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CNN NEWSROOM

Zimbabwe Political Crisis; Sexual Harassment Scandals; Russia Investigation; Russia Vetoes U.N. Resolution on Syrian Chemical Weapons; Libya Investigating Slave Auctions After CNN Report; Special Election To Fill Alabama U.S. Senate Seat; Police Officer Sketches Faces Of The Fallen. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired November 18, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Thousands of people take to the streets of the capital of Zimbabwe, calling on the president of that nation, Robert Mugabe, to step down. CNN is there with live reporting.

In the United States, allegations of sexual misconduct revive the accusations against the U.S. president but the White House dismisses any comparison.

And in Libya, investigation launched, the result of CNN's exclusive reporting of migrants being auctioned off as slaves.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. Around the world, good day to you.

In Zimbabwe, thousands of people are marching in the capital city of Harare, these images taken just a short time ago, people calling for the resignation of president Robert Mugabe, all of this after an apparent military coup on Wednesday.

Mr. Mugabe has been under house arrest; now his own party reportedly wants him to step down.

The military says it backs the anti-Mugabe march as long as it's peaceful. On Friday, the U.S. secretary of state said he was monitoring that situation and called it an opportunity for Zimbabwe. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I know all of us are following very closely the events in Zimbabwe. And they're a concern to, I know, each of you and they're a concern to us, as well. We all should work together for a quick return to civilian rule in that country, in accordance with their constitution.

Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights. Ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe must choose their government. In our conversations today, we have an opportunity to discuss concrete ways that we could help them through this transition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And the people of Zimbabwe rallying in the streets. CNN's Farai Sevenzo following the story in the nation's capital this hour.

Farai, first of all, this rally, described as a solidarity march, tell us more about the significance.

What's happening?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, it is atmosphere in the air on this Saturday morning. Feels a bit a start of something new, like history in the making.

Those crowds you see, they are made up of all kinds of people -- white Zimbabweans, yellow Zimbabweans, black Zimbabweans. Even though the march was initially called by the war veterans, which was those veterans of the liberation war that used to support Robert Mugabe.

Everyone, from children to grandmothers are all heading out there to try and show us --

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HOWELL: I think we just lost Farai Sevenzo there, but again, Farai Sevenzo, live following what we're seeing right now in Zimbabwe in Harare.

If we can show these images again to get a sense of what's happening on the streets again, people coming together, people told that they can rally as long as it remains people, again, many coming together, supporting seeing this president step down.

So again, we may be able to bring Farai Sevenzo back in a little later in the show but, again, that's what's happening in Zimbabwe and we'll continue to monitor.

One more very important note in Zimbabwe, the U.S. president Donald Trump has suspended a controversial decision allowing American game hunters to bring elephant parts prized as trophies back into the United States from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

He tweeted this, quote, "Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you."

The White House had earlier defended that shift in policy, citing a review by the Fish and Wildlife Service that found Zimbabwe and Zambia have met strict international conservation standards. Officials also believe that legal sport hunting would bring more money into those countries for conservation efforts but critics say it would increase poaching.

Now on to allegations here in the United States of sexual misconduct against politicians. The White House brushing off any similarity between the U.S. President Donald Trump and Senator Al Franken. Despite, though, more than a dozen accusations against the president himself, Mr. Trump weighed in on the Minnesota Democratic, accusing Franken of a -- after he apologized, rather, for his own misbehavior more than a decade ago. At the same time, he has been mostly quiet --

[04:05:00]

HOWELL: -- the president has, on numerous allegations against a member of his own party, Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who is running to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. We get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

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RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president decided to weigh in on the allegations against Senator Al Franken less than 12 hours after they came to light. And it almost automatically opened the White House up to criticism on two fronts.

First, the Alabama Senate race and the sexual impropriety allegations against the Republican candidate, Roy Moore. And then there's the president's own accusations against himself, something that came on to light during the campaign.

At least 12 different women accusing the president of different forms of sexual impropriety. Today, during the White House press briefing, Sarah Sanders says there's a big difference between the accusations against the president and against Al Franken. Here's why.

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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.

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NOBLES: And sanders went on to say that this issue was heavily covered during the election and the American people had their say and Donald Trump won.

Now as to Roy Moore, this is something that the president has attempted to stay pretty far away from. He talked about it briefly during his trip to Asia, said he didn't know enough about the topic and would look into it more once he got back to Washington.

But he has still yet to talk about Roy Moore and the accusations. Now Sarah Sanders has said they are troubling but has yet to say whether or not the White House, the president or even she believes the accusers. She was pressed on that by Sara Murray today and this is how she responded.

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SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can you tell us whether the president believes the women who are making these allegations against Roy Moore?

And would he be willing to ask the Alabama governor to delay the election (INAUDIBLE) trying to intervene in this electoral process in Alabama?

SANDERS: The president certainly finds the allegations extremely troubling, as I stated yesterday, and he feels like it's up to the governor and the people in the state of Alabama to make a determination on whether or not they would delay that election or whether or not they support and vote for Roy Moore.

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NOBLES: And another important point raised there in that conversation between Sara Murray and Sarah Sanders opening the door to the possibility that Kay Ivey, the governor of Alabama, could change the date of the special election involving Roy Moore.

Now this is something we know was raised as a possibility from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, in a memo sent to the White House, discussing possible options as to how to deal with the Alabama Senate race. Now Ivey has said in the past that she has no intention of moving that election date, which is set for December 12th -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Ryan, thank you for the reporting.

Earlier, we had Farai Sevenzo following the story in Zimbabwe, now let's go back there live. CNN's David McKenzie is on the streets there in Harare, where thousands of people are coming together, again, people marching, calling for the resignation of president Robert Mugabe.

David, we see the crowds there. Again, explain the significance of what's happening this day.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to overstate the significance. I'm here with thousands of people. If you look behind me on the street, these are people from all walks of life in Zimbabwe.

They are coming from the opposition; they are coming from the ruling party; they are coming from the war veterans. Two weeks ago, if all of these people had come out, they might have been arrested. But now they are here, charging and screaming and really supporting the overthrow of the (INAUDIBLE) but not a coup of Robert Mugabe.

(INAUDIBLE) take a look at this.

They're shouting "freedom, freedom."

Tomorrow is another day but today is a day of celebration. Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old leader of this country, is under house arrest and he's being forced by the military and others (INAUDIBLE) on the streets here in Zimbabwe for him to leave office, to get out of town.

This is a historic moment in Zimbabwe. I've never seen anything like this in this country. We were here a year ago when protesters, people were running away from tear gas and rubber bullets. Now they're all out here, peacefully asking for the leader to leave, the leader that has been in power for nearly 40 years (INAUDIBLE) Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe (INAUDIBLE) looks like (INAUDIBLE) right now. Back to you.

HOWELL: David Mackenzie in the streets there of Harare there. David, stand by again, as we continue to monitor what is happening behind you. Again, thousands of people, many people who knew no one other than Robert Mugabe as that nation's president.

Again, as you mentioned, he's been president for many decades there. Talk to us about that because --

[04:10:00]

HOWELL: -- this rally that we're seeing, it's being allowed to happen, as you point out, and it has support as long as it remains peaceful.

MCKENZIE: That's right. There's something extraordinary about this because you can't see it in camera but all around town, there are military vehicles who are keeping the peace here. They are the de facto leaders of Zimbabwe right now.

You don't see police anywhere on the streets and I can bet you that people here behind me will say, you know what?

The police sometimes, who are a bit of a hassle for them here in downtown. The situation is peaceful, the people are holding Zimbabwean flags. They say Mugabe must go. The people of Zimbabwe (INAUDIBLE). Grandfather Bob needs to leave office. (INAUDIBLE). You see a multiracial crowd out here, all of them saying the same thing. I can't stress how significant this is. You have war veterans, you have members of the ruling party, you have opposition members.

They've all come out today heading to the big showgrounds here in Harare with a unified voice. And if you step back a bit, the point of this, I think, is to apply pressure on the president.

He's holed up in statehouse, we believe, with his family (INAUDIBLE) several members of his party have been detained and arrested. But if you look at the streets, the atmosphere is, one, to get out of town, president Mugabe. That is what I'm hearing from everybody, every single person that I'm talking to on the streets here of Harare.

HOWELL: David McKenzie again, following this situation that is playing out right now in Harare in Zimbabwe. Again, thousands of people coming together, demanding the resignation of that nation's president, Robert Mugabe.

And, David, as you point out, under house arrest at this point but does he have any recourse here?

As we're seeing, again, a very clear message being delivered from the people.

MCKENZIE: Well, you have the symbolism out on the streets. That's a powerful message and the president has to be seeing this, because state media has been taken over by the military. And while these kinds of protests never would have gone on air a few weeks ago, they are front and center now.

And so the president will see the message. He tried to (INAUDIBLE) push back towards the military but the military says that they are going to negotiate. We had a source inside those meetings, who said that the deal was almost done 24 hours ago but that deal fell through because Mugabe dug in his heels.

But the president has to know, he himself is the one who mastered the art of pressure, he mastered the art of coercion and violence over his long regime. (INAUDIBLE) the symbolism out of the streets and this, on some level, is a calculated move by the military to let the people protest, to join in, to give this, on some level, a feeling of a popular uprising against the president.

But, you know, it won't be over until the president leaves or officially resigns, which he certainly hasn't done so yet. But I have to say the momentum is building against him.

HOWELL: David, Mr. Mugabe has been in somewhat similar situations over his 37 years of holding power. He has been able to maintain power through perhaps negotiation. You say negotiation is happening.

Is there a sense that Mr. Mugabe could, in some form or fashion, hold on to power, despite what we're seeing right now on the streets?

MCKENZIE: George, I think the sense is his power has slipped away and he's the paper president right now, not the president in charge. But as I said, you can never say never.

But you point out a good point. Over the years of his rule, Mugabe has sidelined allies. He's pushed out (INAUDIBLE), even killed them (INAUDIBLE). That is part of the problem here for him because he hasn't put in a succession plan.

And what happened was he fired the vice president and Grace Mugabe, the first lady, was waiting in the wings. But that wasn't acceptable, it seems, to the military (INAUDIBLE) and that, up to this point though, it seems they carefully orchestrated this plan to take over, first, the power on the streets of the military, sideline the security services and then, in a way, rally the people.

And the people themselves are sick and tired of war, of Robert Mugabe. [04:15:00]

MCKENZIE: So you see this groundswell of people coming out today, in their masses, in the capital, calling for President Mugabe to step down.

HOWELL: Our David McKenzie in the middle of it all.

What you are seeing there, is this live image of thousands of people in the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe, people demanding the resignation of president Robert Mugabe, who is currently under house arrest right now. We have to wait to see what happens next.

We understand there are negotiations taking place. War veterans, members of the ruling party, opposition, a little people coming together for a rally that otherwise would not be allowed to happen but is being allowed to happen just so long as it remains peaceful.

David McKenzie following this story. Our Farai Sevenzo also in Harare. We will continue to monitor what is happening there and, of course, bring you live events as they happen.

Now to the very latest twist in the probe of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. A crucial part of the congressional testimony of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is now being called into question. It involves his remarks on WikiLeaks. That's the organization that published the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. We get more now from CNN's Evan Perez -- listen.

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EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Jared Kushner told congressional investigators that he didn't communicate with WikiLeaks and didn't recall anyone in the Trump campaign who did.

But we now know from disclosures this week that Donald Trump Jr. sent an e-mail to Kushner and others in the campaign last year to pass on information that he learned from WikiLeaks.

And Kushner then forwarded that e- mail to Hope Hicks, one of the closest aides to then candidate Trump and now the communications Director of the White House. Now what this latest revelation does is it turns up pressure on Kushner to go back to Capitol Hill for more interviews and explain himself.

We heard this week from the leaders of the senate judiciary committee who sent a public letter to Kushner's lawyers saying Kushner had failed to turn over documents that they know exist. And that includes information about WikiLeaks.

Now Abby Lowell, Kushner's attorney says that the WikiLeaks is a gotcha question, he adds in over six hours of voluntary testimony, Mr. Kushner answered all questions put to him and demonstrated that there had been no collusion between the campaign and Russia.

And Lowell also says that Kushner has complied with the committee's document request. He also said that the senate judiciary committee should ask other congressional committees for the transcripts of their Kushner interviews and that they should ask the White House for additional documents -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.

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HOWELL: Evan, thank for the reporting. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, Lebanon's former prime minister is on the move. What's next and why he's visiting France before going home to Lebanon.

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[04:20:00]

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HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

Russia has rejected another U.N. resolution to extend an investigation into Syria's use of chemical weapons. It's the third time in the last month that Russia has used its veto power at the Security Council to derail what's called the joint investigative mechanism or JIM, as it's known. Russia claims the probe is biased.

While the U.S. and the United Kingdom ambassadors blasted Russia protecting the Syrian regime, listen.

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NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Russia's veto, its second in 24 hours, shows us that Russia has no interest in finding common ground with the rest of this council to save the JIM.

Russia will not agree to any mechanism that might shine a spotlight on the use of chemical weapons by its allies, the Syrian regime. It's as simple and shameful as that.

MATTHEW RYCROFT, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This third veto in a month clearly exposes, if it wasn't already obvious, Russia's determination to protect their Syrian ally, whatever the harm that causes to the ban on the use of chemical weapons, to the wider international system of rules, to Russia's own reputation.

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HOWELL: The U.S. and the U.K. blasting the Russian veto in that situation.

Now moving on to the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, Hariri has arrived in Paris for talks with the French president. Hariri abruptly announced his resignation earlier this month while in Saudi Arabia. Lebanon's president says the prime minister will return to Lebanon Wednesday and attend independence day celebrations.

A lot to talk about here. Let's bring in senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman, following this story live in Beirut.

Ben, always a pleasure to have you. So let's talk about this. We'll get to the latest, of course. He's in France right now but we know that Hariri will be in Lebanon on Wednesday. His resignation has not been officially accepted.

Is there an expectation that that will happen, that he will officially resign?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has hinted that that is one of his options. But, at the same time, on that 12th of November interview, he gave to Future TV from Riyadh, he hinted that he might, in fact, withdraw his resignation.

So really, honestly at this point, George, nobody has any idea. Now we just saw this tweet from the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, saying that he was contacted by telephone by Hariri, who says he will attend Lebanon Independence Day celebrations, which are on Wednesday, the 22nd of this month.

So that is a bit of clarity in a situation where everything is a bit foggy. Now according to reports in the Lebanese media I just saw seconds ago, in addition to contacting the president, he contacted Nabih Berri, who's the Shia speaker of the Lebanese parliament. He contacted Walid Jumblatt, who's the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, essentially the leader of the Druze community.

So it does appear that once he arrived in Paris, he's making a lot of phone calls --

[04:25:00]

WEDEMAN: -- because of course the worry was, many Lebanese continue to believe that as long as he was in Saudi Arabia, he was not a free man.

Hariri said, however, on his way, while he was on his way the to Paris, that those beliefs that he was a hostage are a lie. But it's interesting that once he's out of Saudi Arabia, he's becoming much more active on his telephone -- George.

HOWELL: Talk to us about what we know of his time in France.

What all will he be discussing?

Who all will he see and meet?

WEDEMAN: Well, in the coming hours, we know that he will be meeting with Emmanuel Macron, the French president. After that, we understand he will be at his residence in Paris. He will be holding meetings with his aides, with his political allies. He perhaps will be back on the phone quite a lot, talking about that.

But we do have clarity, to the extent that you can get clarity on this story, George, that he will somehow be back in Lebanon next week. Now we have to take all of this with a grain of salt recalling that while he was in Saudi Arabia, he was saying I'll be back in a few days and 2-3 days and two days to Lebanon.

He didn't come back to Lebanon. He went to Paris. So, honestly, we just have to -- I hate to use that cliche -- wait and see, George, because this story has so many twists and turns, one can get a sore neck -- George.

HOWELL: Ben, you are not a man for cliches, for sure. But, yes, wait and see seems to be the proper term here, because there is a great deal of intrigue and mystery around what's happening. Ben Wedeman, live for us in Beirut, thank you for the reporting today.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead, a CNN exclusive on African migrants trying to reach Europe and the grim fate that awaits them if they fall into the wrong hands.

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NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece. You are watching an auction of human beings.

HOWELL (voice-over): CNN journalists risk their lives to document the human rights atrocity in Libya. Now the authorities are responding. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to our 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 with the headlines we're following for you.

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HOWELL: Authorities in Libya say they are investigating disturbing instances of migrants sold as slaves. As a result of our CNN exclusive reporting, you're about to see officials in Tripoli were prompted to act.

The migrants reached Libya after harrowing journeys from other African countries. For those who do make the it to Europe, they're often too terrified to go on record about the ordeals.

For the last year, as part of the Freedom Project, CNN has been working to bring these stories to light. A CNN team comprising Nima Elbagir, producer Raja Razik and photojournalist Alex Platt traveled to Libya to witness the inhumanity for themselves. They got access to a migrant slave auction, where men were sold like commodities.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

ELBAGIR (voice-over): A man addressing an unseen crowd. "Big strong voice," he says.

$400? $700? $800?

The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libya pounds, $400 apiece.

You are watching an auction of human beings.

Another man, claiming to be a buyer, off camera, someone asks, what happened to the one from Niger?

"Sold off," he's told.

CNN was sent this by contact. After months of working, we were able to verify the authenticity of what you see here. We decided to travel to Libya to try to see for ourselves.

We are now in Tripoli and we're starting to get a little more of a sense how this all works. A contact telling us there one or two of these auctions every month and there is one happening in the next few hours. We'll head out of town and see if we can get some sort of access to it.

For the safety of our contacts, we have agreed not to say the location of this auction. The town that we are driving to is not the only one.

Night falls, we traveled through suburban neighborhoods pretending to look for a missing person. Eventually, we stopped outside the house like any other. We adjust our secret cameras and wait.

Finally, it is time to move.

[04:35:00]

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We're ushered into one of two auctions happening on the same night. Crouched at the back of the yard, a flood light obscuring much by the scene. One by one, men are forced out as the bidding begins, $400, $500, $550, $600, $650, $700. Very quickly, it is over.

We ask to speak with the man, the auctioneer, seen here, he refuses. We asked again if we can speak to him.

"No," he says, "the auction is over with."

(CROSSTALK) ELBAGIR (voice-over): And we are asked to leave.

ELBAGIR: That was over very quickly.

We walked in and as soon as we walked in, the men started covering their faces. But they clearly wanted to finish what they were doing and they kept on bringing out what they kept on referring to, of men as merchandise.

All in all, they mentioned to us there were 12 Nigerians that were sold in front of us. And I honestly don't know what to say. That was one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen.

(CROSSTALK)

ELBAGIR (voice-over): These men are migrants with dreams of being smugglers overseas.

(CROSSTALK)

ELBAGIR: They come in the thousands from Niger, Nigeria and Ghana. It is hard to believe these are the lucky ones, rescued from warehouses like the one in which we witnessed auctioned. They are sold at those warehouses if the warehouses become overcrowded or if they run out of money to pay their smugglers.

Of these rescued men, so many say they were held against their will. It does not take us long to find victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language). No food, no water, no nothing.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Victory was a slave.

ELBAGIR: We know that some people are being sold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ELBAGIR: Some people are being sold. Is this something you have heard about? Can you tell us about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Yes, I was sold.

ELBAGIR: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see me, the amount of beating with electric. So the money was not that much.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Other migrants now start to come forward with their stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise you, I will take care of your husband.

ELBAGIR: This man is a supervisor here. With no international support, it is his job to look after the captured migrants until they can be deported. He says every day brings fresh heartbreak. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am suffering and what they have seen here. They were abusing them.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Have you heard of people being auctioned off, of migrants being sold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we hear the rumors but there is nothing that's obvious in front of us. We don't have evidence.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But we now do. CNN has delivered this evidence to the Libyan authorities who have promised to launch an investigation so that scenes like this are returned to the past -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, Libya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Nima, thank you for the reporting.

Nima touched on this but, in addition to alerting the Libyan authorities about what we uncovered, CNN has also passed our evidence on to the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

We'll be right back after the break.

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[04:40:00]

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HOWELL: Returning now to the allegations of sexual misconduct against politicians here in the United States. Despite more than a dozen accusations against the U.S. president himself, Donald Trump criticized Senator Al Franken, who apologized for his own misbehavior more than a decade ago.

Yet the president has been mostly quiet on the numerous allegations against Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who is running to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Let's now bring in CNN political commentator and GOP consultant John Thomas, joining us from Los Angeles.

John, always a pleasure to have you here on the show. We've heard from the White House press secretary this statement that Senator Al Franken admitted to wrongdoing, President Trump did not.

Is this the White House sidestepping the issue and the many allegations against the President of the United States, using Franken to do so?

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The president certainly lives in a glass house on this issue, there's no doubt about it. But I do think there are a few differences between Donald Trump's allegations and what we're seeing with Franken.

And the main one is, George, that voters had an opportunity to make a decision on whether they wanted Donald Trump to be in office or not and they full well knew about the "Access Hollywood" tape. We lived it for weeks as well as the accusations. Voters still decided to elect Donald Trump.

In Al Franken's case, voters weren't privy to any of this information prior to electing him. It's no doubt that the president is trying to score a political shot here. But I do think the circumstances are different because the voters had an opportunity in one case and not the other.

HOWELL: This certainly an intriguing story for many of our viewers around the world, may critics see this as the height of hypocrisy, seeing the governor of the U.S. state of Alabama saying that she has no reason to disbelieve the women but still plans to --

[04:45:00]

HOWELL: -- vote for Judge Moore. John, does this come down to choosing party over morality and these very serious issues against it?

THOMAS: Well, it's a great point you make, George, but in Alabama -- and I've run a bunch of races as well, Senate races, in Alabama. I know that area very well. And one thing I know is that party is such a -- people are so strongly tethered to their party. And part of it does have to do with morality in the sense of issues like being pro- life or pro-choice.

They believe that those -- and this is -- I can't even believe we're even saying this, George, but to many voters in Alabama, they would rather have somebody who is pro-life and a pedophile, allegedly, than somebody who is pro-LGBT and pro-choice. That's what this comes down to.

But, again, it looks like what we're seeing in polling in the last couple of days is that, while Moore certainly has his dyed-in-the-wool supporters, who literally would support him no matter what, it does look like he's dramatically underwater, even losing to a Democrat. And that's saying something, George, in a state like Alabama, that's as red as it is.

HOWELL: There are many people in the state of Alabama who will support Judge Moore, no matter what. We did also hear from Mr. Moore's wife, defending her husband. Let's take a listen.

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KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE'S WIFE: So to the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are. They will call you names. They will say all manner of evil against you.

And I would say, consider the source. So let me set the record straight. Even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation and now against my husband, he will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama. In his words and I quote, "I will not stop until they lay me in that box in the ground."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Kayla Moore saying her husband will not step down, saying to consider the source, to dismiss the allegations against Judge Moore and to vote for Moore.

THOMAS: I've got to be honest, look, I'm a Republican strategist. It's the team I play for.

But, in this case, it pains me to watch that because I know what they're doing. I mean, I understand the tactic. They're trying to make this about the liberal media, about the Washington insiders not liking Judge Roy Moore and there's some conspiracy here.

And I got to tell you, when this story first broke, George, I even raised an eyebrow, the authenticity of the story, just going -- looking at timing, 30 days before an election, you know, this had never come out before.

But as more and more women came out, as you found out that this guy was on a watch list for a local mall -- and I heard a radio interview he did with Sean Hannity a day or so after this broke.

And Sean gave him every opportunity to categorically deny that he didn't touch these women. And he dodged and he danced and he parsed his words.

HOWELL: If Judge Moore does win, where does this leave the party, along with the President of the United States, who dismisses the allegations against him with a blanket statement that all of his accusers are liars?

THOMAS: Well, the Republican Party will have a brand crisis if Judge Moore gets elected. There is no doubt about it. Mitch McConnell has made it clear, that they will utilize a rule where if two-thirds of the Senate votes to oust a senator, they can do that.

I can see that; that will happen on day one. If the Republicans don't oust Roy Moore, this will haunt the Republicans, not just as a brand challenge but it could cost them the majorities in the Senate and the House as we go into the midterm elections.

HOWELL: John Thomas, we appreciate your insight on this today. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

And the former U.S. President Bill Clinton's past transgressions are also being scrutinized. Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand says that he should have resigned as president over his affair with the White House intern, Monica Lewinski, 20 years ago. Here is how Hillary Clinton, his wife, reacted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: This was a painful time, not only in our marriage but in our country, as I've written about. But it was investigated fully. It was addressed at the time. He was held accountable.

That is very different than what people seem to be remembering from that period, because you can go back and look at the history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Bill Clinton was impeached over the scandal but was acquitted by the Senate and completed --

[04:50:00]

HOWELL: -- his term of office.

Still ahead, a police officer uses his talent to catch criminals and provide closure for the families of fallen heroes. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: In the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, one police officer is going beyond the call of duty. He's using his artistic talents not just to solve crimes but also to capture the bravery of fallen heroes. CNN's Polo Sandoval has this report for us.

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POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a cramped creative (ph) space in the basement of Philadelphia's police department. It's where Officer Jonny Castro stays busy with one of the oldest forms of crime solving, forensic art.

JONNY CASTRO, POLICE OFFICER, FORENSIC ARTIST, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: I've always been good at drawing. My dad taught me a lot with portrait work.

SANDOVAL: The job of this retired military police officer is to draw what a crime witness or victim can recall.

CASTRO: I start with the eyes and kind of just do a light sketching of it.

SANDOVAL: He then comes up with a sketch of the suspect.

Castro says when there's no evidence or photographic clues in a case, his pencil and paper are a detective's last resort. But a year and a half ago this patrolman took on a new, more solemn duty, sketching the faces of the fallen. Castro uses a digital paintbrush and tablet on his spare time to capture an officer's bravery.

CASTRO: It's a canine officer from Louisiana, a police officer from Europe.

SANDOVAL: He likes to include honors that some officers didn't even get a chance to wear.

CASTRO: He was posthumously promoted to a sergeant so he never had any photos as a sergeant, so I put him in a sergeant's uniform.

SANDOVAL: That kind of attention to detail can go a long way for the loved ones of an officer.

CASTRO: The main thing I'm concerned about is just making sure I'm drawing this person the way people that knew him remember him.

SANDOVAL: His 104th sketch goes to Joel Davis' family. The New York state trooper was killed in the line of duty in July.

CASTRO: I want to make sure that if his son or daughter sees it they're seeing their father.

SANDOVAL: After Trooper Davis' portraits have been trimmed, signed and shipped, a copy will be added to the Wall of Heroes. That's Castro's personal memorial that continues to grow.

CASTRO: Even when I start working on one, you know, you'll still get the notification that another was killed somewhere else.

SANDOVAL: The biggest challenge for Castro is keeping up, sketching two or three officers a week.

CASTRO: Unfortunately, it's -- there's always going to be an officer to do.

SANDOVAL: That's the sad reality. Castro will always have an inspiration for his next piece -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, Philadelphia.

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HOWELL: CNN's Polo Sandoval reporting for us, thank you.

Another hour of NEWSROOM is on deck after the break. Stay with us.