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CNN NEWSROOM

Feud Heats Up Between Trump and Pro Sports; U.S. Bombers Fly East of North Korea; U.S. Army Reserve Sends 4,000 Troops to Puerto Rico; NFL Defends Players Who Kneel During Anthem; Germany Goes to the Polls; Audrey Hepburn Collections Up for Auction in London; Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 24, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:11] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Donald Trump versus the players. He escalates his racially tinged brawl with some of the world's top names in sports.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The standoff between North Korea and the U.S. grows more dangerous with more heated rhetoric and a show of American military might.

HOWELL: Plus the story on Hurricane Maria, it is gone but the danger is not over yet for Puerto Rico. Look at that. Residents there keeping a very close eye on a dam in danger of failing.

ALLEN: Like they need any more problems there with water.

HOWELL: They don't.

ALLEN: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. 4:00 a.m. here on the U.S. East Coast at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. NEWSROOM starts right now.

ALLEN: Thanks again for joining us. A feud between Donald Trump and professional sports is getting even more heated and now the controversial practice of taking a knee during the U.S. national anthem has spread to Major League Baseball. Catcher Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics believed to be the first Major League player to join the silent protest over U.S. racial injustice.

HOWELL: That came hours after the president abruptly disinvited the National Basketball champion Golden State Warriors from visiting the White House and tweeted this.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Steph Curry is hesitating therefore invitation is withdrawn," exclamation point, from Donald Trump.

ALLEN: NBA star LeBron James fired back calling the president a, quote, "bum." He added, "Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up."

It started Friday when Mr. Trump blasted football players who refused to stand for the national anthem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field right now? Out. He's fired. He's fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Called them "sons of bitches," I believe he did. On Saturday several league owners shot back calling the president's remarks callous and offensive. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was especially critical. He said this in a statement.

"Divisive comments like this demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL. Our great game and all of our players and a failure to understand. The overwhelming force for good of our clubs and players that represent our communities."

This controversy is not going away any time soon. In fact, it could become even more pronounced in the football games on Sunday.

ALLEN: We get more now from CNN's Brian Stelter in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. This controversy involves politics, patriotism and two of America's favorite pastimes. The president seemingly taking a baseball bat and swinging at a hornet's nest, first on Friday night at a rally in Alabama, then on Twitter on Saturday. In both cases, he's criticizing some of the best-known African-American athletes in the sports world.

That's causing some people to say that there's a racial component to these controversies, with the president speaking to a mostly white crowd in Alabama, was talking about the African-American players in the NFL who've been taking a knee during the national anthem before games, protesting, they say, racial injustice and inequality.

The president doesn't want to hear it. He says those football players who do so should be fired by NFL team owners. He said it at the rally on Friday. He said it again on Twitter on Saturday, keeping this controversy going, even as NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, weighed in a surprising move. He called the president's comments divisive, even though he didn't name President Trump directly.

So there is the NFL controversy. Then there's the NBA side. The president taking aim at Steph Curry, a member of the championship Golden State Warriors team. On Twitter Saturday morning, the president was apparently inspired or motivated or ticked off by a segment on the FOX News morning show, "FOX and Friends."

Twenty minutes after "FOX and Friends" mentioned that Steph Curry is thinking about skipping a White House visit, President Trump tweeted and said the invitation had been withdrawn. We've seen lots of prominent celebrities and athletes and CEOs having

to make these choices about whether to attend White House events, whether they want to be associated with President Trump or try to avoid it. Curry said he was going to avoid it. Now the Warriors say they're definitely not going because the president has disinvited them.

And so this rolls on, these controversies, with a racial component to them continuing to fire up people on social media. And now the question, by the way, is what's going to happen on Sunday? Are even more NFL players going to take a knee, not just to protest racism, but to protest President Trump?

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[04:05:05] HOWELL: Let's bring in Erica Renee Davis, a sports reporter with Cache Digital, to talk more about this.

Erica, thank you for being with us this hour. So this movement started, taking a knee, to bring attention to the issue of police brutality, to racial issues in the United States. The president of the United States reframing it as an issue about the American flag and the national anthem.

ERICA RENEE DAVIS, SPORTS REPORTER, CACHE DIGITAL: Yes, George, thank you for having me. I have to say not only is Donald Trump guilty for reframing this as a flag issue, I think many of his supporters or many of his supporters, I hate to overgeneralize, are responsible for reframing this, of being about the flag when as you said it, it is about police brutality.

It is about law enforcement officials getting away even sometimes on camera mistreating and sometimes killing egregiously innocent men without having a fair trial within our justice system.

I don't understand the value in Donald Trump continually antagonizing NFL owners. I don't understand the value and Trump continually antagonizing NFL players who are peacefully protesting something that they perceive as an injustice.

HOWELL: So, Erica, speaking of these owners, several of them donated to the inaugural committee supporting President Trump. They did release statements, stating that they were offended, backing their teams, of course, given the president's comments. But, again, is there a sense here that the president is hurting many of the people who initially supported him?

DAVIS: Well, let's just be completely honest, George. I don't know if you saw the NFL statement that they released today. But that was the quintessential non-statement. That was the quintessential textbook version of let me just say something to kind of sweep under the rug the real issue but make it seem like we really care.

I do feel like NFL owners understand that the majority of their league, black men make up the league. So they have to stand up for them in a sense. But, again, they are Trump's home boys. Like they are a part of his crew. So they aren't going to say anything that is too staunchly opposing Donald Trump's views and that is exactly what the NFL did today by releasing that non-statement statement.

HOWELL: The National Basketball champions the Golden State Warriors were invited to the White House initially but that invitation was rescinded by the president essentially saying that, you know, they're disinvited now.

DAVIS: Whoopee.

HOWELL: And there's been a lot of response from that.

DAVIS: I have to say then it's kind of comical. I mean, in light of all the negativity it's been really funny to watch the social media backlash because, you know, the Warriors had not -- they had not decided that they were going anyway.

So what Donald Trump did, what he typically does before he could look like the loser, he made sure that his opponent was the loser. I really think a lot of the Warriors for standing up and standing in solidarity, and saying, we are not going to support a White House that continues to divide our country based on misogynistic values, based on racist values. You know, based on dividing the country anyway that it can.

And it's not just a knock at Trump. It's a knock at his supporters. It is speaking out against people who support him in his administration and it takes a very strong leader, Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Warriors, and it takes a very strong organization to say, we're not going. We are the champions and we are not going to this White House no matter how much of an honor it is. We won't be there.

HOWELL: Erica Renee Davis, thank you so much for taking time with us.

ALLEN: Certainly seems like he, the president, is becoming the great divider.

HOWELL: The rhetoric pretty plain, spoken and clear, especially when you compare statements from Charlottesville, you know, where he was talking about fine people that were marching among the white supremacists to this issue that is playing out now.

ALLEN: It's hurting the country for sure.

Mr. Trump isn't just taking aim at pro athletes on Twitter, it goes beyond the U.S. of course. He is also keeping up a war of words with North Korea. Hours ago he wrote this.

"Just heard Foreign minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man they won't be around much longer."

HOWELL: "Little Rocket Man" is Mr. Trump's new nickname for the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea's Foreign minister said on Saturday at the U.N. General Assembly that insults like this could force his country to attack. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RI YONG HO, NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER: He committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more. None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission. In case innocent lives of the U.S. are harmed because of this suicide attack, Trump will be held totally responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[04:10:06] ALLEN: The U.S. said Saturday it also flew bombers to the east of North Korea. The Pentagon said it was a message to Pyongyang over its nuclear ambitions.

Our Ben Wedeman is tracking events in the region from Tokyo. He joins us now for the latest and more on that right there.

Hello, Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hello, Natalie. It's interesting that that flight of B1B bombers which took place in international air space north of the DMZ, the 38th Parallel, which divides the southern and northern part of Korea.

It's the first time according to a U.S. military spokeswoman that U.S. aircraft had flown beyond the DMZ since the beginning of the 21st century. That's only 17 years. She also said that it is a way for the -- to show that the president has many military options, so in addition to the war of words, there are very real gestures being made.

This is an attempt by the United States to show Korea -- North Korea that the United States has massive military power far beyond the means that North Korea does, and that they have the options to use it as well. But these gestures, and also really the words that -- this mudslinging back and forth between Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and President Donald Trump, is raising a good deal of concern among the neighbors.

In fact, we have seen a statement put out by a spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party in South Korea in which that spokesman says that this exchange of excessive verbal threats would only heighten anxiety, and anxiety has been heightened as a result of the past week of back and forth as these two leaders go at one another.

This is not helping the atmosphere at all. And it's important to emphasize that decades of U.S. diplomacy under previous administrations, the United States always stressed that North Korea's nuclear program is a regional problem. It is not a problem strictly between the United States and North Korea. It affects South Korea. It affects Japan and, of course, it affects China as well.

But as a result of this back and forth between President Trump and President Kim Jong-un, it really does look like it's becoming a one- on-one battle between the United States and North Korea. And those who should be helping to resolve the crisis, like China, are simply on the side lines -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And that can't be fruitful if calmer heads aren't prevailing in this as well. You know, I've got to ask, what do the countries in that region think about the fact that this is becoming a back and forth between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un? And it seems to be no matter what, it's always a Catch-22 situation as far as you show military might, I feel more threatened and back and forth it goes.

WEDEMAN: Yes, it's really a situation of a lot of sticks being waved around, but not much in the way of carrots. Now the Chinese and to a certain extent the Russians have always encouraged some sort of opening to North Korea to try to ease the tensions. But, of course, the pressure from the United States is in the opposite direction. The United States has imposed new sanctions against North Korea.

The United States wants to punish any individual country or company that does business in North Korea. And of course, 90 percent of North Korea's Foreign trade is with China. So China would bear the brunt of those sanctions.

Now the Chinese have indicated a willingness to cut down oil exports to North Korea, but North Korea as we've seen over the years has been able to sustain its existence, somewhat precariously, under a regime of sanctions that's been in form -- in effect in one form or another since the end of the Korean War in 1953 -- Natalie.

ALLEN: They certainly show staying power.

Ben Wedeman -- thanks so much, Ben. Now to George.

HOWELL: Let's get some context on this with Inderjeet Parmar. Inderjeet Parmar is a professor of International Politics at City University of London, live for us in our London bureau this hour.

Always a pleasure to have you here on the show, Inderjeet. So North Korea, it's always been known for its incendiary rhetoric. But now it's being met by this style from the U.S. president. It is personal, it is diminutive, it is petty name calling and it continues to escalate.

[04:15:02] The question here. Does this box these two leaders in in a way that neither has a way out?

INDERJEET PARMAR, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, that's the tendency at the moment. And the key issue is that, although there's been a war of words before -- before the Trump administration, the fact is that the United States is far, far better armed. And anything that the North Koreans say is always -- it's difficult for them to back it up. They don't have the kind of fire power that the United States has.

So now you have a president who is using the kind of language that he is which is really a sort of an attempt to suggest that he would wipe out the entire population of North Korea. That is unprecedented and I'm afraid that that is now ratcheting up these tensions even more. And it is boxing those countries in. But it has an effect on lots of other countries, too, because China as your correspondent just noted is being -- organizations in China could be sanctioned, too, and this has an effect on other areas, too.

Because if you look at the Iran nuclear agreement which is also under pressure, the North Koreans have always said that those who make agreements with the United States about their weapons like biological or nuclear weapons, they've often been overthrown or destabilized by the United States.

And with the Iran nuclear agreement under pressure all the time, the North Koreans are saying, well, what is the point of making any kind of an agreement with this country? Because we are not safe even with that.

HOWELL: Well, let's talk about that, because again you point out this personal, this binary back and forth that's been playing out. This has always been -- as our correspondent just pointed out a moment ago, this has always been a problem that has been managed by world powers. It's been seen as a regional problem. But again given these personal attacks, the nature of how nasty they've gotten, is China now more on the sidelines? Is South Korea, even Japan? Are they more on the sidelines than the United States in this?

PARMAR: I think at one level they clearly are. But I would say that central to this is actually China. And I don't think the issue is only squarely with North Korea. I think the big issue has been in the last several years, including under the Obama administration, you will recall the "Pivot to Asia" was under the Obama administration when Secretary Clinton was the secretary of State.

I think that is the biggest issue for a lot of people that China is no longer merely to be seen as a regional power, but a -- one with possible global ambitions. And as the United States' position in the world has changed, some say maybe declined, I think people are worried that China is going to be a kind of challenger for hegemonic role in the world that the U.S. has occupied for so long. And I think a large part of this -- North Korea is a kind of proxy for dealing with that rising strength or perceived rising strength and ambitions of China.

So although they are kind of on the sidelines in some diplomatic sense, they are central to it because increasingly the sanctions which are being applied are directed really at China because China is the largest trader -- trading partner of North Korea. So I would say that China is very, very important, very central.

But if you want to look at a diplomatic solution, then it is quite clear that those countries are being sidelined because there appears to be as your correspondent said large numbers of sticks, but hardly any carrots and that leaves nobody any way out of this particular impasse.

HOWELL: Inderjeet Parma, live in London, thank you for your time today.

PARMAR: Thank you.

ALLEN: And coming up here as Hurricane Maria makes its way north, people in Puerto Rico sought to assess the destruction.

HOWELL: The very latest on the conditions there as NEWSROOM continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:22:39] ALLEN: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. The death toll from Tuesday's earthquake near Mexico City has risen to 307. Officials say the search for survivors could go on for, though, at least two more weeks.

HOWELL: Just look at that. So many people still continuing that search. But to make conditions even more difficult, a new 6.1 magnitude quake hit southern Mexico early Saturday. Three quakes have now rattled the country in less than two weeks.

Another story we're following, Hurricane Maria, it's edging away from the Bahamas into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean now.

Go away, Maria, go away.

ALLEN: Yes. Really. Good riddance.

(LAUGHTER)

HOWELL: But the category 3 storm could cause rip currents along the southeastern part of the United States in the days to come.

ALLEN: And in Puerto Rico, look at this. Millions of people still reeling after the deadly storm pummeled the island.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in San Juan for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As if the people on this island haven't been through enough already, now those in the northwest part of Puerto Rico are dealing with potential life-threatening floods. A crack was found in the Guajataca dam by engineers on Friday, leading to evacuations. Those evacuations are still ongoing, nearly 70,000 people impacted by this. Those that can't evacuate themselves are being bused out by local officials and transported to local shelters.

All of this happening as more help is coming from the U.S. mainland. We've learned earlier that 4,000 Army Reservists have joined the efforts to try to help with the recovery efforts here on this island. They're joined by assets from FEMA, as well as local assets to try to bring this infrastructure back.

Communication is a major problem with all the cell phone towers down. At least 1500 cell phone towers affected. Those loved ones who are trying to get in touch with people here on this island may have to wait months. The mayor here in San Juan telling people that the semblance of modern life may not exist for at least up to four to six months. Being without electricity is going to be an issue. The situation is getting desperate as ever. Nick Valencia, CNN San Juan, Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Wow.

ALLEN: Yes. So many people still have not talked with their family in Puerto Rico.

HOWELL: It's incredible.

ALLEN: A friend of mine here in Atlanta just can't reach her mother.

HOWELL: Yes?

ALLEN: She said she's OK. But they just want to talk to them.

HOWELL: Yes.

ALLEN: So, Maria marches on.

Karen, you probably just heard us saying good riddance, go away. But you're going to tell us whether it is or not.

[04:25:01] KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and the computer models are still suggesting it's going to be off the coast of North Carolina.

(WEATHER REPORT)

MAGINNIS: Back to you guys.

HOWELL: Wow. Just hopefully, you know, the storm continues to move away from the U.S. East Coast because given what it did there in Puerto Rico, the other islands just --

ALLEN: It's not to be trusted.

HOWELL: No. No, it isn't. Karen, thank you.

ALLEN: Thanks, Karen.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, a deeper look at the controversy over taking a knee when the president takes the issue with a protest. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:30:57] HOWELL: 4:30 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: Yes. Thanks for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.

The headlines this hour, U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may not be, quote, "around much longer." He again called Mr. Kim "Little Rocket Man" after North Korea's Foreign minister spoke at United Nations. The senior diplomat said Mr. Trump's insults were making a missile attack on the U.S. more likely.

HOWELL: In Germany this hour, voting underway. The general election that could change that nation's political landscape. Experts say the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to win her fourth term in office, but for the very first time the far-right party Alternative for Germany is expected to win seats in the federal parliament as well.

ALLEN: A 6.1 earthquake hit southern Mexico early Saturday, making it three major quakes that have rattled the country in less than two weeks. The death toll from the 7.1 quake that struck Mexico on Tuesday has now risen to 307. Most of the deaths were in the Mexican capital.

HOWELL: U.S. Army Reserve has sent 4,000 troops to Puerto Rico to help out with Hurricane Maria relief efforts. Just look at the situation there at a nearby dam there in Puerto Rico. This as 70,000 people evacuate their homes, that in the northwestern part of the island because that dam's damaged, possible to fail.

ALLEN: Well, the National Football League is standing up for its players who choose to kneel during the national anthem. It is a silent protest over racial injustice that began about a year ago.

HOWELL: On Saturday some NFL team owners were compelled to speak out after the U.S. president suggested that those players should be fired.

Our Athena Jones has more.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, that's right. The president's remarks at that Huntsville, Alabama, rally getting a lot of negative blowback on Twitter and off Twitter. Not just from black athletes and black people, but from people across the racial spectrum. People who are saying or wondering why he is criticizing these mostly black NFL players, using vulgar terms that insult not only the players, but also their mothers.

Now we've got new reaction from team owner, the latest owner to respond, the owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Jed York. I'm going to read to you his whole statement. It's a strong statement. Here is what he had to say.

"The callous and offensive comments made by the president are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities and those who serve them closer together."

We also got a statement earlier in the day from another set of team owners. These are the owners of the New York Giants who had a similar statement. John Mera, Steve Tesh, here is what they had to say in response to the president's remarks. They said, "Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive, and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society."

Those are just two of a series of statements we are hearing from people who do not support what the president had to say in Huntsville, Alabama, at that rally Friday night.

I should mention to you, though, that the crowd at the rally seemed to approve of what the president had to say about how NFL owners should fire these players who were taking a stand by taking a knee in protest, in peaceful protest. A lot of folks on Twitter are asking why did we not see the same level of passion from the president in response to the neo-Nazis and KKK supporters who were marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

[04:35:08] He did not condemn those protesters who were exercising their free speech rights the same way that he has condemned these, again, mostly black players who are doing so now in the NFL. I should mention he's also been criticizing NBA players who have spoken out against his comments.

This is an issue that is not going away. We have several sports analysts who are predicting we will see more protests from players, including at tomorrow's games, NFL games, not fewer protests in response to the president's statement.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Athena Jones, thanks.

So the big question come Sunday, what happens before the game, you know? Do players take a knee? That's what people will be looking to find out. That is certain to spark even more controversy, in fact, if that happens.

ALLEN: Yes. And sports analysts expect that to happen. Earlier our Ana Cabrera spoke with CNN political commentator Van Jones for his take on Mr. Trump's remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We are still in the aftermath of these devastating storms when a president should be pulling the country together. And we could be on the eve of war with North Korea when the president should be pulling the country together. And instead he's going for cheap applause lines at campaign-style rallies that strike a really tough nerve, I think, for African-Americans.

I think if you're not from the United States, you might say what the heck is this all about? Owners in these big league sports are overwhelmingly white men. The players are overwhelmingly young and African-American. And so the idea that he is going to come into this conflict side with the owners and basically tell the owners to go and discipline all these black guys, it lands very, very poorly.

Big picture, you do have three very important values at war here. You have the value of free speech, which is important. You have the value of respecting the flag in America, which is important. And you have the value of the civil rights of African-Americans who feel that the police have been less than respectful of the humanity of African- Americans all too often.

And, so, you have -- it's a very complex situation. You need nuance. Instead, you get a bulldozer response from the president of the United States, one sided, tone deaf and instead of pulling the country together in the aftermath of the tragedy and possibly on the eve of war, we are fighting over the weekend.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Van, do you think the president is using sports as a proxy for this racial divide in our country?

JONES: You know, there is a long history of that, you know, back when Johnson was the first black heavy weight champion. If you knock out a white guy, there would be riots in the country. There's this whole kind of substitution effect with sports and politics. It goes back to the Greeks. And so I do think that when he leans in to sports, he is in that tradition of kind of using this as a way to talk about some other issues.

If somebody who is raising young boys, having a Steph Curry out there gives them somebody to look up to, his work ethic is unbelievable, of course, you know, LeBron James has an incredible success story as well. These are people who we should be lifting up and celebrating and giving them high fives and pointing them out for the positives.

And instead we're in some crazy food fight about whether somebody is going to come to my, you know, birthday party or not. This is silly. It's beneath the president and it doesn't make any sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Ana Cabrera there speaking with Van Jones.

Still ahead here, in Germany the general election in that nation could change the country's political landscape. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to keep her job, but a far-right party could complicate things as she governs. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:42:04] ALLEN: The Germans are voting right now in their country's general election. Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to keep her job as the leader of Germany.

HOWELL: But a far-right party is expected to pick up seats in the federal parliament for the first time in over half a century.

CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is live following the story in Berlin this hour.

Fred, at a polling station there, what is the mood, what's the feeling as people make their decision?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi there, George. I would say the mood at this point in time is actually quite good. There is a decent amount of people who are showing up. And I'm going to just show you how all this works. As you notice, we're inside a polling station. And Germany actually has one of the most complicated election systems in the world.

You can see here, you don't have one vote here in this election, you have two votes. One is for the direct candidate from whichever constituency you're in, and the other is for the party. This is the CDU, which is the party of Angela Merkel. This one is the social democrats, that's the party of Martin Schultz who was obviously the main contender, and the party, George, that you were talking about, that so many people are talking about, is this one.

It's called the AFD known as the Alternative for Germany, which does have a lot of far-right positions and there are some who believe that they could actually become the third strongest force in German parliament.

Just want to show you around here. As you can see, there are some folks lining up. All of this, by the way, paper ballots in Germany, they haven't gone electric yet. One thing we have to point out, by the way, the guys who make everything run is the volunteers. Thank you very much, folks. They've been doing a great job running everything, amazing, been great to us as well.

And then you get your form over here. You go into that booth over there where you make your cross, and then you put it into the box -- where is the box to put the ballot in? Over there, you put it into that box over there. So it's a fairly straightforward process. And, again, all of it paper ballot so you don't have any issues afterwards.

But right now you can see folks here well in control of the situation. Election running smoothly. As I've said, there's been a decent amount of people who are coming here. It is still fairly early. And one thing that we also have to point out, George, there's actually on the day of the election the largest marathon in Germany going on in Berlin as well. Certainly not making it easier for people to cast their ballots in this election.

HOWELL: Fred, I have to tell you, I've done that assignment as well, you know, we all have, at a polling station. That is the most descriptive explanation of German voting that I've ever seen, Fred. And we appreciate that.

So let's talk just a bit more, though, about the particulars of this election because on one hand it is quite predictable with Angela Merkel certainly ahead. But on the other, it is unpredictable, this element, this rise of the right-wing party there.

PLEITGEN: Yes, and they certainly seem to be filling or trying to jump into a bit of a void here in this country. You know, there is a part of the populous here in Germany that has a bit of what some people would say is Angela Merkel fatigue. [04:45:03] She has been in power for 12 years. There's not many

people or there are some people who don't necessarily feel inspired. Then of course you have that big event that took place in 2015. It was the refugee crisis where this country, you know, remarkably took in 1.1 million refugees, which I think most people would say is an amazing feat. But some people are also quite critical of.

And there's a lot of people who feel that they don't really feel represented by a lot of what they call the established party. So this very new party, the Alternative for Germany, which really has only been on the scene here in this country for about three years, with a lot of those ultra right wing positions also against the euro, but many of them borderline right wing they are getting some votes as well.

HOWELL: Fred Pleitgen, with the reporting, and again, an excellent description of how to vote there in Germany. We appreciate the reporting today, sir. Thanks for your time.

ALLEN: All right. Nina Trentmann, is a news editor with the "Wall Street Journal." She joins us now live from London to talk more about this election.

Hi, Nina, thanks for being with us.

NINA TRENTMANN. NEWS EDITOR, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Hi, thanks for having me.

ALLEN: Sure. Regarding Fred's story there, Angela Merkel will likely be reelected. But what of the emergence of the far-right party in parliament if that happens? Certainly the migrant issue has been a divisive one in Germany.

TRENTMANN: It has, it has. It's also been something which has Angela Merkel -- had change her position quite significantly because in the past the CDU that she represents has been quite critical of immigration before and, of course, with this move in 2015 that your correspondent described, that was a bit of a huge turn around for that party and especially for the right-hand fringe of that party.

And in the past the CDU and its sister party, the CSU in Bavaria, they've been able to capture these elements that are now moving towards the AFD so the more right hand fringe part of the German electorate, and these voters don't necessarily feel represented by this more open immigration policy that Mrs. Merkel has followed in 2015, even though she has moved away from it and she has said something like that will never happen again.

But that has opened a bit of room on the right-hand fringe, which historically since Germany's -- the site was founded or re-founded after the Second World War, people have not gone to these topics as the AFD has. And so that's an absolute premiere for Germany if this party is scoring as many votes as forecast see it doing.

ALLEN: Great, see how she handles that if she is elected. What will a Merkel win signal for the future of the European Union? TRENTMANN: I think a Merkel win will definitely signal stability and

further commitment of Germany within the European Union. Mrs. Merkel as well as her social democratic opponent, Mr. Schultz, have made it very clear that in the end, of course, Germany's role is to be a constructive power within Europe. Germany has been quite a strong partner in bringing together or trying to bring together the European Union.

And I guess, of course, there's quite a number of issues that need dealing with after this election is over, not just Britain's exit from the European Union but also this question of like how do we integrate refugees in Europe, how do we make sure that the refugee crisis is not overburdening southern European states such as Italy, Greece and Spain? And also how do we make sure that the euro, the European common currency, is stabilized further?

And how do we make sure that this is working not just for the northern European countries including Germany that have been benefiting quite significantly from the common currency, but also how do we make sure that southern Europe gets back on its feet.

ALLEN: All right. Important issues. Thank you for bringing that out to us. We appreciate your analysis. Nina Trentmann there. Thank you, Nina, "The Wall Street Journal."

TRENTMANN: Thanks a lot. Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead, you could own a dress worn by a famous style icon Audrey Hepburn.

ALLEN: Are you going to buy it for me? We'll look at some of her famous items going up for auction, one of which George will buy for me. Yes, that's coming up next.

HOWELL: Gosh. It's going to cost me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:53:08] HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. It's fair to say she is one of the most famous style icons to ever grace the silver screen and now you can own a dress that was once worn by the legendary actress Audrey Hepburn.

ALLEN: That should have been my line?

HOWELL: You know, I was about to push it over to you.

ALLEN: OK. You did a good job. Christie's will be auctioning off a collection of Hepburn's clothes and memorabilia this week.

Nick Glass is in London with an up-close look at the exhibit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AUDREY HEPBURN, ACTRESS, STYLE ICON: Won't you join me? NICK GLASS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "Clothes are positively

a passion with me," confided Audrey Hepburn in 1953. "I love them to the point where it's practically a vice."

And naturally she looked rather good in practically everything, especially if the label was couture. Christie's London auction offers a wide selection from her personal wardrobe.

ADRIAN HUME-SAYER, HEAD OF SALE, DIRECTOR PRIVATE COLLECTIONS, CHRISTIE'S: We've Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Givenchy, Givenchy, Andre Laug, Givenchy, a Valentino.

GLASS: A careful steam to get some of those last wrinkles out. Some of these clothes have been hanging in storage in Los Angeles for a while. And this isn't just any little black cocktail dress. It's one created for the movie "Shirad" in 1963. It is expected to make $100,000 or more.

SEAN HEPBURN FERRER, AUDREY HEPBURN'S SON: I think that she's considered and people feel as though she's one of us. She's that girl across the landing that puts the little black dress on and goes out and conquers the world.

GLASS: Audrey Hepburn had two sons. Sean by her first marriage to the actor Mel Ferrer, and Luca by her second marriage to an Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.

[04:55:07] The half brothers have made their living from their mother's image and estate. They'll divide the profits from the sale 50-50.

LUCA DOTTI, AUDREY HEPBURN'S SON: It's like when you're selling your house, you're ready for it. You're moving forward. But you don't want necessarily to be there when the new owners move in with their own furniture, you know. It's like -- it's like that.

HEPBURN: How do I look?

GLASS: Swell is the answer. Did Audrey Hepburn ever take a bad photograph? Here are some of her contact sheets from a "LIFE" magazine shoot when she was making "Sabrina" in 1953. Along with her photographic archive, the sale includes old scripts, plays and movies, some signed and some with her scribbles.

CAITLIN GRAHAM, FILM MEMORABILIA CONSULTANT, CHRISTIE'S: So here is a lovely annotation in pencil about Carey Grant, which reads, dark eyes, dark hair, going gray, actually. You see he's not young, but he's not too old either. In good physical shape, I'd say. Which, you know, lovely to get her thoughts on him.

GLASS: Audrey Hepburn retained such a level of celebrity that it's hard to put a price on her belongings. Who knows what a devoted fan will pay for her Burberry trench code, her Cartier lipstick holder and powder compact, a pair of her sunglasses, the only pair on offer here.

The director Billy Wilder expressed it better than most. "God kissed the cheek of Audrey Hepburn and there she was." And here she is now or at least a lot of her things almost 500 lots to be precise. All looking for a new home.

Nick Glass, CNN, at Christie's in central London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: You want me to buy that, Natalie?

ALLEN: She's not my size actually. I'm much more petite.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: Thanks for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right after the break.

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