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U.S.-North Korea Relations; Rewriting NAFTA; Republican Candidate for Governor Accused of Racism; Hurricane Maria Devastation; White House Counsel Leaving in the Fall; Putin Softens Controversial Pension Plan; Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal; French And British Duel Over Scallop Fishing Rights In The English Channel; Vietnam Pays Tribute To Former Prisoner Of War; Tennis Embroiled In Sexism Controversy; Real-World Implications Of Truthful Hyperbole. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Blaming China. Why U.S. president Trump thinks it's Beijing's fault that nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang have stalled.

A rare walk-back from Vladimir Putin. The Russian president softens his pension reforms after his approval rating takes a hit.

Plus this: sparring over scallops. A battle over fishing rights escalates into a confrontation at sea.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: There is no reason to spend money on joint military exercises with South Korea, those words from President Trump's Twitter account Wednesday evening.

As a matter of fact, it was a series of four tweets blaming China for the United States' diplomatic spats with North Korea. The post touted Mr. Trump's relationship within his words, China's great President Xi Jinping. Saying North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of China's trade disputes with the United States.

And Mr. Trump's relationship with Kim Jong-un is called, quote, "very good and warm."

Well, our Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul and Matt Rivers is in Beijing.

Good to see you both.

Paula, let's start with you. A day after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises may be restarted, we then hear from Donald Trump that the U.S. shouldn't be spending more money on what he calls war games with South Korea.

But he does add he can instantly start them again if he so chooses.

What has been the reaction on the Korean Peninsula to these mixed messages and what's the strategy here?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, it's difficult to know what the strategy is, whether or not this is the U.S. president deliberately trying to confuse the North Koreans or to pacify by saying there won't be more military drills but then at the same time saying, but if I decide that there should be, then there will be and they could be even stronger.

It is a mixed message, especially when it comes just a day after the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that there are no discussions to suspend any more military drills with South Korea.

Now as Secretary Mattis said just yesterday, there are these smaller drills that are ongoing constantly. There is a constant level of exercises that goes on, on the Korean Peninsula, at any one time. It's really these bigger exercises that catch the attention of North Korea.

Whether there are good or bad relations between North and South Korea, they always do complain about these particular ones. So certainly it is a confusing message for the North Koreans.

The South Koreans, in many briefings over the past few days, officials say they have had no consultation whether or not there would be more military drills. That has not been cleared up for the South Korean allies, either.

There was an expectation it was just this one drill, which would be going on right now, that had been postponed, it had been suspended. We heard from USFK General Vincent Brooks, the head of the U.S. forces in Korea, just last week saying the reason for this was to try to create this chance for engagement, to create the room for diplomacy to take over.

So it's really a very confused situation at this point as to whether or not future military exercises will even go ahead.

CHURCH: Yes, very confusing, indeed.

Matt, to you now. Mr. Trump sent out four tweets on China, saying it was providing aid to North Korea. He said that wasn't helpful but insisted his relationships with both Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping were very good. And he linked all of this to trade negotiations.

What's China making of all of this?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to get an official word from China and its government here within the next 90 minutes or so, Rosemary. That's going to be when the foreign ministry has their regularly scheduled press briefing.

Look, unless they radically change what they have said over the past -- well, really the entire time --


RIVERS: -- that President Trump has been in office, we know what they're going to say. They don't link the issues of trade and national security. They pursue different objectives for each issue and don't let one bleed into the other.

That said, we know that things don't happen in a vacuum.

So the bigger question is do these tweets from Donald Trump have an effect on trade negotiations?

The president was trying to link these two issues and give an excuse or a reason for the fact that the negotiations with the North Koreans have entered a rough patch, basically saying that China is not happy with the trade negotiations with the U.S. So it's using its leverage over North Korea to have a negative effect on that process.

A lot of people would say that doesn't actually work like that, China doesn't have that kind of leverage and they don't want to see the negotiations fail. But that's what the president is saying here.

So China is going to have to respond to that. We probably know how they're going to respond. And it's worth noting here, Rosemary, the president's central argument that China is negatively influencing North Korea, that's not new. That is something that the president has argued over many different occasions throughout his presidency.

So the Chinese government is quite practiced, actually, in responding to the president's arguments.

CHURCH: All right. We'll see what they say officially.

Many thanks to Paula Hancocks there in Seoul and Matt Rivers in Beijing.

President Donald Trump says talks between the U.S. and Canada are going really well, his words, as both countries and Mexico try to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada's foreign affairs minister is in Washington for intense talks and says there is still a lot to work out before Friday's deadline.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: We understand each other's positions and what both sides need very, very well. What we've always said is, speaking for Canada, we're looking to stand up for our national interests and we're looking to find compromises that are win-win for all sides.

So, yes, there is -- there is a good atmosphere. We're working productively.


CHURCH: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is cautious about prospects for a new NAFTA deal, saying it hinges on whether or not it's a good deal for his country.

Well, Mr. Trump has made yet another personnel announcement via Twitter. This time, it's the White House counsel, who found out his services are no longer required. Our Jim Acosta has the details.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump put an end to the speculation confirming that his longtime aide and White House counsel, Don McGahn, will leave his post in the coming weeks.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's been here now for almost two years. And a lot of affection for Don.

ACOSTA: McGahn is one of the central figures in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation in more ways than one. When the president has toyed with the idea of firing Mueller in the past, McGahn was one official who stood in the way.

But more critically, McGahn has spent about 30 hours in front of Mueller's team, answering questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. McGahn, was it a mistake to have you speak without limits to Special Counsel Mueller?

ACOSTA: Still, the president told us he's not worried about that, despite CNN reporting that Mr. Trump was unnerved by the extent of the interview.

(on camera): Any concern about what he said to the Mueller team?

TRUMP: No. Not at all. I knew he was going also.

ACOSTA: You're aware of what he said?

TRUMP: No, I don't have to be aware. We have -- we do everything straight. We do everything by the book. And Don is an excellent guy.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president's announcement of McGahn's departure first came in a tweet this morning that appeared to take much of Washington by surprise, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, who tweeted, "I hope it's not true McGahn is leaving White House counsel. You can't let that happen."

TRUMP: Thank you. ACOSTA: Republicans will soon find out in the upcoming midterm elections whether the president's leadership is helping or hurting the party. Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, a Trump loyalist, appeared to use a racist dog whistle on FOX and slamming his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum.

RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: 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. That is not going to work. That's not going to be good for Florida.

ACOSTA: FOX later said DeSantis went too far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.

ACOSTA: The president claimed he had not heard the comments.

TRUMP: He's an extreme talent and he will make a fantastic governor of Florida. So I think Ron is -- he's extraordinary in so many different ways. I haven't heard that at all, no.

ACOSTA: Potential big looming issue for the midterms, the government's handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the estimate number of deaths from the storm was just raised to nearly 3,000 people. The president insisted his administration is getting the job done.

TRUMP: I think we did a fantastic job in 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.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And two days after the president told --


ACOSTA (voice-over): -- Christian conservatives there could be violence if Democrats take control of Congress, we tried to ask Mr. Trump what he was talking about.

TRUMP: If you look at what happens, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of unnecessary violence all over the world. But also in this country. And I don't want to see it.



CHURCH: CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me now with more on this. Always good to have you on the show.


CHURCH: So President Trump announced the imminent departure of White House counsel Don McGahn on Twitter, much to the surprise of many, including McGahn himself. Why is this happening now? What is going on do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, Don McGahn has been the White House counsel since the beginning of the administration and this has been a White House with an enormous amount of turnover. He is almost one of the very last original survivors.

I think he's probably exhausted. I think he's had a difficult relationship with President Trump like a lot of people who work in the White House. He is looking like he is going to get a second Supreme Court justice confirmed, which I think is his main priority. And I'm speculating here. I think he wants to get out before any more ugliness consumes the Trump White House in terms of investigations.

He's escaped with his reputation intact and I think that's probably good enough for him.

CHURCH: So you se this very much of his choosing.

TOOBIN: I do. I mean, I don't think Donald Trump is heartbroken. It's been widely known that they had a contentious relationship but Donald Trump has contentious relationships with everyone who works for him.

I don't think the situation with McGahn was any worse but I think it was something that the president was not heartbroken to see happen.

CHURCH: So what impact will the departure McGahn likely have on the Trump administration. And what are the optics here given the 30 hours of testimony that he gave the Mueller investigations.

TOOBIN: Well until we know precisely what Don McGahn said I think it's very hard to know what the precise of implications were. I mean, he was someone who was intimately involved in the events leading up to the departure of the firing of James Comey, the FBI director, which is the central issue in the obstruction of justice investigation of President Trump.

So his testimony will be -- will be very important to Robert Mueller in determining precisely what happened there. You know, I don't think the Trump administration is going to be very different now that Don McGahn is gone. I think his policy priorities were the presidents and the president is very much still in office.

But whoever takes his place will not be someone who was also a witness in the unfolding Mueller investigation because this will be a new person.

CHURCH: And I wanted to ask you that. I mean, who might replace McGahn and what could his replacement main for the fate of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the special counsel Robert Mueller.

TOOBIN: Well, I think it's likely to be an internal White House candidate and I don't think the priorities will be all that different. You know, one story that doesn't get a lot of attention nationally or internationally is the president's appointment and nomination of federal judges who serve for life.

And this is something Don McGahn has been very focused on. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the Senate, which votes to confirm these judges is been very focused on.

And this is a very important lasting legacy of very conservative judges, anti-abortion, anti-affirmative action, anti-traditional enforcement of voting rights, anti-gay rights. These are judges that the president has been appointing.

And I think any successor to Don McGahn will continue doing that and that's going to be an important legacy of the president regardless of how all these other investigations turn out.

CHURCH: And just very quickly, we're also hearing that a second Trump organization employee apparently discussed a potential immunity deal with federal prosecutors who charged Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney. Now in the end that employee did not receive immunity. But what does that signal to you?

TOOBIN: Well, that this has been a very serious investigation of Michael Cohen. Now that ended with Michael Cohen pleading guilty to a variety of very serious offenses.

The question that's unresolved at this point is where does that investigation --


TOOBIN: -- go from here. Michael Cohen in pleading guilty implicated the president in any of the illegal activities.

And it is not clear whether the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, which brought that case out will pursue further investigation of the president or Robert Mueller will pursue this investigation or no one will pursue this investigation.

But it was certainly pursued very aggressively up to the guilty plea and there are a lot of unanswered questions that remain in that whole part of the story.

CHURCH: Jeffrey Toobin, always a pleasure to have you with us. Thank you so much.


CHURCH: Well, President Trump says his administration has done a fantastic job handling the aftermath of last year's hurricane in Puerto Rico, despite the death toll just recently being raised from dozens to thousands. The mayor of San Juan, though, does not share the president's rosy outlook. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico. The people of Puerto Rico are great people. They work very hard.

But Puerto Rico, I would say, was by far the most difficult of the group and, you know, right now FEMA and all of the people that work so hard there, they were very brave and they have done some job but Puerto Rico had a lot of difficulties before it got hit.



CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: The Trump administration killed Puerto Ricans with the neglect. The Trump administration led us to believe that they were helping when they weren't really up to par and they weren't doing and they didn't allow other countries to help us.

Shame on President Trump. Shame on President Trump for not even once, not even yesterday just saying, look, I grieved with the people of Puerto Rico.


CHURCH: A new study has significantly raised the official death toll from 64 to nearly 3,000. Our Leyla Santiago has more on two very different views of Puerto Rico's situation.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More reaction coming out of Puerto Rico after the government revise the death toll for it does related to Hurricane Maria. What was 64 is now 2,975.

And the mayor of San Juan is now calling the Trump administration saying they should be ashamed for not only their response but also their premature reaction to the deaths after Hurricane Maria.

Remember this?


TRUMP: An incredible job done by FEMA, done by the Coast Guard, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines. I think that the job of the first responders has been something like I've never seen before.

What happened in terms of recovery in terms of saving lives, 16 lives. That's a lot. But if you compare that the thousands of people that died in other hurricane. And frankly, we're not nearly a severe. I just had such a respect for FEMA and for all of the people that got here early.


SANTIAGO: And the mayor of San Juan says this revision is a better reflection of the devastation seen after Hurricane Maria struck the island.

Now this study to be clear is a statistical analysis. It's not a list of deaths or names associated with the cases after Hurricane Maria. And a lot of family was really hoping to get that as a sense of closure to be acknowledged that their loved one died at the hand of Hurricane Maria.

It does take into account those who died on September 20th, the direct impact of Hurricane Maria and those who died months later because of a lack of power that maybe was needed for medical equipment or things of that nature.

Now the big question will be that there's a series of recommendations made after the researchers from George Washington University talk to a series of people on the ground. And one of the things they pointed out was that Puerto Rico was ready for a category 1 hurricane in its protocols.

So that's one thing that they believe needs to be changed. But will Puerto Rico have the money, have the resources to take action on these recommendations given that they are very much in debt, millions of dollars in debt. They are in the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.

September is typically a month where they actually see more hurricanes, more strong hurricanes coming into the island. So many are still very anxious of what the next month will bring -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, Washington, D.C.


CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. But still to come, Russian president Vladimir Putin bows to public pressure and reconsiders his plan to overhaul pensions.

Plus, the pope under increasing pressure with sex abuse scandals rocking the Catholic Church. We're back in just a moment.





CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

In an address to the nation, Russian president Vladimir Putin pulled back on some of his proposed changes to the pension system. But Mr. Putin has already felt the effect of those proposals; after protests, his usual sky-high approval rating has taken a hit. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports now from Moscow.


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 --


PLEITGEN: -- 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.


CHURCH: A white former police officer has been sentenced to prison for killing an unarmed black teenager in Texas. Roy Oliver was convicted of killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Oliver had been dispatched to a house party and fired into a car that Edwards was riding in last year, killing him.

Oliver was sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Prosecutors had wanted at least 60 years. This is a rare verdict in the United States, where police officers are often acquitted or not charged in shooting deaths while on duty.

Pope Francis says he has urged bishops in Ireland to remedy past failures, adding that he's profoundly moved by the stories of sex abuse victims. The Catholic leader recently met with eight victims during his trip to Ireland. He asked for forgiveness for all the times the church did not show abuse victims compassion or pursue justice for them.


POPE FRANCIS, PONTIFF, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): My visit to Ireland, despite the great joy, also had to bear the pain and bitterness of the suffering caused in that country by various forms of abuse, even by members of the church, and the fact that the church authorities in the past have not always been able to adequately address these crimes.


CHURCH: Now Ireland, of course, is not alone. Several countries around the world are dealing with allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

You can see on this map where some of the major scandals have surfaced, from the Netherlands to Chile and the Dominican Republic, Australia and the United States. The most recent allegations there coming from the state of Pennsylvania.

A damning 900-page grand jury report laid out horrific allegations of abuse committed by Catholic priests, spanning seven decades. It alleges more than 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children in six of the state's eight diocese. And it accuses top church officials of systematically covering it all up.

Now one of those being blamed for the alleged cover-up is Cardinal Donald Wuerl. He is one of the world's most powerful Catholics and now pressure is mounting for him to step down.


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.


CHURCH: The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has vigorously defended Wuerl. They have sent detailed explanations of his actions to area clergy and have pushed back against accusations that he failed to deal with pedophile priests.

We'll take another break here. But still to come, French fishermen are ramming English fishing boats off the coast of France. We will explain why after this break.

And yet another twist in the sexual assault allegations against a prominent #MeToo accuser. Into the mix comes a new voice. We'll have that for you in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:31:03] CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. Want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. President Donald Trump says there is no need for further joint military exercises with South Korea. In a series of tweets from his office Wednesday, Mr. Trump claimed China is pressuring North Korea because of trade disputes with the United States.

But said his relationship with China's president is very strong. Bowing to pressure. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has softened his overhaul of the overburdened pension system. In an address to the nation, he explained the need for change. It includes raising the age of retirement, but in his address he lowered it a few years. Mr. Putin's popularity has taken a hit after protests this summer.

In his weekly Vatican address, Pope Francis says he has begged for forgiveness over the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandals. His comments come after his trip to Ireland last weekend where he met with eight victims of abuse. The Pope says that experience left a profound mark on him.

The waters of the French Coast became dangerous this week for English fishing vessels. French fishermen rammed the boats and threw bottles and smoke bombs. What caused the violence? Scallops. CNN's Hala Gorani explains.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): 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, EXECUTIVE MANAGER, U.K. SOUTH WEST FISH PRODUCER 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 --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 (through translator): 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.

CHURCH: A top Scottish politician has resigned from his party after allegations of sexual misconduct. Alex Salmond is former first Minister of Scotland. He denies the accusations and is taking the government to court over its handling of it. Salmond says he resigned to save his party from internal divisions over his case but says he plans to rejoin the party once he clears his name.

Well, now the latest on a story that's been developing around the MeToo movement. It involves this woman, Asia Argento. Now, she is one of many women who came forward with claims of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

[02:35:06] She has denied allegations of sexual assault made against her by a young actor. Rose McGowan, another prominent activist is trying to distance herself from Argento. And now there is a new face in this unfolding story. Rain Dove, Rose McGowan's partner. We get details from CNN's Sara Sidner in Los Angeles.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You will remember that Rose McGowan and Asia Argento both came forward, they're very prominent, perhaps the first two to publicly come out against Harvey Weinstein saying that they were raped by him. So they became very prominent in the MeToo movement, which is why a lot of people, frankly, are talking about this.

Because now it turns out there is an accusation that one of those women, Asia Argento, had an inappropriate relationship that could potentially be criminal with a 17-year-old, an actor who was a minor at the time. He is now 22. His name is Jimmy Bennett. So here is how Rain Dove fits into all of this. Rain Dove who is non-gender conforming, so I will use the word they when I refer it to Rain Dove.

They basically said look, I met Asia Argento through Rose McGowan when Asia was dealing with the death of her boyfriend someone who we all love quite well, Anthony Bourdain. And they became very, very close during that time. And while they were friends and while they were talking, a New York Times article was about to come out and that Times article was talk to say something about this man, Jimmy Bennett.

Who had allegedly been paid off to the tune of about $380,000. An arrangement made by Argento and her boyfriend. And so Rain Dove says, look, Argento came to me. She said, I need help. I need help trying to figure out what to do because of this report that's coming out and they have this conversation. I want to show you the text messages that prompted Rain Dove to do something differently than she thought she was going to do which is just talk Asia Argento through it.

OK. So the top is basically Asia saying, look, the public knows nothing, only what the New York Times wrote which is one-sided. The shakedown letter, the horny kid jumped me. She is referring to Jimmy Bennett there. And then Rain Dove is in the blue there, so it was rape or attempted sexual action? I had sex with him. It felt weird. I didn't know he was a minor until the shakedown letter.

And that is supposedly Asia Argento responding to Rain Dove asking those questions. Now as soon as Rain Dove saw that, knowing that Jimmy Bennett was 17 years old at the time, which in California is not the age of consent, 18 is the age of consent, Rain Dove decided to ask a lot more questions trying to figure out what happened here and in the end Rain Dove decided that a potential crime had been committed, that she did not want to be complicit in that.

So she -- excuse me, they went to police and reported it to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department who has said that they have not been able to get in touch with the alleged victim in the case, that is Jimmy Bennett but they are looking into it. So that's where we stand right now with Rain Dove. I do want to mention this, we did have a conversation, Rain Dove and Rose McGowan are on an island in Spain but they were able to give us a call.

So Rain Dove said this about -- after receiving all those text messages in their own words.

RAIN DOVE, ROSE MCGOWAN'S PARTNER (via telephone): For me, the whole entire thing, I mean, the whole entire thing really just really tipped at the point of, yes, this person engaged with this individual when they were a minor. That is considered in the State of California, I believe that's statutory rape. I know it's controversial. A lot of people have been talking about the age of consent but still it's against the law.

And I was waiting for -- my hope was that Asia would come forward and be honest about it. If they were honest about it and said, hey, I did have sex -- I did engage sexually with this individual at 17 and I want to work forward to rectify the situation, I would have worked alongside Asia.

SIDNER: So there Rain Dove is saying, look, I would have worked alongside Asia if she would have come clean but she says that Asia actually ended up not telling the truth when she made a statement to the New York Times and that is what prompted actually Rain Dove to come forward to the public.


CHURCH: Sara Sidner reporting there. Asia Argento has not responded to this new information. She earlier denied she sexual assaulted actor Jimmy Bennett when he was 17. Short break here, but still to come, 17,000 people remain missing from

Lebanon's Civil War but what if anything is the government doing to discover their fate? We'll take a look.

[02:40:02] Plus, a wife's tender tribute. A look back at an emotional day in Arizona at the memorial for Senator John McCain.




CHURCH: Thursday marks international day of the disappeared, a day created to draw attention to those who are missing either secretly imprisoned or victims of war. Sadly in Lebanon there are many to remember. 17,000 people are missing from the Civil War that lasted 15 years. As Ben Wedeman reports, the country's leaders have been slow to respond to desperate pleas for help.


BEN WEDEMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 husband Adnan 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.

WADAD HALWANI, CIVIL ACTIVIST (through translator): The country's leader, she says, want everyone to forget the past. They told us, forget everything and put it all behind you, she says.

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

IBRAHIM AL-BUSTANI, BROTHER MISSING (through translator): 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.

DALIA KHAMISSY, PHOTOGRAPHER: As if time stopped for them because obviously they could not move forward. Women cannot get married. Again, they cannot inherit. Kids grow up listening or watching their mothers suffering. And, you know, I mean, as if life stopped for them.

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

[02:45:10] YARA KHAWAJA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: But we also have what -- scientifically, it is called the biological reference samples. But in simple words, it's a swab of saliva from the family of a -- of the --

WEDEMAN: So, it's the DNA.

KHAWAJA: You extract the DNA out of it.

WEDEMAN: Researchers believe there may be more than 100 mass graves in Lebanon, none have been exhumed.

Mariam Saidi lost her son, Maher, then 15years 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 warlords 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.


CHURCH: On Wednesday, thousands of admirers stood in line for hours in the brutal Arizona heat to pay their last respects to a man who dedicated his life to his country, John McCain.

It was the first of five days of memorials for the war hero and longtime U.S. Senator. Mourners filed past McCain's coffin in the rotunda of Arizona's Capitol where he is lying in state. McCain's family was also there. His wife Cindy, in perhaps the most poignant moment of the day rested her cheek on his casket.

CHURCH: Well, John McCain is also being remembered in Hanoi where he was held captive for more than five years during the Vietnam War. Our Ivan Watson is there now and he joins us live.

So, Ivan how is Vietnam remembering the late Senator.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John McCain and his story is inextricably linked with this country. So, it's fascinating to be here in Vietnam and see how people are reacting to news of the Senators passing.


WATSON: On a rainy morning in the Vietnamese capital, it's hard to imagine anything disturbing the serenity of Truc Bach Lake. But this is where Lieutenant Commander, John McCain splashed down terribly wounded after a surface-to-air missile hit his plane during a bombing run in 1967.

The Vietnamese erected a monument to celebrate his capture. Look how people responded to Senator McCain's passing they took this trophy celebrating the day he was shot down and turned it into a makeshift shrine with flowers honoring a former enemy who became this country's friend.

The day Le Tran Lua first saw McCain, he says he wanted to kill him

LE TRAN LUA, ON SCENE AFTER MCCAIN SHOT DOWN IN VIETNAM (through translator): I wanted to stab him with the knife, but people nearby shouted, "stop". I thought this was an invader who was trying to destroy our city.

WATSON: 51 years after he helped capture McCain, Lua laments the death of the former U.S. pilot.

"I am sad because I never got to meet him again," Lua, tells me. "McCain came back to Vietnam and did good things here."

After his capture, McCain was brought here to Hoa Lo Prison. Better known by the nickname, Hanoi Hilton. It's a museum now, but during the war, McCain spent much of his harrowing 5 1/2-year experience as a prisoner within this building's walls.

Enduring torture which he describes in his memoirs.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: One guard would hold me, while the others pounded away. Most blows were directed to my shoulders, chest, and stomach.

Occasionally, when I had fallen to the floor, they kicked me in the head. They crack several of my ribs and broke a couple of teeth.

WATSON: Tran Trong Duyet, the former warden of the prison first met McCain in1967.

TRAN TRONG DUYET, FORMER WARDEN, HOA LO PRISON (through translator): He was a tough and strong man. He was loyal to his ideology.

WATSON: He denies that U.S. prisoners were tortured here.

DUYET: McCain thought a lie on his booth.

DANIEL KRITENBRINK, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO VIETNAM: I think, it's absolutely clear and indisputable, the torture that many of our veterans suffered.

WATSON: The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam opened the embassy to the public allowing well-wishers to sign a book of condolences.

KRITENBRINK: Great Patriot, great warrior who fought and suffered here for years. Then becomes a Senator, a statesman, and I would argue a peacemaker. He was one of the leaders in the United States again, who brought our countries back together.

[02:50:00] WATSON: In the decades after his release, McCain visited Vietnam more than 20 times.

MCCAIN: Oh, I put to Vietnam War behind me a long time ago. I harbor no anger nor rancor. I'm a better man for my experience, and I'm grateful for having the opportunity of serving.

WATSON: In another Hanoi Lake, lies the wreckage of a downed U.S. B- 52 bomber. It's a testament to the extraordinary legacy of John McCain that the Vietnamese now admire and mourn a man who was once sent to bomb their cities.


WATSON: So, Rosemary, at Hoa Lo Prison, the former Hanoi Hilton. At the museum, the museum staff showed me signatures that John McCain had left in the guestbook there. One of the museum staff telling us that we need more guys like him.

A travel operator I talked to, a Vietnamese guy, told me John McCain is a great guy. And the deputy foreign minister here said that he is a symbol of a generation of lawmakers and veterans who have helped heal the wounds between Vietnam and the U.S.

So, kind of admiration from very different sectors of Vietnamese society. Rosemary?

CHURCH: It's extraordinary given the history that he was able to heal those wounds after all of these years. Our Ivan Watson in Hanoi, many thanks to you.

Well, ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump and his relationship with the truth. The real world implications of what he calls truthful hyperbole.


CHURCH: The US Tennis Open has been hit with allegations of a sexist double standard after an umpire penalized French tennis player, Alize Cornet for briefly taking off her shirt on the court during a 10- minute break.

Cornet removed her top after realizing she had put it on the wrong way. Men are allowed to change shirts on the court, so, Cornet's violation led to a storm of criticism on whether double standards are at play here.

The U.S. Tennis Association responded by saying, "We regret that a code violation was assessed to Miss 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.

In future, female players will be able to change their shirts in a more private location close to the court when available.

U.S. President Donald Trump's questionable relationship with the truth has been well-documented. As a matter of fact, in his book, Art of the Deal, he spoke of truthful hyperbole. In other words, stretching the truth sometimes a lot.

But now that Mr. Trump has gone from master salesman, a real-estate developer, to President of the United States, the implications are a world apart. Here is our Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The hurricane raged, buildings fell, people died, and President Trump praised his administration's response in Puerto Rico. Saying the death toll could have been so much worse.

[02:55:03] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 16 versus literally thousands of people, you can be very proud.

FOREMAN: But now, a new study puts the fatalities closer to 3,000. The White House is demanding full accountability for the discrepancy. And the mayor of San Juan, a Trump critic has assailed his premature celebration.

MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: The Trump administration killed, the Puerto Rican would neglect the Trump administration led us to believe that they were helping when they weren't really up to par.

FOREMAN: Yet, still today --

TRUMP: I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico.

FOREMAN: It's not the first time Trump has seemed to jump the gun by declaring success. After his unprecedented meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, he insisted he had a signed commitment to denuclearization.

TRUMP: It's very comprehensive, it's going to happen.

FOREMAN: He even called off war games with South Korea. But now, talks aimed at an actual deal to shut down Kim's nuke program appear to be falling apart.

Trump bragged about how he was pushing NATO partners to pay more for their own defense.

TRUMP: And now it's going up very substantially and commitments were made.

FOREMAN: But foreign leaders have disputed the depth of his claim. And now, comes the latest, the president's boast that his new trade agreement with Mexico is flat-out historic.

TRUMP: This is one of the largest trade deals ever made, maybe the largest trade deal ever made. And it's really something very special the two countries were able to come together and get it done.

FOREMAN: The problem, several other deals including the North American free trade agreement which Trump is trying to replace are much larger. And Congress still has to approve the Mexico arrangement.

TRUMP: Goodbye, Enrique.

FOREMAN: So, it's not done yet anyway. In one of his books, Trump wants to be argued there is no harm in claiming something as the best or the greatest even if it's not. But when political parties and foreign governments and citizens count upon your word as truth, an exaggeration at very least makes it hard to figure out what you have and have not accomplished. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @Rosemarycnn, love to hear from you. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN.