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Rohingya Nightmare; Yemen In Crisis; South Korea Military Drills; Anti-Migrant Protests; The President Versus The Algorithms; Trump's Dire Warning; Sessions' Fate; Stone Says He's Next On Mueller's Hit List. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 29, 2018 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Plus, crowds of neo-Nazis march in Germany in a violent revolt against the country's refugee and immigration policies.

She wanted to be Rwanda's president but ended up in jail instead in a country that's known for supporting female lawmakers. We will tell you why no woman has become its top leader.

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

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls it one of the world's worst humanitarian and human rights crises. Muslim minority Rohingya subject to horrendous persecution in Myanmar. The U.N. Security Council met to discuss a new report, blaming Myanmar's military leaders for genocide. The crackdown has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. And the U.N. says it's not safe for them to return home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMADYS AYYAD (ph), ROHINGYA REFUGEE (through translator): They chased the Rohingya people, shot and killed them, raped women, burned houses, damaged mosques. Now we demand that we must get recognition as a Rohingya community. We need to get back our homes and land, then we can go back. We need this assurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: But China and Russia are blocking U.N. attempts to refer the atrocities to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. CNN's Richard Roth reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Despite a devastating report out of Geneva by the U.N. accusing military leaders in Myanmar of genocide-style intent, the U.N. Security Council failed to hold anyone accountable at a meeting in Myanmar. No surprise, considering big power divisions regarding Myanmar. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said, the Myanmar leaders in general should be held accountable. NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We are now all armed with the devastating eyewitness accounts of the Rohingya which lead us to the following conclusions. Children, babies, women and men suffered unspeakable crimes.

The attacks were planned, premeditated, and coordinated. The perpetrator was the Burmese military and security forces. The whole world is watching what we will do next, and if we will act.

ROTH: The reason the Security Council has not yet acted, China and Russia, blocking any attempt to refer this issue to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. China's Deputy U.N. Ambassador said, now is not the time to put pressure on the leaders of Myanmar.

WU HAITAO, CHINA DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. (through translator): Given the current situation, the international community should cherish the hard-earned progress and develop (ph) understanding to the great difficulties faced by the countries concerned and continue to provide constructive assistance instead of simply putting pressure on them.

ROTH: The government of Myanmar has rejected the findings of the U.N. Commission. U.N. ambassador broke down emotionally at one point when discussing a terrorist attack that Myanmar said rebels are responsible for, and he disputed the findings of the report.

HAU DO SUAN, MYANMAR AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This action raises serious question about the objectivity, impartiality and sincerity of fact-finding mission.

ROTH: Western countries have been unable to convince China and Russia to act on Myanmar. The U.N. had its goodwill ambassador for refugees, Cate Blanchett, appear at the Security Council table.

CATE BLANCHETT, UNHCR GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Together we need to change the future of Laila, of Yousef, of Gosaha (ph), and of the Rohingya living in Myanmar, in Bangladesh, and beyond. There are no shortcuts. There are no alternatives. We have failed the Rohingya before. Please, let us not fail them again.

ROTH: The U.N. secretary-general said, U.N. member countries should seriously consider the findings of that U.N. report, and he urged Myanmar to cooperate. But member countries have heard those pleas for months.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And now to another humanitarian crisis. This time in Yemen. Thousands of civilian deaths, torture, rape, and children as young as eight forced to become soldiers. That is all happening in Yemen's brutal civil war. And the new U.N. report found all sides of the conflict are responsible for violating human rights and may have carried out war crimes. More now from CNN's Nima Elbagir.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A damning report by the U.N. panel of experts on Yemen, listing a litany of violations.

[03:05:02] They believe, they say, that both parties to the conflict, both the U.C.-backed Saudi-led coalition and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel militias, are guilty of suspected war crimes. These, they say, range from recruitment of children under the age of 15, disproportionate use of force that could constitute war crimes.

They also say that the violations documented by the panel of experts are horrendous and they include sexual violence, which is vast in scope and horrific in nature.

The Saudi-led coalition spokesman has released this statement in response. He says, after a legal review, the coalition will take the appropriate stance regarding this matter and it will be announced.

This all comes at a time when the Department of Defense has been ratcheting up its pressure. There have, we understand, for some time, been concerns about the specificity of the targeting of the U.S.- backed Saudi-led coalition.

In fact, that's one of the things that the panel of experts specifically picks up on, saying that the majority of the civilian casualties in Yemen's three-year civil war are caused by aerial attacks.

This is something that has been of huge concern in the Pentagon because of course much of the weaponry used in those aerial attacks is supplied by both the U.S. and the U.K. The U.S. secretary of defense, General Mattis, speaking, said that their report for Saudi Arabia was not unconditional.

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are constantly reviewing what support we are giving, yes. We also had an army lieutenant general in Riyadh almost immediately following the early August tragedy to convey our concerns and ask for a swift and complete investigation.

It is not unconditional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): What is the condition?

MATTIS: That they do everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life and they support the U.N. brokered peace process.

ELBAGIR: So where does this leave us? Many of those we are speaking to in both the U.S. and U.K. are throwing their heads to the September 6 talks in Geneva where the parties in the conflict are expected to meet for the first time in two years to try and hash out at least a framework for a peaceful negotiation.

But there is a concern that if the findings of the U.N. panel of experts aren't backed by real concerted action, aren't backed by some sort of security council resolution, that this opportunity will be allowed to fritter away.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Another setback for U.S.-North Korean relations as Defense Secretary James Mattis says the U.S. will not suspend any more joint military drills with South Korea. President Trump halted the exercises in June after his summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.

So let's head to Hong Kong and CNN's Alexandra Field to get more on this. So, Alex, the joint military drills appear to be back on. How soon will this likely happen? What is the time frame here? How is North Korea responding to this news?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, there is quite a bit of time before we will see what actually does happen. There are two major sets of drills between the United States and South Korea that happen annually. The next set is scheduled for the spring.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is now saying that there are no plans on the table at this point to cancel additional drills. He is saying that a decision about the spring drills hasn't been made yet, that any final decisions would be made in concert with the State Department.

But as for now, they're not canceling more drills. And that of course is because they canceled the drills that was supposed to be taking place right now on the Peninsula.

That happened after the Singapore effort (ph) and it was intended as a show of good faith, a way by which to do smooth talks with North Korea which of course objects these large-scale drills every year. The secretary of defense did say, however, that smaller exercises are always ongoing and haven't been affected. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Alex, how is South Korea feeling about this? Of course, they are involved, do they have much to say? And where does all of these lead efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula?

FIELD: Look, publicly, South Korea always says that it stands with the United States and that they had worked together on plans for how to cancel the drills that would have been taking place right now.

They are also as we well know the intermediary between the United States and North Korea, the ones who are spearheading the effort to facilitate the talks on denuclearization. They're the ones who brought President Trump and Kim Jong-un to the table.

But certainly we have seen a bit of a breakdown in communications and in progress in recent weeks and months since the Singapore summit. It was just in the last week that Secretary of State Pompeo had his trip to North Korea canceled with President Trump tweeting out that there hasn't been sufficient progress in terms of talks on the subject of denuclearization.

[03:10:00] We have also learned that recently North Korea sent a letter to the U.S., to the State Department, expressing its frustration that the U.S. hasn't taken steps to replace the armistice agreement which ended the Korean War with a lasting peace treaty. That was something that they wanted to see come from the Singapore summit.

So you can see that both sides are very far from getting what they want here and certainly you're seeing that the administration in D.C. is facing the same difficulties that so many others have faced before when it comes to talking to North Korea about denuclearization. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Alexandra Field bringing us up-to-date on the story from Hong Kong where it is 3:10 in the afternoon, many thanks.

Officials in Germany say fake news is at least partly to blame for fueling anti-immigrant violence in the east of the country over the past few days. Protests erupted after reports a 35-year-old man was killed during an altercation with two men from Iraq and Syria. But official say many details on social media were inflammatory and inaccurate and quickly spread. More now from CNN's Atika Shubert.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A mob of thousands in the streets of Chemnitz shouting Nazi era slogans targeting immigrants and refugees. Some gave Nazi salutes, a brazen violation of Germany's tough laws against hate speech.

Fireworks were launched as weapons. Bottles thrown, injuring 20 people, including two police officers.

Police now admit they underestimated the crowds and the anger, temporarily losing control of the streets in this violent revolt against Germany's refugee and immigration policy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced intense political pressure after opening Germany's doors to more than a million asylum seekers, many from Syria.

At a press with his Irish counterpart, Germany's foreign minister tried to explain what happened.

HEIKO MAAS, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): It is intolerable, what happened. It is the task of the state to shed light and investigate crimes, and also hold perpetrators to account. And this is why Germany has not presented itself in the best light. I don't believe that this reflects the reality in Germany.

SHUBERT: Now, this is where it all started, in the east German town of Chemnitz. This is the spot where, according to police, a fight broke out between five individuals at around 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. A 35-year-old German man was killed, stabbed to death. Later on, police arrested two individuals, a Syrian and Iraqi, on suspicion of murder. That triggered calls on social media to take to the streets, including this Facebook post with a photo of a blood-stained crime scene from the anti-immigration party alternative for Germany.

What was supposed to be a spontaneous demonstration on Sunday afternoon against Germany's refugee policy had become an angry mob with hundreds shouting foreigners out, and this is our city.

Police had promised to regain control of the streets, but on Monday it happened again with even bigger numbers.

What is behind the lawlessness and will it spread? On the streets of Chemnitz, residents tell us what they think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I just don't think it's so good that this murder has been manipulated. I find this very frightening to now hear people saying we must defend our city. I found it really frightening when I saw the videos today, chasing down foreigners. It sent shivers down my spine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): In Chemnitz, we stand for humanity, for solidarity, for togetherness and against agitation against a raging mob which portrays Chemnitz as a racist city.

SHUBERT: East Germany has long been at the heart of the country simmering anti-immigration movement, chasing under the refugee policies of the federal government. But the chaos in Chemnitz has been the most serious manifestation of that public anger so far.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Chemnitz, Germany.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: President Donald Trump is now claiming Google is rigged against him. Is he trying to divert attention from negative stories? We'll discuss that, next.

Plus, a long-time Trump confidant claims he's next on Robert Mueller's hit list. Why Roger Stone seems to think he may be indicted. We'll look at that, too.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: U.S. President Donald Trump is sending out a warning to his supporters. He says there will be violence if Republicans lose control of Congress in November's midterms. Those comments made to a group of evangelical Christian leaders behind closed doors. He urged them to get his Republican base out to vote.

And President Trump is also promoting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about Google. He is claiming search results are rigged against him and other conservatives. Google denies the accusation. CNN's Hadas Gold has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND GLOBAL BUSINESS REPORTER: President Donald Trump has renewed his claims of bias against Republican and conservative media on the internet, accusing Google of suppressing conservative voices.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump claimed that Google's searches for 'Trump News' only resulted in stories from "fake news media" and are "rigged" so that almost all the stories are bad. Trump even questioned whether Google's alleged actions were illegal.

Now, this is a long-running charge among conservatives and Trump supporters, that internet and social media companies like Twitter and Facebook are purposely suppressing conservative viewpoints because of their own internal liberal bias.

Today, Google denied that politics play a role in search results, saying, "Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users' queries. We continually work to improve Google search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment."

Trump's tweet appears to stemmed from unscientific study, published by a conservative new site, which was then picked up bu Fox Business host the president's close friend, Lou Dobbs.

The study labeled nearly every mainstream news outlet in the United States from Reuters to CNN as left wing. A number of smaller sites including some that spread conspiracy theories like InfoWars were labeled to right wing.

Google is secretive about its algorithm and that has left some critics to claim that the tech giant is editing out conservative sites from search results.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters outside of the White House today that the administration plans to do some investigation, some analysis into the issue, but he did not elaborate further. This debate on social media filtering will soon spill into the halls of Congress.

Executives from Google along with Facebook and Twitter have been asked to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. That hearing is expected to take place on September 5th.

Hadas Gold, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:19:59] CHURCH: Political analyst Peter Mathews joins me now. He is a professor of political science at Cypress College. Good to have you with us.

PETER MATHEWS, POLITICAL ANALYST, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, CYPRESS COLLEGE: Good to be here, Rosemary.

CHURCH: President Trump is accusing Google of political bias, accusing Google of rigging search results, oppressive conservative voices. Is there any evidence to suggest that is the case? And how likely is it that the White House would investigate Google over this?

MATHEWS: First of all, the evidence is not overwhelming or clear that that's the case because most of this, when the search is conducted by someone, it's based on the algorithms, what the person is actually looking for, subject matter, and how popular is the particular topic and particular source.

For example, I looked at 'Trump News' today about half an hour ago. The first source that came up was the conservative Fox News, and the next one was the Slate magazine, and then came up the last one, the next one was USA Today, and CNN came in fourth.

So, I think Trump is exaggerating it. I do believe, however, the algorithms can be in some ways biased because people who write them have their own biases. Overall, I don think there is a wholesale attempt of Google to keep out conservative viewpoints and only have negative viewpoints of Trump put forth on the liberal media.

CHURCH: Interesting. So, how much of this is about trying to distract attention perhaps from the death of John McCain and how the president has dealt with the passing of the senator?

MATHEWS: I think it is a good case to be made if that's what's going on because the senator's passing was very tragic for many people, very sad occasion, and he was certainly lauded by many people. But Mr. Trump basically insulted him by refusing to lower the flag for a while at half-mast.

He was not invited to the funeral for various reasons and Trump resented that and so he's trying to get back at McCain. It was negative publicity for Trump to be seen him as hero of America. So he changed the subject by bringing this up. He does that all the time. He's probably taking tension out of his negative coverage of what happened with McCain. I think that is a lot of it. He does that quite often.

CHURCH: Right. In fact, President Trump so far this week has raised a whole lot of issues, repeating his call for Mexico to pay for the border wall, the fate of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But one issue he didn't expect to go public was his private conversation at a White House dinner Monday night hosting evangelical leaders where he warned of violence if Republicans lose their majority in Congress in November's midterm elections. What did you make of that threat?

MATHEWS: Very disturbing comment and warning that he comes up with because this goes to the very heart of our democracy and our republic in the way the rule of law should work. And if someone loses an election, if a party loses an election, that should be accepted by the other side and this side as well.

And legitimacy of the country is at stake here. If he says there is going to be violence, he's suggesting that the Republicans should not lose and the people should be scared into voting for them because of a fear of violence. Very egregious, very dangerous, very antidemocratic and very anti-openness.

I think it's very dangerous for him to talk in those terms. But that's interesting how that tape leaked. I'm really glad that we heard it because we can see what kind of game this person is playing, people backing him are playing. We should really be very cautious and ready for that. Hopefully nothing will happen in terms of violence.

CHURCH: Let's quickly go back to that other topic that was raised this week and it was big discussion throughout Tuesday. The fate, of course, of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We heard Lindsey Graham say basically that relationship between Sessions and the president is untenable and something has to be done about it.

Whereas Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, on the other side, he was saying, no, he has his full support. What is going on there? What needs to happen in that situation with Jeff Sessions?

MATHEWS: I think Jeff Sessions should have the support of the president included because he is attorney general. He did the right thing by recusing himself regarding -- because of the Russian meeting that he had with the Russian ambassador, I believe. He recused himself so he wouldn't be biased on any kind of investigation.

And I think the investigation is on the right path with Mr. Mueller and Rod Rosenstein actually supervising it. I think it is absolutely wrong for the president to threaten Jeff Sessions anyway. That also goes against constitutionalism and the rule of law. You're talking about checks and balances.

The president can use a heavy hand against the attorney general by speaking out so forcefully constantly against him and wants to get rid of him, it seems to me. That really strikes fear and strikes uncertainty to the hearts of those who are doing the investigation.

It could very well do that. And that will be very wrong for the rule of law and the chance that we'll come out with an equitable, really carefully investigated case to get to the bottom of the truth which is exactly what this country needs right now.

[03:25:02] CHURCH: Peter Mathews, thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us on these matters. We appreciate it.

MATHEWS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone is claiming that he's next on what he calls special counsel Robert Mueller's hit list in the ongoing Russia investigation. Our Brian Todd explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's shadowy, conspiratorial, sports a Nixon tattoo on his back. He is fond of saying that the so-called deep state is coming after him. Now legendary Republican political operative Roger Stone is launching a preemptive strike against a respected publication.

STONE: Somebody has been pushing a fake news story --

TODD: In an Instagram video, Stone alludes to being contacted by three publications, most recently The New Yorker, about a conversation Stone allegedly had with his boss, then candidate Donald Trump, in the fall of 2016.

STONE: Someone is saying that they overheard a conversation in which I told Donald Trump in October of 2016 what exactly would be in the WikiLeaks disclosures and when they would be disclosed. This is categorically false. This is exactly the epitome of fake news.

TODD: CNN could not reach Stone for more detail on what he believes The New Yorker is about to report. Stone's lawyer wouldn't comment. The New Yorker tells CNN it doesn't comment on pieces it hasn't published.

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: With Roger Stone, and I think this is the way he likes it, you never actually really know. If he's not involved in something, he'll make as though he is because it's a part of his character and it's a part of what keeps him relevant.

TODD: Special counsel Robert Mueller has been digging into possible contact between Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 campaign.

Mueller could be looking into whether Stone had any advance knowledge of WikiLeaks release of stolen e-mails with damaging information about the Hillary Clinton campaign, and whether Stone might have aided Trump by giving him a heads up ahead of time. Stone did once bragged about being in contact with Assange.

STONE: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation, but there's no telling what the October surprise may be.

TODD: Stone has since walked all of that back, denying any contact with Assange, denying talking to Trump about any of this. But Stone did recently acknowledge that he was probably the unnamed Trump campaign contact mentioned in an indictment of Russian officials for hacking the Democrats.

STONE: I think I probably am the person referred to.

TODD: Stone admitting he had contact with hackers tied to Russian intelligence.

STONE: I certainly had a 24-word exchange with the persona Guccifer 2.0 over Twitter direct messages.

TODD: Stone says that contact was benign. He denies any wrongdoing but does seem to think he'll be the next person indicted by Robert Mueller. He started an online fund-raising campaign, claiming he had to raid his grandchildren savings to pay legal fees.

And there are tangible signs that Robert Mueller could be closing in on Roger Stone. Several of Stone's closest associates including so- called "Manhattan Madam" Kristin Davis, longtime Stone aide Andrew Miller and others have either appeared before a grand jury or other investigators or have been called to appear. Stone has claimed his associates are being harassed.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: No one can escape blame in the civil war that has decimated Yemen. U.N. experts say all sides are responsible for human rights violations and possibly even war crimes. Can U.S. pressure reduce the casualties?

Plus, it's often described as the best place in the world for women in politics. But in Rwanda, a former presidential hopeful sits behind bars awaiting trial. Why her supporters say the charges are politically-motivated?

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: A very warm welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we've been following. China and Russia have blocked U.N. action on atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The Security Council was looking to refer the matter to the international criminal court after independent report recommended genocide charges for Myanmar's military leaders.

In Germany, another day of anti-immigrant rage has left at least 20 people injured. 6000 far-right and neo-Nazi protesters mob the street Chemnitz clashing with police and counter protesters. Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling the demonstrations hate in the streets.

A U.N. fact finding report of the war in Yemen is blaming both sides for atrocities against civilians that could be considered war crimes. A Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels is accused of thousands of civilian's deaths caused by air strikes. Both sides are also blamed for torture, sexual violence and using child soldiers.

Barbara Walter joins me now. She is a professor of political science at the University of California in San Diego. Thank you so much for being with us.

BARBARA WALTER, PROFESSOR, POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO: My pleasure.

CHURCH: So, the U.N. panel of experts on Yemen found both the U.S. back to Saudis and the Iranian back Houthi rebels guilty of suspected war crimes. Including horrendous violence suffered by civilians. What was your assessment of their findings and their recommendations? WALTER: Well, their findings are correct. There's been an enormous

amount of civilian killing starting in 2015. The U.N. has known about this. It's actually quite heartening that they finally made it public and are taking a stance about it. They did emphasize that most of the killing, about two-thirds of the killing, is being done by the Saudis who are unfortunately being armed both with weapons and help logistically by the United States and the U.K. about a third of the killing is being done by the Houthi rebels.

So blame can't be place equally on both sides. Most of the killing over the last few years has been perpetrated by the Saudis with the help of the United States.

CHURCH: Yes, as you say, the panel found that the majority of civilian casualties in Yemen are caused by these aerial attacks. That is a concern for the Pentagon. Because the U.S. supplies a lot of the weaponry to Saudi Arabia. Now the U.S. says the Saudis need to avoid the innocent loss of life. But is the U.S. applying enough pressure to make sure that happens? There was that threat that they would withdraw military and intelligence support if they didn't see a move in that direction.

WALTER: So, the U.S. did make a statement today, that they could potentially withhold aid. The U.S. does this whenever the Saudis behave quite badly and there is no credibility to that threat. The United States has never withdraw aid from the Saudis. We see them as a very important ally. And because the Saudis understand that U.S. is going to back them unconditionally, no matter how badly they behave, they don't restrain themselves.

[03:35:02] And in terms of their objectives in the Yemen civil war, their objectives are to defeat the Houthis. And they have been consciously pursuing a strategy of civilian targeting. As long as they believe the U.S. will never withdraw aid they're going to pursue the strategy and I think that statement today by the Pentagon that we could withdraw is simply a way to placate public opinion.

CHURCH: So you see the U.S. as a toothless tiger here and not committed to make any changes in what's happening in Yemen.

WALTER: I think that is absolutely true. This doesn't mean that the U.S. is doing this gladly. I've talked to many friends and colleagues of mine in D.C. who hate that we're doing this. Who wish we weren't doing this and yet also understand that the Assad is an important ally both in our war in Syria and in our war against ISIS and Al Qaeda, although there is irony there as well. And we're not willing to do anything that could damage that relationship. Not to mention that Saudi Arabia is an important source of cheap consistent oil for our allies.

CHURCH: So given that, what are your expectations, then, of this September 6 talks in Geneva? Will all parties to the conflict are going to come together and talk about a framework for piece in Yemen.

WALTER: I don't think there is going to be a disagreement in Yemen any time soon. I don't think there is any incentives yet for any of the sides to compromise. And I think this is going to end up maybe perhaps in a cease-fire, but not lasting particularly long.

CHURCH: Barbara Walter, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate your perspective on this issue.

WALTER: Yes, my pleasure.

CHURCH: In Rwanda, a former Presidential hopeful and fierce critic of the current leader is now behind bars awaiting trial. The 37-year-old women's rights activist launched her election bid three months before the vote last August, but she was quickly disqualified and then later arrested on charges her supporters say are politically motivated. CNN's Bianca Nobilo reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN PRODUCER: It's hard to miss the statue if you visit Kigali. It's dedicated to the strength of Rwanda women. And many believe that strength is best seen in the country's politics. More than 60 percent of the parliament is made up of women. Four of the seven Supreme Court justices are women, and almost half the cabinet are women. But no woman has ever managed to become President. This is the story of the last woman who tried.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) to have that political thing with very much injustice, I think she helped -- that was from a young age.

NOBILO: That is Anne Ariosti Rwigara. In 2017 their sister Diane tried to run for President. Up to that point Diane Rwigara had spent much of her life outside of Rwanda traveling back and forth from California to Kigali.

ANNE RWIGARA, SISTER OF DIANNE RWIGARA: That is a strong belief in the system. The miracle country that has been talked about. When she got on-site it was a different story.

NOBILO: In 2015 she returned for good when her father, an influential businessman died in a car crash. Officially it was listed as a tragic accident. The Rwigara's claim he was assassinated after falling out with the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like the Catholics, they need to open their eyes.

NOBILO: Diane Rwigara began to travel outside Kigali speaking to young people from the country's rural areas.

RWIGARA: A lot of people young people would see themselves in her. She could relate. She could feel their pain. She realized they had no voice and she just wanted to stand up for them.

NOBILO: And here is who Rwigara wanted to stand up against. Paul Kagame has been the president of Rwanda for almost two decades. In 2017 was his third Presidential election. He won the previous two with over 90 percent of the vote. Diane Rwigara was Kagame's only female challenger, but her bid was short lived, lasting only two months before she was disqualified by electoral authorities. They claim she doctored the number of signatures needed to qualify as a candidate which she denies. Kagame went on to win the election with almost 99 percent of the vote. Shortly after Rwigara was arrested on charges of incitement and fraud. Like her father's death, Dianne Rwigara and her family feel her jailing is politically motivated.

RWIGARA: She is talking about things we have tried to hideaway from the public eye, persecution, someone is picking up about things that are not spoken about.

[03:40:04] NOBILO: Rwigara supporters say that Kagame's popular fiscal and social policies combined with the state sanctioned atmosphere of harassment, censorship and the threat of violence make it really impossible to speak out against the government.

RWIGARA: We are blinded how beautiful the city is, but the reality is, true life is not being honored.

NOBILO: Kagame has been widely credited for Rwanda's remarkable turnaround since the 1994 genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed in the course of 100 days. And many in the international community see the country as a blueprint for success in the region.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think under Kagame we had really seen that the country is become a much more prosperous, it has become much more stable. But at the same time we've also seen the harassment of political opponents. We've seen the ruling party absolutely dominate every single election. The political environment has become much more difficult in the last 17, 18 years.

NOBILO: that struck to Phil Clark. He has been studying Rwanda for almost 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a political system that is very heavily dominated by the President and a small number of mainly male leaders around him. What that means is that most women parliamentarians are expected to enact policy rather than make it.

NOBILO: Rwanda's female lawmakers had been praised for supporting policy changes around domestic violence, land rights. But critics say the number of women politicians is a reflection of caucus system and not a real opposition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rwanda is strong, but it is possible for women to be in top positions in more areas.

NOBILO: Margaret (inaudible) has been a center in Rwanda parliament the past five years and was personally appointed by Kagame. She said Rwigara's case is not politically motivated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has nothing to do with her being a woman or her being wanting to vie for the position of the President, no.

NOBILO: Despite remaining in jail, Rwigara's family said she has no regrets and is prepared for the consequences of her opposition.

(Inaudible) (END VIDEO)

CHURCH: Bianca Nobilo with that report. We reached out to Rwanda's national police, the office of the President and the Rwanda patriotic front, but they did not respond to CNN's request for comment. You can find more of this reporting on CNN.com where we have a special interactive series called as equals. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, the late U.S. Senator John McCain mourned and honored in the country that held him captive as a prisoner of war. Plus fans are waiting in long lines to pay their final respects. To the late Aretha Franklin.

[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Next hour, Pope Francis is to hold his weekly general audience at St. Peter's square, but that is being overshadowed by a new accusation that a cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in the U.S. went all the way to the Vatican. Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, says he doesn't know if the Pope knew about it, but he says the Vatican definitely did. It comes just weeks after a grand jury found hundreds of predator priests abused more than 1,000 children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH SHAPIRO, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: These predator priests raped little children. They abused children. Bishops knew about it and covered it up. They lied to Parishioners. They lied to the public. They lied to law enforcement. And then they wrote it all down. They documented all the facts, and oftentimes they shared those documents that were in the secret archives with the Vatican.

So for the representative of the Vatican to say somehow this is new information, I would just say to him and to all people in Pennsylvania and across the United States, read the report. I have evidence that the Vatican was aware of it. Once the Vatican learned of it, I do not know whether the Pope learned about it or not. And as a prosecutor dealing with facts and evidence, I'm not going to make a statement, nor am I going to attribute something to the grand jury that is not in the grand jury report. We're going to stick with the facts and the evidence. As to what -- who in the Vatican knew it, what the Pope knew, that is an answer that only they can provide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: In response, the Vatican said it would need to learn more details about the evidence before making any comment.

Well, since his death on Saturday, Senator John McCain has been praised in the United States and all around the world. In Vietnam, they are paying their respects to the man who was shot down, imprisoned, and tortured during the war. And he is being honored for helping to heal old wounds. CNN's Ivan Watson has more now from Hanoi.

(BEGIN VIDEO) IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This is Truc

Bach Lake in the heart of the Vietnamese capital. On October 26, 1967, a U.S. Naval aviator named John McCain splashed down here after a surface to air missile hit his plane while he was on a bombing mission. This monument has been erected to commemorate that North Vietnamese military victory. And after Senator McCain's passing, people have been laying flowers here and other tokens of respect, including cigarettes, money, a can of beer.

After his capture, John McCain was brought here to the Wallow prison better known as the Hanoi Hilton. It's now a museum. He rejected offers for early release, saying he didn't want preferential treatment due to the fact that his father was commander of U.S. Forces in the Pacific. During his time here, some 5 1/2 years as a POW, he says he was subjected to torture, solitary confinement, forced to sign confessions until his release in 1973.

In the decades after that, however, John McCain made many return trips to Vietnam. Here's a photo of him on one of those visits, and he became a powerful and influential voice lobbying for the resumption of peaceful, diplomatic relations between two former enemies. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has extended a rare and unique honor to Senator McCain, opening a book of condolences here and opening that to the public.

And among the visitors have been some high-level Vietnamese officials, one of them a Deputy Prime Minister, who has described Senator McCain as a symbol of a generation of lawmakers and veterans who have helped heal the wounds between Vietnam and the U.S. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hanoi.

(END VIDEO)

CHURCH: Fans have been gathering and waiting in line to pay their respects to the late Aretha Franklin in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. The singer's body is lying in repose at the museum of African-American history for two days of public viewing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[03:50:13] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a lot of love. It's a lot of love. You never get upset about it, because she is always going to be in our hearts, because we have known Aretha all our lives. So all we know is Aretha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The queen of soul was more than a legendary singer. She was also a civil rights symbol, Franklin died earlier this month from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.

Well, the woman at the center of a legal drama involving the U.S. President is now at the center of an upcoming issue of vogue. What it means for a porn star to be profiled by one of the world's top fashion magazines. And the phone call that launched a lot of memes, President Trump's

conversation with another world leader was hard to hear and hard to listen to.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: If you can't keep up with Australian politics, you're not alone. Madame Tussauds in Sydney can't either. A wax figure of Malcolm Turnbull was supposed to be the museum's latest creation, but that was before Australia's now former Prime Minister was ousted by his own party. Now the plan is scrapped, and this has already happened twice before in Australia. These figures cost $300,000 to make. So the museum might be steering clear of Australian leaders for a while given the country has had six different Prime Ministers in just over a decade.

Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May is dancing her way across South Africa, but not too well as you can see here. She is visiting Cape Town as she tries to get more business for the U.K. after Brexit. Mrs. May will also visit Kenya and Nigeria on her Africa trip.

Well, here's a look at Stormy Daniels as you've never seen her before. All decked out in high-end designer couture. Photographed by celebrity photographer Annie Leibowitz and gracing the pages of high fashion iconic "Vogue" magazine. It is a far cry from the movie sets where she was once an adult film star. The article is titled "Stormy Daniels isn't backing down," and in it she talks about her alleged affair with U.S. President Donald Trump. The author of the article spoke earlier with CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has you know, become sort of perfect foil to him. I mean she is also sort of a flawed public figure at this point, and she is, you know, also unabashed about -- you can't humiliate her. I think that is part of what has made her so difficult for Trump to take on. She told me being in the adult film business, it's not like I turned on Twitter and got called a whore for the first time. You know, she had sort of weathered a lot of attacks, a lot of sexes on, a lot of harassment and it has given her this kind of natural thick skin that she uses now, to take on the most powerful man in the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: President Trump has long denied any affair with Stormy Daniels.

Well, it may have been one of the most awkward Oval Office moments ever, but Donald Trump's attempt to reach out to Mexico's President via speakerphone was made for memes. Here is our Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

[03:55:00] JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a speakerphone that refused to speak.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Enrique?

MOOS: When President Trump called the President of Mexico --

TRUMP: You can hook him up.

MOOS: In front of a hoard.

TRUMP: You tell me when.

MOOS: Of press. Awkward.

TRUMP: A lot of people waiting.

MOOS: But the President wasn't the only one pressing buttons. Internet meme makers edited in music.

TRUMP: Hello?

MOOS: From the credits on veep to the theme from curb your enthusiasm.

TRUMP: Enrique?

MOOS: Critics offered technical suggestions. For instance, a phone featuring buttons for Russia, nuclear launch, diet coke, cheeseburgers, and chicken. The daily show left a message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are calling you from investigation team of IRS. We have just received a notification regarding your tax filings.

MOOS: President Trump is a meme machine. The other day he inspired two memes during one visit with kids. The kids opted to draw red and white stripes, but someone noticed the President has colored his flag wrong, creating a blue stripe. Now, we're pretty sure the President knows what color the stripes really are. As someone noted, he literally has it pinned to his suit coat, plus he likes to wrap himself in it. Someone suggested he might be drawing a blue lives matter flag in support of police. Another taunted, it's the Russian flag.

As for the other moment that was flagged, call it the glare. It's not so intense in the video, but the photograph was irresistible to captioners. Don't you bleepin' flip on me, another day, another meme. By the way, once you get the speakerphone to speak, make sure it doesn't keep listening after you hang up.

TRUMP: Good-bye, Enrique.

MOOS: Twice.

TRUMP: Ok, so we --

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

New York.

(END VIDEO)

CHURCH: Fun day in the Oval Office, right? Thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @Rosemary CNN. The news continues now with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.