Return to Transcripts main page

HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Trump's CFO Makes A Deal with Mueller; Loyalty Is A One-Way Street for Donald Trump; John McCain Ceases Cancer Therapy Treatment; Pope's Visit to Ireland Will Not Fill Up Empty Churches If Something Is Not Done About Priest Pedophiles; Trump Calls Pompeo Visit To North Korea; U.S. Tech Giants Discuss Election Security; Study: No Amount Of Liqueur Is Good For You Overall; Hurricane Lane Not Expected To Make Landfall; Wild Clownfish Populations Face Multiple Threats

Aired August 24, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:00] BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Bianca Nobilo and I'm sitting in for Hala Gorani tonight.

Another former Trump loyalist turned on the U.S. president as a top Trump Organization official has been granted immunity in the investigation of

hush money payments. Also, ahead, the family of John McCain says the senator will stop medical treatment for brain cancer.

And bad news for people who love a good drink. A new study says no amount of alcohol is safe.

Another day, another massive headache for the president of the United States. Yet again, a top figure in his orbit has been granted immunity in

the investigation into hush money payments made to two women who alleged affairs with Donald Trump. Now, you may not know Allen Weisselberg well.

But he is a huge part of the Trump administration, Organization rather. Working as its chief financial officer. He was granted immunity by federal

prosecutors for providing information about Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen. So, let's take you right to the White House.

Jeremy Diamond is there for us. Now, Jeremy, this administration is no stranger to controversy. But even by its own standards this has been a

particularly tumultuous week. What is the reaction from the White House to this string of new flippings and disloyalties to the president?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly has been tumultuous. And we have heard the president vent frustrations and express some of his

concern frankly, not doing a good job of hiding the extent to which he appears to be concerned by the legal developments that happened this we

can, particularly with his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen. We heard him lamenting this practice of flipping right after Michael Cohen

pled guilty to aid felony charges and implicated the president in a felony, a campaign finance violation. And now we have the news that Allen

Weisselberg, the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, also currently still the comanager of the president's trust since he came into

office and put his business interests in a trust, we learn that he got an immune deal. There is a lot of questions remaining unanswered. One of

those is the extent to which Allen Weisselberg spoke about the president, offered incriminating information about the president, and the extent to

which this goes beyond the hush money payments that Michael Cohen set up. And we don't know yet if it goes beyond that. But we do know he did

discuss his role in the hush money payments. Remember, when we had the audio recording from Michael Cohen about those payments we had the

president on tape. Michael Cohen on tape discussing the payments before they were made. And Allen Weisselberg's name was mentioned because he was

involved in the transactions. And so, it appears likely that Allen Weisselberg would have corroborated Michael Cohen's account that the

president knew about the payments beforehand. Of course, we know that already from the audio recording despite the president's recent denials.

NOBILO: And Jeremy, in your opinion, why does Weisselberg's connection to the financial element of the Trump organization present such a danger

potentially to the president?

DIAMOND: Well, he -- as some sources told us know where the financial bodies are buried. He has been around Donald Trump and his business life

for many, many years. And we know the president expressed some concern in the past about the possibility that the Mueller investigation or federal

prosecutors could move into looking at his finances. One of the episodes when he considered taking action to regain control of the Mueller

investigation was when there was this report that turned out to be false that Mueller was looking into a loan that the president got from Deutsche

Bank. We know the president is concerned about looking into finances. He called it a redline in the past but again, we don't know at this point

whether Weisselberg is getting into that or his testimony and cooperation with prosecutors is really limited to those hush money payments to two

women who alleged affairs with the president.

NOBILO: Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you.

Now Donald Trump demands loyalty. But right now, wherever looks he sees former allies turn on him. So, is Trump feeling a sense of betrayal?

Let's get more with the White House reporter, Steven Collinson joining me from Washington. Now Steven you have written an interesting piece. This

has seen a string of betrayals for a president who prizes loyalty. How do you think he reacts? And is there increased sensitivity to the fact gnat

legal circle might be tightening around President Trump.

[15:05:00] STEVEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianca, I think there is. These are people, Michael Cohen, Allen Weisselberg and other people

around the president, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and David Pecker, the owner of the organization that publishes the "National

Enquirer." These are people he thought were on his side, particularly in the cases of the people that worked for the Trump Organization, Cohen and

Weisselberg. These are people that not only know a great deal about the president's personal and financial life. They have information that

potentially could be very, very valuable to prosecutors and to the special counsel Robert Mueller.

And that is why -- it's not just about the Cohen case, which we have seen exploding over the last week. The president has to believe now that when

people who he believed were loyal to him and close to him come under personal either political or legal jeopardy they are starting to look out

for their own futures and their own sort of legal exposure rather than worrying about the impact of their actions on the president himself. As

the president sits in the White House and watches these sort of -- the crumbling legal walls around him, that must be very, very worrying and

isolating. I think it helps explain some of his volcanic tweeting and interviews of the last few days.

NOBILO: Stephen that's what I was asking about next. If we look at the interview on fox and friends he had harsh words for anybody who flipped.

Do you think he is beginning to give away a sense of trepidation surrounding the betrayals recently from your observations of the

president's behavior over the last few months and years? Do you think his behavior yesterday was particularly significant?

COLLINSON: Yes, I think that Fox interview that he gave after the conviction of Paul Manafort and the plea deal by Michael Cohen was

especially interesting because it seemed as though he was testing various different ways to rationalize what happened and to sort of navigate out of

a very difficult political spot. I think it's -- you know, if you watch the president, he has always been this domineering figure in Washington

ever since taking office. What you see now for instance, in the row between the president and Jeff Sessions. The president repeated by

berating Sessions because he recused himself part of the Russia investigation. Because he was part of the campaign. It's clear that the

president of the United States does not have a first duty to the constitution and administration of justice but he believes he should have a

first duty to the president and protecting him in the legal sense.

And it's sort of the president learning that the assumptions he had when taking power that he was going to be all powerful, tell people to do what

they wanted them to do just as he did when he was the head of the Trump organization, that doesn't necessarily work out in Washington. And that is

I think a very grim realization, especially as week by week list hell problems seem to grow and translate I think in political problems too. As

you wanted at the beginning there, it's been a really, really tumultuous week for the president. He seems in less control of his own political and

legal destiny than at any point in his presidency.

NOBILO: Indeed, that does seem to be the case. And I wonder, what are your thoughts on the fact that I think it's fair to characterize the

president's circle at the beginning of his administration was incredibly loyal and close-knit almost at the expense of the individual and their own

exposure. What do you think is changing that these betrayals are now occurring?

COLLINSON: I think one of the issues is that loyalty is always pretty much of a one-way street for President Trump. He seems to demand unusual

amounts of loyalty and from people below him and working with him. You see during the presidency periodic cabinet meetings where cabinet officials

seem forced to almost pay homage to him as though more of a king than a president. I think that's part of it. He hasn't shone loyalty to the

people below him, willing to criticize him and loyalty doesn't flow upwards as much as it did.

NOBILO: Stephen Collinson in Washington thank you for your insight.

[15:10:00] Now a somber update on the health of John McCain. His family says he will no longer continue treatment for cancer. The 81-year-old was

diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year. The senator is considered a powerful voice in the Republican party. One that's

respected on both sides of the political divide. For more on John McCain's medical condition, let's now speak to our chief medical correspondent dr.

Gupta who is at CNN center. Sanjay, thank you for joining us.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Bianca.

NOBILO: What do you think prompted this decision by the senator to end the treatment.

GUPTA: Well, at some point when you go through therapy like this and in Senator McCain's case almost 13 months, he had an operation, chemotherapy

and radiation. And it's tough therapy. Can be hard on the body and constantly making a decision, is the therapy doing enough? Is the benefit

of the therapy outweighing the risk and the toll it's taking on his body. I think that decision really has been made now, that he doesn't think that

it's working well enough to justify continuing the therapy. I also think over the past couple weeks hearing from people close to Senator McCain, he

had a tough seizure, for example, something not unexpected with brain cancer. But that's been debilitating for him as well.

NOBILO: Now the senator chose you specifically to break the story of his illness to last July. What do we know about this kind of tumor that

Senator McCain has been suffering from and his treatment and prognosis at this point?

GUPTA: Well, this type of brain cancer is something called glioblastoma. People may know it as GBM as well. It's often called. A type of cancer

originates in the brain as opposed to somewhere else in the body appear spreading to the brain. It's an aggressive cancer. I can tell you I've

either been training or practicing surgery for 25 years. And with this particular tumor we just haven't made great strides in terms of improving

survival. Average survival, median survival is about 14 months. As I mentioned Senator McCain is 13 months since diagnosis. It's not a tumor

that spreads outside of the brain but it's aggressive and hard to treat as a result.

NOBILO: And that being said, what is now next for the senator and his family?

GUPTA: Well, you know, what we have heard from Senator McCain and certainly heard from his family in the past is he very much wants to be at

home. Again, we know he is not going to go undergo further therapies. He may have what's called essentially a home hospice type care, which will be

medical professionals who will help him be comfortable, do the things he needs to do. But therapy to treat the cancer. We know that that's no

longer going to continue.

NOBILO: Well Doctor Gupta at the CNN center. Thank you so much for taking us through that sad news from the McCain family. We appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

NOBILO: Both Republicans and Democrats have been paying tribute to John McCain. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted." John McCain personifies service

to our country. The whole House is keeping John and his family in our prayers during this time."

Mitt Romney said, "no man this century better exemplifies honor, patriotism, service, sacrifice and country first than Senator John McCain.

His heroism inspires, his life shapes our character. I'm blessed and humbled by our friendship.

And Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intel Committee tweeted, "Senator John McCain has served our country with courage and dignity. And

we all owe a debt of gratitude to his life of service. A grateful nation stands with you, John."

And now, to Yemen. A country around which a single deeply disturbing question is hanging. Are children becoming the deliberate targets of

violence? At least 30 people, most of them children were killed by a Saudi led coalition air strike, according to the rebel-controlled health

ministry. A warning, the report contains graphic images of the aftermath of the attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bundles in the sheets are what remains of a family. This man is gathering up the remains

of his son and grandson children.

[15:15:00] He tries to show the cameraman but it's too upsetting. This footage was sent to CNN by Houthi officials. It shows the aftermath of yet

another air strike in Yemen claiming the lives of dozens of children and their parents as they fled to safety.

In the beleaguered port city of Hudaida.

One of the pickup trucks miraculously survived the hit and was used to ferry back the dead and dying. He pulls back the sheets to show us the

little feet sticking out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are all corpses some body parts were so charred we couldn't pick them up, so disintegrated.

ELBAGIR: In the hospital these images of the few remaining survivors were broadcast on Houthi backed TV. This man lost everyone in his family. Six

children he says. Still in shock, his words are almost unintelligible. This morning on a tv they cast this the images of airstrikes continuing.

CNN can't independently verify the images, supposedly of Saudi led coalition planes. But eye witnesses describe shouting and fear as strikes

above the sky intensified. Hudaida is a strategic port and for weeks has been the sight of fierce fighting between the U.S. backed Saudi coalition

and Iranian backed Houthi militias. Fighting that shows no signs of cooling down.

Ali wants to find as much of his family as he can to give them a burial they deserve. It is the only dignity he says that he has left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Nima Elbagir is here with more. Now Nima that's incredibly harrowing fantastic reporting. Have you had a response from the Saudi led

coalition?

ELBAGIR: No. We have reached out to them. We haven't heard back. We haven't heard anything more on the investigation that was launched two

weeks ago into the previous attack that killed children. It does seem like these incidents are beginning to pile up. And there is little forthcoming

in terms of any kind of context or any explanation as to what the next step is.

NOBILO: And reference that attack on August 9th when 40 children died in the bus attack and more children dying in this attack. I mean can the two

incidents be dismissed as accidental? What do you make of it from your investigation.

ELBAGIR: Also, these are the instances that make their way out to the outside world. We know from activists on the ground we know that there are

myriad thousands of incidents of civilian casualties, it goes back to the point we have been discussing since the bus attack for the last two weeks.

Which is both the U.S. and UK have consistently raised concerns about the targeting and the specificity of targeting. And at what point does the

targeting and concerns over start to translate into concrete action? How sustainable is it to continue to sell weapons to a government whose

targeting you have concerns over?

NOBILO: Do you think the U.S. and the UK, who currently sell arms to Saudi Arabia will have to address this at some point? What do you think

it's going to take? Has there been a response from either of the governments to what we see here?

ELBAGIR: Speaking to activists and Yemeni civilians on the ground what's apparently there hasn't been a sufficient response neither to this incident

or the prove bus attack. No condemnation which is strange because generally you expect a condemnation which there has been from the U.S. and

U.K. is calls for investigation. But that does seem to be ratcheting up of the pressure both from U.S. lawmakers who are calling for greater

congressional oversight of the these. And here in the UK where the arms treaty and the proviso around the arms treaty are embedded in national law.

NOBILO: Nima this reporting is incredible. Thank you for talking to us about it. Still to come tonight, the flags are out in Ireland for Pope

Francis. But not everyone is welcoming him with open arms. We hear from survivors of horrific sexual abuse who are demanding answers.

And two days ago, Australia's Malcom Turnbull said he wouldn't step down as prime minister but his political rivals had other plans.

[15:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: Welcome become. Now for the first time in nearly 40 years a pope is getting ready to visit Ireland. In 1979, John Paul II got quite the

reception.

Back then an estimated 2.7 million people nearly half of the country turned out to see him. But four decades later, and times are very different.

There will still be crowds. But years of sexual abuse scandals in Ireland and abroad will mean Pope Francis will be greeted by anger and protests.

Let's go live to Dublin. Our Phil Black is there. Phil, so much has changed since the last visit of a pope to Ireland. What are the main

factors that damaged the relationship between the congregation and the church community and the papacy in that country?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianca, it's a very different country now. The Pope Francis should not expect that unquestioning rock star style

welcome. There are simply too many people here still suffering because of sexual abuse and other cruelties inflicted by priests and covered up by

bishops. The legacy has impacted families across the country, from mental illness, addiction, trauma and suicide. But when you listen to victims and

hear desperate harrowing stories you understand why they say words alone from the leader of the Catholic Church, no matter how eloquent or sincere

can never be enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: There is no polite easy way to explain what happened to Darren McGavin on the grounds of this church when he was a child.

DARREN MCGAVIN, VICTIM OF PEDOPHILE: He put me over the table. And he had the vestments, the robes from the vestments. And he -- he tied me hands to

me legs over the table. And began to rape me.

BLACK: From the age of 7 Darren was abused several times a week for more than four years by Tony Welsh one of Ireland's most notorious pedophile

priests.

MCGAVIN: On one occasion I was raped with a crucifixion.

BLACK: Welsh destroyed his life. The years have been consumed by trauma and mental illness. How old are you now?

MCGAVIN: I'm 46 years of age and I've been medicated since I was 12. 12 years of age. So -- like when is it going to stop? Like when is it going

to stop? I don't know.

[15:25:00] BLACK: This is just one victim's story in a country deeply wounded by the horrific legacy of priests abusing vast numbers of children

and often getting away with it. It will be the defining issue for Pope Francis when we visits once proudly Catholic Ireland.

MCGAVIN: Do this in memory of me.

BLACK: Where many churches are now largely empty, where the institution is struggling for purpose and credibility.

MARY COLLINS, SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM: I went to the hospital when I was 12, just turned 13 and I was sexually assaulted by the catholic chaplain.

BLACK: After decades recovering. Mary Collins has become a powerful voice for reforming the church culture. Last year she walked away from a Vatican

panel advising Pope Francis because nothing changed. And she wasn't satisfied with his recent written apology.

COLLINS: We have the Pope the other day in a strong letter. A lot it is good. But unfortunately, he says we are working on a way to find to hold

people accountable. We're decades on. You can't still be working on it.

BLACK: Darren McGavin wanted to show us another painful location. In Phoenix Park where Pope Francis will say mass he takes us to a dark gully.

MCGAVIN: And then he lay me down on the mattress.

BLACK: Another place where he was raped by the priest he once trusted.

MCGAVIN: Didn't even get sorry -- didn't even say sorry like.

BLACK: Darren and other victims say apologies are important. But from the Pope they also want firm policies to ensure no one suffers like this again.

So, the Pope's symbolic gesture will be examined and watched closely the coming two days. The expectation is he will be compassionate and

heartfelt. But those victims say they must deliver a clear comprehensive plan for protecting children and dealing with clerical sexual abuse around

the world. Anything less they say will be judged as failure. It could be a defining moment in the papacy. Bianca.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: It sounds like it will be one, Phil. What sorts of firm policies as the people you were speaking to were referring to could there be? What

do you think would apiece survivors and the church community in Ireland to hear from the pope? What are they looking for? What are the firm

policies?

BLACK: Well it's often summed up by a simple phrase. Zero tolerance approach. Which sounds simple. But what they are talking about are really

policies things like insisting on mandatory reporting of suspected sexual abuse. That is a law here in Ireland. But not a law everywhere the

catholic church exists. The demand and see the Vatican impose that rule instead. Other things include accountability mechanism, not just for

abusers but also those found to have covered up or protected abusers. As I say, very straightforward you would think practices and measures that would

go a considerable way towards punishing and deterring people from conducting in this sort of behavior again. But the barrier they come up

against repeatedly is often simply described as the culture of the church. And that has been enough to stop the church from implementing these sorts

of reforms after more than decades of activism and campaigns and victims like that, very bravely telling their stories, very openly exposing the

humiliation and pain at the hands of priests they once trusted, Bianca.

NOBILO: Phil Black in Dublin. Thank you very much for your reporting.

Former Treasurer Scott Morrison is now Australia's sixth prime minister in just over ten years. After Malcom Turnbull was forced out by rivals in his

party. Turnbull described the ousting as madness driven by a determined insurgency. Kristi Elu Stout has more on the political turmoil.

KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's winter time in Australia. And Malcolm Turnbull's ruling liberal party has kicked him into the cold.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALCOLM TURNBULL, FORMER Australian Prime Minister: Insurgency is the best way to describe it. Deliberate destructive action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Treasurer Scott Morrison now prime minister after MPs revolted after Turnbull's climate change goals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MORRISON, NEW AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: There's been a lot of talk this week about whose side people are on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: Australia's fifth prime minister in as many years, the outgoing Turnbull, the latest victim of an ongoing ideological dispute over the

warming planet.

[15:30:00] In the capital, the political climate has been red hot all week. Monday saw then Prime Minister Turnbull trying to save his job by backing

away from the Paris climate deal.

But it wasn't enough to stave off the challenge led by right winger Peter Dutton who forced two leadership ballots. The first on Tuesday, Turnbull

clung to power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TURNBULL: What I'm endeavoring to do is to obviously ensure that the party is stable, to maintain the stability of the government of Australia.

That's critically important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: But the prime minister's allies jumped ship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cannibalistic behavior of a government eating itself alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: And finally, on Friday, Scott Morrison emerged as a compromise between the parties warring left and right. Time up for Turnbull whose

self-styled progressive politics never fit with many in the Australian main stream conservative party. He will quit parliament leaching serious

questions as to whether an unelected prime minister will stand up to scrutiny and election must be held by May. For now, the ruling Liberal

Party settled the question of leadership but crippling drought and winter time bush fires are keeping climate change in the spotlight in Australia.

An issue dogging each prime minister to be sacked since 2007. Kristi Lu Stout CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[15:30:02]

NOBILO: Still to come tonight on the show, Russian internet trolls are not just messing with the world's elections. We now know they've high jacked

the debate on public health as well.

And a surprising development in the, so far, warm relationship between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. A live report on the snag is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: Welcome back. A snag may be developing in President Trump's so far cordial relationship with North Korea. We've just learn that the U.S.

president has told his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea for a scheduled visit.

Mr. Trump says he does not feel the U.S. is making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with North Korea.

It looks like China is perhaps the wild card in this diplomatic development.

So let's go straight to Washington now and our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.

Elise, how significant is setback is this? The fact that Donald Trump wants to call off the Pompeo meeting is sort of being the fourth meeting, I

think, between Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterparts. What do you make of it?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's very, significant, Bianca, because Mike Pompeo was going to take his brand-new

envoy that he just sent out yesterday, Steve Biegun, a former adviser to former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice under President George W. Bush.

So it was a, kind of, signal, if you will, that talks might have started to get serious. But Secretary Pompeo was at the White House today. He was

with Andy Kim, who's one of his top advisors on North Korea. He's a senior official at the CIA who's been with him through this process all along.

And in the discussion, President Trump told Secretary Pompeo that it was not a good idea for him to be traveling when there's so little progress.

You know, we saw earlier this week, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA came out with a pretty damning report talking about grave concern that

North Korea has not stopped its nuclear program, that it's continuing.

U.S. intelligence agencies have also picked up, you know, continued activity. Now, Kim Jong-un never agreed in his agreement with President

Trump to stop his nuclear development.

In the meantime, the goal was eventual denuclearization. But still, the U.S. has been looking for a sign from North Korea that, you know, it was

ready to get serious about denuclearization. And clearly, the opposite is happening.

[15:35:12] NOBILO: And, Elise, let's talk about the mixed messaging here in this tweet storm. Because on the one hand, President Trump is saying

what we just discussed, the fact that that meeting is going to be called off. But then on the other hand, he says in his tweet, "I would like to

send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon."

How do you reconcile those two sentiments?

LABOTT: I really don't even know what to reconcile. I mean, I think he wants to send a message to Kim Jong-un that, you know, the door is still

open. You'll remember, this is exactly what he did when he cancelled the summit that eventually was rescheduled was put back on when he sent that

letter to Kim Jong-un. We're not having any progress. I don't think it's a good time for us to meet. And then Kim Jong-un came forward and next

thing you know the summit was back on. So it could be a repeat of what is happening.

But I think, you know, Secretary Pompeo announced this. There was no meeting with Kim Jong-un scheduled for this trip. They said they had no

expectation of meeting with him. So you have to wonder, if there's no progress, if the U.S. isn't getting a sign from North Korea that it's

serious, whether there really is any progress or this is kind of just smoke and mirrors about the idea that the U.S. and North Korea are working

towards some kind of nuclearization.

So clearly, President Trump doesn't want to close the door entirely. But I thought that was, you know, kind of a little bit weird that he would say

that. Because clearly, they want to send a message to North Korea that, you know, you're not doing anything. We're not going to meet. But clearly

wants to leave the door open.

Clearly. Well Elise Labott in Washington, thank you for your analysis.

Russia's online meddling has not only threatened democratic elections. Their disinformation and conspiracy theories also may have jeopardized

public health.

According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, automated bots and Russian trolls spread false information on vaccines on Twitter

from 2014 through 2017. And they used tactics similar to those that disrupted the last U.S. presidential election.

U.S. tech giants are now on the offensive. Google, Facebook, and Twitter announced this week they've taken down a number of accounts and channels

linked to Russia and Iran.

Our Clare Sebastian joins from us from New York now with the details.

Clare, what would the Russian's motivations be in trying to spread disinformation about vaccinations? This is something quite new that hasn't

been discussed when there's been all these concerns about trolls and bots?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is the first time that we've seen this tactic applied to public health. And it

could be particularly dangerous, Bianca. But it's really interesting when you look at what the study found. It found that they are weighing in on

both sides of the debate, the pro and the anti-vaccines debate. And that really tallies what we've seen in the past from the Russian trolls from the

shadowy organization called the Internet Research Agency.

Because they don't weigh in on one side of the debate. Even when you saw with the election, when the Mueller indictment on the Internet Research

Agency came out in February. He talked about them pushing people towards Trump and Bernie Sanders. They've pushed to the outer edges of the debate.

They want to push people to the extremes and that way sow divisions in American society. It's extraordinary.

It's been it's not with just elections, but we've seen it with racial issues like Black Lives Matter even with pretty obscure issues in American

society like Texan secessionism.

So I think definitely the first time we've seen it with public health. It shows the extraordinary levels of research that goes into this -- to

construct these divisive issues in American social and political life. But certainly the way it was done is characteristic of what we've seen before.

NOBILO: And, Clare, with the midterms looming, this is all the more concerning for U.S. lawmakers and others in the U.S. What do we know about

this meeting that took place between the tech giants and how they're going to try to work together to mitigate some of this?

SEBASTIAN: Well, we don't know a lot. We know that it's a private meeting taking place today. We think in San Francisco at the Twitter headquarters

involving Facebook, Twitter, Google and a number of other tech companies, that's according to a source familiar with the meeting. And we know that

they're discussing the way they're going to handle misinformation in the lead up to the midterms.

But this comes at the end of a very active week from these tech companies. The meeting comes after we've seen Microsoft with that call to arms earlier

in the week after they took down some fake domains that they say were trying to hack into the senate and conservative leaning think tanks. Then

we've got Facebook taking down more than 650 accounts, they said, were linked to coordinated misinformation campaign out of Iran and Russia.

And finally, Google today taking down some blogs and accounts that they also say were linked to Iran and Russia. So these tech companies, used to

be that they would wait for journalists to like us to report this and then react to it.

Now, they're really trying to show that they're getting out in front of it and particularly ahead of the next election season in the U.S. They cannot

afford to lose trust on the scale that they have before.

[15:40:12] NOBILO: And what is the level of concern ahead of the midterms about the impact that misinformation or promoting divisive speech online

might have on the elections?

SEBASTIAN: I think there's a lot of concern. I think, you know certainly what we've seen from the tech companies this week, Microsoft in particular

on Monday saying that they're starting to see a pattern similar to 2016 and similar to what they saw ahead of the French elections as well.

We don't know exactly what scale, to what scale the activity has been ramping up online, what Microsoft reported on Monday was kind of an

espionage of spear phishing attempt. We don't know if there's any active measures in place yet. But certainly in technical and political circles

here in the U.S., the concern is quite high.

NOBILO: Clare Sebastian, thank you for your reporting on this startling new information from New York. Thank you, Clare.

Still to come tonight, booze news you can use. The study you definitely won't want to raise a glass to.

And Hawaii might dodge a direct hit from Hurricane Lane. But Lane is still packing a punch on the islands.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: Welcome back. If you're a drinker, we hate to be the ones to break some sobering news to you. But a major new study says no amount of

alcohol is good for your overall health. Not even that cheeky glass of red wine you might be holding as we speak on a Friday evening.

A survey in The Lancet Medical Journal says the overall risk of liquor outweighs any known benefits. It says alcohol accounted for nearly one in

10 deaths in people between the ages of 15 and 49. That data was recorded in 2016 across all age groups. Alcohol was associated with 2.8 million

deaths that year.

This is, of course, big news for drinkers. But does it really mean that the glass is half empty? To get to the bottom of that glass, let's speak

to Dr. Richard Harding a former government adviser and chairman of the group Drinker's Voice. Thank you very much for being with us.

So I'd like to hear, first of all, your thoughts on the study that alcohol isn't good for you in any amount whatsoever.

DR. RICHARD HARDING, CHAIRMAN, DRINKER'S VOICE: Well what this study concludes is that there's no benefit to alcohol consumption at any level of

consumption.

NOBILO: Uh-hmm.

HARDING: Globally, taking a global approach in the way it's consumed today. That's the conclusion it reaches. What would be a mistake, I

think, is to draw any conclusion about the relevance of this to giving advice to any consumers in any individual country.

NOBILO: Uh-hmm.

HARDING: And there are a number of reasons for this. The data source is absolutely huge. It's 694 data sources from 195 countries. And they fed

the data into a mathematical model and came up with this conclusion.

[15:45:07] Well, if you do that, you're going to get an answer which is not relevant to any particular place. Any particular country. Alcohol

consumption is at highest in countries which have the greatest life expectancy. And it's lowest in the lowest life expectancy. There's lots

of different factors which influence the health outcome.

NOBILO: And there are lots of different factors and as you argue, it is a comprehensive study extending all around the world. But yet, it isn't the

only study that makes this argument.

Even England's chief medical officer has said, Dame Sally Davies, I believe, that every time she looks at a glass of wine she asked herself,

well, do I want to increase my risk of breast cancer and that alcohol is in fact not good for you.

So why is there so much disagreement within the medical community? For example in contrast to something like cigarettes where people have a fairly

cut and dry idea of the fact that it's always detrimental to health. Why is there so much dispute when it comes to alcohol?

HARDING: Well, the U.K. got the results of a mathematical model as well. I used to --

NOBILO: So, what's wrong with mathematical models?

HARDING: Well, the way public health's advice is normally formulated, is you take observations on the effect to different lifestyle or

characteristics on the outcome of mortality or disease.

So you're looking for characteristics where people live the longest or have the lowest prevalence of disease. That's why we encouraged to exercise

regularly, not to smoke, eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

If you carry out the same exercise with alcohol in western countries, European countries in the U.K. and the States, you can draw upon an

enormous number of studies, dating back nearly 50 years which are highly consistent which show a J-shaped relationship between disease outcome and

consumption. And you get with moderate and regular consumption of alcohol. You see a drop in risk for coronary heart disease for a kidney stroke, for

diabetes.

In the last 20 years, you've seen evidence for a potential effect for moderate consumption for dementia and Alzheimer's disease. And that even

survives when you come to -- the all-cause mortality, which is definitely all causes.

NOBILO: Yes. And so that would be according to some studies. And does it matter though what type of alcohol people drinks? To our viewers who might

be having a glass of wine now. Is there a distinction to be made between whether or not you enjoy a glass of wine, which I understand has

resveratrol and other healthy compounds versus a sugary drink or heavy spirit? Does it matter what you drink?

HARDING: In terms of the cardiovascular benefit, certainly the alcohol is doing the job. There might be additional benefit in the anti-oxidants, as

you say. Equally important when it comes to a drink is the pattern of drinking.

It's incredibly important not to get intoxicated and not to binge drink. But this body of evidence, over this long period of time, has clearly shown

that people in western society who drink moderately and regularly tend to have longer and healthier lives than either heavy drinkers or abstainers.

NOBILO: Right.

HARDING: And that message is lost here. The other thing in the study which they've done, which they really shouldn't do is they mixed together

acute and chronic harms. And acute harm is when somebody drinks alcohol, that the judgment is impaired, they have an accident, drinking and driving,

fall off a ladder or whatever it is.

NOBILO: Yes.

HARDING: And chronic harm is the effect of alcohol consumption on chronic disease over the long period.

NOBILO: And there certainly are. --

HARDING: And they've mixed them up.

NOBILO: There are questions marks about the methodology certainly. But I appreciate you giving us the alternate perspective and also clear those

areas where you do agree for example intoxication on binge drinking is definitely wrong in the study and you would agree with that.

HARDING: Absolutely.

NOBILO: Thank you for joining us. Thanks. Dr. Harding there.

More to come on the program, including, first, there was finding Nemo. Now, they're saving Nemo. Find out how young volunteers helping clownfish

populations when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:50:49] NOBILO: Welcome back to the program. Hurricane Lane off the coast of Hawaii has been downgraded to a category two storm. But don't be

fooled. Lane is still packing a punch with torrential rains and strong winds. The storm has already caused widespread flooding on the Big Island,

prompting more than 1,500 people to seek shelter at Red Cross evacuation centers on Thursday night. And here's why.

This, what you're seeing right now, was taken by NASA on Wednesday. You can see how big the bands of rain are. And each one brings a wave of

downpours adding to flooding.

Hurricane Lane is predicted to come dangerously close to Hawaii.

Let's get more on the situation there from CNN's Nick Watt who joins me now live from Honolulu. Lovely to see you, Nick. What are you seeing where

you are?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Bianca, in Honolulu, we are just waiting just an hour or two from now. We're expected to see a lot of the

wind and rain connected to this hurricane.

Still, I mean, at the moment, this guy is still trying to rent out surf boards to tourists. He's not getting a lot of trade. The winds are

picking up. The surf is getting bigger.

As you mentioned, the Big Island which is further south from here. This hurricane has been moving north just to west of the islands. The Big

Island, 40 inches of rain in places, flashflood warnings still in effect for large parts of that island. Some tourists had to be rescued from a

vacation home in Hilo.

And a little further north Maui, strangely, is suffering two brush fires right now. One of them has jumped a highway, was heading towards a gas

station. Of course, that is being whipped up by the winds from this hurricane. But we are hoping that some rain also connected to this

hurricane will actually dampen those flames later on.

Now, as you mentioned, this hurricane right now is on a course for Honolulu. But it is expected to veer off west as it weakens. But we are

still going to see some wind and some rain here. And emergency officials are standing by just in case evacuations are needed.

I mean, the airport here is still open. Flights to and from Maui have been cancelled. But the airport in Honolulu is still open. Lots of restaurants

and stores have been close closed down, have been sandbagged. We went to one restaurant last night, which is the only one open. A massive line.

People stocking up eating while they can. And right now people just enjoying the last bit of the beach. A lot of these people, as I say, on

holiday, 300,000 of them enjoying the last of the beach before they hank her down. Bianca.

NOBILO: Nick Watt in Honolulu, thank you so much for your reporting.

One of the most visible victims of climate change is a cute creature that became wildly popular in the movie "Finding Nemo." Wild clownfish

populations depend on the health of coral reefs.

Now, both are threatened by overfishing and warming ocean temperatures. But as CNN's Ivan Watson reports, a program in Australia aims to save Nemo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meet the humble clownfish, though small in size, it's one of the most instantly recognizable inhabitants of the

world's coral reefs. A fish made famous by the 2003 animated film, "Finding Nemo."

The movie told the story of a father searching for his son Nemo after he's captured from the wild. But "Finding Nemo's" box office success has had

some unintended consequences.

KAREN BURKE DA SILVA, COFOUNDER, SAVING NEMO: After the film "Finding Nemo," there was a drastic spike in the number of fish that people wanted

for their aquarium.

WATSON: Karen Burke Da Silva is a marine biologist and the cofounder of a program called Saving Nemo.

DA SILVA: And the places that they were getting those fish actually was from the wild. And as the numbers kept coming out of the wild, they

started getting very, very small in some places, and in fact in certain areas became locally extinct.

WATSON: Students at Belgian Gardens Primary School in the Australian city of Townsville are trying to change that.

[15:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the top, there is a little orange clown fish. It's really tiny. It's like a dot.

WATSON: Oh wow. It's really small, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

WATSON: As part of the Saving Nemo program, these children are helping breed baby clownfish.

IMOGEN EVERSON, SAVING NEMO VOLUNTEER: We breed them, so we can give fish that we breed to people who want clownfish and so they don't have to take

them out of the wild.

WATSON: The clownfish raised here are eventually traded away to pet shops in exchange for aquarium supplies.

Where are the eggs?

EVERSON: Those little bubbles.

WATSON: Unfortunately, the clownfish is now facing an even bigger challenge, climate change. Rising temperatures around the world are

bleaching, in other words, killing off, coral and sea anemone, the habitats clownfish call home.

Marine biologist, Jodie Rummer, says it'll take more drastic action to protect the clownfish.

JODIE RUMMER, MARINE BIOLOGIST: The way to protect them is a really, really big solution, and it has to do with kind of ending our reliance on

fossil fuels that's directly related to the warming oceans, the omissions into the atmosphere.

WATSON: For newcomers, the story of the little star of "Finding Nemo" may have another surprising plot twist.

DA SILVA: I'm not sure if everybody knows that clownfish are hermaphrodites.

WATSON: All clownfish are born male and some eventually transform and grow into bigger females --

DA SILVA: Females are the largest and they're the tough fish in the anemone. Everybody wants to be with the female.

WATSON: Which could make the next "Finding Nemo" sequel a very different movie.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Townsville, Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBILO: Don't miss Ivan's special report, "Race To Save The Reef." It premieres this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. That's 1:30 p.m. in

London.

And after a long week, we all deserve this story. Visitors to the Paris Zoo are getting a double dose of cute starting today. Two baby female

jaguars now about seven weeks old have just moved to an outside enclosure. The playful youngsters named Lenca and Aloha are exploring their new digs

with their very attentive mom. They can grow up to two and a half meters and weigh up to 120 kilos.

Thanks for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.

END