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Harvey Weinstein Left by His Wife; Catalonia's Independence Postponed; Wildfires Turned California's Wine Industry into Ashes; Years of Protecting Bristol Bay Reversed in a Day; Reviving Van Gogh's Spirit. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 03:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: After fighting for Catalonia's controversial call for independence, the region's leaders stopped short of declaring a split for now.

The raging wildfires in California and the heartbreak of losing everything. We will hear from the people directly affected.

And more women speak out against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, accusations of rape and sexual misconduct dating back to the 1990s.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

The Spanish prime minister is trying to decide this hour how to prevent Catalonia from breaking away. Mariano Rajoy is set to meet his cabinet after the Catalonian president called for talks.

Spain's prime minister has said before he won't negotiate until Catalan leaders stop claiming independence. Earlier, Catalonia's president delayed a full and immediate declaration of independence, instead, Carles Puigdemont says dialogue with Madrid could deescalate tensions.

He also said Catalonia has won the right to be independent after a contested referendum that Madrid calls constitutional.

CNN's Isa Soares joins us now live from Barcelona. Isa, good to see you. Now the Catalan president stopped short of declaring independence, but at the same time signed a declaration of independence. What did the Catalan people make of what he said and what he did?

ISA SOARES, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: So much confusion, Rosie, really at that what was happening. His speech, many people perplexed at what he said.

Let me give you a taste, first of all of some of the papers within Catalonian and also from Madrid. This one here ABC from Madrid, it says blackmails, it says, "Puigdemont blackmails the government to win over time," then you have El Mundo, also from Madrid, saying, "A farce and blackmail." And this one here, a local paper here, "Pause for dialogue."

So, very mixed messages coming from through the newspapers here in Spain. But one message is clear, he's pausing for dialogue, but the interpretation of it is somewhat different. Those who will watch it (TECHNICAL PROBLEM).

[03:05:00] (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

SOARES: ... and we shall have response or so within an hour. And then later on today, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will make a speech in parliament where he will announce his decision, following on from that declaration of independence, which has then suspended, Rosie.

CHURCH: Very uncertain times for Catalonia and indeed, across Spain. Isa Soares joining us live there from Barcelona, where it is just after 9 in the morning. Many thanks as always, Isa.

Well, authorities are issuing new evacuation orders as wildfires spread across northern California. The flames and smoke have killed at least 17 people and destroyed 2,000 homes and businesses. High winds and drought conditions are making things extremely difficult for firefighters.

In Southern California, the canyon 2 fire is threatening some of the state's most famous attractions.

Here's CNN's Amara Walker with our report.

AMARA WALKER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Eerie images in a tourist Mecca. The iconic smiling face of Mickey Mouse, shrouded in angry, orange skies. Halloween pumpkins back lit with fire clouds, making for a menacing display. A statue of Walt Disney, almost looks to be pointing at the sinister haze.

Social media pictures from Anaheim's Disneyland give an ominous view of California's wildfires, raging uncontrollably nearby. As thousands are forced to flee, scenes of destruction are all that's left of some of California's famed destinations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I walked like a mile up that way, on both, Armageddon. It's just gone. Everything's gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: In northern California, the rolling hills of Napa Valley, hope to world-class wineries that draw millions of tourists a year, now reduced to ashes.

An opulent wine hall enveloped in fire. Bottles of fine wine burned out on racks, vine-covered fields decimated with flames. Nearby, pro- golfers battled on one of Napa's lush courses, hours before they too were forced to leave as a site of a PGA Tournament was scorched by flames. Of course, visitors can return home, but many residents will return to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My house is OK. All of my neighbors aren't. So to go from here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Where California's famous palm trees once lined well-kept neighborhoods, ash now surround burned-out homes, and white smoke blots out the sun in sunny California.

Amara Walker, CNN.

CHURCH: Well, families across Northern California are fleeing the wildfires and when they're able to return to their neighborhoods, they say it looks like a war zone.

Margaret Curzon says her parents lost almost everything, only a concrete statue of the Virgin Mary survived. And Margaret joins us now on the phone. Margaret, we are so very sorry for your parent's loss, and their story is truly harrowing. If it hadn't been for your dog sounding the alarm, they may not have gotten out alive. Tell us what happened.

MARGARET CURZON, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Hi, good morning. And thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the thoughts. So, yes, I'm still in shock. I still can't believe what's happened to my home city. It's just tragic.

Basically at 3 a.m. Monday morning, my roommate started pounding on my front door of my room, telling me that there was a fire in Coffey Park, which is where my parents live. I grabbed my cell phone. I saw a bunch of missed calls and text messages from my dad. I immediately tried to call him and he didn't answer which put me into a panic mode.

I listened to a few of his voice mails, and he said let me know that him and my mom escaped. That they they did get out of the house, but they were only able to get my two dogs and that's it.

CHURCH: Extraordinary.

CURZON: And the clothes that were on their backs. That's it.

CHURCH: Now the flames swept through that area so quickly, didn't they, your parents were really lucky to have survived this. What are they planning to do, and what are other survivors of these wildfires going to do to try to rebuild their lives?

[03:10:01] CURZON: We don't know at this point. I mean, we're just still in shock. We're still trying to process everything that happened. And unfortunately, the fires are not contained at all. So, there's still fires going on in our area. So we're just trying to stay alive at this point. We're not really

thinking too far ahead in the future. I mean, we definitely do at some point, we want to rebuild, but we just don't know how long it's going to take, you know, all the specific details, and everything. We're just trying to take it day by day, one day at a time.

CHURCH: Yes, so much uncertainty, of course. And of course, the image of all the many homes lost to these wildfires, just shocking and heartbreaking. And the numbers are horrifying. Seventeen people killed, 180 or so still missing. What impact is this having on people there in the area?

CURZON: It's horrible. I mean, just the people I've seen today, just walking past them and just looking at them, their faces. They just -- they have blank faces. There's just no emotion, they're just in complete shock. It's just a bunch of -- it looks like there's a bunch of zombies just walking around because no one has gotten any sleep.

Everyone has just been in shock and crying and just worrying about what they're going to do. And so it's really sad. It's a very devastating, tragic scene here.

CHURCH: So sad, so very shocking, horrifying numbers. Margaret Curzon, our thoughts are with you and your parents and all your friends and neighbors there as they try to move forward in the aftermath of this and of course the fire still not contained. Many thanks to you for sharing your story with us.

CURZON: Thank you so much.

CHURCH: Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is following the situation in California. He joins us now with more on this. And, Pedram, the weather is not helping the situation at all, is it? When do authorities estimate they might be able to contain these fires in some way?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Yes, You know, Mother Nature always has the upper hand with these, Rosemary. We always talk about this. Rainfall is not in the forecast, not at least in the next seven days.

And if you right now we're getting an on-shore component, meaning the humidifies are going to be higher. That's the case really in the early morning hours of Wednesday as you go towards the afternoon hours. The wind shift, they become gusty, they become dry and almost all erases out of the picture here and it becomes a major, major issue once again across this area.

But I want to show you the burn scars scattered above portions of northern California. And in particular, the tubs fire right here just outside Santa Rosa, we know at least seven lives lost across this region.

And of course, when you get look at communities just downstream of this and get into some of the valleys, evacuations have been now in place around these regions because the fire itself is expanding a little away from the center. As the winds of course, as they begin to pick up, it really puts a lot of people at risk across this region.

So here's what we're looking at here with a front coming through. It is a dry front, unfortunately. It will pick up the winds by Wednesday afternoon into Thursday.

And the damage is already been done. We're talking about 34 large active fires, almost 500 square kilometers of land, that's roughly the size of Hong Kong that has been consumed across this region of California. And it is still an elevated risk across northern California.

So news doesn't really look good. And of course, when you look at how things have played out, these are some of the before and after images out of Santa Rosa where you see communities entirely decimated with a fire there at one point where officials are saying in a 12-hour period, Rosemary, this fire was consuming the size of a football field every three seconds.

So, we're talking about a fire that is really not going to be able to contained is a fire like this when it's consuming land on the order of a football field every three seconds.

And of course, we got here from an excessive drought earlier in the year, and then back until 2014. We had significant drought in place. All of this was erased as we work our way into October because of tremendous rainfall. But that's done. It allowed the vegetation to really explode across this region. So now there's tremendous fuel to be consumed and that is exactly what's happening right now across California, Rosemary.

CHURCH: That is the big problem. We need some rain there to try to at least help those firefighters. Many thanks to you, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: I'll talk to you soon.

Well, the wife of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein says she's leaving her husband as new sexual assault allegations come to light. Designer Georgina Chapman tells People magazine her heart breaks for the women who have suffered from his unforgivable actions.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle released a statement, calling the allegations disgusting, saying "Any man who demeans and degrades women in such a fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status."

Well, a number of women are now accusing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape. The New Yorker magazine first reported on the women's claims, one of whom confirmed her account to CNN.

Our Brian Stelter has more.

[03:15:03] BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Harvey Weinstein stands accused of rape, assault, and multiple attempts to cover it all up. Explosive allegations coming from this 10-month-long investigation by the New Yorker, while at the same time, two of Hollywood top stars, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are telling the New York Times they were harassed by Weinstein too.

"This way of treating women ends now," Paltrow says, putting other powerful men on notice. The New Yorker article shed light on why Weinstein was fired by his company on Sunday. The board of directors knew this story was coming.

Published on Tuesday, it says at least 11 women have come forward with misconduct allegations, including three who allege rape. One of those accusers, actress Azia Argento tells me, quote, "I can confirm every word of it. This is our truth," she says, "and it's time for the world to know."

The New Yorker also unearthing audio from a New York Police Department sting in 2015. Weinstein seemingly admitting to groping a model named Amber Gutierrez.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't feel comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey, don't have a fight with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not, nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, I'm not going to do anything, I swear on my children. Please. I mean, on everything, I'm a famous guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please come in now and one minute. And if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket, he's going to bring...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, I'm sorry. I'm used to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're used to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Come in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, but I'm not used to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't do it again. Come on. Sit here.

(END VOICE CLIP)

STELTER: The Manhattan D.A. says the recording is horrifying but was insufficient to prove a crime. Quote, "If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have."

Weinstein had no comment on the tape, but his spokeswoman said, Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. He says he believed all of these relationships were consensual. Weinstein is in counseling now and hoping for a, quote, "second chance from Hollywood."

But more and more a-listers are condemning the predatory behavior. And Hillary Clinton, whose presidential campaign received hundreds of thousands of dollars through Weinstein, is speaking for the first time, saying through a statement that she was shocked and appalled by the allegations.

"The courage of these accusers and the support of others is critical," she says, "in helping to stop this kind of behavior."

Some politicians, some celebrities, now doing some soul-searching about how this stayed, stayed silenced for so long. Shocking allegations now coming to light after decades, a sign of how the United States is going through a profound cultural shift in the way sexual harassment allegations are handled.

Back to you.

CHURCH: Thanks for that, Brian.

Well, a South Korean lawmaker is accusing North Korea of hacking classified military documents. A live report from Seoul coming your way in just a moment.

And President Trump taunts a top republican senator and challenges his own secretary of state to an I.Q. contest. We'll have the details for you on the other side of the break. Stay with us.

[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, North Korean hackers allegedly stole classified military documents from a South Korean defense ministry database last year. A South Korean lawmaker also says the documents include war-time plans between Washington and Seoul and procedures to, quote, "decapitate North Korea's leadership in the events of war."

Our Ben Wedeman joins us now live to talk more about this. So, Ben, what more have you learned about this alleged hacking?

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, this information comes from a member of the national assembly who sits on the defense committee, who says that beginning in August of last year, North Korean hackers were able to break into the computer system of the South Korean army and get away with about 235 gigabytes of data.

Among the information, he says they were able to get, was what's known as plan 5015, which was the plan, the joint plan by South Korea and the United States to take out, to decapitate the North Korean leadership, and of course, we are talking about Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

Now, U.S. and South Korean officials are neither confirming now denying this story and insist that their plans, the plans they currently have, have not been hacked but that doesn't detract from the fact that the previous plans may have been hacked.

And that certainly would complicate any plans the United States and South Korea have to take military action in the event of hostilities against South Korea -- against North Korea.

Now, North Korean hackers have in the pas been able, for instance, to break into the New York Federal Reserve's special account for the Central Bank of Bangladesh in February of 2016 according to experts. And they got away with $81 million in this case.

Now the specific problem with the North Korean so-called cyber army, is that many of them don't even operate out of North Korea, which has rather limited internet access to say the least. Experts believe many of them are operating out of China and other Asian countries, making it very difficult to trace back these attacks to the source, Rosemary?

CHURCH: Extraordinary. Extraordinary development for sure. Ben Wedeman joining us there from Seoul in South Korea, where it is nearly 4.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

Well, the revelation about the apparent theft of South Korean war plans comes as President Trump and his national security team met Tuesday to discuss ways to respond to any aggression by Pyongyang. Among the group at the White House, Mr. Trump's secretary of state, this after the president seemingly challenged Rex Tillerson to an I.Q. duel.

More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR White House CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson breaking bread today at the White House. A week after their long simmering feud broke into the open. The president insisted he had confidence in his secretary of state. Brushing aside suggestions he tried to undermine him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't undercut anybody. I don't believe in undercutting people. Thank you very much, everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: No cameras were allowed in the private dining room just off the Oval Office where the president, his top diplomat, and Defense Secretary James Mattis sat for lunch. The face-to-face meeting didn't answer one of the biggest questions in Washington, how long will Tillerson hang on as secretary of state?

CNN has learned the president was furious after reports surfaced last week Tillerson described him as a moron this summer. In a Forbes magazine cover story out today, the president had this to stay about the derogatory remark. "I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare I.Q. tests and I can tell you who is going to win."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president was only joking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He wasn't questioning the secretary of state's intelligence. He made -- he made a joke, maybe you guys should get a sense of humor and try it sometime, but he simply made a joke.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: It's not the only fight the president is picking with his fellow republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB CORKER, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I'm really disappointed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: He escalated the hostilities today with Senator Bob Corker, the republican chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. Writing on Twitter, "The failing New York Times set Little Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with."

Corker now join the rings of fellow republicans branded by Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I call him Little Marco, Little Marco.

Lyin' Ted Cruz. The bible held high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: The president was literally belittling the 5 foot 7 inch Corker over his weekend interview with the New York Times where he bluntly suggested Mr. Trump was unfit for office.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

[03:25:06] CORKER: He feels like he's on a reality show of some kind, you know, when he's talking about these big foreign policy issues. We could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he's making.

(END VOICE CLIP)

ZELENY: Meeting in the Oval Office today with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the president addressed Corker's criticism the U.S. is heading toward a Third World War.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We were on the wrong path before. All you have to do is take a look. If you look over the last 25 years through numerous administrations, we were on a path to a very big problem, a problem like this world has never seen. We're on the right path right now, believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: The fight comes as the president is trying to jump start his stalled legislative agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People want to see tax cuts, they want to see major reductions in their taxes and they want to see tax reform, and that's what we're doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: The rising tensions in the West Wing is weighing on many officials who worry the drama will make a tax plan even more difficult to pass.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: How do you think his ongoing fights with republicans on Capitol Hill helps the president's agenda, tax reform first and foremost?

SANDERS: The president is very committed to getting tax reform done. Look, he's calling on Congress to get their job done. They're on another vacation right now. I think that we would all be a lot better off if the Senate would stop taking vacations and start staying here until we actually get some real things accomplished. The president is here and he's committed to working with them to do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: White House officials trying to put these feuds with fellow republicans behind them and move forward on the tax agenda. Move forward on making a decision on what to do with the Iran nuclear program. Those are the issues front and center here for the rest of the week at the White House as the president hits the road to sell his tax plan.

The question is, will the president lay off Bob Corker, Secretary Tillerson and others, or will he pick new fights with new republicans?

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: And as Jeff mentioned, the White House says President Trump was just joking about an I.Q. faceoff with Tillerson, but a source tell CNN, Mr. Trump was not joking. And as both candidate and as president, he has repeatedly insisted that his I.Q. is one of the highest. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I went to an Ivy League school. I went to the Wharton School of Finance. I know I have an I.Q. better than all of them. I know that.

I guarantee you, my I.Q. is much higher than theirs.

Governor Perry, a very nice guy, he made nasty statements about me and then I challenged his I.Q.

This guy Lindsey Graham he calls me a jack ass this morning and I said to myself, he doesn't seem like a very bright guy.

Some of the pundits, you know, the guys, believe me, we're much smarter than them. I.Q. was not even a contest.

I guarantee you my I.Q. is much higher than any of these people.

I want to match my I.Q. with some of those guys, with all of them. Somebody said the other day, yes. Well, the intellectuals, I said what's intellectual? I'm smart than they are.

I go to Wharton. I'm smart. I'm really smart. Really, really, really smart. Believe me, it's good in genes, we believe in genes, right? We're allowed to say that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: He does protest too much, perhaps. All right. We'll take a short break here. Some Catalans are worried about their financial future if the region breaks away from Spain. Next, a producer of Cava says independence won't be good for business.

Plus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DREW GRIFFIN, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, CNN: The optics on this look...

TOM COLLIER, CEO, PEBBLE LIMITED PARTNERSHIP: The optics on this are right, they don't look bad a bit.

GRIFFIN: Bad? This looks the head of a gold mine went to a new administrator and got him to reverse what an entire department had worked on for years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Critics question plans to build a mine in a pristine Alaska Bay. How the proposal could impact native cultures and nearly half the sockeye salmon in the world. We're back with that.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

The Spanish prime minister is discussing with his cabinet how to respond to Catalonia's call for dialogue. The president of Catalonia is delaying a formal declaration of independence, but says the region has won the right to break away from Spain after a referendum Madrid calls unconstitutional.

Firefighters are battling more than a dozen wildfires raging across Northern California right now. At least 17 people are dead, and nearly 200 are missing. High winds are fueling those flames and forecasters say they don't expect rain for another week.

The Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company have been ordered to pay thousands of people affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. A court says officials should have been better prepared for the tsunami, which knocked out the plant's backup systems and forced nearby residents to evacuate. The payouts total more than $4 million.

Well, the first time since 1986, the U.S. men's football team will not compete in the World Cup. They failed at Trinidad in Tobago 2 to 1 in Tuesday night's qualifier. The loss dropped team USA to fifth place in the qualifier, meaning they will miss out on next year's tournament in Russia.

More now on our top story. The political crisis between Madrid and Barcelona. Catalonian themselves are divided on whether they want to break away from Spain. The region is an economic powerhouse and many businesses there are warning against independence.

CNN's Isa Soares has more.

SOARES: On the outskirts of Barcelona, one company is preparing its exit strategy from a region it has always called home. This is Cava country and Freixenet is the leader in sparkling wine, with roughly 185 million bottles of Cava and wine being sold globally every year.

Inside its caves, echoes of independence are rattling some nerves. None more so than its president and head of Spain's chamber of commerce, Jose Luis Bonet, who tells me independence would be catastrophic.

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

"If Catalonia declares independence and if that declaration isn't stopped," he says, "it will be out of the European Union. And leaving the European Union for Catalonia is a disaster."

So he's meeting with a Freixenet board and laying his cards firmly on the table. "In the event there will be declaration of independence," he says, "I will tell the board that my advice and my recommendation will be to change Freixenet's headquarters."

The fear is that a declaration of independence could have send the company like Freixenet into the depth of the unknown, potentially hampering a company that's been here in Catalonia for more than a hundred years.

But the concerns go deeper than that. With roughly 70 percent of its exports going to Europe, and with Germany its biggest market, Freixenet has reason to worry about its financial future. And critically, competitiveness.

I asked Mr. Bonet whether he could feel this Catalan disillusionment always bubbling beneath the surface. He tells me, "We have gone from a dictatorship to a democracy. From a country without rule of law to a country with a rule of law. A country that didn't have a welfare state to one that has, and that has survived an economic crisis."

[03:34:59] "This doesn't mean there aren't problems and there are problems and we should address them, but what we shouldn't do is destroy what we have built."

Strong words from a man who is hoping neither leader will burst Catalonia's prosperous bubble.

Isa Soares, CNN, Barcelona.

CHURCH: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the war on coal is over. EPA Chief Scott Pruitt plans to begin withdrawing from the so-called Clean Power Plan. President Obama's policy for cutting Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. And the agency is under fire for considering a mining proposal that could threaten half the world's sockeye salmon.

CNN's Drew Griffin has our exclusive report.

GRIFFIN: The meeting at EPA headquarters was brief and to the point. By the time it ended, a mining company hoping to dig for gold and copper got just what it wanted.

On Monday, May 1st, the CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership asked newly appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to withdraw environmental restrictions on Alaska's Bristol Bay. They were put there by the Obama administration to stop that company from building a massive mine. Pruitt quickly agreed.

At 10.36 a.m. Eastern, little more than an hour after Pruitt met with the mining CEO, EPA staffers were shocked to receive this e-mail obtained exclusively by CNN, which says, "We have been directed by the administrator to withdraw the restrictions. The proposed protection of that pristine area was being removed."

Pruitt opened the door for what the EPA feared could become one of the largest open-pit mines in the world in an extremely sensitive watershed in wild Alaska. What's more, according to multiple sources he made that decision without a briefing from any of EPA's scientists or experts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLLIER: Absolutely. I met with Mr. Pruitt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: For Pebble Limited Partnership CEO Tom Collier, it was a huge win. And it comes with no apologies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And do you think it was not wrong that Mr. Pruitt did not even look at what the work had been done?

COLLIER: Not a science decision. It's a process decision.

GRIFFIN: You know the optics on this look...

COLLIER: The optics on this are right. They don't look bad a bit.

GRIFFIN: Bad? This looks like a head of a gold mine went to the new administrator and got him to reverse what an entire department had worked on for years.

COLLIER: Then put your glasses back on, because you're not seeing the right optics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: The Obama EPA protection detailed in hundreds of pages of report is called a Clean Water Act Designation, so rare it's only happened like this one other time in the EPA's history. It was put on Bristol Bay, Alaska, specifically to stop pebble mine even before its owners applied for a permit.

The mining company sued the EPA, saying it wasn't treated fairly. And the same morning Pruitt met with the mining company, he also agreed to settle that lawsuit as well.

To understand the significance of Pruitt's decisions that day, you must first to understand why the protection was placed on Bristol Bay in the first place. Bristol Bay and its tributaries are home to one of the world's largest and most pristine sockeye salmon fisheries, roughly half the world's wild sockeye salmon come from here.

This watershed is among the last places on earth like this. An intact ecosystem supporting about 50 million wild salmon, part of life for indigenous cultures that stretch back 4,000 years.

In 2011, Pebble Partnership's owner, Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals filed a mine building assessment with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The mine could potentially create a footprint bigger the island of Manhattan and nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon, according to the EPA.

Alarm bells went off. And local tribes and fisheries asked the EPA to study the potential impacts a mine that big could have. After a three- year study, the EPA published a report showing pollution from the mine would result in complete loss of fish habitat, with the potential to destroy 94 miles of streams and tributaries and an additional 4,900 acres above Bristol Bay. The EPA said, all these losses would be irreversible. The fishing

industry here employs 14,000 people. No one knows how many jobs would be lost if the fish vanished.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS QUINN, PROFESSOR OF FISHERIES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: It's a uniquely bad place geologically to put this kind of thing. Preventing it works, patching it together afterwards doesn't work.

GRIFFIN: One of the scientists whose work was used in that study is Thomas Quinn, a professor of fisheries at the University of Washington. He has studied the area for 30 years.

[03:40:03] QUINN: This is the jewel in the crown of America's fisheries resources in salmon. If you don't think this is worth saving, what is? And if you don't think there's danger in this, you simply haven't looked at it carefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: According to several EPA insiders, a briefing book being prepared for Scott Pruitt wasn't even finished when Pruitt had made his decision. The scientists never got the chance to brief the administrator.

Unbeknownst to many at the EPA, lobbyists for the mine had already been lobbying to overturn their work, lobbying Trump's EPA transition team even before Scott Pruitt was sworn in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: But it sounds like you do have a friend in the administrator, after a half hour without apparently looking at any of the science, he said, yes, we're going to - we're going to remove this proposed determination.

COLLIER: So the premise of your question offends me.

GRIFFIN: Because?

COLLIER: Because, I don't have a friend at EPA. What I've got is somebody who's following the damn law for the first time OK? That's not a friend. And the issue was not a scientific issue. The issue was a due process issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Former EPA Director Gina McCarthy disputes that. Everything about Bristol Bay and the Clean Water Protection was based on science, she says, decades of scientific research, years of study in public comment through the EPA's due process. It is why she officially approved the protection. Unlike many at the EPA, is stunned it all could be so easily undone at the bidding of a mining company.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: This wasn't about EPA taking an extraordinary proactive step on its own. It was really about using a tool to provide certainty to those Alaskan native villages and all those people that rely on that resource for their jobs and the economy, that we were being protective of that ecological resource.

GRIFFIN: It -- by our reporting, it took one election and one-half hour meeting to overturn everything you did.

MCCARTHY: Yes. Well, I spent a whole lot more time on it than that, and it was -- it is very big decision and one that deserved really thoughtful discussion between the career and political staff.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Scott Pruitt declined CNN's request for an interview. But in a statement, an EPA spokesperson tells CNN, "The meeting with the mining company was an opportunity for Administrator Pruitt to let Pebble Limited Partnership know that they are simply being granted a fair opportunity to apply to build the mine."

And adds, "Scott Pruitt did not prejudge the outcome of the process nor make any assurances about the final decision." The statement goes on to say, "EPA's review will be based on the whole record, all the science, and an actual proposal from the company."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: But he made that decision, right, after a half hour meeting with the head of a guy who wants to mine gold in an area that many scientists believe will destroy of the most pristine sockeye salmon spawning grounds in the whole world. What am I missing?

COLLIER: What you're missing is, if they're right, then we won't get a permit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Pebble just last week, posted this document on its web site touting a new path forward saying, "The mine will be much smaller, have less impact and that its policy is to work in a safe environmentally responsible manner."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: You know that mining is a dirty business no matter how you get around it.

COLLIER: I don't buy that for a second.

GRIFFIN: Are you telling me you're going to be able to put a clean mine up there that's going to have no effect on anybody's habitat?

COLLIER: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GRIFFIN: And if they get the permit and the mine gets built.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUINN: I'd find that a horrifying prospect, take the place in the world that you know best and you value the most, the most beautiful, most productive, the most special place you can conceive, and then think of the most devastating thing that you could do to that place, you would be horrified, just as I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Drew Griffin reporting there. And Alaska is holding two public hearings on the mining project this week. The public has until October 17th to comment on the plan.

Well, we are learning new details about the Las Vegas shooting. What investigators found in the gunman's room and what they say he did with it. That is next.

And CNN's Freedom Project takes us to the Dominican Republic, the tourist destination that's also a center for human trafficking. You will meet a woman who's committed to helping victims. We're back in a moment.

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Investigators in Las Vegas are learning more about last week's deadly massacre. Sources tell CNN Stephen Paddock fired incendiary bullets at a jet fuel tank at the nearby airport. They believe he was trying to trigger an explosion.

Investigators also found similar rounds and survival gear in Paddock's hotel room. Authorities previously said he shot and hit the tank with rifle rounds.

And gun control group is suing a bump stock maker on behalf of the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. A bump stock you'd recall is an attachment that can speed up semi-automatic gunfire to mimic a fully automatic weapon. The Brady Center to prevent gun violence is seeking damages and counseling for the survivors of the shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN LOWY, DIRECTOR OF LEGAL ACTION PROJECT, BRADY CENTER: This is about holding accountable companies that chose to design, market, and sell a product which enabled conventional firearms to be fired essentially like machine guns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And a rare bipartisan bill, banning the use of these devices was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. Gun control legislation has failed to make significant progress in recent years, so we will see what will happen with this.

CNN's Freedom Project is committed to shining a light on modern day slavery.

Our Don Riddell introduces us to a woman in the Dominican Republic who's making positive difference in the lives of sexually exploited women.

DON RIDDELL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: On the surface, the Dominican Republic is a beautiful country, that's why five million tourists go there every single year. But away from all the luxury resorts and the sandy beaches, some people are sometimes making heartbreaking choices.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA JUDE, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, LILY HOUSE: We have women who have said before, they were going to commit suicide. And I asked her, what is your debt? She said $400, $400 with tears in her eyes, $400 she believed she should take her life because there was no way she could pay off $400.

RIDDELL: According to the NGO International Justice Mission, human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors is a major problem in the Dominican Republic. And while they work with the government to help rescue the victims and prosecute the perpetrators, Erica Jude is one of this helping to rehabilitate the young women.

She arrived from West Virginia as a missionary worker back in 2006, never imagining that she'd go on to help so many victims.

[03:50:01] JUDE: I usually think that Lily House is a great example of what ordinary people can do. I just knew that I had had such a healthy, positive life, that I wanted other people to experience that. And so we just said, we're going to start with one girl.

And within three months, there was one girl who wanted to come off the street. We needed a place for her to live. We didn't have the finances, we're scrounging literally for $250 to rent a cheap apartment here, and begin working with her.

RIDDELL: That was 2009, and it was just the beginning. Now Erica runs a dynamic sprawling facility which first and foremost offers shelter for the girls and when necessary, their children. From small acorns grow mighty oaks or in this case, the symbolically named Lilly House.

JUDE: I love the lily because in the Amazon, they come from the darkest, dirtiest parts of the Amazon River and they come up into these huge lily pads. And when the light shines on it this beautiful lily blossoms.

RIDDELL: What for you is the hardest bit of this? What is it that moves you?

JUDE: For the girl who's still out there, that she believes she can do nothing but be sold, or she can do nothing but sell herself. To have someone encourage you, that you can do something besides this.

RIDDELL: For Erica and her own young family this has now become a life's work. But every young girl who knocks on the door still faces a difficult journey. However, Lily House tries to provide the tools to first survive and then thrive, from shelter and counseling to the acquisition of new skills and a business mind.

Erica's charisma is infectious. To date, she estimates that around 50 young women have moved into Lily House to rebuild their lives, and through various outreach programs they've helped up to 200 more.

JUDE: We see ladies who come in at the beginning who believe they can do nothing, and yet they turn around and they're teaching the other girls, you are so special. There's so much that you can do in life. And so we get to see that complete transformation, that cycle broken and a completely different girl walk out of here. That's a picture of freedom for me.

RIDDELL: Don Riddell, CNN, Dominican Republic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: It is an inspiring story. Coming up tomorrow, the CNN Freedom Project introduces us to a U.S. pro football player who's using the offseason to make a difference in the Dominican Republic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIDDELL: Max Garcia has only been in the NFL for two full years, but already he's a Super Bowl champion. The giant Denver Broncos god is now trying to make an impact off the field as well. He ventured to the Dominican Republic to get a firsthand look at something others often turn a blind eye to, the trafficking and the exploitation of children.

On this occasion, Max heard from a young woman, only 18, who shared her story about her exploitation and what she went through to survive.

MAX GARCIA, FOOTBALL GUARD, DENVER BRONCOS: You know, it's been too emotional, just hearing her testimony. So you just don't realize how good you really have it. You don't realize the type of evil that there is in this world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Very special. More on Max's story on Thursday only on CNN. We'll be right back.

[03:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: A modern take on an old master. Filmmakers, painters and other visual artists join forces to reimagine Vincent van Gogh.

Neil Curry explains.

NEIL CURRY, SENIOR PRODUCER, CNN: Loving Vincent is a movie about an artist which is itself a work of art. A stunningly beautiful whodunit about the mysterious death of the painter known to Americans as Van Gogh, to Brits as Van Gogh, and to his Dutch compatriots as Van Gogh.

To keep the peace, I'll stick with Vincent. Shot with live actors against a green screen, 94 of the artists' works are animated by a team of more than a hundred hand-picked who painstakingly painted each of the 67,000 frames in oils. It took them over two years.

Lending new meaning to an art house movie, London Film Festival appropriately presented its U.K. premier at the city's national gallery, where several of Vincent's works are on display.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGH WELCHMAN, LOVING VINCENT, CO-DIRECTOR: We went through 100, 200 different financiers and distributors and the answer was, you know, well, it looks very interesting, but has anyone done a film exactly like this before that was really successful? And I had to say no, it hasn't been done before and that's why maybe people are going to like watch here.

HELEN MCCRORY, ACTRESS: It's on oil, which I know not very much about painting, but I mean, really dry. So they constantly, they paint a frame, and then slightly alter it and slightly alter it and slightly alter it.

DOUGLAS BOOTH, ACTOR: I didn't know much about Van Gogh's work at the time. I knew he was a famous painter and his paintings stuff has a lot of money and that he was meant to get mad and kind of exhibit. But as soon as I went into his character and found out a little bit more about him and read lots of his letters, I was just so moved by his work.

You know, he doesn't just paint what he sees. He paints what he feels and I think that emotion really comes through in this -- in this film.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURRY: Tragically, Vincent sold just one painting in his lifetime and only gained recognition as a father of post impressionism after his death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH WIMPERIS, PAINTER: To have a film like this, which is based upon an artist's actual paintings and to then bring those to life in such a realistic manner, I hope even more people will start to understand what it's like being an artist and what his paintings look like.

WELCHMAN: It's kind of a good way into appreciating art, and once people understand a little bit about it, then actually they get a lot of rewards out of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURRY: Today, of course, there are apps computer programs to help convert video to paintings. But for the real artists working on Living Vincent, that would be tantamount to forgery, compared to the cinematic masterpiece they helped to create.

Neil Curry, CNN, London.

CHURCH: And thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues with Max Foster in London. Have a great day.

[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)