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U.S. Threatens Sanctions Against International Criminal Court; U.S. Closes Palestinian Office In Washington; Sanders: Media Attention To Anonymous Op-Ed 'Pathetic'; U.N.: Idlib Could Become 'Worst Humanitarian Catastrophe': Florence Heads To U.S. East Coast As A Category 4; Russia's Putin Hosts China's Xi at Economic Forum; North Korea Celebrates 70th Anniversary; British PM Brushes off Boris Johnson's Attacks on Brexit Plan; Campaigning on the U.S. Economy; Fallout from Cryptocurrency Market Swings. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, unjust, illegitimate, and outright dangerous. A scathing attack from the Trump administration on the court established to hold dictators, war criminals and mass killers accountable. Plus (INAUDIBLE) heading for the U.S. East Coast of million Americans under orders to head to safer ground crown as hurricane Florence perils down. North Korea asking for a second leadership start with the U.S. a day after country celebrated its founding with a military parade and not a ballistic missile in sight.

Hello everyone, it's great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A.

Ever since it was established two decades ago, the International Criminal Court has had an uneasy relationship with the U.S. but that hit a new low on Monday with an unprecedented and scathing remark from the National Security Advisor. John Bolton said the court was ineffective and outright dangerous. He warns the U.S. will protect its citizens and allies from the ICC by any means necessary. Bigger details now from Michelle Kosinski at the State Department.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we knew the National Security Advisor John Bolton hates the International Criminal Court for its potential of going after Americans. Most recently they brought up the possibility of going after U.S. service people for potential war crimes committed in Afghanistan. But we didn't know quite how much he hates the ICC until this lengthy speech he gave today. Listen to just part of it.


JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC and we certainly will not join the ICC.


KOSINSKI: So he called the ICC unjust, illegitimate, dangerous and assault on U.S. sovereignty and on the rights of all people. He said that the ICC is now dead to the U.S. But what's more, he goes a step further saying that if anyone pursues Americans before the International Criminal Court, the U.S. will go after them, go after prosecutors, judges, those who bring cases against Americans or its ally Israel and that could include sanctions against these people. At one point he made the argument too that if you try to stop a country from prosecuting its own cases of war crimes you stop that country from maturing if you take the hard decisions away from that country and that the best people to decide whether a state has committed an atrocity or people within that own state.

But he was pressed by reporters afterwards saying, well, you know, what about countries that don't have functioning Justice Department because of the regime that they have to live under? And he just say well, OK, maybe there is a role for the U.S. or some other organizations to play. He didn't go into a lot of detail but he tried to make every argument possible that the International Criminal Court is not effective and really should not exist. Michelle Kosinski, CNN the State Department.

VAUSE: Let's bring in Markos Kounalakis, a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Marcos, it's good to see you. It's been a while.


VAUSE: OK, so what were he now from Bolton, this effectively ends what was a reluctant relationship in the first place between the U.S. and the ICC and so it means that the U.S. goes back to joining countries like China, Russia, Burundi, Libya, Yemen, all novels seem to be not signatories to the court. So you know, there's at all saying you judge by the company you keep, does that apply in this case?

KOUNALAKIS: Yes, John, I -- that's right. But remember, the U.S. has never really been a part of this system. So I would like to take this one step over and really look at John Bolton because what John Bolton was doing today was actually a part of the larger palace intrigue of what's going on in the White House when there's this new book that's coming out by Bob Woodward on Monday, Fear, this op-ed in the New York Times, the President feels embattled in the White House. He doesn't know who his allies are and what happens today.

John Bolton goes out there and tries to ingratiate himself to president Trump picking the types of issue that he knows the President is going to find -- he's going to resonate with the president, he's going to find loyalty and prove loyalty to the president's really deeply held beliefs on international affairs, and that I think is a part of the context of why this speech today before the Federalist Society that John Bolton gave was in one -- in one way to toothless because there really is no jurisdiction, there is no legitimacy that the U.S. recognizes. But think about what he was doing domestically. He is trying to build a proximity and a trust with President Trump.

[01:05:38] VAUSE: It's interesting you bring out this point because the language that Bolton used to protect U.S. citizens by all means necessary, this is related to a possible investigation of U.S. troops for alleged war crimes while serving in Afghanistan. That language though, that's identical to what of 2002 parts of the George W Bush administration essentially you know, when the court was established basically to protect U.S. citizens from any -- base on that time as an unfair prosecution. So as you say, this is what, a Straw Man, there's nothing to this?

KOUNALAKIS: That's how I feel that John Bolton is presenting this at least in the public way that he did in front of the audience where he presented which is a conservative group of jury -- of people who are involved with judicial processes here in the United States. So yes, I feel that it is and you know, if you think about the ICC and what it is that it was supposed to do, it's kind of a court of last resort for those rogue nations. As you put it earlier, John, places that you've been to and visited where in fact there is no judicial process that works domestically, where things like for example that happened in Abu Ghraib in Afghanistan. When they came back to the United States there were prosecution's. There were those who were found guilty. Perhaps it wasn't as broadly as some would like to see it but the judicial process function.

And so to then assert that in fact, the ICC is going to jump in, there's an awful lot of politics involved in this and so we have to look both at the international the domestic politics of it.

VAUSE: Exactly. OK, so I get the domestic side of it and now we're saying in terms of it's a distraction, it's about you know, Bolton putting his place in the administration. But this is not without cost internationally, is it? Because when people like the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who's you know, conducting this completely and totally illegal war on drugs, you know, killing people in the streets without judicial process or anything, when something like Duterte, is coming from John Bolton, I mean, this is the kind of stuff they love to hear because it validates their position. So it's not without cost.

KOUNALAKIS: That's exactly right, John. And this has been true of the Trump administration since they've come in. When Rex Tillerson came in, he was saying that human rights was not going to be a part of our foreign policy. It was not going to be a leading aspect of American State Department interests, the values that we've represented in previous administrations we're not going to be pursued in the -- in the world by the United States. So yes it is, in fact, something that is going to give people like Duterte great relief because it is reinforcing exactly what this administration has said from the outset.

It is they focus on sovereignty, it is a focus on interests, not values, and now we're seeing it with this new national security team being propelled even further and even more aggressively and vociferously in a way that President Trump is -- the way that he presents himself, in the way that he argues for these things. VAUSE: Because Bolton also views this moment to make his first

official public address to essentially close down the PLO office in Washington, the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Palestinian Authority had -- is a member of the ICC. They've been pushing for an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes and that's one of the reasons that Bolton basically said the office in Washington was being closed. The State Department also put out a statement saying that the PLO office would close because its function was to help move peace talks forward.

Here's his further statement. We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting peace, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November of 2017. However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and a meaningful negotiations with Israel. Yes, that's true but it's also seems to be one-sided view of who's to be blamed for the stalled peace process.

KOUNALAKIS: That's right, John, and what's happening is that there's a negotiation processes happening right now. The United States, the Trump administration, Jared Kushner are all trying to move towards some form of Trump led peace negotiate -- negotiation or some kind of resolution and deal with in the region. And so what the United States is doing and what the Trump administration is pursuing is a pressure campaign. The pressure starts with recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It continues economically by cutting off humanitarian aid funds that have been there forthcoming for years and now this PLO office being shut down. So there that's the external part of the pressure.

And John as you know, you've reported in the region, there's a lot of internal pressure for the PLO as well. So when you add external pressure and then you face the question of the very real question of succession in the PLO and in the Fatah Party with Abu Mazen you know at 83 years old and not particularly well, you got a real attempt to try and pressure PLO into doing exactly what the Trump administration prefers, wants, and what Benjamin Netanyahu would also like to see as the conclusion.

VAUSE: And in that (INAUDIBLE) list of diplomatic moves, it doesn't seem as there's a lot of pressure on Israel though. I guess maybe these behind the scenes talks going on but at this point, it seems you know, the pressure is on the Palestinians in particular. Markus, we'll leave it at that but thank you so much.

KOUNALAKIS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Joining us now for more on this, Republican Commentator DeAnna Lorraine, and CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist Dave Jacobson. Thanks for coming back guys. I want to pick up on you know, this comments Bolton made on Monday. He does have a history with ICC. It seems he's found an administration finally that shares those views that the ICC is as he said to be worthless and you know, a danger to society. But Dave, you know, this also fits in with the wider pattern of the administration when it comes to dismantling these institutions, that -- it doesn't dismantling, certainly not valuing these institutions like the WTO, (INAUDIBLE) that kind of stuff.

DAVID JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's (INAUDIBLE) strategy, right? I mean, it's one of which -- it's the America first platform that Donald Trump sort of campaigned on which is the isolationist idea behind the Trump phenomenon. Look, I think broadly like I agree in the sense that like we should protect American citizens from you know, courts abroad or whatever but at the same time, like there is some value when I think international courts can have a meaningful impact when it comes do dictators, like Nazi Germany -- pardon me -- like the Captain Nuremberg trials, right? Like it wasn't the ICC as we -- as we see it today but it did had a meaningful impact and it was a good thing to hold Nazis accountable for the Holocaust.

VAUSE: Let's turn to DeAnna because when you have the U.S. in this leadership role, the world follows. I mean, that's the bottom line here. And if you have a court with a mission to hold dictators and war criminals and mass killers accountable for their actions and that's not being supported by the U.S., it sends conflicting messages about what the country stands for.

DEANNA LORRAINE, REPUBLICAN COMMENTATOR: Yes, it could definitely send conflicting messages but we also have to wonder is this a good thing or not? Is this something that maybe we should have the world follow. I mean, war is not a pretty thing, it's an ugly thing and there's going to be some crime involved sometimes and our men in uniform are so bravely defending our country and put in sometimes very precarious situations. And so believe what their point is that -- is that we don't want to put them in jeopardy who have already risk their lives, some have lost their lives. How do we hold them account that in a way that also it doesn't put them in jeopardy and punish them for serving the country?

VAUSE: Senator McCain was asked simply about torture, and he said the reasons why we have rules against torture, he said that when my son was taken captive you know, off the battlefield, he wouldn't be tortured. That's the point. And that's what it's all about. It's about sticking to a set of principles and ideals that you hope because you are setting an example that others will follow.

JACOBSON: Yes, I think like the ICC is like it's not perfect by any means.

VAUSE: Yes, a lot of --

JACOBSON: But we need some vehicle at the international level to hold you know, dictators and authoritarian governments who abuse their people or prisoners of war accountable. And this is something that perhaps should be improved but it shouldn't be dissolved.

VAUSE: OK, we're on the eve now, just hours until the Bob Woodward book Fear, the latest tell all about this administration hits the newsstands. It's been a bad week for the Trump Administration and it's only Monday. It could get a lot worst. But as the new CNN poll out, Donald Trump's approval rate, 36 percent. That's down six points in a month but a closer look is more troubling. In fact, the President is losing support among Independent is 31 percent, a new low in the CNN poll down 16 points from last month. Yes, I got the math right. Dave, that would only be a huge warning sign of impending doom. Can you read the numbers the same way because this is an unusual presidency?

JACOBSON: It is very much an unusual presidency because frankly I would argue that almost any other modern-day president, when you've got the economy doing what our economy is doing today which I should also mention Barack Obama should get some credit for because he put us in this trajectory, you wouldn't have a president with such low historical numbers, right, like 36 approval rating. Frankly, in this CNN poll, I think that's the lowest he's actually been captures since he's been in the White House. And what's staggering is that 32 percent -- 31 percent with Independents.

[01:15:03] VAUSE: 32 -- 31 with Independents, yes.

JACOBSON: Right. So here's what's really fascinating, to me, John, you got 44 members of Congress that are Republican that are either retiring or not running again, right?

VAUSE: Right.

JACOBSON: So, you've got that in conjunction with this game-changing poll and you've got Democrats winning in races like Connor Lambert -- Donald Trump won by 20 points. What this tells me is that there is a political earthquake on the horizon and that it's going to be caused by a massive Democratic tsunami that is going to wipe across this country.


LORRAINE: But let's not forget that also when Obama was in office too, they were polls that were -- you know, they were approving. They were saying that they approved of President Obama. Yet, when they were asked where if they like the direction of the country and where it's going, and if they like the economy, they disapproved of that.

So what this tells me is that people believe what the media tells them, and people often don't necessarily vote for the person's actions but who they like, who is popular. And who is -- you know, the most articulate president.

Now, you know, what we know is that Trump is -- he definitely doesn't do things conventionally. And he definitely doesn't speak eloquently compared to Obama, right?


LORRAINE: He has a definitely a brash way of speaking and people love him or hate him for it. But, we really need to look at his actions of what he's actually doing with the economy. And I think too many people buy into this fear-mongering and this kind of -- you know, he is like this, and you should think that way.

VAUSE: Well, maybe that fear-mongering was ramped up by the op-ed in the New York Times. So, unnamed senior administration official basically said that working against the President to save the country from his moments of crazy.

LORRAINE: That's more troubling I think than Trump himself. Is that -- this -- were a shadow government that behind the scenes.


VAUSE: I will -- OK, listen to -- OK, he's so sad, just talking about who that person is at Monday's briefing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the White House actively trying to find out who this person is? Or do you not really care and moving on to other things?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's frankly, I think sad and pathetic that a gutless anonymous source could receive so much attention from the media. And I think that the American people would be much better served if we actually spent some time talking about some of the really important things that are facing our country and the things that this administration is doing to help fix them.


VAUSE: Dave is there anything more important to the welfare of the country than -- you know, establishing the competence and the mental stability of the commander-in-chief?

JACOBSON: No. We -- that should be priority number one.

VAUSE: You think.

JACOBSON: Look, I mean, going back to this other point. This is why precisely why independents are flocking away from the president.

VAUSE: Right.

JACOBSON: I mean, three weeks ago, John, we weren't having a conversation about the possibility of flipping the Senate. Right now, all the sudden states like Arizona and Nevada are in play too -- you know, obviously, Arizona Donald Trump won, Hillary Clinton, won in Nevada.

But, you know, Democrats only need to pick up a couple seats and defend some incumbents actually flip the Senate. This is all -- you know, it impacted because of Donald Trump's chaotic White House. And I think that is the biggest issue here.

VAUSE: And they're right now, they want this sort of an FBI investigation or the hinting at it to try and find out who the senior administration official is. I mean, the argument is that the -- you know, the law that may be broken and there actually isn't a lawlessly broken but it could represent a threat to national security because of this person is willing to write this stuff in the New York Times.

What were they be willing to do with you-- know, classified information? It's been like minority report, this is always like pre- crimes that you get arrested for. You know that Rudy Giuliani so sweeps in and takes you away.

LORRAINE: Right. I think that people should also be worried about who these anonymous sources are. And they're just at their whim, they decide when something is not right for America or not and taking things off of President Trump's desk, and deciding what they're going to do with things.

I don't really -- I think that we should be a lot more troubled by that and I think that's pretty disturbing. Yet, we don't hear any kind of outcry over that. And you know, I mean --

VAUSE: And then any administration (INAUDIBLE).

LORRAINE: Right. I think the people that are mostly -- you know, that are his base or a supporters think when, when everything that Trump does is considered evil, or ridiculous, or stupid or racist, then nothing really is anymore. And it starts to fall on deaf ears. And I think that's where the left should be really careful with overplaying their hands.

JACOBSON: Yes, can I just say real quick, John?

VAUSE: Would said very quickly.

JACOBSON: OK, OK, really quickly. I think Donald Trump thinks he's the puppet master and he can dictate to the DOJ to tell them to do whatever, investigate my White House. He's also telling them similarly to not investigate political supporters like Duncan Hunter in California who -- you know, violated campaign election laws, right?

Or Chris Collins, both of which who endorsed him in that campaign. So, it's kind of like a devil --


VAUSE: It's kind of like some -- I think about the amoral.

JACOBSON: Yes, right.

VAUSE: Yes. (INAUDIBLE). OK, very quickly, the Woodward book is another big story the White House wishes would actually go away. But it won't go away, the book is released in a couple of hours, and just to make sure to gain plenty of airtime, the president tweeted, "The Woodward book is a joke. Just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources. Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can't stand losing. I'll write the real book."

Oh, the end of the mind bogus. But really, I mean, is Donald Trump going to put his credibility? Up against -- you know, mister 450,000 category lies from the bushing first years of seven a day up against Mr. Watergate, Bob Woodward?

[01:20:07] JACOBSON: That, that doesn't seem like (INAUDIBLE).


LORRAINE: It's not good. He shouldn't be doing that. And you know, he shouldn't be doing that. I don't think, it's going to be a downward spiral if he continues to go head-to-head with Woodward who has so many supporters and so much credibility.

And the fact that President Trump didn't even meet with him. And I guess, he requested several times to meet with him.


LORRAINE: Six times to meet with him. So, I don't think that Trump should giving him any more airtime by tweeting anymore and bringing more attention to it, because most people are just going to want to eat at it like a thanksgiving dinner.

VAUSE: Yes, that's good.

JACOBSON: You know what --

VAUSE: Wants the attention though, wants the news cycle, right?

JACOBSON: He does here one other thing --


LORRAINE: He likes to control the narrative. I think he does (INAUDIBLE), as clever way about him. He's a mad genius.

JACOBSON: You know, I think, one of the things that I was struck by Woodward's interview this morning on the Today show, was that he said he taped a lot of his interviews and his conversations.


JACOBSON: I wonder if there's (INAUDIBLE) like Omarosa. Potentially right. You want me to prove -- yes, exactly. Do you want me to prove all the claims and make in the book? Here you go.

VAUSE: Yes. It's a dangerous road, the president is going down. Especially if there's --


LORRAINE: It's a care, I just feel like this ongoing carry, you know, that there, so come over here. It's such a distraction.


LORRAINE: You know, would love to just focus on the positive about the country for once.


VAUSE: Well, you OK first with the controversy with distraction -- OK. DeAnna and Dave, thank you and just right.

LORRAINE: Thank you.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, hundreds of thousands of people on the U.S. East Coast facing mandatory evacuation orders as Hurricane Florence bears down, already level four, it could strengthen in the coming days before making landfall.

Also, the United Nations is warning the world could soon see the worse humanitarian casualty of the century as rebels in Syria make a last stand in Idlib province.


VAUSE: Well, the European Union is appealing to Iran, Turkey, and Russia to try in stop the bloodshed in Northwestern Syria. Warning an all-out military offensive by the Syrian regime would had catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

Despite those appeals, Syrian forces are intensifying airstrikes on targets in rebel-held Idlib province. The U.N. says more than 30,000 people had fled their homes in just the past week alone. And is warning of a nightmare, scenario.


MARK LOWCOCK, EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR, UNITED NATIONS: There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life of the 21st century.


[01:24:59] VAUSE: Well, volunteers with the White Helmets rescue group was searching through rubble to try and find the survivors after more airstrikes on Monday. Meantime, the U.S. has warned Syria not to use chemical weapons in Idlib when there will be a response.

Most hurricane heading to the East Coast of the United States could intensify further within hours. On Monday, Hurricane Florence quickly strengthened to a Category 4. Here are the images from a satellite you can see the other storm right there. In a few hours, mandatory evacuation orders will go into effect in Virginia and North Carolina.

Meantime, the governor of South Carolina has ordered more than a million people to evacuate from the entire coastline of your state.


GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This may be inconvenient. This is a very dangerous hurricane. But we are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina, not a one.


VAUSE: Meteorologist Pedram Javeheri, tracking the storm, joins us now with the very latest. Yes, Pedram, it just seems that every time now there's storm, we speak hurricanes, you know, these mandatory evacuation orders get larger and include more and more people.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, and for this particular region, of course, we haven't had a storm of this magnitude over a three decades now. So, this certainly are almost three decades, 1989. So, certainly this is an area that a lot of people have lived in and then, certainly, a lot of people are going to be seen it for their first time in their life potentially of a storm of such magnitude.

But there it is satellite presentation you see a little bit of the eye becoming more ragged there's essentially a second eye trying to form we're getting what we call an eyewall replacement cycle. So, the storm going through a restructuring process. It was an incredible storm, and it's going to remain that way over the next couple of days over very warm water temperatures.

In fact, take a look at this, from 25 or so degrees Celsius, up to as much as 29 degrees, maybe even 30 degrees Celsius as it approaches land. So, everything going for it as far as maintaining an intensity and potentially strengthening it. And, of course, it is not alone here on the peak of hurricane season. We have a 60 percent chance, a 50 percent chance Isaac and Helene back behind us, as well.

So, Florence certainly sits head and shoulders above all as far as intensity and scale. But, when you look at where it's located in the past 100 years of hurricane record-keeping, no other storm has actually taken a track directly towards the United States originating from this very region in this magnitude.

They've all turnout towards the north, impacted Bermuda and some cases of a lot of them have skirted off away from the eastern seaboard of the United States. So, we know this tearing environment is as such that this is going to lead its way directly towards the Carolinas. And, in fact, so much water has been disrupted ahead of the system that as it approaches land from the Bahamas, all the way out there towards portions of the Northeastern U.S.

Beach erosion, strong winds, rip currents, all of them going to be felt here as dangerous situation really lines up across a lot of the coastal communities up and down the eastern seaboard. But again, guidance takes us due north and west and eventually on Thursday evening, we think somewhere between say 8:00 p.m. to maybe around midnight, the storm makes landfall at this point. The cone of uncertainty that's knowing lines up anywhere from North of Charleston out there towards portions of Virginia.

And keep in mind, people fall in love with the cone, the center of the cone really shouldn't because one out of every three times, a storm actually exits the corner makes landfall somewhere entirely different. Two out of three times, it does make landfall somewhere within this cone so that's where we're watching for a storm to potentially slow down and that in itself could be very life threatening when it comes to rainfall to leave behind, John.

VAUSE: Back to the cone of uncertainty, yes. Thanks, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yes, yes.

VAUSE: OK. Well, the Trump administration looks set to roll back another crucial Obama-era regulation intended to fight climate change. According to New York Times, the administration wants to make it easier for polluters to release methane into the atmosphere. For the record, methane is one of the worst greenhouse gases.

And as soon as this week, the Environmental Protection Agency could release a proposal to ease requirements for oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks.

Another dire warning, time is running out to try and slow climate change before we reach an environmental point of no return. The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres is warning global leaders are not acting fast enough to protect the environment even after the Paris Climate Accord.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS, SECRETARY-GENERAL: Climate change is the defining issue of our time. And we are at a defining moment. We face a direct as essential threats. Climate change is moving faster than we are, and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our worlds.

If we do not change course by 2020, we missing the point where we can avoid -- runaway climate change with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.


VAUSE: Well, take a short break. When we come back, the North Koreans are looking for a second date with the U.S. president. This comes a day after Pyongyang held a massive military parade, but left the missiles at home.


[01:32:20] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The Trump administration is threatening sanctions on the International Criminal Court. National security advisor John Bolton says the court is ineffective and dangerous. And the U.S. will use any means necessary to protect its citizens and allies from prosecution by the ICC. Meantime, the ICC says it acts strictly within its founding treaty.

The European Union and the United Nations both urging the Syrian regime not to mount an all-out military offensive on Idlib Province, warning it would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. Despite the appeals, Syrian government forces have ramped up air strikes on the rebel-held region. The U.N. says more than 30,000 people have already fled their homes in just the past week alone.

Hurricane Florence heading to the U.S. East Coast after quickly intensifying to category 4. This large and dangerous storm is forecast to make landfall in the Carolinas by Thursday and it is possible Florence could strengthen further, becoming a category 5.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Eastern Economic Forum. It will be their third meeting this year. It comes as China and Russia begin joint military exercises -- Russia's biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union.

CNN's Ivan Watson now, live with the very latest on this from Hong Kong.

You know, timing is always interesting. What's the significance here between -- the meaning of this summit between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin and these military drills between Russia and China? Because, you know, traditionally these countries, you know, in the past at least have been seen as rivals.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. But they've been working together. There's clearly an alignment of vision, political vision, between Beijing and Moscow. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have met several times this year alone. They quite frequently meet. They traditionally vote together in the United Nations Security Council.

And clearly the Kremlin here is trying to shift attention towards its Far East, Russia is the world's largest country geographically- speaking. And these military exercises are, by the Russian ministry of defense's account, enormous -- the biggest since the Soviet Union is how they've been billed.

They're described as Vostok 2018. That translates to East 2018 taking place in the Far East and in the Pacific region as well. According to the Ministry of Defense there are more than 300,000 service men participating, more than a thousand aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 36,000 tanks and armored vehicles, and up to 80 ships and support vessels.

[01:35:04] Now a spokesman for the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov, he said that the scale of these exercises are justified because of the current international situation -- John, which he describes as, quote, "quite aggressive and unfriendly for our country".

Mongolia is participating with troops as is China -- their contributions are quite small comparatively speaking. China sending a little bit more than 3,000 troops to participate in these enormous military exercises -- John.

VAUSE: Ian -- this meeting, this economic forum, which is being held at Vladivostok with Xi Jinping, also the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, you know, a whole lot of others -- but what exactly is the outcome here? What can we expect? Because it always strikes me that these get-togethers at least, you know, when you look at the sort of more closed-off countries like Russia and China -- it's all a bit of kabuki theater. No one really knows what actually is going on and what they sort of conclude with.

WATSON: Yes. I mean a big question is what will come out of this meeting. And there are usually some kind of business deals that are announced between the assorted countries and some kind of general statements that are issued. There were no -- we haven't been given any advanced warning of any real statement that will come out of the meeting between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

We do know that the ambassadors from both countries to each other's capitals, they are talking about trying to expand trade this year, trying to get bilateral trade between Moscow and Beijing up to $100 billion dollars annually which would be an increase but given the size of the economies in the region is kind of a drop in the bucket -- you consider that U.S.-Chinese bilateral trade is around $700 billion.

The Russian president met with the Japanese prime minister on Monday evening and they talked about kind of trying to improve their relations. One of the sticking points -- they're still in a territorial dispute, John. And Russia and Japan still haven't signed a peace treaty since World War II largely because of this territorial dispute. And Shinzo Abe talked about it. Take a listen.


SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Our new approach changes Russia-Japan cooperation without infringing upon the rights of either side. We're doing our best with Mr. President to reach our common aim to sign a peace treaty. We will use every effort to do it within our generation.


WATSON: You know, that seems like a not very ambitious goal trying to sign a peace treaty from World War II within a generation that those two leaders have talked about trying to develop more business deals or a road map for business deals in the disputed Kuril Islands.

But yes. We're not really sure what concrete might come out of this fourth annual Far East Economic Forum -- John.

VAUSE: Almost like a Helsinki summit in a way.

Ivan -- thank you. Ivan Watson live for us there, senior National correspondent in Hong Kong. Thank you.

Well, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has requested another meeting with Donald Trump and that request came via a letter delivered to the U.S. President and it comes a day after North Korea celebrated its 70th anniversary with a focus less on military might and more on economic prosperity.

Our man on the streets of Pyongyang, here's Will Ripley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scoring political points with two super powers this weekend, restoring diplomatic momentum with the U.S. and further strengthening ties with China. Kim staged an enormous military parade through Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square marking North Korea's 70th anniversary.

In a stunning reversal the North Korean leader chose not to display his intercontinental ballistic missiles, a dramatic change from the parade I saw just last year when North Korea rolled out brand new ICBMs they said could easily hit Los Angeles, New York and even Washington.

Analysts called this weekend's toned-down military display a clear signal to President Donald Trump. The President responding on Twitter, "Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong. There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other."

At the same time Kim appeared to send a signal he will not be beholden to the United States. His honored guest a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, quoted by Chinese media saying, "We highly value the positive efforts made by the DPRK."

These weekend's celebrations clearly designed to send a message to the world, a supersized socialist propaganda blitz focusing on economic and diplomatic progress with no mention of its nuclear program.

It is a dramatic about-face from less than a year ago when North Korea and the U.S. seemed on a collision course for conflict with public statements like this from President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

[01:40:03] RIPLEY: In his new book "Fear", journalist Bob Woodward says behind the scenes the situation was even worse.

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: He drafts a tweet saying we're going to pull-out dependents from South Korea, family members of the 28,000 people there.

RIPLEY: Woodward told CBS on Sunday Trump nearly set off a war with North Korea in a single tweet.

WOODWARD: At that moment, there re was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that "My God one tweet" and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as an attack is imminent.

RIPLOEY: Just because North Korea is not parading nuclear weapons doesn't mean it's getting rid of them. Denuclearization talks with the U.S. have stalled. North Korea says they won't disarm unless the U.S. takes simultaneous steps including a peace treaty ending the Korean War.

(on camera): What kind of a message is this parade sending to the United States? And is that message changed from last year and previous years?

(voice over): "We just want peace," says Ju Son-jin (ph) echoing the message in state media. The North Koreans also say peace will only come on their on terms and right now Kim Jong-un seems to be the one calling the shots.

Will Ripley, CNN -- Pyongyang.


VAUSE: We'll take a short break.

When we come back Boris Johnson getting the brush off, his latest criticism ignored by the British Prime Minister she's facing an uphill battle to try and sell her plan for a Brexit deal, also trying to stop her conservative party from tearing apart.


VAUSE: Theresa May is brushing off Boris Johnson's attacks on her Brexit plan. The British Prime Minister's spokesman says Downing Street does not want to give any further oxygen to the former foreign secretary's controversial comments. Johnson has accused Mrs. May of wrapping a suicide vest around the British constitution with her Brexit plan.

Meantime she is starting a major push to try to minimize the opposition. She's sending ministers across U.K. to sell her so-called Chequers proposal.

Despite the infighting in London, the E.U. chief negotiator for Brexit is optimistic a deal can, in fact, be reached and maybe reached within a couple of months. The U.K. leaves the Europe Union in less than 200 days.

Right now I'm joined here by CNN's Europe Affairs commentator Dominic Thomas.

Ok -- two months, right. Ok. Here's the thing. Explain this to me like I'm a 12-year-old, but don't sound like you're talking to a 12- year-old.

They essentially have two choices now before the British parliament. You've got a no-deal Brexit or the Chequers plan, the one that May wants. In broad terms essentially, what are the differences here?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPE AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: And she's talking about both of them, right. She's talking about going to her cabinet and to members of the Conservative Party to talk about what a no-deal Brexit would look like. So essentially they just walk away from the Europe Union with no specific and any kind of trade deal and any kind of benefit in place. We just go global.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) Best to the both of you. Thank you, you just leave. You know, everything's -- THOMAS: You just back off and talk about the World Trade Organization

which, of course, at the same time, Donald Trump is talking about, you know, the need to dismantle that organization. But it's sort of this idea that, you know, Britain goes global, signs up trade deals with whatever country it likes and tries to deal then with the Europe Union as one blocked thing.


[01:45:02] VAUSE: So the Chequers deal?

THOMAS: Well, the Chequers deal has a broad combination of deals and what Boris Johnson doesn't like and the sort of the right-wing of her party, although they're the sort of what we call the hard-core Brexiteers is that it involves maintaining contact with the European Union through a set of common rules and regulations.

And so this is what Boris Johnson has been talking about from the very beginning as it essentially shackles --

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: The U.K.'s ability to deal with tariffs and --

VAUSE: Right.


THOMAS: Right.


THOMAS: Exactly. Well, that's the thing. It's not just Norway. There's the Norway deal, the Canada deal and all these different variations they've been talking about.

VAUSE: Ok. So here's sort of where the politics comes in because if Theresa May want this Chequers plan to get through parliament because they're hard right within the conservative party, does she have to go to the Labour opposition. And if she does that, is that the Tories that's the one apart?

THOMAS: Well, actually, what we're saying then, if you just put the sort of the United Kingdom in that broader European context, what we've seen for the last two years throughout the Europe Union is a proliferation of micro or smaller political parties representing the different views of European citizens, right, which have led to these incredibly complex coalition talks throughout Europe.

But what we have in the United Kingdom is you've basically got the Labour Party and the Conservative party -- the two parties that are gathering the greatest attention and support when you compare it to sort of the withering socialist parties and so on and so forth.

Both parties have deep divisions within them from the right and the far right within Theresa May's party. So if she moves towards a sort of greater discussion and engagement with Labour Party, she's going to scare those people away. And the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership is engaged in a kind of purging of the party of anybody who speaks out against him or doesn't go along with him.

And they've basically said we'll go along with the deal so long as it has certain components in it that look a lot more like the Chequers deal than, of course, the walking away.

VAUSE: Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, is he under as much pressure as Theresa May.

THOMAS: Well, he's under tremendous pressure because his party is completely divided. And what's keeping them united, if anything, is the potential of a collapse of the Conservative Party.

So this sort of (INAUDIBLE) meeting that Barnier is talking about right, that somehow miraculously (ph) after all these months that they'll suddenly going to be able to put together a deal, right --

VAUSE: In two months.

THOMAS: -- in just a few weeks. He says it's possible. But as we know --

VAUSE: Anything is possible.

THOMAS: -- nothing is impossible, right?

VAUSE: Exactly.


VAUSE: Ok. Let's get to Bojo -- the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, sort of throwing rocks from the cheap seats -- he does that. Here's part of his column which he writes in "The Telegraph".

It is not just dealing with infrastructure project, he talks about the need to invest. Then he goes on to write, "When it comes to championing HS2, the so-called high-speed rail scheme, I'm afraid my sword rather sticks in my scabbard. The bill for HS2 has soared past 60 billion pounds and heading for 70 billion. It will probably top 100 billion by the end."

And so he goes on about this. And then he moves on to taxes and the British people paying too much for taxes. And he says there should actually be some kind of freeze on any increases. Contrary to the dire prediction before the E.U. referendum of 2016 the public finances are improving. Now is the time for this conservative government to show how a post Brexit Britain will be a heavy and dynamic economy that fosters enterprise, that rewards the (INAUDIBLE) of innovators and where people can hope to take home more of their pay to their families -- blah, blah, blah.

That hasn't happened yet. So, you know --

THOMAS: It hasn't happened yet, but as you mentioned earlier, let's try and go through what a hard Brexit would look like or the Chequers plan and explain it to a 12-year-old.

That piece in "The Telegraph" today, if it had been written by a 12- year-old, you would have sent them home to redo their homework.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: Because he literally jumps around from 10 to 15 different points.


VAUSE: But it's interesting. He wants to be prime minister just not yet because it is really hard.

THOMAS: Well interestingly enough though, right at the moment when, you know, June 23rd, 2016 when David Cameron essentially stepped away from his position --


T4: -- Boris Johnson wanted nothing to do with it at that time either. So both he and his Brexiteers on the far right of the party are very good at sort of undermining these negotiations. Now, of course, that may be very well fine that many people don't want Brexit to happen at all.

But what would be interesting would be really for them to come up with some really concrete ideas, and to demonstrate beyond the scare mongering, the xenophobia and just a crazy combination --

VAUSE: Some leadership.

THOMAS: -- some leadership and what his plan and vision might actually be for it, beyond just simply moving away from the European Union.

VAUSE: Dominic -- good to have you back. It's been too long. Good day.

It was the defining catchphrase of Bill Clinton during his 1992 White House campaign. And if we know anything about the former reality TV host turned current president, Donald Trump knows the value of a memorable line.

[01:49:57] And so he tweeted this. "The economy is so good, perhaps the best in our country's history. (Remember: it is the economy, stupid)." Thank you, Bill Clinton.

And the U.S. economy, to be fair, is actually doing very well. But is it doing well enough to save Republicans from a midterm wipe out in elections less than two months away?



TRUMP: We've accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportion.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If Americans vote with their wallet this election season, the President has some reason to feel confident. Economic growth is at a four-year high.

TRUMP: These numbers are very, very sustainable.

SEBASTIAN: Unemployment at half-century lows.

TRUMP: We've created 3.7 million jobs since election.

SEBASTIAN: And the stock market is hitting records.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has created an environment that the markets really like with regulatory reform, again with the tax cuts. So he does get some credit.

SEBASTIAN: Tax cuts are this administration's signature policy, fueling strong corporate profits including a record setting quarter for America's banks. And yet experts question whether the President's campaign promise of tax cuts for all has materialized.

TRUMP: And we will massively cut taxes for the middle class.

LINDSEY PIEGSA, STIFEL FIXED INCOME: What we saw is more of a nontraditional investment cycle; companies taking that additional cash and reducing debt, buying back stock, increasing dividends. The vast majority of consumers reported they did not notice a meaningful change in their after-tax take home pay, post tax reform.

Despite the low unemployment, those consumers are also facing stagnant wage growth and signs of rising prices due to tariffs. The President has not only asked voters to trust him on trade --

TRUMP: I said we're going to have to tariff your cars. They said when can we show up? When can we be there? Would tomorrow be ok?

Folks -- stick with us. Stick with us.

SEBASTIAN: He had also provided pockets of short-term relief aimed at the mostly Republican agricultural states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President has promised substantial aid, many billions of dollars to farmers who are rightly concerned about soybean tariffs and other actions by the Chinese that could hurt the U.S. Middle America. Whether that's enough is unclear.

SEBASTIAN: What is clear for this a scandal-plagued administration, the strong U.S. economy sends a powerful political message --

TRUMP: Once again, we are the economic envy of the entire world.

SEBASTIAN: -- one the President and his party will continue to trumpet.

Clare Sebastian, CNN -- New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: When we come back -- the bit coin bubble, one investor went all-in on the digital currency risking real money on money that doesn't exist. His story and why he's still bullish on bitcoins.


VAUSE: An Australian cartoonist is being wildly criticized for what many believe is a racist depiction of Serena Williams during her repeated clashes with the chair umpire during the U.S. Open women's final. At one point she smashed her racquet in frustration.

The cartoon by Mark Knight was published by "The Herald Sun" and it shows Williams stomping on her racquet and appearing to cry after spitting out a pacifier, also known in Australia as a dummy, the pacifier, and the term "dummy spit" is slang for someone acting out in frustration while they're upset.

Author J.K. Rowling was among those criticizing the cartoon, writing this, "Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to a racist and sexist trope." The cartoonist defended his work saying, "The world's gone crazy. It is a cartoon about poor behavior. It's nothing to do with race."

Now to an unexpected lesson from the world of crypto currency, for most of us it seems this is one of those things that we barely understand. The virtual currency -- how it works, what it is, what it does?

Some investors though, they're willing to bet a lot on crypto and then as often happens, the bubble bursts.

[01:54:59] Anna Stewart traveled to the north of England to hear one man's story.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sean Russell was on top of the world. A month had passed and his $120,000 investment in bit coin had grown to a nearly half a million.

SEAN RUSSELL, CRYPTOCURRENCY INVESTOR: I think yes, there was one morning I woke up and I pretty much made about 12,000 pounds.

STEWART (on camera): How did you feel?

RUSSELL: Absolutely fantastic thinking wow, that's mortgages paid, that's holidays I've always dreamed of -- right there.

STEWART (voice over): A British property developer based in Leeds, Russell had spend years studying the ins and outs of cryptocurrency.

RUSSELL: Yes. It was a bit like a detective, you know, doing a murder mystery. Is that right? STEWART: It started with a few hundred dollars. Then last November he decided to go all-in, putting in his savings and tens of thousands of dollars from his business.

RUSSELL: Look at how much it rocketed on that day. And I was literally --


STEWART: Russell said he rarely played the stock market, had little experience buying any financial products and just like that the price started dropping.

RUSSELL: Suddenly I realized I didn't have a button to just simply press and cash-out. And then my brain was just -- you've got such a lot of money in there, why on earth are you panicking. It's going to be fine. Just leave it there.

BENEDETTO DE MARTINO, BEHAVIORAL ECONOMIST: You'll always have this expectation that the market will keep rising since that has been happening so far. So then it would be difficult to get out.

STEWART: Behavioral economist Benedetto de Martino says the human brain offers clues as to why traders like Sean Russell may fuel a bubble. This is the MRI of a trader's brain in normal economic conditions and this -- the brain trading in a bubble.

Those red hotspots, De Martino says they're signs that a trader is buying into the hype. He said it's up to regulations to curb those impulses.

Sean Russell chased his loss. When bitcoin started dropping, he put money into other digital currencies like ethereum and ripple (ph).

RUSSELL: So as bit coin fell more and more, literally these other coins just started to drop until the entire market was just absolutely tanking.

STEWART: He ended up losing 96 percent of his initial investment.

(on camera): I mean how did you deal with that?

RUSSELL: Not very well. Yes. I would say more than devastating, probably quite traumatic, really.

STEWART: Despite the loss, Russell remains a believer. He still invested in bit coin.

Anna Stewart, CNN -- Leeds.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John.

The news continues next with Ms. Rosemary Church after a short break. [01:57:37] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)