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Trump Puts Brakes On War Games With South Korea; Trump: I Think We Did A Fantastic Job In Puerto Rico; Republican Candidate For Governor Accused Of Racism; Thousands Paying Respects To Late U.S. Senator; Pressure Forces Putin To Soften Pension Chances; China Is Growing Its Naval Strength In The Pacific. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 01:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Your watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, with nuclear negotiations now stalled with North Korea, Donald Trump blames China and praises Kim Jong-un. Also, it seems Vladimir Putin really does want to be popular. After his approval rating took a big hit, he walked back deeply on popular changes to the country's retirement and pension system. And with last-minute negotiations going late into the night the U.S. and Canada both say an agreement could be near on a new trade deal to replace NAFTA.

Hello, thanks for being with us, I'm John Vause and you're watching another hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

The U.S. President has added more chaos and confusion into an already troubled relationship with North Korea. Late Wednesday on Twitter he contradicted his Defense Secretary who just a day earlier indicated joint military exercises with South Korea which had been suspended would actually now go ahead, but President Trump made clear they remain on hold. He also claimed pressure from China was the reason for the stalled nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang but also called China's President Xi Jinping great in his words and said relations with Kim Jong-un were very good and warm.

Paula Hancocks is live this hour from Seoul, also Matt Rivers in Beijing. So Matt, first to you. We'll start with exactly what is the U.S. President referring to when he says China is applying pressure to North Korea. So what's the pressure here? Where is the link between North Korea I guess the trade disputes between Beijing and Washington?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What the President is trying to do here is link these two issues by basically saying look the trade tensions with China -- the trade negotiations are not going that well and as a result China is not happy with it and so they're using their leverage economically over North Korea to have some sort of negative influence on those negotiations. There's a lot that you could pour cold water on there John, a number of different reasons. A, does trying to actually have that kind of leverage over North Korea if you assume for a moment that they would want to blow up the negotiations over the nuclear program, you know, would they do that? Can they do that? That's something that people would doubt. Also, China has an interest in seeing these negotiations maybe not the

North Koreans giving the Americans everything they want but they do have an invested interest and seeing these negotiations go forward because they don't want to go back to the days of 2017 when there was missile test and nuclear test and a heated rhetoric back and forth so there's a lot there that you know, when President Trump makes the argument, well they're not happy about trades so they're pressuring North Korea and that's maybe the reason why there's difficulties in the negotiations over the nuclear program, that's the argument he's making there but there's a lot of people that would tell you it doesn't really hold up.

VAUSE: OK, Matt, stay with us. We go over to Paula now. So, what, a day ago we were talking about the U.S. actually resuming those joint military exercises with South Korea. Now that's been walked back big time and trying to get several blame for this diplomatic stalemate. North Korea continues to increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons, continues to develop its advanced missiles. Explain to me exactly how is the negotiation?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, what we're seeing here is the U.S. President Donald Trump being confronted by a North Korea that many previous U.S. presidents have been confronted by. This is not a new tactic for the North Koreans. What is different this time around is, of course, the way that the U.S. President is dealing with it. There are mixed messages coming from Mr. Trump last week canceling a trip from his -- for his U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to go to Pyongyang and then this week just a day after the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis says there are no discussions to suspend any more military drills says that there could be more military drills suspended saying that he doesn't want to spend the money on these military drills. So there really are a lot of mixed messages.

And the crux of this is at this point the sticking point is North Korea wants a peace treaty. They've made that very clear to -- from that armistice back in 1953 that was signed. They want that gone. They want a peace treaty and all the legalities that go along with it and the U.S. has said that that they don't want to do anything like that until denuclearization happens. So it really stems back once again to the Singapore summit, the meeting between the U.S. and the North Korean leader, the vague wording of that declaration that the work towards denuclearization and the fact that the U.S. and North Korean leader appeared to have walked away from that summit believing that they had agreed to very different things. John?

[01:05:15] VAUSE: Paula, thank you very much and Matt, thanks to you as well. We know, you've got to get up to the foreign affairs briefing in a couple of hours, I appreciated it. 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, aren't they? I was like one the (INAUDIBLE), always good anyway. 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 don't though, never appear to be too eager for a deal. And right now it seems he's bending over backwards to rent concessions you know, to Kim Jong-un 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, far it is 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.

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 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.

[01:10:04] 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 ten days. Texas after Harvey, it was about two weeks. In Puerto Rico, eleven months. And you know, to be fair they had a pre-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.

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 Henry 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), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, 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 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.

[01:14:56] 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. He was the straight talker who suffered fools poorly, and Arizona loved him for it. On Wednesday, thousands lined up outside the state capitol where John McCain was lying in state.

This is the first of five days of memorials for McCain, war hero, Senator, and for many, a moral compass. CNN's Nick Watt, reports now from Phoenix.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the political world struggles to find words fit to honor him, the family of John McCain struggling with the loss of the bubble else, a husband and father as memorials for the late Senator begin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See our tears for our brother, our father, our husband, our fellow citizen, our Senator.

WATT: The tired less Senator from Arizona lying in state at Arizona State Capitol on what would have been is 82nd birthday.

McCain meticulously planned his own funeral services designed to send a message of bipartisanship even after his death. In an attempt to put petty partisanship aside, McCain asked his two former presidential rivals to eulogize him at his funeral.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: John said that night, President Obama is now my president. So, he healed the nation at a time he was hurt.

WATT: Barack Obama and George W. Bush will speak at McCain's memorial service at Washington National Cathedral, Saturday. Glaringly absent is President Trump.

McCain did not want the president at his funeral. Trump criticized his service and his capture in Vietnam during the election. And that McCain famously voted down Trump's attempts to repeal Obamacare.

It took the president more than a day to respond to repeated calls to appropriately pay tribute to McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why won't you call John McCain a hero, sir?

WATT: And perhaps, a final jab at the president, McCain asked a Russian dissident and Putin critic to be one of his pallbearers. Even in death, the Senator from Arizona appealing to the better angels of our nature.

GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: John is probably the only politician who could get us to set aside politics and come together as a state and a nation as we have.

WATT: After another funeral service here in Phoenix, Thursday morning, the late Senators body will be flown to Washington where it will lie in State at the Capitol, then, there will be a memorial service at the National Cathedral.

And on Sunday, Senator John McCain will be buried at the cemetery at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Nick Watt, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM, L.A. Putin backs down on unpopular pension reforms but what's driving this rare concession from Russia's strong man?

Also, a new era in naval warfare may be coming. China's Navy now the largest in the world. And the U.S. concedes there's no guarantee it could win a future conflict with the Chinese.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:22:05] VAUSE: OK. So, if you're watching this program a day ago and we hope that you were. And you may have seen an interview with Robert English, he's an expert on Russia. And he talked about unpopular pension reforms which has been announced by Moscow and he made this prediction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT ENGLISH, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Pension reform is highly unpopular that basically means raising the retirement age a lot. So, proposals were announced back in May. That for example men not aged 60 but 65, right? Women, from 53 up to 60. A huge jump. This population is been furious 90 percent disapprove.

It's being blamed on Prime Minister Medvedev. And now Putin has announced he's going to take a closer look, he's going to come in and he'll cut it by a few years and he'll be the hero even though it was his program all along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Robert has a crystal ball because, on Wednesday, all of that happened. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

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.

[01:25:13] 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 a built aircraft carrier, as well as renew class of guided missile destroyers.

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 winner 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 firepowers.

It seems to be out there in terms of technology with other modern navies. Importantly, they 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 with 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 basically off to their coasts 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. Still to come here, a pope under pressure with more sex abuse scandals rocking the Catholic Church. Details after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:32:02] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

President Donald Trump says there is no need for joint military exercises with South Korea even though negotiations with have stalled over their nuclear stockpile. In a series of tweets from his office on Wednesday he said China is pressuring North Korea to stall this diplomacy because of the trade dispute Beijing has with Washington. But he said his relationship with, in his words, "China's great president", is very strong.

And bowing to pressure Russia's President Vladimir Putin has walked back an overhaul of the overburdened pension system. In a national address, he explained the need for change, including raising the age of retirement. But he also rolled the retirement age back a few years as well -- a big concession for Mr. Putin whose popularity has taken a hit after protests earlier this year.

Argentina says it's reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to speed up the release of $50 billion in loans. The country's president says the move is designed to restore confidence in the struggling economy. The Argentine peso has lost more than 42 percent of its value this year against the U.S. dollar.

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 marathon late-night talks, says a lot of work is still to be done before Friday's deadline. While Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau though, has issued a warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: 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've 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. You're becoming quite the regular -- Andrew. It's good to see you.

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

VAUSE: Ok. Let's just start with, you know, all this talk about the final agreement by Friday, marathon negotiations -- all seems a bit of kabuki theater because, I don't know, it seems once 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 Trudeau says seems to be better than no deal.

SULLIVAN: Well, I think that's probably true. I think Canada's got a lot more to lose by not being part of this, but at the same time Trudeau's got to be very much aware that a lot of this hinges on the agricultural policy and the support for the farmers. And that's a key issue for him. And obviously, you know, 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 current deal requires that all three parties be a party to any changes. So he has that on his side.

[01:35:05] VAUSE: Ok. So he still has some leverage. I guess it's now up to Congress whether or not, you know, where they stand on all of this.

But look, let's assume that all of this is done and dusted by Friday. Some have said this new deal isn't really a whole lot different from, you know, the original version but there is one striking area and it's labor rules.

Mexico has agreed to pass laws so workers will have a right to join a union, there will be increases in minimum wages. And NAFTA wasn't great for low-pay 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. The reality of it is, though, that, you know, while Mexico might have to increase wages 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, they -- 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 and 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.

VAUSE: But wasn't the whole point of NAFTA in the first place that, you know, if you could move over to Mexico or somewhere, you get this cheap labor?

SULLIVAN: Well, that is it. 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 know, the Harley-Davidson thing about they're subject to tariffs. You know, they have plants elsewhere in the world where they can build motor bikes 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 -- we're almost out of time, but, look, this is a win for Donald Trump. He's basically, you know, he's kicked Canada in 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, pushing Canada around is one thing. Can he 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 sectors (ph) were saying on their defense, you know, it's a state-run business. They can stay there for the long term. And for China, America's an important export market but it's only part of their export market and they can still stimulate their economy domestically. So it will be a longer battle, certainly.

VAUSE: Andrew -- thank you so much as always. Really appreciate it.

SULLIVAN: Pleasure.

VAUSE: Well, pressure is growing for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of the world's most powerful Catholics, to step down over an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse. It comes as Pope Francis again asks for forgiveness over the sex abuse scandals rocking the church.

Rosa Flores has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the pressure on the Catholic Church to be transparent and accountable is mounting. And that pressure goes all the way to the Vatican to Pope Francis.

Here in Washington, there is mounting pressure on a cardinal that used to be known as one of the good guys before this Pennsylvania report was issued -- his name, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. And now there are multiple high-profile Catholics in the Washington area asking for his ouster.

First of all, a priest calling for him to resign from the pulpit; this past Sunday during his homily he said in part, quote, "We are all hurting. Your stepping down will be the first necessary step in the process of healing". And he got a standing ovation during that church service. And then there are Catholic teachers, teachers that work for the archdiocese. Fifty of them wrote a letter to the Nuncio, the ambassador, asking for the cardinal to step down.

And then the first president of a Catholic university also coming forward saying that it's not so much about what he did do or the revelations that are in this Pennsylvania report, but that it's about leadership.

PATRICIA MCGUIRE, PRESIDENT, TRINITY WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Yes, I think Cardinal Wuerl should resign and I think that is part of expressing this deep sorrow on the part of the church for what has happened to these children.

But he still needs to take an action that expresses his sorrow and sense of penance and atonement. And that is best done when you're a leader by stepping out of the leadership role.

FLORES: The archdiocese responding to our request for comment, saying that Cardinal Wuerl has stood by the survivors for decades and also saying, quote, "It's unfortunate, however, that these teachers failed to know not only the archdiocese of Washington's track record in protecting children but Cardinal Wuerl's record."

[01:40:03] Now, in speaking to the president of that university, Pat McGuire, she says that there is also pressure on the Pope not to resign but to do something; that he can't just send out statements; that his statements need to be followed by actions.

Rosa Flores, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We'll take a short break.

When we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., Lebanon's civil war lasted 15 years, left more than 100,000 dead and to this day 17,000 remain missing all these years later. So what, if anything, is the government doing to try and find them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Thursday marks International Day of the Disappeared -- the day intended to bring attention to the missing, to those who have either been secretly imprisoned or victims of war. There are many to remember in Lebanon -- 17,000 remain unaccounted for after the civil war which began in 1975 and ended in 1990.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT v-o: Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990. It wasn't the end, however, for thousands of families whose loved ones disappeared without a trace.

Wadad Halwani's (ph) husband, Adnan (ph), went missing on the 24th of September, 1982. Today she heads the Committee of the Families of Kidnapped and the Disappeared in Lebanon.

On a busy Beirut street she hands out leaflets to remind people that as many as 17,000 Lebanese and Palestinians are still unaccounted for.

"The country's leaders", she says, "want everyone to forget the past. They told us, forget everything and put it all behind you," she says.

Ibrahim al-Bustani's brother Ali, then 14, was last seen on the 5th of May, 1975.

"Since then", he says, "we've been asking and searching and searching and searching for him."

But those searching are getting old, others have passed away.

Photographer Dalia Khamissy is documenting the families of the missing.

[01:45:00] DALIA KHAMISSY, PHOTOGRAPHER: As if time stopped for them because obviously they cannot move forward. Women cannot get married again. They cannot inherit. The kids grow up listening or watching their mothers' suffering and, you know, I mean as if life stopped for them.

WEDEMAN: A draft law of the missing is headed to parliament while the International Committee of the Red Cross is collecting medical records, accounts and photographs of the thousands of the lost.

YARA KHAWAJA (ph), INTERNATIONAL COMMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: But we also have what scientifically it is called the biological reference samples, but in simple words, a swab of saliva from the family of the --

WEDEMAN (on camera): So it's the DNA?

KHAWAJA: You extract the DNA out of it.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Researchers believe there may be more than 100 mass graves in Lebanon, most have been exhumed.

Mariam Saidi (ph) lost her son, Maher, then 15 years old, in June 1982. She keeps him alive through her art. It pains her that those behind the civil war today carry on as if nothing ever happened.

"We see the war lords at rallies," she says, "and people dancing around and applauding and thanking them. They lead groups and parties and so on and so on. But they're not fooling me."

The pictures of the missing are fading but not their memory.

Ben Wedeman, CNN -- Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi will keep her Nobel Peace Prize despite serious allegations from the U.N. against her government. The Nobel Organization's director says there is no provision to strip the prize but the committee says it will continue to call on those involved in Myanmar to ease the suffering of the Rohingya minority.

On Monday the U.N. issued a scathing report accusing Myanmar's top generals of genocide against the Rohingya, also criticized Suu Kyi for not using her position and her influence to try and prevent the violence. Meanwhile a dam breach in central Myanmar has displaced as many as 50,000 people. The spillway was compromised sending flood water into towns and villages. The immediate danger to residents has now passed but there remains the threat of more flooding. Meantime highways, railways and at least one bridge have been damaged.

It seems not since the Anglo-French war of 1778 has there been the level of violence we're now seeing between French and English fishermen. The so-called scallop war is getting nasty with increasingly violent confrontations off the coast of France.

Here is CNN's Hala Gorani.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 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 GUISANAL (ph), FRENCH FISHERMAN: We're trying to get rid of the English because 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. A spokesperson for the U.K. fishing industry said, British boats had done nothing wrong.

JIM PORTUS (ph), U.K. SOUTH WEST FISH PRODUCERS ORGANIZATION: The French Fisheries Protection were 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 the French fishermen. I'm not exaggerating with that.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: it was worth it in the end because they've gone. They've gone further 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: When we come back, we'll tell you why this shirt-changing moment at U.S. Tennis has actually caused some controversy -- allegations of double standards.

[01:49:50] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, the U.S. Tennis Open has been hit with allegations of a sexist double standard after an umpire penalized a French tennis player, Alize Cornet, for briefly taking off her shirt on the court. It was during a 10-minute break. Cornet removed her top after realizing she had put it on the wrong way.

We should note here, men are allowed to change shirts on the court so Cornet's violation led to a (INAUDIBLE) criticism about double standards.

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

In the future, female players will be able to change their shirts in a more private location, closer to the court that is, when it's available.

Well, there is some relief on the way for the players at the U.S. Open. It's been pretty hot out there.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is with us with more on that -- hot, hot, hot.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It has been incredible, yes. You know, we've had at least five players succumb to the extreme heat as far as not being able to continue with playing over the past several days here. The temperatures running at an incredible value above what is normal for this time of year and you see scenes like this out of New York where players like Andy Murray, one of the few players there that was really impacted by what has been happening here in a sport that is already pretty rigorous.

And then you look at Wednesday's high temperatures, 6 to 12 degrees above normal here in the latter portion of August. And of course, it is not just the extreme heat that's been impacting this region, it is the extreme humidity that has been at play as well.

And we do have the -- feels like temperatures, the excessive heat advisories in place. But with the humidity, it feels like 32 to 35 degrees yet again going into Thursday afternoon right there in Fleshing, New York where the matches are being held there on Thursday, and of course, over the next couple of weeks.

But we often talk about this -- how your body does a fantastic job of cooling itself off, right. But 37 degrees Celsius, that's your core temperature, that's where your body wants to be. Any deviation from that, even say two or three degrees above that, becomes life- threatening very quickly. And your body's response, of course, you know, is sweating.

Unfortunately, sweating does no good, absolutely no good if the humidities are so high that the water just sits on your skin. It is the fact that the water evaporates off your skin that causes the cooling and you finally see that released.

And of course, with the humidities being so high, the players getting absolutely no relief and this has been how things have played out for at least five players across that region.

Good news though -- as John was alluding to, there is a front coming right through. We call it a cool front this time of year. It's really not going to be cold but cool enough here to support the temps dropping off just a few degrees. And you get comfortable actually come say Friday afternoon at least.

So we still shoot up to the 30s on Thursdays, slight chance of thunderstorms. The front comes in. Increase the chance of thunderstorms but decreases the temperatures so at least better conditions there set up going into the heart of the heart of the weekend.

And you take a look at the forecast into the latter portion of the event there going in toward the U.S. open at the end of next week, extreme heat yet again expected to come back around the northeastern United States.

All right. I want to take you out towards Perth, Australia -- pretty spectacular footage, dash cam video to share with you. Look at this. This happened on Tuesday night. You see that -- that's a huge meteor coming there on the left side of the screen that kind of explodes in the latter portion of that video. This was again, caught on a dash cam, incredible perspective.

And you take a look at how things play out when it comes to meteors and such. And typically a grain of sand or something slightly larger than that size but the perspective is such, they travel roughly 22 kilometers per second -- John. And this particular meteor coming down here about 100 kilometers away from Perth, causing no damage, of course but the sonic boom was reported, windows rattling across this region as it was breaking through the sound barrier entering the earth's atmosphere. Pretty incredible sight.

[01:55:05] VAUSE: Blimey, yes. That's good. I haven't seen anything like that in a while. Thanks Pedram.

Ok. Well, it must be hard when you're a celebrity performer and on stage and all the audience wants to hear are the good old classics, not the new stuff.

Not so for Donald Trump. He's more than happy to perform the classics, even bringing back the one about the border wall. It comes with a call and a response that goes like this. "Who is going to pay the wall?" And the crowd yells for some reason, "Mexico". And that's driving Mexican officials up the wall.

Here is Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mirror, mirror on the border wall -- what's the most famous Trump question of them all?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who is going to pay for the wall?

CROWD: Mexico.

TRUMP: Who is going to pay for the wall?

CROWD: Mexico.

TRUMP: I don't hear you.

MOOS: We hadn't heard him talking about Mexico paying for ages. And then on Tuesday --

TRUMP: Yes, the wall will be paid for very easily by Mexico.

MOOS: The return of a golden oldie, one of Trump's greatest hits during the campaign.

TRUMP: We will build the wall -- a great, great wall.

A very powerful wall.

As beautiful as a wall can be.

MOOS: And Mexico --

TRUMP: They'll be happy to pay for the wall.

MOOS: Maybe not that happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mexico will not pay for the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) wall.

I'm not going to pay for that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) wall.

MOOS: President Trump is trying to get Congress to cough up $25 billion, but so far only $1.6 billion has come through. Mr. Trump calls Mexico's President Enrique and they're acting buddy-buddy now that a preliminary trade agreement has been reached with Mexico's president sending an affectionate hug.

TRUMP: A hug from you would be very nice.

MOOS: But when President Trump said anew that Mexico will pay for the wall, the foreign minister tweeted, "We will never pay for the wall."

How about play with the wall? That's what the Republican candidate for governor of Florida showed his kid doing in a campaign ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ron loves playing with the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Build the wall.

MOOS: Forget building it -- she may end up paying for it when future American taxpayers pick up the tab instead of Mexico.

There are jokes about Mexico agreeing to pay for Trump's impeachment. It all seems so much easier when candidate Trump appeared on SNL.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enrique.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I brought you the check for the wall.

MOOS: The President may get the hug but not the check.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: I hug from you would be very nice.

MOOS: -- New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I insist.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Hugs are always nice.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. The news continues here on CNN after a short break.

[01:57:50[ (COMMERCIAL BREAK)