to see you.

OK, let's talk about the newly guided missile destroyer which is undergoing sea trials right now. The Pentagon believes it could be operational next year, carries a lot of firepower.

It seems to be out there in terms of technology with other modern navies. Importantly, they're saying it will be used for blue water operations. And blue water refers to water far away from home until about power projection says this is where China is heading.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. And we've seen a shift over the last decade. And you know, prior to that, they were more concerned about defending their coastal waters being able to make sure that their claim to Taiwan was safe.

But as they become more important economically in the world, they are moving in into an area where they want to be able to project power, to protect Chinese interests around the world. And we see them starting this, they already have an overseas location in Djibouti, where they've got Chinese Marines, Chinese Navy there.

So they are looking toward the future and they've got a plan, John. They're looking out 10, 20, 30 years. And, of course, given their form of government, they can stay on that path just going straight down the line where they want to be.

The United States on the other hand, we bounce around every four years zigzagging depending on what the policy focus is.

VAUSE: Yes and we'll get into that because the carrier Shandong, it's also to see to these trials most believe that's just a stepping stone to carriers which will be far more capable where this reporting from defense news.

The Department of Defense expects China to build five more aircraft carriers by 2033. This will go along with the old Ukrainian carrier that is currently in operation.

You know, if you look at, that's 15 years away, where an average of one carrier what every three years?

In the past, it was called as patronizing reassurance for many. don't worry, all those ships are made in China, you know it was going to dismiss but there are predictions now that China's Navy -- you know, could be on a power to U.S. in terms of budgets quantities and numbers but also technology in just a few years.

FRANCONA: Yes and you know, I've heard that argument before he said you know they have more ships but ours are better. You know, that's ridiculous. If you just look at the lay of the land, if you look at the -- what's in the water over there, you've got the entire Chinese Navy --

[00:25:00]

FRANCONA: -- basically off of their coast and in the South China Sea.

And you got the United States Navy with less ships spread out all over the world. At any given moment, we are always outnumbered in the Pacific by the Chinese. And that's going to continue and it's going to get worse. Because the Chinese mean to be the key player in that region. Not just the Pacific Ocean but also the Indian Ocean.

VAUSE: OK, let's take a look at the U.S. numbers because the U.S. Navy continues to build ships as well. Also extending the life of others with refits and modernization. Again, here is the reporting.

"It will push the Navy's numbers higher rapidly to 326 ships in 2033, that's a jump of 46 ships over just the next five years from today's counting 280. But from there, the pace of growth will slow significantly adding the final 30 ships to the Navy's goal over the next quarter century.

The Navy will not reach the goal of 355 ships until the 2050s. And contrast that with China, plans to have -- the Navy plans to have 351 naval ships in two years by 2020.

FRANCONA: Yes and it is rapid building. I mean, it is bringing ships online one right after the other. And when -- and as you alluded to the five or six carriers, battle groups will be able to present a challenge in the Pacific for sure.

And the other oceans, as well. You know, the Chinese mean to be the key superpower by 2050. That's their plan. And they seem to be just going straight ahead toward that.

VAUSE: Yes, that's the thing is that -- you know, the Germans said they had better tanks to the Americans but the Americans had more of them in World War II and that's how they won. Rick, good to see you. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Pope Francis says he prayed for mercy over the Catholic Church's child sex abuse scandals and the survivors' stories have left a profound mark on him. Outrage against the church continues to grow amid allegations of sexual abuse and cover-ups in a number of countries.

John Allen has more now on the pope's weekly address and the newest scandal which the pontiff is not discussing, at least not in public.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: During his regular weekly audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis did not address a bombshell accusation that surfaced over the weekend, from a former papal ambassador in the United States, that he had made Pope Francis aware of sexual misconduct concerns about former cardinal Theodore McCarrick in the United States, who was recently told to resign the college of cardinals over those allegations.

And that the pope, for essentially five years after that, took no action against the cardinal. The pope did address the clerical sexual abuse scandals in Catholicism a general way in the context of talking about his weekend visit to Ireland.

He recalled that he had apologized again for the sins, the scandal and the sense of betrayal that the clerical sexual abuse crisis has caused. He also remembered that while he was in Ireland he called for honesty and courage in trying to face the truth of the situation and to make it right.

Meanwhile, at least seven Catholic bishops in the United States have come forward to vouch for the integrity and the character of that former papal ambassador, Italian archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, and to call for a thorough investigation of the situation.

So far, the Vatican appears to be taking a strategy of trying to ride that storm out, refusing to comment on it. But in light of the pressures that are coming from bishops and elsewhere, it remains to be seen, over the long run, whether that strategy is going to be successful -- reporting from Rome, I'm John Allen for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Soon to come here, Canada's prime minister says he's ready to walk away from talks with the U.S. for a new NAFTA deal. But is that an empty threat?

(BREAK)

[00:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump, saying there is no need for joint military exercises with South Korea. The series of tweets from his office on Wednesday, he said China is pressuring North Korea because of trade disputes with the U.S. But he says his relationship with, in his words, China's great president is very strong.

Vowing to pressure, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, softened an overhaul of the overburdened pension system. And addressed to the nation, he explained the need for change, and that includes raising the age of retirement (INAUDIBLE) his popularity has taken a big hit after protests in the past few months.

And it is (INAUDIBLE) Vatican approach. Pope Francis says he begged for forgiveness over the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandals. His comments come after his trip in Ireland last weekend, where he met with eight victims of abuse. The pope says that experience left him with a profound mark.

The clock is ticking down for a new NAFTA deal. All three countries, the U.S., Mexico and Canada, have to get an agreement, all three of them, by Friday. Canada's foreign affairs minister is in Washington for a marathon late night talks. A lot of work is still to be done before Friday's deadline.

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, though, has issued a warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada, a good deal for Canadians. I said from the very beginning, no NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Andrew Sullivan joins us now from Hong Kong. He's the former Head of Sales Trading with Haitong International Securities. Becoming quite a regular, Andrew, it's good to see you. OK.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, FORMER HEAD OF SALES TRADING, HAITONG INTERNATIONAL SECURITIES: Nice to see you, John.

VAUSE: Let's just start with, you know, all this talk about, oh, final agreement by Friday, marathon negotiations. It seems (INAUDIBLE) movie theater because, I don't know, it seems like Mexico announced it had reached a deal with Donald Trump.

It kind of meant Canada was left without a lot of choices, a bad deal despite what Justin Trudeau says. It seems better than no deal.

SULLIVAN: Well, I think that's probably true. I mean, Canada has got a lot more to lose by not being part of this. But at the same time, Trudeau has got to be very much aware that a lot of this hinge is on the agricultural policy and the support for the farmers. And that's a key issue for him. And obviously, he's looking at popularity and getting re-elected.

So, you know, the NAFTA deal is important. But he also has one thing on his side that Congress also still has to ratify the deal, and Congress is very much aware and certainly the free trade Republicans are very much aware that the deal -- the current deal requires that all three parties, be a party to any changes. So he has that on his side.

VAUSE: OK. So he still has some leverage. I guess that's now to Congress whether or not, you know, where they stand on all of this. But look, let's assume that all this is done and dusted by Friday. Some say this new deal isn't really a whole lot different from, you know, the original version, but there is one striking area as labor rules.

Mexico has agreed to pass laws and workers. I will have the right to join a union. There'll be increases in minimum wages and NAFTA wasn't great for low paid workers in both Mexico and the United States. So, why are these changes being included and what's the impact?

SULLIVAN: Well, the changes are included so that America is trying to stop American companies going overseas and using cheaper labor. That the reality of it is, though, that, you know, while Mexico might have to increase wages, a lot -- that means that there is going to be a lot of substitution and opportunity for other Asian countries to come in.

So, the Japanese, the Koreans and China itself, could still be party to this in supplying parts. So, I think Donald Trump is, sort of, you know, appealing to the nostalgia of Americans wanting to make the auto industry in Detroit, great again. But in reality, that's not going to happen just because wages and benefits in the U.S. are still too high.

[00:35:17] VAUSE: Wasn't the whole point of NAFTA, in the first place, that, you know, you could move over to Mexico and, you know, you get this cheap labor?

SULLIVAN: Well, that is it. I mean, and a lot of that is true. I mean, you've seen a number of the U.S. companies that were looking to move their plants, maybe, to Mexico, have changed that. But in reality, they haven't brought those jobs back to America.

In most cases, they've moved them to China or other places where they can do manufacturing cheaper. And remember, you had the Harley- Davidson thing about -- you know, they're subjects to tariffs. You know, they have plants elsewhere in the world where they can build motorbikes and sell them globally.

So, it's not really going to do much for the American population, I don't think.

VAUSE: OK. Let's talk about it, Andrew, but we're almost out of time, but, look, this is a win for Donald Trump especially, you know, he's kicked Canada on the head. It looks like they're going to come on board by Friday, they'll sign on. It gives Trump something to take to the midterm elections. You know, putting Canada around is one thing. Can you use the same tactics negotiating with China?

SULLIVAN: I don't think so. I mean, I think the Chinese, you know, as one of your previous set (INAUDIBLE) on their defense. You know, it's a -- it's a statement run business. They can stay there for the long term. And for China, America is an important export market, but it is only part of their export market and they can still stimulate their economy, domestically.

So, it will be a long -- you know, longer battle, certainly.

VAUSE: Andrew, thank you so much, as always, I really appreciate it.

SULLIVAN: Pleasure.

VAUSE: Next top here on NEWSROOM L.A., why are French fisherman turning their boats and ramming their English counterparts off the coast of France? Who knows? We'll tell you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: It's been called the scallop wars and it is getting nasty with increasingly violent confrontations between French and English fisherman off the coast of France. Here's CNN's Hala Gorani.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It was a night of high drama on the high seas. Rocks and angry insults hurled across the water as French and British vessels clashed in the English Channel.

French fishermen are trying to drive their British counterparts away from the coast of France, away from precious scallop fishing waters.

ANTHONY QUESNEL, FRENCH FISHERMAN (through translator): We're trying to get rid of the English if we let them get away with it, they're going to clear out the whole area.

GORANI: The French are unhappy that British boats are allowed to fish for scallops all year with no limits, while they are restricted by French law to only fish between October and May. The confrontation happened just off the coast of Normandy, in international waters, where it is legal for British boats to fish.

[00:40:13] A spokesperson for the U.K. fishing industry said, British boats have done nothing wrong.

JIM PORTUS, CEP, SOUTH WESTERN FISH PRODUCER ORGANISATION: The French fisheries protection was standing by, watching, the French fishermen engage in illegal activity. You know, there was a possibility of people getting injured, possibly even killed, because of the actions of a French fisherman. I'm not exaggerating with that.

GORANI: As dawn broke over a calm sea, the mood in the English Channel has lifted. The British boats forced out of the area, the French fishermen, satisfied, for now.

QUESNEL (through translator): It was worth it in the end, because they've gone. They've gone more than 20 nautical miles. As my colleague said, we've won the battle, but we haven't won the war.

GORANI: The so-called scallop wars could well continue until a lasting deal can be made between the two countries. Hala Gorani, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. tennis open has been with allegations of a sexist double standard for women players (INAUDIBLE) penalized French tennis player, Alize Cornet, for briefly removing her shirt on the court during a 10-minute break.

Cornet had done this because she realized she actually put it on the wrong way and we should know here, men are allowed to change shirts on the court. So Cornet's violation led to a lot of criticism about a double standard.

U.S. Tennis Association responded with this. We regret that a code violation was assessed to Ms. Cornet. We have clarified the policy to ensure this will not happen moving forward. It says it was fortunate she was only assessed a warning with no further penalty or fine.

Future female players will be able to change their shirts in a more private location, close to the court, that is, when it is available.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. A lot more on "WORLD SPORT" with Mr. Patrick Snell, right after the break.