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Flurry Of Medals Handed Out At Swimming Events; Tropical Storm Nepartak Threatens Games With Heavy Rain; President Sacks Prime Minister, Suspends Parliament; Joe Biden Announce End Of U.S. Combat Mission In Iraq; Slowing Vaccinations Trigger Stricter Measures In Europe. Aired 12-1a EST

Aired July 27, 2021 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm John Vause and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Ahead this hour, the COVID Olympics already in the grips of a brutal heatwave and oppressive humidity now bracing for an incoming tropical storm.

The Biden administration makes it official, combat operations in Iraq are over, but U.S. forces will stay, reclassified on paper as trainers and advisers.

And the fiery debate over mandated COVID vaccinations, who should win in the battle over the right to refuse and the right to not fall ill and die?

And day four of the Summer Games board a tropical storm expected to make landfall north of Tokyo in the coming hours, bringing no relief to scorching summer temperatures, extreme heat warnings and oppressive humidity at the Olympic Stadium.

Regardless of the weather though, plenty of gold medals have been up for grabs including women's team gymnastics where the U.S. hopes to defend its title from the 2016 Rio Games.

The host nation Japan is looking for another gold medal on the softball field. Japanese women will face the U.S. in a rematch of the 2008 final.

Olympic organizers say at least 160 COVID cases have now been linked to the Tokyo game so far. And two of five new cases reported from the Olympic Village Tuesday are athletes.

Meantime, the tropical storm is forcing some changes to the schedules. Rowing will be held later this week. Well, the surfing medal rounds have been moved up.

Well, for more on the latest medal winners, we'll go to CNN World Sport's Patrick Snell. And Patrick, what about the 100-meter women's breaststroke and that 17-year-old from Alaska? PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Hi, John. Yes, another compelling day already. You know, so far these Olympics has been quite incredible. We've seen teenagers rising to new heights all the time. Just take the women's skateboarding competition on Monday where the podium actually featured not one but three teens, two of them 13.

Well, earlier today in the pool, more teenage exploits as Lydia Jacoby becoming the first ever American Olympic swimmer from Alaska to win gold that came in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Finally, 17-year-old shocking South African star Tatjana Schoenmaker who won silver and U.S. superstar Lilly King who had to settle in the end for bronze.

Meantime, plenty more going on this in the women's 100-meter backstroke. Australian star Kaylee McKeown taking gold and setting an Olympic record in the process with a time of 57.47, the 20-year-old from Queensland. Remember, also setting the world record for the 100- meters backstroke in June with a time of 57.45.

And history in the making as well to tell you about as for the first time since 1992, John, America's men have lost a backstroke race at the Olympics. Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee claiming gold. His compacted Kliment Kolesnikov with silver in the 100-meter backstroke final, the American Ryan Murphy the world record holder having to settle for bronze in the end, wow.

So many storylines we're following. Medals being dished out, John.

VAUSE: Handing them out like candy. A couple of historic firsts as well today so what are (INAUDIBLE).

SNELL: Yes, these are great stories as well. The kind of human interest in sporting endeavors stories. We all love history in the making as well for Bermuda, their first ever Olympic gold medal earlier this coming in the women's triathlon and amid very wet and challenging conditions as well. The event delayed as the result of what -- of that because the weather impacting events until this day in Tokyo but this day overall to savor for Bermuda's Flora Duffy after historic first ever gold medal for her country. Team GB's Georgia Taylor Brown taking silver.

And how about this as well, for another special moment for the Philippines. Hidilyn Diaz has become her country's first ever Olympic gold medalist. And this in her fourth Olympics as well. The 30-year- old winning the women's 55-kilogram category for weightlifting, setting an Olympic record as well. Amazing story as well, John because last year, Diaz had -- she was actually stuck in Malaysia for about five months in total under a government travel ban due to a COVID-19 outbreak forced to build a gym and train with water bottles.

And by the way, John, before I forget, if you'll give me time to do this, sooner World Sport in around, oh, 41 minutes from right now, we're going to bring our one-on-one chat with the Austrian cyclists who just sprung one of the biggest shocks in Olympic history on this busy busy Tuesday, back to you. VAUSE: I'll be watching. Patrick, thank you. Patrick Snell. See you in a bit.

Let's go live to Tokyo now. CNN's Blake Essig standing by. Blake, it's hot, it's humid. COVID cases are on the rise. Now there's an incoming tropical storm to the north. So, how will that impact the games?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, it very much feels like the calm before the storm. It's a bit breezy right now, misting rain. The worst is definitely yet to come.


ESSIG: Now, these games were delayed a year. There are almost no fans in the stands, strict COVID-19 countermeasures, extreme heat. And now, as if athletes competing in these Olympic Games haven't already had enough to deal with, a tropical storm is set to make a landfall at some point this afternoon.

I'm currently outside of the archery field where all events today have been rescheduled because of the storm. The sailing and rowing events have also been postponed.

Now, so far, we've been experiencing fairly constant wind and rain throughout the day. And while the projected path of the storm could change, the conditions are expected to get much worse as the evening approaches.

Now, one sport that has actually benefited from the storm is surfing. The men's and women's medal rounds are -- were originally scheduled for tomorrow, but instead, they're being held as we speak.

Now, those surfers are currently enjoying big overhead swells which is exactly what you'd want at a surfing competition.

And while the storm is only expected to impact competition for about a day or two, the weather will remain a constant challenge for athletes throughout these Olympic Games. Take a listen.


NOBUYUKI TSUCHIYA, DIRECTOR, JAPAN RIVERFRONT RESEARCH CENTRE (through translator): After the typhoon passes through the South Pacific High, will dominate Japan and we will see blue skies. But at the same time, the temperature will also rise dramatically and it will become extremely hot.


ESSIG: Now, the threat of heatstroke is a big concern at these games. According to Japan's public broadcaster NHK, more than 50,000 people are hospitalized and hundreds die each year in Japan as a result of the heat. It's worth pointing out, John, that when the Olympic Games were last held in Tokyo back in 1964, they were actually pushed back several months to avoid Japan's high summer temperatures. VAUSE: I guess, you know, Tokyo is known for its hot summers. Is there some suggestion that maybe the bidding committee back here when they're putting the bid in to win the games? Kind of flubbed it a bit on the actual extreme heat that could be happening around this time of year?

ESSIG: Yes, I mean, look, John, the extreme heat here is not a secret. I mean, when these games were planned, we knew that this is what was going to be the case.

And in fact, prior to the pandemic, and all the issues surrounding COVID-19, the weather was going to be the big storyline at these games.

You know, take your pick for the reason as to why these games were held at this time of year, instead of being pushed back to a more manageable time of year.

Again, we've heard from athletes who have already complained about the weather, the heat that they're dealing with is definitely not optimal conditions to be competing at the high level that these athletes are competing at.

VAUSE: Yes, interesting decisions all round. Blake, thank you. Blake Essig there in Tokyo. We'll talk to you again soon.

Let's go to Pedram Javaheri tracking the tropical storms' movement. He joins us now with the very latest on this. Hey, let's be positive it never developed into a typhoon.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's a good point. Absolutely. It stayed well to the north and east at least for right now, John. And another positive to take out of this as you noted there, the cloud cover on the increase. The temperatures at Tokyo only 27 degrees and they're expected to climb well into the 30s over the next several days once this system passes.

So, if anything good comes out of this for Tokyo is that temps will be cooled off just a little bit in advance of it. But of course, where it ends up is where really all the problems could be here across the northern half of Japan.

But notice between In-Fa across portions of eastern China on into Napartak across areas of Japan, four of the top five most disrupted airports in the world are right here across eastern Asia as a result of inclement weather.

So, here's what we're looking at. Plenty of rainfall certainly in a store. And then across portions of Japan as much as 150 millimeters possible here going in from tonight into Wednesday before conditions quiet down.

Now, notice, not an impressive depiction here when it comes to satellite area, but we do have quite a bit of convection or thunderstorm activity on the western side of it which is closer to land, of course and then, the eastern side of it, it's rather dry. But the system has winds that are gusting close to 100 kilometers per hour at this hour.

And then, you'll notice as we go into Wednesday into Thursday, temps will want to climb back up into the 30s. And you've got to keep in mind we know weather has always been a challenge with these games, but it's because of the humidity and these extreme temperatures because your body does a great job cooling off.

Once you sweat, that moisture evaporates off of your skin, that evaporative cooling leads to rapid cooldown of your body. Here that doesn't happen. It's way too humid so that moisture sits on your skin, doesn't evaporate very effectively. And of course, your body then overheats very quickly.

But when it comes to the storm system, here's the track as it moves north and across areas of Sendai. We think sometime late tonight into early tomorrow, wicked winds gusts over 100 kph, rainfall over 150 millimeters. And then rainfall amounts again with scattered storms, as Patrick noted there in the last segment, we've had, of course, the rowing and some of the water sports that have already been rescheduled in advance of the system and 90 percent chance of thunderstorms, those gusty winds, they're certainly not going to help out, at least over the next 24 hours, John.


VAUSE: Pedram, thank you very much. We appreciate the forecast. Appreciate you being with us.

Well, was it a coup or desperate action during turbulent times? After the president of Tunisia fired the government, the second Prime Minister says he accepts the dismissal for the greater good of Tunisia, a country struggling with a COVID crisis and worsening economic turmoil. CNN's Ben Wedeman has details.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (VOICE OVER): To his supporters, Tunisian President Kais Saied is a hero. Out in the streets of the capital Tunis, shortly after announcing he was sacking the prime minister and suspending Parliament for 30 days.

Locked out of Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi said the President's decisions are in essence a coup. Ghannouchi also leads the country's largest political party.

Tunisia is now deep in turmoil. 10 years ago, it was the first Arab country to topple its aging dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in what became known as the Arab Spring, which brought down autocrats also in Egypt, Yemen and Libya and drew Libya and Syria each into a decade of war.

In Tunisia, hopes were high that an era of democracy was finally dominant. And democracy did dawn, messy, chaotic and divisive.

What didn't come with democracy was prosperity. Saddled with debt left behind by the dictatorship, the economy stagnated, made worse by one of Africa's severest COVID outbreaks.

Kais Saied, a law professor and political independent came to power in a landslide election two years ago. But since then, he clashed with the Prime Minister now sacked and with parliament.

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, and perhaps there it will end. Liberty and freedom are wonderful, but you can't hate democracy.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


VAUSE: After months of political deadlock, Lebanon's parliament has elected a former prime minister to fill the posts once again. Billionaire businessmen Najib Mikati is the third person nominated for the job since the Lebanese Government resigned in the wake of last year's deadly port explosion in Beirut.

Mikati is confident he can form a new government and hopes to implement a French plan to attract foreign aid and end the crippling financial crisis.

The U.S. president formally ending the combat mission in Iraq 18 years after the initial invasion. And just a few months after announcing American troops would be leaving Afghanistan. Joe Biden has said it's time to focus on threats from today, not 20 years ago.

But unlike the withdraw from Afghanistan, this move comes at Iraq's urging and U.S. forces aren't actually leaving Iraq. The plan is to ship them to an advisory role by year's end.

During a White House meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, President Biden vowed ongoing humanitarian, diplomatic and military support.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is just to be available to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it -- as it arrives. But we are not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission.


VAUSE: Douglas Ollivant served under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations as the National Security Council's director for Iraq. He is with us now from Culpeper in Virginia. Douglas, thank you for taking the time to be with us.


VAUSE: OK, so I want you to listen to the White House Press Secretary dodging a question about the number of U.S. troops inside Iraq by years end, here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The first step is the change in mission, the end of combat of a combat role in Iraq and moving to a more of a train, advise and assist role. That is what the Iraqi leadership have conveyed they want to see on the ground.


VAUSE: Is this all a bit like the old shell game because most U.S. troops currently in Iraq will stay in Iraq, but there'll be reclassified, they'll become advisors and trainers.

The reality on the ground though seems really unchanged. Is that accurate?

OLLIVANT: In a lot of ways the reality on the ground will be unchanged, which of course makes you ask why we just didn't make this announcement six or nine months ago and avoid all the drama of the last, you know, six or nine months.

But no, I don't think there'll be a lot of change on the ground, we may see some labels change, it wouldn't surprise me if we see the name of the operation change, maybe they'll downgrade the headquarters in Iraq, it's currently commanded by a three-star General, maybe that gets demoted to a two or a one-star General, which is more appropriate for a training mission.


OLLIVANT: But if you're a captain, or Lieutenant or major doing your job on the ground in Iraq, it's probably going to look really, really similar.

VAUSE: We heard President Biden talking about the ongoing fight against ISIS remains a priority. We have small details from a senior administration official who told CNN nobody is going to declared mission accomplished. The goal is the enduring defeat of ISIS. We recognize you have to keep pressure on these networks as they seek to reconstitute. But the role for U.S. forces and coalition forces can very much recede, you know, deep into the background where we are training, advising, sharing intelligence, helping with logistics.

At the same time, I want you to listen to the view from a general with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. He's calling for an increase in the number of U.S. forces because of ISIS, here he is.


GEN. SIRWAN BARZANI, KURDISH PESHMERGA ARMED FORCES: The ISIS is starting to reorganize themselves again, and they are very active and they have almost everyday terror attack against the civilian or civilian targets. The troops on ground will be fighting against this terrorism group but it was not easy and whatnot so possible to defeat ISIS without the support of the coalitions.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: So, right now, is the country of level sufficient to counter the threat from ISIS? Is there a point where you can see U.S. troops needed to go back in and see the big numbers? And maybe not just to deal with ISIS? This is a counterpoint for Iran as well or Iran backed militias?

OLLIVANT: Well, let's stick with ISIS for a minute. The ISIS problem now and it still exists, let's not kid ourselves, there is still an ISIS presence in Iraq. But it's an intelligence and police problem, not really a military one. If we think back to the ISIS war we saw five years ago, with the (INAUDIBLE) and the recapture of other Iraqi cities, we knew exactly where ISIS was, they were in the cities, but getting them out of there was really hard. That was a military problem that took coordinated military effort.

Now, it's really an intelligence police problem. Finding ISIS is really hard. We really have no earthly idea exactly where we are. We know the general areas, they work in. But finding exactly where they are, it's hard.

Once you do, it's a police problem, you send someone to go arrest them, because they're in relatively small groups. So, no, you don't need U.S. troops to do this. Because you really don't need any troops to do it. It's a police problem, occasionally a special forces problem if you've got a particularly nasty group, but you don't need the large bodies of troops that you needed during the big fights in the Iraqi cities five, six, seven years ago.

VAUSE: The U.S. president has taken a different approach when it comes to withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, it's coming to a close. And a report from the U.N. has found civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021, reached record levels, including a particularly sharp increase in killings and injuries since May, when international military forces began their withdrawal. And the fighting intensified following the Taliban's offensive.

In response to U.S. airstrikes in support of Afghan forces have ramped up in recent days, but yearly, those that air support for Afghan forces, that comes to an end, at least according to the Pentagon once U.S. forces are out.

So, this seems to be you know, a kind of a limited strategy here, then what? Once the U.S. troops are out, what comes next?

OLLIVANT: Well, this is obviously very sad and very tragic for the civilians that are caught in the middle here. What's not totally unexpected during the middle of a transition, we're having a transition from an effort in which the United States plays a major role to play the effort in which the United States is now going to play almost no roles and the Afghan forces are going to have to pick this all up themselves.

They're not used to that things are fluid, I'm sure on the battlefield as they learn these new positions and learn to act in new ways. And there's doubtless some chaos, and there's doubtless a lot of bad things happening. We hope the plan is that this will stabilize at some point and maybe

the Afghan government doesn't control quite as much territory, but they will control some territory and that will be stable and they can start to work from there. We'll see how that works.

VAUSE: Yes, that's a big unknown right now, I guess. And we will know I guess, in the next couple of months when this is all said and done.

Douglas, we're running out of time but thank you so much for being with us, appreciate it.

OLLIVANT: My pleasure.

VAUSE: New infections from the Delta variant has sparked tough new pandemic rules across Europe and that's sparking angry protests, with demonstrators demanding the right to refuse vaccines.

Plus, missing witnesses uncollected evidence even death threats, CNN exclusive report on the challenges facing the investigation with the Haiti's presidential assassination.



VAUSE: Signs of a vaccination slowed down across Europe as of Thursday, about 55 percent of adults in the E.U. had been fully vaccinated.

With a recent surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, some governments are now moving from carrots for vaccinations to sticks.

France has passed a law requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, and for long distance travel. The U.K. also considering a health pass for large events in England, in Greece, Italy and France or mandating vaccines for healthcare workers. Moves which have triggered angry protests, demonstrators demanding

freedom from vaccination rules.

With us now from Los Angeles is Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, a Board Certified internal medicine specialist, as well as a viral researcher and welcome back. Good to see you.


VAUSE: I want you to listen to the French president responding to those protests over the new rules for the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, here he is.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): That is not freedom, that is called irresponsibility, it is called selfishness. A society only holds together when the freedom of each person is respectful of the other and therefore, it is based on rights and duties.


VAUSE: So, in other words, if choosing not to be vaccinated only impacted the in -- the individual, have at it. But there's a different situation altogether when those actions can have far reaching consequences way beyond that one person, right?

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. I've said for a long time, John, that someone else's rights and where my rights begin, and we have rights to stay healthy. And if this were just an individual right, well, then yes, have the courage of your convictions. But it isn't that easy. This is something that spreads and affects everyone. And our government's responsibility is to take care of the majority of the people. It's to serve the greater good.

VAUSE: But in that process, that decision making process is this problem of disinformation. And that is a big problem like here in the United States. Listen to this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to get the vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not and I will not. I'm not a guinea pig. I believe that it's a freedom issue. And I've worn a mask probably a maximum of one hour in the entire whole thing since just COVID came back. If it's so communicable, why am I still standing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you guys going to get the vaccine?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don't trust the government.


VAUSE: You know, the politicization of the pandemic from the very beginning, whether it was facemask or lockdowns, and now vaccines seems to take into a level of idiocy conspiracy theories to a whole new, dangerous level. Has there ever been anything similar to this in the past?

RODRIGUEZ: Not during my, you know, 30 years practicing medicine. You know, John, this is slow coming, because people now, like you said, it's not just the age of information, it is the age of misinformation, and many patients now come to doctors, and they've already researched, you know, and found data, no matter how scant that suits their belief.


RODRIGUEZ: It's almost as if we're going back, you know, to the Dark Ages, and we have to blame -- if we don't understand what's happening, well, you know, we're not blaming witches, but we're blaming conspiracies, it really is a big concern.

VAUSE: Yes, the surgeon general who served during the Trump White House, he talked about the need to licensed vaccines before they can be any kind of mandate, here he is.


JEROME ADAMS, FORMER UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL: So, if you want to get a bunch of people vaccinated really quickly, get the vaccines licensed. And then you'll see the military make it mandatory, you'll see businesses make it mandatory.


VAUSE: So, with that in mind, it was early May when Pfizer announced it was seeking to license its vaccines and was hoping for full regulatory approval of the vaccine in the coming months. So, it's now more than three months later, how much longer should this take?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think it should happen immediately to be quite honest. I just don't know if there's really going to be a big change in people's perception of the vaccine just because an agency that a lot of people don't trust to begin with, gives it authorization.

Yes, it should happen. But unfortunately, I think that genie is out of the bottle, and the mistrust that has been caused by politicization is going to continue.

But yes, I believe in mandating in private businesses and government agencies, and especially in the health professions that people should be vaccinated in order to serve.

VAUSE: Yes, right now, around the world, there is this real inconsistency in vaccine rules. You have France and Italy, and Greece had mandated shots for healthcare workers, health passes are needed for entry to most indoor events and activities in both France and Italy, England too, could also need some kind of health pass for those kind of public gatherings.

All public workers in New York City in the state of California will soon require a vaccination. That also applies to healthcare workers in California, as well as at the Department of Veterans Affairs. And 300 bars in San Francisco, they will require a proof of vaccine soon for entry. And there's a lot more out there.

But this is just such a patchwork at the moment that you know, it just doesn't seem to be effective. Is it even possible, though, for a more universal, more simpler global approach to be put into place?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, it is possible, I just don't think it is probable. From the beginning, John, we've talked about this, even the United States, there are counties, you know, all the counties create their own rules. So, the same laws and the same individuality that makes this country great is now working against us. From the beginning, there should has -- there should have been one mandate, there should have been one rule. And perhaps, well, globally, there needs to be one too. Spearheaded by the WHO perhaps, but there needs to be consistency. I agree with you a hundred percent.

VAUSE: And very quickly, what's to be gained by those who are spreading this disinformation be it Russia or be it the anti-vaxxers you know, be it the Don't Tread on Me crowd?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, you know, some people really in earnest do believe. I mean, we call them -- and I don't mean to insult anybody, tree huggers here, you know, in California, that people, you know, that don't want anything foreign in their body.

But what is to be gained? There are some people whose only sole purpose is to have political gain, to increase their base or increase their viewership. And I guarantee you, even though they don't say it, but they don't say they haven't a hundred percent of those people are vaccinated.

They are playing their followers like fiddles, like pawns. So, what is there to be gained? The usual thing, power, money, you name it.

VAUSE: Yes, and they cause a lot of trouble. Jorge, good to see you. Thanks so much for being with us.

RODRIGUEZ: Likewise, John.

VAUSE: Take care. Well, no clear answers on who did it and why almost three weeks on since Haiti's president was assassinated.

Up next, an exclusive report on the unusual challenges now facing investigators.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.


Nearly three weeks along since Haitian President Jovenel Moise was shot dead in his home, and there's no clear picture of how the attack unfolded, or who was behind it.

And now we may know why this has been so slow. CNN has obtained a cache with documents from Haiti's internal justice ministry, revealing the roadblocks facing investigators.

CNN's Matt Rivers has this exclusive report.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The assassination of President Jovenel Moise rocked Haiti, and finding out who did it and why has become an all-consuming question on the island.

But for some of the people investigating who took the president's life, it has meant risking their own lives to do so.

CNN has obtained a copy of a previously unseen formal complaint, filed with Haiti's national police, in which several Haitian court clerks, key figures in criminal investigations, detail the death threats they've received in the past few weeks.

"Hey, clerk, you can wait for a bullet in your head. They gave you an order, and you keep on doing (EXPLETIVE DELETED)," read one text message.

The threat comes from someone anonymous, angry that the clerk has not followed certain instructions about whom and what to investigate.

(on camera): The threats appear to be just one startling example of what appear to be consistent patterns of intimidation and a failure to follow procedure throughout the investigation into the president's death.

CNN has broken to multiple sources close to the investigation who detailed what they believe are clear attempts to block investigators and, therefore, the public for finding out more about who killed the president and why.

(voice-over): Starting just a few hours after the assassination, around 7 a.m. outside the presidential residence. Sources tell CNN multiple court clerks were kept outside a police perimeter for more than three hours after arriving, even while other law enforcement was inside.

Normally, experts on Haiti's legal system say clerks enter a crime scene right away to officially document any evidence and to take statements from key witnesses, per Haitian law.

(on camera): It's unclear why, in this case, they were delayed, but when they eventually did make it into the presidential residence just down the street behind me, sources tell us that not one of the roughly two dozen or so guards present at the time of the assassination were still there, meaning no witness statements were immediately taken.

Later on that day, there was a fierce gun fight between Haitian security forces and some of the alleged assassins at this building. Multiple suspects were killed, all of whom were Colombian.

Sources close to the investigation tell us court clerks were not immediately allowed into the shootout scene, which would have been filled with evidence, including, we're told, the bodies of the dead Colombians.

In an official document filed with Haiti's top prosecutor, clerks describe examining the bodies not here at the shootout site, but here outside of an office building just down the road. That suggests the bodies have been removed from the crime scene before being processed. No official explanation of why that happened was given.

A few days later, authority start to zero in on this man, Christian Emanuel Sanon, as someone who allegedly recruited and helped organize some of these men seen here, a large group of Colombians and several Americans Haitian officials allege carried out this crime. We haven't heard from them publicly.

A source close to the investigation previously told CNN Sanon told investigators he is innocent.

It was around this time that the anonymous phone calls started. According to the official complaint, filed with police obtained by CNN, clerks received multiple threatening phone calls, telling them to stop investigating two suspects in the case and remove them from their reports.


According to the complaint, the calls were followed by this text message. Quote, "They told you to stop going around searching people's Houses in the president assassination case, and you refused. You've been told to take out two names, and you refused. We're watching you."

Sources close to the investigation tell us the clerks were also told to add unrelated names to their reports. People who had no clear connection to the crime. It's unclear who made any of the calls or sent the text messages.

And then there's what happened with the FBI. Special agents from the bureau invited in by Haiti's government went to the presidential residence about two weeks ago to collect evidence.

Sources tell us the agents managed to find a lot, including the megaphone used here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear us? Everybody back downstairs now (ph).

RIVERS: This is from the night of the assassination, where one of the suspects is keeping people away from the scene by claiming it was all a DEA operation, something the agency and Haitian officials repeatedly denied that it was.

Sources tell CNN FBI agents were little surprised to find so much evidence still at the crime scene and left wondering why Haitian authorities hadn't already corrected it. Those sources added they do expect the FBI will have continued access to evidence that they requested.

(on camera): Now, CNN has reached out to multiple different Haitian government agencies, seeking comment on this story. As of Monday night, we only heard back from one person. That would be Haiti's top prosecutor, who told us that many people involved in this investigation have actually received death threats, including himself. And that he would try and provide more security to investigators moving forward.

Matt Rivers, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: A hotline between leaders of North and South Korea has been reconnected. And according to South Korean officials, the first call has been made.

North Korea severed communication lines after walking away from nuclear negotiations last year. But the two leaders have been writing to one another since April, and it was in one of those exchanges they agreed to restore the hotline.

In a matter of hours, a House select committee will begin its investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers will hear from four police officers who were on the front lines as insurgents supporting Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to try and stop the certification of Joe Biden's victory.

The officers will describe how they were beaten with flagpoles, Tasered by rioters, and targeted with racial slurs.

CNN will bring you live coverage of the hearing, starting at 2 p.m. in London, 9 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Soon to come here, a big win for Japan ending China's Olympic dominance in table tennis. But for these geopolitical rivals, there's much more at stake during these games.



VAUSE: Legal counsel for Britney Spears has filed a petition to end her father's total control over her estate, calling his actions for the last 13 years abusive and cruel, now requesting an accountant to manage her finances.

Spears is worth nearly $60 million. Representatives for her father could not be reached for comment.

The next hearing is scheduled for late September.

On Monday, host nation Japan pulled off a stunning upset over China, winning gold in mixed table tennis. China had won every table tennis title in Olympics since 2004. That is until now.

The rivalry between Japan and China is also playing out on a far bigger geopolitical stage. And we have more on that now from CNN's Selina Wang.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year and a half into the pandemic, it's clear these aren't the Olympics Japan was hoping for.

The games were supposed to be the nation's comeback after decades of economic stagnation and devastation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. But COVID-19 derailed those dreams. (on camera): After spending more than $15 billion for the Summer

Games, Japan's projected to lose billions. With no economic boost from foreign tourists, fans banned from almost every Olympic venue, and a subdued opening ceremony at this national stadium that the country spent more than a billion dollars rebuilding.

(voice-over): And now the country, along with the IOC, plow ahead, ignoring cancellation calls from doctors, sponsors and business leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call it a suicide mission, to be very honest.

WANG: With just barely over 20 percent of Japan's population fully vaccinated, the games have also highlighted Japan's current place in the pandemic. A slow start to its vaccine rollout, paired with surging cases and Tokyo. The host city remaining under a state of emergency during the entirety of the Olympics.

It's the exact scenario Japan wanted to avoid, losing center stage to geopolitical rival China, host of the Winter Olympics just six months after.

DAVID LEHENY, PROFESSOR, WASEDA UNIVERSITY: I absolutely think that the Tokyo Olympics could be a boon for China, especially if they get to contrast a Winter Olympics in which we have a large number of spectators in the stands with a much more quiet, subdued, and desultory Japanese Olympics in which there's no one in the stands.

WANG (on camera): How much of a role does fear of losing face to China, getting upstaged by China, factor into these games going ahead?

LEHENY: If the next Olympics were to be hosted by a country with which Japan had a friendlier relationship, then perhaps Japan canceling the Olympics wouldn't be considered quite as catastrophic.

WANG (voice-over): Beijing could bring an entirely different experience than here in Japan. Stands full of spectators without COVID-19 taking center stage.

China has claimed its draconian measures helped beat COVID-19, and has administered enough doses to fully vaccinate more than 40 percent of its population of 1.3 billion people.

But the stakes are equally high for Beijing. Its global reputation plunged for its initial handling of the pandemic.

In a boost to Japan, some global leaders, including U.S. first lady Jill Biden, have attended the Tokyo Games. But things might be a bit different in a few months, with calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics and criticism of its authoritarian system only likely to grow.

Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


VAUSE: Don't go away. A lot more on the Olympics coming up on WORLD SPORT. But that is it for this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. WORLD SPORT is next. And then I will be back at the top of the hour.