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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump's Asia Trip; North Korea Tensions; Russia Investigation; Battle against ISIS; Netflix Cuts Ties with Kevin Spacey; Exclusive Look At U.S. Military Drills. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired November 4, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Hawaii en route to Asia for a 12-day visit. We'll be taking a closer look at his plans.

And new concerns about North Korea as Donald Trump visits South Korea.

Plus ISIS suffers two more major defeats in Syria and Iraq.

Thank you for joining us, everyone. I'm Cyril Vanier live from the CNN NEWSROOM here in Atlanta.

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VANIER: So Donald Trump is in the U.S. state of Hawaii right now. He is overnighting there before heading to Asia for his first official trip to that region as U.S. president.

Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump laid a wreath at the U.S.S. Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor. The president also received a military briefing from the U.S. Pacific Command.

On Sunday, he arrives in Tokyo then he will be traveling to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. The president will be away from the White House for almost two weeks. We get the latest now from CNN's Ryan Nobles, currently in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The longest trip of the Donald Trump administration is now underway and the president's trip to the Asia Pacific region, the longest trip by any President of the United States since the George H.W. Bush administration.

And the president, en route to Hawaii, the first leg of this trip, was busy on his Twitter feed, talking about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton; also talked about Bowe Bergdahl, the Army soldier who deserted his post, who escaped jail time.

The president did tweet once about his trip but he hasn't talked a lot about this trip in the weeks leading up to the event. This despite the fact that it will be vital to his administration and their goals, particularly as it relates to North Korea and the growing tensions with the Kim Jong-un administration.

The president will meet with leaders from South Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, all who play an important role as it relates to dealing with North Korea.

In Hawaii, the president had a busy schedule as well. He met with the leaders of the Pacific Command; he got a briefing from them and also he toured the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor, meeting with veterans there, the president appearing especially moved by that particular event.

The president will be wheels up from Hawaii first thing in the morning en route to the first of his Asian destinations and that is Tokyo. In all, it will be a 12-day, trip ending in the Philippines next week -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Honolulu.

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VANIER: Here's a closer look at Mr. Trump's trip. He arrives in Japan on Sunday, November 5th and will visit U.S. troops. The next day he meets Japan emperor Akihito and then it's off to South Korea where he will meet with its president, Moon Jae-in.

However, he will skip the visit to the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, the border with North Korea. In China, the U.S. president will visit the Forbidden City with President Xi Jinping. Then he heads to Vietnam for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

Final stop is Manila for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit.

Mr. Trump's trip comes amid escalating tensions with North Korea. Intelligence sources say another missile test could be imminent, even suggesting Kim Jong-un could engage in provocation while the U.S. president is near his turf. Brian Todd reports.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American B-1 bombers, along with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, fly near the Korean Peninsula.

These are the weapons that experts say would play key roles in any strikes on North Korea. These maneuvers bring a swift brush back from Kim Jong-un's regime.

The dictator's news agency saying, "the gangster-like U.S. imperialist are staging a surprise nuclear strike drill targeting North Korea." It comes as President Trump heads towards Kim's turf, embarking on a multi-nation trip to Asia. Where analysts say, one country, one major security threat will likely consume his meetings with other leaders.

TRUMP: We'll be talking about, obviously, North Korea. TODD: Tonight, military commands and intelligence agencies from Washington to Pyongyang are jittery because of so many potential provocations coming so close to the president's trip.

LAURA ROSENBERGER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NSC FOR CHINA AND KOREA Tensions are definitely at one of the higher points that we have seen.

TODD (voice-over): According to South Korean lawmakers, brief by that country's intelligence agency, another North Korean missile test could be imminent because they've sighted movement of vehicles around a missile research facility in Pyongyang. Kim's regime has launched 22 missile tests this year. Recently threatened the U.S. territory of Guam; conducted one of the largest hydrogen bomb tests in modern history and threatened another. A U.S. official tells CNN, North Korea's working on an advanced version of the KN20 --

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TODD (voice-over): -- a long-range missile that could reach the U.S. with a nuclear warhead. A key question tonight: will Kim test Trump while the president is next door?

ROSENBERGER: I think there's a good possibility that we could see some kind of either missile launch or nuclear test while Trump is there. In a way that allows Kim to remain the focus of attention, to show that he's not intimidated.

TODD: Tensions are at a boil also because the two men have fired personal broadsides at each other recently.

TRUMP: Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself.

TODD: Kim responded by calling Trump mentally deranged. A high-level North Korean defector told us when Kim is insulted personally, he feels his hand is forced.

THAE YONG-HO, FORMER DEPUTY AMBASSADOR, NORTH KOREA U.K. EMBASSY: Kim Jong-un has to respond because he wants to continue to be shown or depicted as the supreme leader and gold of North Korean society.

TODD: Asked if President Trump will tone down his language on Kim while in Asia, H.R. McMaster says that the president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously. But McMaster said what is really inflammatory is the way North Korea is threatening the world and he said there will be grave danger if Kim doesn't realize the president's resolve -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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VANIER: Let's talk with David Rohde about this, a CNN global affairs analyst also a news director for "The New Yorker."

David, Donald Trump talks tough with North Korea but, unlike his predecessors, he is not actually going to go to the DMZ. That's the military border with North Korea.

What do you make of that?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it's an effort by Trump's staff to not have some kind of incident at the border. It's -- I don't think Trump would do anything himself personally but it's a chance the North Korean forces could do something provocative.

And you just wouldn't want any kind of incident at such a sensitive location for both South Koreans and North Koreans.

VANIER: This is coming from a president, who is talking about fire and fury and he has here the opportunity to bring the symbol of the U.S. presidency right at North Korea's doorstep and he is not doing it. His three predecessors did it.

ROHDE: Again, I would -- given the level of rhetoric right now between the Trump White House and Pyongyang, I support this step. The president is an effective communicator and won the election and remains popular with his base in the United States. But I worry about what he might do and say in the DMZ. And again, I think this is the right move.

VANIER: Tell me about the wide strategic vision, if there is one, for Asia. Tell me specifically about the in the Indo-Asia strategy.

What does that mean?

That's the word I'm hearing now.

And how is that different from the previous U.S. policy vis-a-vis the region?

ROHDE: It's not that different but also to be frank, the strategy is not that clear to me so the Indo part is an idea sort of backing India as a way to challenge Pakistan. That approach has been taken by past administrations.

And in terms of Asia, I frankly think it's a confused policy. President Trump talked about being very tough with China on trade, confronting China in terms of encroachment in the South China Sea. He barely mentions that.

His entire Asia foreign policy is really focused on North Korea. He remains dependent China helping the U.S. try to curb the North Korean regime and that hasn't worked as well. So it's not a clear strategy. I'm frankly not sure what major new development will come out of this trip.

VANIER: What would a successful trip look like for Donald Trump?

And what would constitute a mistake?

ROHDE: He has done well on these foreign trips. He had some issues in his first trip to Europe dealing with NATO leaders. But if he sticks to scripted speeches, he does well. He actually sort of communicates less off the cuff. There's less tweeting and he will be away from all the domestic turmoil in the United States for a long period.

So that's a successful trip. If he does have tweets or offhand remarks, particularly in South Korea, where he has got such bellicose rhetoric and it's South Korean lives, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of South Korean lives, that are in danger, if there is a conflict with North Korea. So his tone in South Korea must be more respectful and more cautious than it has been in the past.

VANIER: Looking at it from the Asian perspective, those five countries that he will visit, what is the region, what are those countries trying to get out of this president?

ROHDE: I think they want a clear message. One of the first agreements that Trump rescinded was the transpacific trade agreement it was a milestone of the Obama so-called pivot to Asia.

So I think smaller countries like the Philippines and Vietnam are trying to understand what kind of role does the U.S. want to play --

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ROHDE: -- in the region economically and militarily. Will the U.S. really counter China in the South China Sea?

It's not clear. Again, it's a pattern of Trump pulling out of an agreement to win points domestically inside the United States with his political base but it sends a very confusing message to other countries.

We saw that with the Paris climate accord and with criticism of NATO allies and now he has to interact with these Asian countries that want clear direction and a clear vision from his administration.

VANIER: All right, first leg of the trip is in Japan. Currently in Hawaii. We will be following it every step of the way.

David Rohde, thank you very much.

ROHDE: Thank you.

VANIER: And Chinese President Xi donned a military uniform on Friday to address Chinese soldiers serving in Djibouti. In a video chat, he asked them to promote peace, while increasing their readiness for war.

Djibouti is home to China's first overseas base, officially described as a logistics facility by Beijing. The African country is also home to American, French and Japanese bases and India has been wary of this naval base since its opening in August as well as the superpower's growing presence around the Indian Ocean.

Coming up after the break on CNN NEWSROOM, cause for celebration in Iraq and Syria as ISIS suffers two stunning defeats in one day.

Plus Bowe Bergdahl hears his sentence for deserting his Army post and President Trump doesn't like it. Stay with us.

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VANIER: New revelations in the Russia instigation are casting a cloud over U.S. President Trump's trip to Asia. Among the bombshells we learned this week, the president's former campaign chairman stands accused of conspiracy against the United States and more.

The judge is proposing a May 7th trial date for Paul Manafort and his former business associate, Rick Gates. Both served in the Trump campaign and both were charged by special counsel Robert Mueller in a 12-count indictment that relates to their work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

Iraq and Syria are celebrating two milestone victories in the fight to reclaim ISIS held territory. Officials in both countries say the city of Deir ez-Zor in Syria as well as the town of Qaim in Iraq are now liberated.

That effectively squeezes the terror group at the border between the two countries. CNN's Fred Pleitgen flew to Deir ez-Zor with Russian forces back when the battle was in full swing in September.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The Syrian army's final major push into one of ISIS' last strongholds in Syria. Pro-Assad forces now say they've taken all of Deir ez-Zor City in the southeast of the country, a major victory in the quest to destroy the terror group.

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Units of our armed forces in cooperation with allied forces completed their duties in reestablishing security and stability to Deir ez-Zor City completely, the spokesman for Syria's Army says.

We flew to Deir ez-Zor with the Russian military, which backs the Syrian Army when the battle there was raging in September. (on camera): Even though the Syrian and Russian Army (inaudible) support to ISIS back, there's still are a lot of ISIS fighters here in this area. Taking the helicopter is the safest place to get to Deir ez- Zor.

Deir ez-Zor was one of ISIS' most important strongholds right in Syria's oil and agricultural heartland. ISIS' apparent demise in Syria recently leading Vladimir Putin to praise both Russia's and Iran's role in backing Bashar al-Assad.

Thanks to our joint efforts with Iran and also by Turkey, the situation regarding the fight against terrorism in the territory of Syria is developing in a very positive way, Putin said at a meeting with Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani. Russian and Syrian forces are not the only ones beating ISIS back, U.S. allied fighters have also been rounding the terror group from large chunks of the so-called caliphate it once occupied including Mosul and ISIS' self- declared capital of Raqqa where the U.S.-led coalition is now trying to restore a civilian administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as what happens in Raqqa after ISIS has been cleared and Raqqa is liberated, the Raqqa Civil Council is already established and they are already eager to begin work, to restore essential services.

PLEITGEN: Like in so many places in Iraq and Syria, ISIS wreaked havoc on Deir ez-Zor's population, besieging a Syrian government enclave in the city for around three years.

Now that the group has been defeated here, both Russian and U.S.- backed groups believed they're in the final stages of crushing the group and ousting its remaining fighters from almost all of Syria -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.

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VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump has called the sentencing of Bowe Bergdahl a complete and total disgrace. On Friday a military judge ruled that Bergdahl would not face prison time for deserting his U.S. Army post in Afghanistan in 2009.

He will be dishonorably discharged, have his rank reduced and pay a fine. Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban for five years and released in a controversial prisoner exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump called Bergdahl a traitor who should be shot.

A Belgian prosecutor says he is studying an arrest warrant for dismissed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont. A Spanish judge issued the warrant after Puigdemont failed to attend a court hearing in Madrid on Thursday. He is currently in Belgium and says that he will cooperate with the judiciary there.

Puigdemont is charged with sedition, rebellion and misuse of funds, among other things. Spain dissolved Catalonia's parliament after regional lawmakers voted to declare independence.

The streaming video service Netflix is stepping back from its flagship show, "House of Cards," for now and tossing out other projects involving Kevin Spacey. His star is crashing after nearly a week of sexual harassment allegations.

Now Netflix is canceling the release of the movie, "Gore," which Spacey acts in and produced. But Netflix appeared to leave open the possibility of broadcasting "House of Cards," provided Spacey is not involved in it. The company that produces the political satire said it has suspended Spacey as it investigates allegations against him.

Still to come after the break, against the backdrop of threats from North Korea, we're in the Pacific Ocean for an exclusive look at U.S. military drills off Okinawa, Japan. Stay with us.

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VANIER: Welcome back.

So Twitter says it's implementing new safeguards now after a departing employee briefly shut down the U.S. president's account. The incident raised concerns over how much access Twitter employees have to actual accounts.

A former Twitter executive told CNN staffers do not have the ability to post from other people's accounts.

It is the strongest typhoon to make landfall in Southern Vietnam in over a decade. Ivan Cabrera joins us now from the CNN Weather Center with the latest on Typhoon Damrey.

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VANIER: We are staying with Asia, actually, where we're watching war games but war games that are deadly serious with the heightened tensions in the region. The United States is displaying its military might and its readiness. CNN gained exclusive access to rapid response drills in the Pacific. And as Ivan Watson shows us, the drills may be off Okinawa, but the clouds of North Korea are always on the horizon.

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IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pounding through the Pacific Ocean, a U.S. Navy transport vessel approaching the flooded belly of a much larger warship.

We are watching now how one of these landing crafts come on board the dark landing ship. It's a remarkable piece of engineering. And it takes a coordination of dozens and dozens of sailors.

Some call this complicated procedure "taming the dragon." We have been invited to see annual military exercises off the coast of Okinawa on board the U.S.S. Ashland. This is a ship that can transport dozens of vehicles and house hundreds of sailors and Marines. A small floating city, where a visiting officer marks an important step in his military career.

A ceremony at sea where Marine Lieutenant Jesse Schmitt (ph) receives a promotion to the rank of captain.

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WATSON (voice-over): The U.S. commands the world's largest navy, but in two separate incidents last summer, Navy ships from the 7th Fleet collided with merchant vessels, killing 17 sailors. The Navy concluded, these accidents could have been avoided. Commanders say they've served as a wake-up call.

STEVEN WASSON, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVY: Not being complacent and use all means available to evaluate your current situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming upstairs. Steady on course. One, two, zero. Checking one, two, five.

WATSON (voice-over): In response, the Navy fired eight senior officers and stepped up training and monitoring from the decks of these giant vessels.

Every night, the chaplain leads the ship in prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

WATSON (voice-over): At dawn, hundreds of marines prepare for the day's big event, assimilated assaults on a beach in Okinawa. Amphibious assault vehicles splash up the back of the Ashland. And line up for the invasion. This operation on land, sea and air --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Push, push.

WATSON (voice-over): -- requires the coordination of thousands of sailors, Marines and soldiers.

WATSON: These exercises help prepare the armed forces for the possibility of conflict. But they're also about sending a message of deterrence to U.S. enemies like North Korea which continue to engage in a war of words with Washington.

WATSON (voice-over): Senior commanders say these annual war games also send a message to U.S. allies.

KEVIN NORTON, COLONEL, U.S. MARINES: They're well over 22 countries in the Pacific that are friends and allies training, working together and that network, quite frankly, provides stability and security throughout the entire Pacific.

WATSON (voice-over): The U.S. has been the preeminent military force in the Pacific since World War II. In the era of "make America great again," some wonder whether the U.S. can or wants to continue playing this role here -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Okinawa, Japan.

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VANIER: That does it for now. Thanks for watching. I will be back with the headlines in a moment. Stay with us.