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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Stocks Come Roaring Back; Trump Reviewing Democratic Intelligence Memo; Earthquake Hits Taiwan; North Korea and U.S. Bring Spy Games to Pyeongchang; Elon Musk's Super Rocket Lifts Off; Japanese Princess Postpones Wedding. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 7, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:

The U.S. President said he'd love a government shutdown over immigration; but even more than that he'd love a huge military parade through the streets of the capitol.

At least four people are dead, scores missing after a powerful earthquake jolts Taiwan.

And the world's most powerful rocket puts an electric car into orbit.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us.

I'm John Vause.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.

Just today after the Dow's biggest one-day point drop ever U.S. stocks have bounced back and markets in Asia are following. Right now positive numbers in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney but Shanghai the only exchange not in positive territory but Shanghai is no indicator of the global markets.

Wall Street started Tuesday with other steep drop briefly moving into correction territory down 10 percent from recent highs. But by the end of the day the blue chips it recovered finishing out 567 points raising almost half of Monday's 1,100 point loss.

CNN's Paula Newton is watching the markets from Seoul, South Korea. She joins us now, live. So Paula -- right now the mood there it seems it's relief but are there concerns beyond the next few trading days, the next few trading weeks.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes absolutely. But it's the concerns that had always been there. If we follow the Bank of Japan's lead they're telling us look, this is the kind of volatility that they can and they're willing to shrug off.

Why? Because if you look at that synchronized global growth, John, everyone is telling us about things are -- economies all over the world are in pretty good shape and for that reason they understand that this volatility might be here to stay, having said that John.

But on the same points when they look at how the Asian markets are doing in terms of their economies things are going well. I do want to point out that there are two things that can really shake up an Asian market.

One thing is the U.S. dollar if it -- right now it's on -- it has been lowered than it has been in the past. Countries like here in Korea and Japan are watching that U.S. dollar very carefully. They do not want the U.S. dollar to get too weak. They want a good, strong U.S. dollar so that they're very competitive to sell products, export products into that U.S. market.

And the other thing is trade wars -- John. And given all of that rhetoric from the Trump administration, they are keeping also a very close eye on that.

Beyond that though, this kind of volatility is good for Asian markets. I mean they always tell us especially if you're a professional you are making money in these markets whether they go up or they go down. It is that low transaction market that we've had in the last 14 months that is not good for banks and traders.

The rest of us John we're, best to just stay on the sidelines and watch it for a little while.

VAUSE: You know someone is always making money when the markets are moving like this. It's just not me.

On Tuesday the U.S. government passed another short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. There's no guarantee either, you know, side -- Republicans or the Democrats will agree on a long-term budget measure. And the President has said he'd actually welcome a shutdown. How does all this uncertainty play in the global markets which I should say are already coming to this sort of period of volatility?

NEWTON: Global markets are really watching things like that. What you need to do -- if there would be a shutdown a couple of days anyone can shrug that off. The problem is that you into the kind of shutdown that we had during, let's say the Obama administration it can actually shave, not a lot, but a little bit off of GDP.

I think what Asian markets are watching and markets all over the world quite frankly is again if we talk about volatility in the market, we're also talking about volatility with the Trump administration and with Congress And yes, that they don't like.

What they have liked is the fact that all that regulation is now off the table and so that has been a good thing. But when they start talking about the fact that they can't predict what Congress or the President are going to do in certain economic programs whether or not they're going to have an infrastructure program, whether or not they're going to start a trade war. That is what starts to make them nervous.

So they will be watching what the government does in terms of the shutdown very carefully. Again the unpredictability is what they don't like.

VAUSE: All right. Ok, Paula -- thank you for that. Paula Newton keeping a close eye on the markets and giving us some analysis of what's happening in the Asia region. Appreciate it. Thank you -- Paula.

Well, joining me now, CNN political commentators: Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas.

Ok. Here we go again. Shutdown averted, crisis delayed until March 23rd. That's when the money runs out the next time; kicked the can down the road.

But now we have the President saying if the Democrats don't support tougher laws on immigration then so be it. Shut the government down. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[00:05:02] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don't change it let's have a shutdown. We'll do a shutdown and it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: John -- that seems like an odd threat for the President to make given that immigration is not part of, you know, the budget deal which is currently being hammered out between Republicans and Democrats. The whole immigration thing is being pushed to one side. So does he want to shut down over -- explain that please.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, DACA is nearing to expire.

VAUSE: That's right. But it's not part of the budget negotiations.

THOMAS: Correct. But I think for him he's just stating his big overwhelming priority that he wants to see funding for a wall, he wants to see increased order security funding. And that's his top priority.

I don't think we're going to get to a shutdown. He knows it's bad for him just like we saw in the last go around. He did everything he could to avert a shutdown.

But I mean he's laying out his policy proposal -- his policy focus to the Congress saying you've got to give me something and tell me when you're going to give it to me or I'll shut this whole place down.

VAUSE: Are you guys thinking he got a little confused and, you know, made a -- THOMAS: That's possible.

VAUSE: Ok. Dave -- you know there has been some progress between Democrats and Republicans towards this long-term budget deal. Despite what the President says has been, you know, no help from the Democrats here's Republican lawmaker Barbara Comstock and the President at the end of her -- what she has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK (R), VIRGINIA: We don't need a government shutdown on this. We really do -- I think both sides have learned that a government shutdown was bad. It wasn't good for them. And we do have bipartisan support on these things. I think we need to talk about these cases that are going on.

TRUMP: We're not getting support from the Democrats on --

COMSTOCK: If you put this bill --

TRUMP: -- this legislation --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Ok. So the Republicans say there's bipartisan support from Democrats. The President who's not part of the negotiations says there's not. But regardless if these talks collapse did the President just embrace the next shutdown even though Trump thinks it won't happen? You know did he just step on a rake?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: It's possible. I mean I'm just glad that there's level-headed Republicans out there who understand fundamentally that we need bipartisanship in Washington because it's broken at this point.

But I think largely, like my issue is yesterday Donald Trump was criticizing Democrats asking for loyalty and saying that it was treasonous that they didn't applaud him when he gave his State of the Union. And then flip it to 24 hours later and he says he'd love a government shutdown.

That's treasonous. Shutting down the government. I mean it's incredibly --

VAUSE: Well, it's a little -- but treasonous is not likely but it's still (INAUDIBLE).

JACOBSON: It's pretty bad. The guy -- the guy is sick in the head.

THOMAS: Well, the challenge is for the President it's hypocritical in the sense of a couple of weeks ago the President was accusing Democrats of holding tight on their policy proposal but the Schumer shutdown -- Schumer was willing to shut down the government for his policy proposal. Now Trump's doing the same thing. That is a challenge. VAUSE: When are we going to hear him say let's embrace unity and come together and try and work all this out. And you know, on Tuesday it's like shut it all down.

Ok, you know, we mentioned the immigration is now separate to the budget. The President has proposed a path to citizenship for 1.8 million so-called Dreamers that the people brought to the United States as children that were brought here by their parents. They had no choice in the matter. They've grown up here.

This is what the White House chief of staff John Kelly had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There are 690,000 official DACA registrants. And the President sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number to 1.8 million. The difference 690 million and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign, others would say they were too lazy to get off their asses but they didn't sign up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Too lazy, too terrified. You know, maybe one way of looking at it. But Dave -- when John Kelly was appointed chief of a staff many hoped that Kelly's character would rub off on the President. Is it possible that the President's character has rubbed off on John Kelly?

JACOBSON: I think you're hinting at something that's very possible. I think perhaps he's been brainwashed by the President because John Kelly's statement today underscores the fact that the White House has become a cesspool for racism and bigotry.

And all the staffers are increasingly starting to sound more and more like Donald Trump. John's a Republican but he doesn't talk about Latinos in a racist way like Donald Trump does or like John Kelly did today. And I think there's a big disconnect between Republicans perhaps on Capitol Hill or out in states like California and the Republican that are hovering around the White House.

VAUSE: Yes. And this is the point because you know, John -- you know, when you look at the facts, you know, the DACA kids, the dreamers. You know, they have a very high success rate in starting businesses. They go to college. They work hard. I mean they're not lazy.

THOMAS: Not all of them. I'm sure there are --

VAUSE: The average -- they have a higher average college entrants and studying businesses --

THOMAS: I think the DACA recipients have a higher -- I think Dreamers might be slightly lower. But was that inartful of General Kelly to say that? Absolutely. I mean he shouldn't be the spokesman for the administration. [00:10:07] But were some people afraid to sign up? Probably. Do some

people not know to sign up? Probably. Were some people lazy? Maybe. Should he have said it? No.

I don't see what he has to gain from it. What he has to gain is saying President Trump was very magnanimous in going beyond the DACA and trying to give a pathway to citizenship for all dreamers. That's what he should have left it at.

VAUSE: Ok. So here is how the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded when asked about Kelly's remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're focused on actually getting a solution. And frankly I think if anybody is lazy it's probably Democrats who aren't showing up to work and aren't actually getting to the table to make a deal on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And Dave -- this sort of goes to your point about, you know, this sort of -- not necessarily belligerent but, you know, really coarse, harsh, tough language from one who's integrated (ph) in this White House.

JACOBSON: And that's why there's the disconnect when it comes to the budget negotiations and the CR, right. Like it's clear that Donald Trump is not part of the negotiations and the process of what's going on in the Senate or the House because he clearly thought that there was some immigration hook to that.

VAUSE: Right.

JACOBSON: And there wasn't. And so these guys were like being left out and so is Sarah.

VAUSE: Ok. The President now has the Democrat memo on the FBI. This is the rebuttal to the Republican, one which claims the FBI corruption in the Russia investigation.

Donald Trump has five days now to decide whether or not he'll declassify it paving the way for its release. This is what the Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think what you see here is Republicans are for letting all of this information out there provided that we scrub for sources and methods.

The Republican memo was written to make sure that sources and methods were not compromised so that full disclosure could occur. We do not now know whether that's the case for the Democrat memo. It has to go to that scrubbing process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And that's just not true because here is the recent reporting from a lot of news agencies including the "New York Times". This is theirs. "The Justice Department has warned repeatedly that the memo, the Republican memo prepared by Republican staff leaders on the House Intelligence Committee is misleading and that its release would set a bad precedent for making government secrets public including sensitive sources of information and methods of intelligence gathering."

John -- you know, so ok. So we know that, you know, what Paul Ryan says there is not exactly accurate. But we now have a situation where the President just released a Republican memo without even -- said he released it without even having read it and he may not give that same sort of standard to the Democrats.

THOMAS: Well, I think the memo does get released. I've also heard conflicting information, people who have read the memo. I heard on the Republican side who've said Adam Schiff purposely put in sources to make it more difficult for the President to release the memo. So we want to make sure it's scrubbed.

The big hullabaloo we had last week or the week before was that people were going to die when the Republicans released the memo; that there were sources in the memo. I read the memo. No one's died and I didn't see any sources revealed in that memo.

So it' just -- you've got to obviously be careful. But the memo needs to be released. I think Trump will do it. But you have to be proper in how you do things.

VAUSE: So the way it was explained to me as being a problem is that -- someone gave me this example who works for one of the intelligence agencies. It's like if you knew that Aunt Sarah always stands up at 6:00 at night and toasts the queen and you're the only person who knows that and that bit of information which seem completely and totally irrelevant is included somewhere then they know that you're the only person who knows that then you're the person who gave it to them.

And that's how these sorts of sources are exposed. It may not be obvious to us but it's obvious to people out there.

THOMAS: Well, that means you never declassify anything -- the JFK documents -- I mean the argument is --

VAUSE: That will be classified 30 years later, or you know, there's a time period which exchanges -- which passes, rather.

THOMAS: But bottom line is the memo should be released.

VAUSE: Yes.

THOMAS: And if you look at it from a time period, we're not from the time that Schiff wrote the counter memo, we're not that far off from the time the Republican -- I think it was Trey Gowdy who wrote the Republican memo. It took about three weeks to get that out. So we're about the same timeline.

VAUSE: Ok.

You know, there was this interesting exchange between again chief of staff John Kelly and a pool reporter on Tuesday about the memo. Here we go.

"Has the President read the Democratic memo?"

Kelly: "He hasn't. It's pretty lengthy."

"Has he read the whole thing?"

Kelly: "No, no. I just gave it to him.

"He'll read it after this?" Question.

Kelly: "Of course yes. We'll get some people down to debrief him."

Dave -- the Democrat memo is 10 pages long. I mean you know, the Republican was three and a half. This isn't "War and Peace" we're talking about here. I mean --

JACOBSON: And John Kelly's like supposed to be the adult at the adult daycare center. He was supposed to like make sure the President does his job and his due diligence.

I'm not surprised it's ten pages long. Congressman Adam Schiff is a former federal prosecutor. He's a very substantive person so I'm sure he dotted every i and crossed every t which is a good thing because the Republican memo, as the Justice Department said, was extremely reckless and it was misleading obviously. So I'm glad he's doing his due diligence.

[00:14:58] Here's the issue -- John. If Donald Trumps retracts a lot of this information or doesn't release it publicly, that poll that just came out by Quinnipiac today that said 53 percent of Americans believe that Donald Trump is obstructing the Russia investigations is just going to tick up.

VAUSE: Ok. Finally in the midst of all the turmoil, the world is facing Russia investigations, the threat of nuclear annihilation, constitutional crisises or crises -- the President wants a big, big military parade just like the one he saw in France.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's one of the greatest parades I've ever seen. It was two hours and (INAUDIBLE) and it was military might. And I think a tremendous thing for France. We're going to have to try and top it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes. So the request has gone into the Pentagon -- John. The White House says this is all about showing appreciation for the troops. This is all about Donald Trump.

THOMAS: I can see the argument for appreciation for the troops but I think even more than that is you look at a lot of other countries they have these military parades as a show of force.

VAUSE: Russia, North Korea.

THOMAS: Yes.

VAUSE: I mean, you know, these are dictatorships, you know, China.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: But it's not to -- it's not -- I don't believe they do it to show that they're dictators. They show that their country is strong and strongest military force.

VAUSE: They do it as a threat.

JACOBSON: Can I just say I actually think this is response to Donald Trump's tweet on North Korea with my button is bigger. I think it's my military is bigger.

VAUSE: Right.

THOMAS: Gosh.

JACOBSON: I hope not.

VAUSE: But we know -- you know, the President has long wanted a big display of patriotism, the U.S. military might.

THOMAS: Yes -- he said this many times.

VAUSE: Yes, he's wanted this for a while. So far really it's only been sort of when he got, you know, this moment on the campaign. Take a look.

(MUSIC)

VAUSE: The freedom kids. And you know, Dave, their dad had to sue Trump to cover their expenses. I mean that's as good as it's gotten so far.

JACOBSON: I feel sorry for those children.

THOMAS: Those girls have guns. What are you talking about? That's a real show of force.

VAUSE: He should lead the parade. This is about (INAUDIBLE) -- in front a big truck or something.

Ok -- guys. Dave and John -- it's good to see you.

THOMAS: Thanks.

VAUSE: Ok.

Well, still to come here on NEWSROOM L.A.

Rescue operations still under way in Taiwan after a powerful earthquake jolted the island. We'll have a report in a moment.

And athletes won't be the only ones competing at the Olympics in South Korea. Coming up -- a look at the spy games.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: A hundred and forty-five people are missing after Taiwan was hit with a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. It struck off the east coast late Tuesday killing at least four people.

More details now from CNN's Alexandra Field.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an area that is prone to earthquakes. It is also well-prepared for earthquakes. But the one that struck in the middle of the night was powerful enough to send several buildings collapsing; a couple of the city's buildings, also the Marshall Hotel.

[00:20:03] That's where a lot of the early rescue efforts were concentrated. It's also where a lot of the initial injuries were reported.

We know at least 50 Japanese tourists were injured during the earthquake -- a 6.4 magnitude earthquake. That's what we're talking about here, followed by an aftershock of 5.1 magnitude.

Hundreds of rescue workers flooded the streets trying to reach people who were still missing or trapped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the quake happened, we took the children and ran. My shop was still open at the time. My wife told me the opposite building has collapsed so we quickly took the flashlights and went over to save the people.

That was it. Because when it first happened we could only save the residents in the lower floors. Those on higher floors we couldn't reach them. We had to wait for the fire trucks to arrive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FIELD: Taiwan's leader tweeted overnight telling people to stay safe and assuring them that government agencies and armed forces were on the streets ready to respond in trying to help anyone who was still missing.

You can see some of those images -- shattered windows, glass blown out of buildings, people actually escaping from the buildings by crawling through those windows. Another woman we saw rescued by a crane that was out there on the streets.

Just a frantic effort to try and get people out before anymore damage was done to those buildings. This is an area again that has seen a number of earthquakes, several in just the last few days.

In Hong Kong -- Alexander Field, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: This is the scene right now outside that hotel, the Marshall Hotel in Taiwan. You can see it's tilting very badly to its side. The crane is there and it appears that these rescue operations are ongoing.

Joining us Lu Gong Ying (ph) joins us now on the line from Taipei. So Lu, what's the situation inside that hotel. Has everyone been accounted for? Have they managed to search every floor at this point?

LU GONG YING: Yes. Hi -- John.

Well actually the Marshall Hotel has collapsed and according to the officials (INAUDIBLE) the first to the third floor are caved in. The two people who are still trapped inside they are known to be alive.

But the other -- in the other building there are more than 140 people still unaccounted for. And ten of them are supposed to be in a BNB in fact. But the other 139 people they are just registered there. So it's not known that they are -- there were actually in the building or not.

VAUSE: Ok so if you look at the area where the quake struck and the sort of the damage that we're looking at how widespread is the damage across Taipei? And after all this is a region which you know deals with earthquakes on a fairly often basis.

YING: Yes. So the Hualien city is a coastal city on the east coast of Taiwan. So Taipei or the other areas are largely unharmed actually. So it is not very widespread at moment.

So only Hualien city and the vicinities have been affected and the most serious damage was done to the downtown, the city center, Meilun area to be specific.

VAUSE: We know that 200 or so people were hurt in this earthquake a least 200 or so. Do we know what their conditions are at this point?

YING: Yes. So there are, according to the latest statistic 241 people injured. And most of them are -- the condition is not so serious. But according to latest update there are also-- the amount of people who are injured two of them are from mainland China.

They are individual tourists. So a mother and a child and they have been sent to the hospital. And the mother is allegedly hurt more seriously. So we don't know yet if she is in critical condition. But we'll keep watching. VAUSE: And what's the situation when it comes to aftershocks at this

point? Because clearly you mentioned Hualien, a number of buildings have been damaged especially this hotel. Have there been serious aftershocks which threaten to do more damage?

YING: Yes, actually. So for the past few days there have been hundreds of aftershocks and since last night since midnight for the following ten hours after midnight's major earthquake there were 130 aftershocks. So even this morning, the aftershocks are still happening even until now.

VAUSE: Ok. That will no doubt be happening for a while. Lu Gong Ying -- thank you very much. On the line there from Taipei with the very latest on that earthquake --

YING: Thank you. Thank you -- John.

VAUSE: -- in Hualien, in Taiwan.

[00:25:00] Just to repeat what we've learned. There are two people, at least two people, remain trapped inside that hotel we're looking at right now. That's the Marshall Hotel. Those rescue operations are ongoing.

Also in another building where I think (INAUDIBLE) said that there were about ten people who remained trapped there but about 140 maybe 150 people at this point still unaccounted for.

This is, of course, those strong aftershocks continue to rattle the region. More on this story and more details as we get them.

In the meantime 280 North Koreans are now in South Korea for the Winter Olympics. A cheering squad, Taekwondo performers, journalists and four North Korean Olympic Committee members were all part of one of the largest peace-time crossings on the peninsula.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is headed for the games but he stopped first in Tokyo. He visited a Japanese missile battery. And later, he'll meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss security in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat.

And while the world will be watching the athletes at the Olympic Games North Korean and U.S. operatives will be watching each other.

Barbara Starr reports on the upcoming spy games.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Signals being sent and deciphered at the highest level even before the Olympic Games in South Korea begin.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With regard to any interaction with the North Korean delegation I have not requested a meeting but we'll see what happens.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think we'll just see. We'll see what happens.

STARR: A careful offer just in case the North Koreans are ready to talk. But behind the scenes count on plenty of spy games at these Olympics.

PATRICK CRONIN, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: It's going to be crowded with intelligence operatives not least from the North Korean team who will be looking to make contacts looking to put in place or make contact with sleeper agents.

STARR: The games will provide U.S. Intelligence personnel with an extraordinary opportunity to directly watch and approach North Korean targets.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Any time you're in close proximity to people, representatives of an adversarial nation it would be foolish for intelligence agencies not to try to capitalize on that.

STARR: North Korea's first espionage priority -- ensure there are no embarrassing defections during the games.

KIRBY: I think that they will try to take advantage of this opportunity. There's no question. They'll also be spying on their own people.

STARR: But there will also be hidden high tech spy tools. U.S. Navy submarines lurking offshore and aircraft overhead can monitor North Korean communications.

U.S. Air Force AWACS aircraft can make certain only friendly aircraft are in the air. U.S. Special Operations Forces will be close by in case of trouble.

But for now, very public tit for tat goes on with no North Korean give on its weapons policy.

JU YONG CHOI, NORTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT: The U.S. who is not -- who is unhappy with this trend is seeking to intentionally elevate the situation by deploying huge nuclear assets nearby the Korean peninsula including nuclear aircraft (INAUDIBLE) strike groups.

ROBERT WOOD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT: The situation on the Korean Peninsula has not changed. The regime continues to -- continues to work on its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. This -- what I would call charm offensive frankly is fooling no one.

STARR: For now the Trump administration is sticking to its hard line to North Korea -- stop your weapons program.

Barbara Starr, CNN -- the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: When we come back, back to the future. SpaceX launches the Falcon Heavy rocket and gives the U.S. the capability in space it has not had for decades.

[00:28:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

VAUSE: SpaceX has pulled off an historic mission with the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.

(INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go Falcon Heavy.

(APPLAUSE)

VAUSE (voice-over): Tens of thousands of onlookers were in Florida to see the liftoff of the world's most powerful rocket, 3 million others watched online as the Falcon Heavy headed deep into space. Starman, though, rocket test dummy, is strapped into a red Tesla roadster with David Bowie's "Space Oddity" blasting out on an endless loop, apparently for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Danny Olivas joins us now. He's a former NASA astronaut and a mission assurance expert.

Good to see you, Danny. Thank you. This was such a great day. There's been so much bad, negative -- it was such an uplifting moment to watch this all happen. And as much as this launch was about restoring U.S. capability in space, this was clearly about the future.

And the future here, it seems NASA won't be doing the heavy lifting.

DANNY OLIVAS, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: I certainly think that, first off, kudos to the SpaceX employees and all the engineers. They did a phenomenal job in today's launch, it was absolutely beautiful.

And what I really think that this shows is that there's an opportunity for a government-private partnership to accomplish some of these missions. They're going to be hard. It's not just about blasting off the planet but there are a lot of challenges associated with getting human beings to and from Mars, which is ultimately the destination for both organizations.

VAUSE: What was more amazing about all of this, before the launch, Elon Musk, the guy behind SpaceX, he was giving success less than a 50-50 chance. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELON MUSK, CEO, SPACEX: I didn't really think this would work. When I see the rocket lift off, I see like a thousand things that could not work. And it's amazing when they do. I've seen rockets blow up so many different ways. So, you know, it's a big relief when it actually works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Does this prove the Thomas Edison quote, I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work?

OLIVAS: A space flight is a very difficult and challenging thing. We know very little about space. And living and working in space, we've been doing this, you know, since the late 1950s. But we still have a lot to learn, especially where Elon Musk is headed right now, is we're basically --

[00:35:00]

OLIVAS: -- in uncharted territories, we start heading toward Mars although we've sent Martian probes before. Trying to get a human being to Mars alive is a challenge. Getting off the planet is certainly the first step.

VAUSE: It's not easy but (INAUDIBLE) is that you have Elon Musk who is sort of this cowboy, he tries a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff doesn't work. And if you're going to get to Mars, it's that spirit (INAUDIBLE) but a spirit to try, try and try again which NASA doesn't quite have in the same proportions or have what it used to have now that it's sort of into its 60th year.

OLIVAS: I think there a lot of risk that's taken when you fly into space. And NASA comes from an institutionalized approach towards safety and -

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Which is a good thing.

OLIVAS: -- that's a good thing. And you've got to figure that the space shuttle was the safest space vehicle that was ever built by mankind and yet we experienced a failure in one in every six, 7.5 flights which basically means that that's not very good odds.

VAUSE: Space flight is dangerous.

OLIVAS: Space flight is dangerous and now if you're talking about going to Mars, your opportunities for testing these vehicles and understanding their reliability, the opportunities are going to be much less. So a lot of rigor is going to have to go into it to make sure that it's safe before they start putting belly buttons on the top of these pointy rockets.

VAUSE: What was the key to all of this in some ways is the cost per launch. We have some estimate numbers, not actually specific numbers. But this is what is believed, for SpaceX and the Falcon Heavy, $90 million per launch. United Launch Alliance, another private group, $400 million per launch.

And from NASA, still in development, Space Launch System, which is their heavy launch vehicle, much heavier than the Falcon, up to $1 billion each launch. The reason why the SpaceX is so cheap, is because they reuse the rockets.

But does this raise now a whole bunch of questions for NASA and what their priorities should be moving forward?

OLIVAS: I think it is an opportunity for both organizations to learn. NASA has a historical experience with space. There's been a lot of lessons that have been learned through a lot of blood, sweat and tears -- and literally blood.

But by the same token, SpaceX is approaching it in a very novel and, as you said, a cowboy sort of way, that the space agency could benefit from. And so I really see that, by the two working together that there's going to be a nice hybrid that will allow us to be able to continue safe exploration of space.

VAUSE: On the technical side, you know, one of the real achievements of this was the boosters coming back to Earth; two of the boosters made it back, a third one, the (INAUDIBLE) booster, didn't make it, crashing into the sea.

Is that a concern?

OLIVAS: Well, I'm sure that the SpaceX team is going to study what happened. They're obviously got the experience with landing on barges. So they're going to go through their data, try and figure out exactly what happened.

To me, the excitement wasn't necessarily actually coming home; it was actually the boosters staying strapped on because that is the first time that that configuration has been flown like that, which is pretty phenomenal.

VAUSE: There's some questions, though, if, in fact, there is a big enough market out there for Falcon Heavy. I'm just wondering, it seems like this would be a case of create the service and demand will follow.

OLIVAS: So I think that we as human beings are curious. And we certainly understand and appreciate that Mars is a destination, that human beings are -- will endeavor to conquer, to be able to get there and actually plant a flag and say we've been there and explore it.

That's been at the forefront since post the Apollo days. So I do think that going forward there is still going to be that same level of excitement, that same level of enthusiasm. I think again, with this, the private ventures coming in and coming in, in a very creative and innovative way, will help, basically, the United States, you know, retain the high ground in space. VAUSE: Yes. I think for everyone who watched this launch, it was like we were watching the future and the future started today with this launch. That's what's so exciting about this. Good to see you.

OLIVAS: Absolutely, thank you, John.

VAUSE: Well, Japan's Princess Mako and her common fiance, a commoner fiance, I should say, are putting their fairy tale plans on hold.

Are they having a case of royal cold feet?

More on that in a moment.

Plus the British monarchy is concerned about the queen's swans. Dozens of them have died.

What's up?

Next in a moment.

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VAUSE: They're a graceful symbol of the British monarchy but now a bird flu outbreak is threatening the queen's swans; officials say at least 30 have died so far and experts fear the entire flock may be at risk.

That's about 200 swans near the River Thames near Windsor Castle. Under British tradition, they all belong to the queen.

The happily ever after has been put on hold for two Japanese lovebirds. Princess Mako and her commoner fiance are putting their marriage on hold for a few years. Lynda Kinkade tells us why.

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LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The fairy tale romance of Japanese Princess Mako and commoner Kei Komuro just got a big dose of reality. In a statement released on Tuesday, the couple announced they've postponed their engagement and wedding until at least 2020.

The couple says they are having second thoughts about marrying so soon, explaining, "It is because of our immaturity and we just regret it."

The princess went on to say she needs more time to plan their future, saying, "I wish to think about our marriage more deeply and concretely and give sufficient time to prepare our marriage and for after the marriage." Imperial household sources told CNN the postponement was due to a lack

of preparation. Princess Mako and Komuro, both 26, announced their engagement in September last year. It may have been a love match but it certainly wasn't a royal one. She's the first grandchild of Japan's Emperor Akihito.

Komuro works at a Tokyo law firm. The two met attending university. If it goes ahead, the union would force the princess to give up her title, since imperial law says royal women cannot keep their status if they marry commoners.

The law does not apply to royal men. The princess' grandfather, the emperor, married a commoner nearly 60 years ago, breaking centuries of Japanese tradition. So while Princess Mako and Kei Komuro may not live happily ever after just yet, royal watchers can take heart.

We're just a few months away from another royal-commoner wedding when Britain's Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle in May -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.

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VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.