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Trump Increasingly Angry with Jeff Sessions; Typhoon Gordon Hits Gulf Coast; Grieving Father Called on All Politicians; Myanmar Conviction Of Journalists Condemned; Trump To Syria's Allies, Don't Attack Idlib Recklessly; Apologies Too Little, Too Late; Deadly Airstrike In Yemen. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired September 4, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: President Trump taking a brand new swing at Jeff Sessions. Suggesting the attorney general should have held off charging Republicans until after the midterm election.
Also the murdered woman President Trump is turned into a martyr in his fight over legal immigration. Now her father is speaking out. And what he's telling the president is making headlines.
Plus, a state of emergency declared along the U.S. Gulf Coast as tropical storm Gordon gains strength expected to become a hurricane by the time it hits.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.
Donald Trump has said he has no plans to replace his Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the midterm election. But a new tweet mocking Sessions shows the president is concerned about Democrats chances in November. And that he still thinks the Justice Department did sees to protect him and his supporters.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: President Trump staying out of the public eye today. While going after his attorney general behind closed doors, criticizing Jeff Sessions for indicting two Republican congressmen. One who is accused of insider trading, and another who is accused of brazenly misusing campaign funds for personal expenses arguing it could hurt his party in the midterms.
In a tweet that stunned Washington Trump writing, "Two easy wins now in doubt. Good job, Jeff." That criticism as Trump prepares to hit the road this week to stump for Republicans amid rising fears of a blue wave in the midterm elections for the stakes couldn't be higher and concerns of impeachment are growing louder.
Trump traveling to Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota this week alone as part of the White House's effort to boot vulnerable Democrats and boost Republican hopefuls. With nine weeks left in the battle to control the House the president
sending this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People say we have the majority. By how much, like, by almost nothing. If somebody has a cold we no longer have the majority. We need Republicans in Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That amid a creeping sense of panic from Republicans who fear that seats which were once safely theirs, are now up for grabs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the next two months Republicans have to point out the success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Those Republicans fears on full display in Texas where Senator Ted Cruz is facing an unexpectedly tough fight against a Democrat Beto O'Rourke in a race that should be a cake walk for Cruz.
Trump announcing he'll rally alongside Cruz in the lone star state next month. Tweeting, "I'm picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find."
But the president critics look to remind Texas of the bitter feud that played out between Trump and Cruz in 2016 when he suggested Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of JFK, insulted his wife Heidi and branded him lying Ted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think he's crazy. I honesty -- I think he's crazy. Lying Ted does not have the temperament to be doing this. He is choking like a dog because he is losing so badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: When the battle for the House just weeks away, CNN latest House rates ratings show there are 30 seats considered to be toss up, 28 of those are held by Republicans and 12 are in areas Hillary Clinton won in the presidential election.
Asked recently, if he fears impeachment if Democrats win the House Trump telling Bloomberg News "I don't think they can impeach somebody that's doing a great job."
Now the White House has said President Trump plans to be on the road 40 days at minimum between August 1 and Election Day. He is eager to get out and support these candidates. But what we're told by sources inside the White House is that the president's motivation for this is self-protection. He knows and he's aware that if Democrats take over Capitol Hill it could pose a real threat to his presidency.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: All right. Let's head to London now. And Jacob Parakilas, he is the deputy head of the U.S. and the America's program at Chatham House. Thank you so much for joining us.
[03:05:01] Hopefully you can hear me there.
JACOB PARAKILAS, ASSISTANT PROJECT DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: Yes.
CHURCH: So let's start with President Trump's tweet criticizing his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions for indicting two Republicans. Mr. Trump tweeted this. "Two easy wins now in doubt. Good job, Jeff."
Then Speaker Paul Ryan's spokeswoman reacted by saying this. "The Department of Justice should always remain apolitical and the speaker has demonstrated he takes these charges seriously. For more you can ask him at his press conference this week."
So Jacob, why does the U.S. president not appear to understand the role of his own attorney general and his department? And could this issue potentially divide the Republican Party given what we just heard from Paul Ryan's spokesperson?
PARAKILAS: I don't think -- let me start from the back. I don't think this could divide the Republican Party. Ryan in particular and the Republicans in general have made an art out of ignoring or minimizing Trumps tweets. Acting as though, they're not official pronouncement from the president.
So I don't think there is going to be any meaningful push back on Trump for this. As there's been no meaningful pushback on any number of other norm shattering things he's tweeted or said or done about or with the Department of Justice.
The question of why he doesn't understand the Department of Justice is supposed to be independent. I don't know the sort of roots of it. But fundamentally he believes that the Department of Justice should exist to serve the will of the president. He tends to see the government as an arm of the president's will. Not a sort of diversified implement of serving the public good through a variety of mechanisms.
Not all respond immediately to the will of the executive. There are still even after nearly two years in office still a very fundamental misunderstanding about the way the federal government is constituted.
CHURCH: Which is interesting, isn't it? So he doesn't understand that. But his republican colleagues don't seem to be pressing him on that in any way. Do they?
PARAKILAS: Well, the danger the Republicans were faced right now is losing primary elections. To more ostensive pro-Trump candidates. That calculus might change if there's a significant Democratic victory in November. If the political wind shift. If Republicans become more afraid of losing a general election to a
Democrat than a primary election to a more pro-Trump Republican, then there might be a more vocal or more active anti-Trump caucus within the Republican Party. But until we get to that inflexion point we won't know what the how far the ground shifted underneath us.
CHURCH: And how vulnerable do you think the president and his party are come the November midterm elections?
PARAKILAS: Well, there are a lot of indicators that point towards at least significant Democratic gains. On the other hand, in both the House and Senate for different reasons the Republicans have significant structural advantage.
So the Democrats will need to do more than well. They need to do very well to take back the House. The Senate it's possible to take back. But because the Senate reflects the election of six years ago and the election of six years ago saw significant Democrat victories they don't think simply can't make up the numbers that they could potentially in the House.
So a good Democratic scenario looks like taking back the House and either holding the line in the Senate or potentially moving to a very, very narrow margin of control.
CHURCH: Right. And in just a few hours from now confirmation hearings for President Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh get underway. And a lawyer for former President George W. Bush has just released 42,000 pages of documents to the judiciary committee. What would you expect to come out of that?
It's going to be difficult of course for them to wade through all of that and review it. But what would you expect the outcome to be here? And do you see Kavanaugh very easily getting confirmed?
PARAKILAS: I don't know about very easily. But yes, I suspect he will get confirmed. Supreme Court nominations like so much also about the American political process has become intensely partisan, intensely polarized.
It will be difficult for any Republican senator to justify voting against the president's pick. Republican senators may not be unified in their position on Trump. But they are unified in the position on conservative Supreme Court justices.
So, in the absence of the revelation of significant wrongdoing at some point on Kavanaugh's part. And we've seen a lot of documents being withheld. So if there is any evidence of wrongdoing, I suspect it's within the documents that are being withheld and the public may never see it. Then I think there will be a part more or less a party line vote. So I suspect he'll be confirmed.
CHURCH: Right. And now, of course, nine weeks to go before the November midterm. We don't know how it's going to end up.
[03:09:59] But if there is a move to the Democrats, there is of course this increase fear on the Republican side of the possibility of impeachment of President Trump. Is that a valid fear or is that an effort to hype that fear so that Republicans get out and vote?
PARAKILAS: I think it's a fear of the wrong thing. I think the real danger of the Trump isn't impeachment. It's investigations. If the Democrats take the House they'll take the chairmanship of every committee, over sight spending, ways and means.
All of the committees that could actually act as a break on Trump and actually do things like issue legally binding subpoenas and call for public hearings in way that under Republican control they really haven't.
That's the real danger. Because impeachment isn't just a vote in the House, it also requires two-thirds vote in the Senate. Which mean that even under that very good scenario of the Democrats I described you would still need 15 Republican senators to vote to remove a Republican president.
So I don't think impeachment is very likely. Absent some absolutely massive political shift. If Trump's popularity collapses to below 30 percent you could imagine it happening. But we haven't seen any indication yet that that's really likely.
So I think the bigger danger is that the Democrats spend the next two years simply burying the administration under a torrent of subpoenas and investigations and given the kind of corruption that we've seen just from the last two years I suspect there will be more to find.
CHURCH: Jacob Parakilas, thank you so much for joining us and bringing us your analysis. We appreciate it.
Well, the governors of Mississippi and Louisiana have each declared a state of emergency as America's Gulf Coast braces for the arrival of tropical storm Gordon.
Now Gordon could be a category one hurricane by the time it makes expected land fall Tuesday night after lashing Florida with high wind and rain the storm is now in the Gulf of Mexico heading northwest to the Mississippi and Alabama coast.
Hurricane warnings are in effect there. And residents have been sandbagging vulnerable areas.
So let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. He joins us from the international weather center. Has been keeping a very close eye on this. So, what are you expecting to see and just how bad might it be once Gordon makes landfall?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, the rainfall the flooding concern and certainly the storm surge is become the primary threats with this system, Rosemary.
Just look at the last couple hours we have had some 500 lightning strikes with this and notice they're almost all just west and offshore of the state of Florida. That's precisely where the center of the storm is. You begin to see that little bit of organization a little bit of spin right there. That's the eye of the storm trying to form.
And we think it will form over a very conducive environment here. We're talking middle 80s, upper 80s Fahrenheit the water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico and the system in an area where any time you are above 82 degrees or so that's where you're in line for a further enhancement and strengthening of the system.
And of course there's very little wind shear across the Gulf of Mexico right now as well.
So the National Hurricane Center has issued the hurricane watches and the hurricane warnings.
Notice the areas in red. Bloxi, T-Mobile, and again, just west of Pensacola. That's the area of concern for the highest likelihood of a category one hurricane moving ashore sometime into the evening hours of Tuesday. And notice very little time the system has over the open water.
If this is the system they had maybe 24 more hours or 36 more so hours over the gulf. And it's approaching from well to the south as opposed to going kind of skirting the coast of Florida. If that was the case, this would have everything it takes to be a major hurricane.
But fortunately, the approach here in the speed it's moving really limiting its ability to strengthen. And movement right now around 17 or so miles per hour. And again when you have such a movement with a system that's rather quick you bring the rainfall amounts somewhere around say four or five inches or so where if it was going just a couple miles per hour that would increase the rainfall to as much 30 inches.
And so that's become a life threatening scenario. And we have a high pressure system just to our east which is kind of steering it towards Southern Mississippi and Louisiana.
So here's the official forecast track, Rosemary. And we think around seven to nine p.m. on Tuesday winds would be right around 75 miles per hour which is a low grade category one. And this would make landfall around gulf port of the Bloxi, Mississippi. Very close to New Orleans.
But the storm surge of course it becomes a big story with the system as well, where as much as three to five feet of storm surge possible on the coast of Mississippi which would be a dangerous scenario for some of those regions.
CHURCH: Yes. Very dangerous, indeed. Thanks for tracking that. Pedram Javaheri joining us there. I appreciate it.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, the father makes a plea to politicians whom he says are distorting and exploiting his daughter's murder. Why he's calling on them to stop. What he says his daughter would want them to do. That is next.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: The father of murdered Iowa college student, Mollie Tibbetts has a message for people. Don't exploit his daughter's death.
Rob Tibbetts wrote an emotional op-ed for an Iowa newspaper over the weekend. He is asking people to stop using his daughter as a pawn in the immigration debate. He says "Mollie wouldn't want that."
The 20 year-old murder has become a political talking point because her suspected killer is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.
Rob Tibbetts wrote in the Des Moines Register, "Do not appropriate Molly's soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist." He added, "instead, let's turn against racism in all its ugly manifestation both subtle and overt. Let's turn toward each other with all the compassion we gave Molly. Let's listen, not shout. Let's build bridges, not walls. Let's celebrate our diversity rather than argue over our differences."
His op-ed Saturday came one day after President Trump's eldest son Donald Trump's, Jr. had his own op-ed in the same newspaper and blamed Democrats for Mollie's death.
[03:19:56] Trump Jr. wrote this. "The mask is off and the true radical face of the Democrats has been exposed. They are seemingly more concerned with protecting their radical open borders agenda than the lives of innocent Americans."
And for his analysis and perspective, I'm joined now by Raul Reyes, an attorney and immigration analyst, as well as a CNN opinion writer. Good to have you with us.
RAUL REYES, CNN OPINION WRITER: Thank you.
CHURCH: So, Mollie Tibbetts' father made it very clear in his op-ed that he doesn't want his daughter's death politicized. And the family has said it before. So why is President Trump, his son Donald Trump, Jr., and others in the Republican Party ignoring Mollie Tibbetts' family wishes and using her death for their own political purposes to push immigration policy?
REYES: Well, sad to say the reality is one reason that Trump and his family seem to be using this tragedy to advance political agenda is it has worked for them before.
Back in 2015 a young woman named Kate Steinle was shot and killed in San Francisco -- excuse me, in 2015, was shot and killed in San Francisco and by an undocumented immigrant.
This was a case that Donald Trump really helped bring to national attention and to a certain extent it worked for him because illegal immigration and what he perceived as the threat from undocumented immigrants became his signature issue.
So I think the Trump family sees this as a winning issue that they can win on in the political sense. And for the international viewers I want to let people know that Iowa is can be viewed as Trump country. This is the heart land. This is a state that went for Trump by 10 points in 2016 and it's 93, 92 percent white.
So, I think they view this as an occasion that they can rile their base up around the immigration issue. And hopefully, in my view, distract from some of the ongoing investigation, you know. Such as, Robert Mueller investigation and other probes into the Trump family and their organization.
CHURCH: Right. And let me just read a part of what Molly's father said again if I can. "The person who is accused of taking Molly's life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacist are of all white people. To suggest otherwise is a lie."
So how significant is that point? And the fact that it's being made by a father who is grieving right now.
CHURCH: His daughter. But at the same time, showing support for the Hispanic community.
REYES: In my view it shows extraordinary compassion. Because as you say, this is father who just lost his daughter. But the fact is, what he is saying is correct.
We have seen multiple studies from groups on the right and left, the libertarian. And they all come up basically with the same result, which is that immigrants, including the undocumented in the United States are far less likely to commit crimes, including violent crimes than natural born citizens.
So not only is what he is saying factually correct. It also is a very, I think a very important gesture to remind people that we should not view this crime, this tragedy as reflective of an entire population.
In the United States we have about 11 million undocumented people. So sadly it is perhaps inevitable that among those we are going to have these people who are committing crimes.
And in my view I think the way the Trump administration has gone after so many undocumented people who are living here in compliance with the law not committing any crimes, that allows these violent offenders to run free and commit acts like this.
So I really have a lot of respect for this gentleman because no one has at this point the moral authority that he does as a father who has lost his daughter.
CHURCH: So how much impact do you think the words of Mollie Tibbetts father will have at this critical time? And how would you expect President Trump to respond to his request to stop politicizing her death?
REYES: The bad news is to be honest, I do not expect President Trump to heed his advice, Mr. Tibbetts' advice and to refrain from politicizing her death. I think he feels, that the president feels that this is an issue that he can continue to exploit and use to his advantage.
But the good news is I do belief that the tide is turning with the American public. We do know now from polls this summer most recently by the Washington Post that 59 percent of Americans disagree with President Trump's immigration policy.
So I think the nation is coming around in the sense of embracing more progressive or open views on immigration. And the fact is when we talk about these crimes and undocumented people and immigrants, the truth is, sad to say, evil comes in all colors. But the good news is in my view that so does kindness, so does compassion. And I think Mr. Tibbetts is an outstanding example of that.
CHURCH: Yes, very good point. And Donald Trump, Jr. says Democrats, in his words, "more concerned with protecting their radical open border agenda than the lives of innocent Americans."
[03:24:58] By saying this is the son of the president trying to blame Democrats for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts? You think yes.
CHURCH: And also to this reference to the Democrats wanting open borders. Is that even true?
REYES: No. As a matter of fact that's a very common talking point for Republicans from politicians on the right. But no one in the immigration debate in any constructive way wants open borders. No one is in favor of that. Not even the immigrant rights groups or immigration advocates.
What people want is we acknowledge we have borders we have a rule of law. But we need smarter immigration enforcement, we need more humane immigration enforcement, most importantly, we need targeted enforcement that can go after say, drug dealers and traffickers. And people like this individual who allegedly killed Mollie Tibbetts.
So what we have smarter and better immigration enforcement we can avoid these types of horrific tragedies and hopefully as the nation move forward towards a more constructive immigration debate that actually results in solutions, instead of more rhetoric and divisiveness.
CHURCH: Yes, in the middle of tragedies like this--
CHURCH: -- we must never stop fact checking. Raul Reyes, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
REYES: My pleasure.
CHURCH: It is a city already reduced to rubble. Well, Donald Trump has a new warning for Syria and its allies against attacking rebels in Idlib. That story just ahead on CNN Newsroom.
CHURCH: A very warm welcome back. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories this hour.
[03:29:58] Authorities have launched an investigation into what caused Sunday's massive fire that gutted Brazil's national museum. It's feared the flames destroyed millions of artifacts spanning 11,000 years.
Museum officials say the building suffered from lack of funding. There was no adequate sprinkler system in place and nearby hydrants were dry when the blaze erupted.
[03:30:00] Airports under way to give two jail journalists release in Myanmar. The men were sentenced to seven years in jail for possessing state secrets. They were investigating the massacre of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. The U.N. and human rights groups are calling for the journalist's release.
Most of the U.S. Gulf Coast is bracing for tropical storm Gordon. Which could be a category one hurricane by the time it makes its expected land fall Tuesday night. The governors of Mississippi and Louisiana have each declared a state of emergency. And have activated their National Guard units. Gordon is expected to gain strength as it moves northwest through the Gulf of Mexico.
President Donald Trump is warning Syria and its allies as Russia and Iran not to recklessly attack Italy. Which is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria. President Trump wrote this in a tweet on Monday. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don't let that happen.
Our Jomanah Karadsheh is following developments in Syria. From her vantage point in Istanbul, Turkey. Good to see you Jomanah. So, President Trump says it would be a grave mistake if Syria and its allies attacks Idlib. What might the threat signal?
JOMANAH KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very hard to tell, Rosemary. It's not the clearest threat of action that we have heard from this President who is really not held back when it comes to making threats of action by tweet. It's very similar to the warnings that we have heard from other U.S. Officials over the past week. You have heard from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Warning against this imminent operation it seems to attack Idlib province. And we have also heard from Nikki Haley in a tweet yesterday saying all eyes are on the action of the Iranian and the Russians when it comes to Idlib, #nochemicalweapons.
So, it seems the United States is again basically saying that the red line is going to be chemical weapons. We have heard from U.S. Officials. Over the past week saying that plans have been drawn out both potential target list if there are allegations of proven use of chemical weapons when it comes to Idlib. It's prepared to take action swiftly and strike these targets if it happens.
So, it doesn't seem, Rosemary, that there's any willingness or appetite as we have seen over the past few years for the U.S. to get involve directly in any way to try and stop what many are warning here could be a massacre, a blood bath. If these operation goes ahead in Idlib. And you know, we have seen it just a few months ago when it comes to southern Syria. The free Syria army there. They are allies of the United States, these are rebel groups that the U.S. supported for a few years. And they were pretty much abandoned and told to face the Russians, the Iranian and the regime on their own and that happened and that province is under the control of the Syrian regime. So it is very hard to see how Idlib is going to be any different.
CHURCH: We will certainly keep a very close eye on the situation. Jomanah Karadsheh, joining us there from Istanbul, Turkey. Many thanks.
Leaders in the Catholic Church have offered apologies for the sexual abuse scandal. But the sentiments maybe too little and way too late. We'll take a look. Stay with us.
[04:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: An embattled catholic cardinals spoke out about clergy sexual abuse Sunday. But it wasn't enough for some church members. Cardinal Donald Wuerl is accused of mishandling clergy sexual misconduct while he was a bishop in Pittsburg Pennsylvania. And calls for him to resign are growing. The world spoke in a mass in Washington, Sunday. One Parishioner Mary Challinor (ph) turned her back on the cardinal. She tells CNN if he is serious about change, Wuerl should step down. Challinor, also wants the church to be more forthcoming in how it deals with sexual abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY CHALLINOR, MEMBER ANNUNCIATION CATHOLIC CHURCH: I was trying to send a message that I just speaking for myself, do not approve of the way the church has handled this scandal for the last 16 years. And I think that the church could use some more transparency. In the way they have dealt with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: For his perspective on this. I'm joined now by CNN religion commentator. Father Edward Beck. Thank you so much for being with us.
EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Good to be with you.
CHURCH: So, we heard there from Parishioner Mary Challinor. Who turned her back to Cardinal Wuerl in protest? Let's just listen to what another Parishioner in that very same church had to say directly to Cardinal Wuerl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: We need to hold close in our prayers and our loyalty. Our only Pope Francis. It's clear that he is the object of considerable animosity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So far, just two examples of protest there. We know two Catholics across America have signed a petition asking for the bishops of America to resign. Is it time for the Catholic Church to listen to these calls for Cardinal Wuerl and others to step aside to show support for a much needed radical change to these culture within the Catholic Church?
BECK: Well as you may know, Rosemary, Cardinal Wuerl did submit his resignation two years ago. When he turned 75. Which is required of all bishops and cardinals. And Pope Francis has yet to accept it. So really the ball is in Pope Francis' court as to whether he accepts the resignation of Cardinal Wuerl and any other bishops who may have been involved in sexual misconduct or mishandling of sexual abuse cases.
So, really, I think the focus now is on Pope Francis. For what is a global problem and how will he deal with the bishops in particular with regard to the issue.
CHURCH: Well, of course Pope Francis is also under attack himself.
[03:40:00] Listen, the former Vatican Ambassador Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano has accused the Pope and others at the Vatican of knowing for years about sexual misconduct allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has now resigned. These are unverified accusations, but this is how the Pope responded. Let us just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS, (TRANSLATOR): I read that statement this morning. I read it and I will say sincerely that I must say this. To you and all of you who are interested. Read the document carefully. And judge it for yourself. I will not say one word on this.
CHURCH: Father Beck, why such a meek response from the Pope? To such serious accusations and attempt to expose what's happening within Catholic Church?
BECK: Well, the immediate response of the Pope saying it's going to be silence. I'm interpreting as I'm not going to get in the mud and wrestle with this archbishop who just is full of slander. And mistruth. So basically the Pope has said his account is not accurate. Vigano, Archbishop Vigano's account and others have corroborated that his account is not accurate. That his eleven page screed, that letter he sent was full of untruths. And so I think basically we are waiting for what the Pope will say with regard to Cardinal McCarrick. But I think, he doesn't want to be seen as acting in response to Vigano's letter, because it's full of mistruths. Or untruth.
CHURCH: Why? But why? Because wouldn't you reply if it's not true. Simply say that.
BECK: Well, again, I think it's a complex issue. Because we also are involving the Pope's previous Pope Francis. Because Pope Benedict was supposed to have issued these restrictions on Cardinal McCarrick. According to Vigano. And yet we see Cardinal McCarrick comes celebrating mass with Pope Benedict, we see him traveling around the world.
So, if Pope Benedict did have this restrictions on Cardinal McCarrick. He obviously did not follow them. So, is Pope Benedict to be implicated then in not following through McCarrick? Is it just Pope Francis? It extend beyond just what did Pope Francis know. Pope Francis certainly when he found out about child abuse, allegations of child abuse against Cardinal McCarrick, from the archdiocese of New York to Rome who sent the report to Rome. McCarrick was immediately removed from doing any public ministry and was stripped of his title as cardinal.
Now with regard to the other allegations that Vigano says he said to Pope Benedict and to Pope Francis, those are allegations of sexual misconduct with seminaries and priests. It didn't have the same urgency as sexual abuse of minors. Still waiting to hear from Pope Francis. What did he know and when. And many including editorials in this country believe that Pope Francis should speak publicly about that time frame.
CHURCH: Yes. And Catholics across the globe don't think the response has been good enough to this point. Is this a water shed moment for Pope Francis? His greatest challenge so far perhaps.
BECK: Rosemary, I think this is the greatest crisis in the last century of the global Catholic Church. So, it's certainly is a water shed moment for Pope Francis. How he handles this sexual abuse crisis and many say he is too late and handling it already. May very well define his papacy. So all of his talk about the environment. About refugees. About the dispossessed the poor. Will be over shadowed if he does not deal head on with this sex abuse crisis. So certainly I think it's a water shed moment in this papacy and in Roman Catholicism globally.
CHURCH: And Catholics across the world are expecting some sort of radical response to this. Father Edward Beck, thank you so much for being with us. We all appreciate it.
BECK: Thank you.
CHURCH: After a deadly air strike on a school bus packed with children. The Saudi led coalition behind the attack says it was quote a legitimate target. We'll take a look at that when we come back.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: It is a parent's worth nightmare. And human rights activists say it could be a war crime. At least 26 school children age's six to eleven. Were killed last month in Yemen's bloody civil war. They are on a field trip when an air strike hit their bus. CNN senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir interviewed the spokesperson for the U.S. backed Saudi led coalition which carried out the attack.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. back Saud led coalition has announced the findings of an incident assessment team and they are doubling down on their assertion that the bus. The school bus attacked on August 9th was a legitimate target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a legitimate target. It's not a school bus. The bus is carrying some fighter's elements. And they are responsible about recruitment and also the some of the Houthis experts in that bus. So, it was as being announced by the jihad is a legitimate target. And the only thing the mistake being committed by the coalition is the timing. Wrong timing. With the target being conducted.
ELBAGIR: CNN obtained cell phone footage filmed by one of the young boy on the bus. It very clearly shows children. You can see the blue uniform school backpacks. That doesn't seem to jive with the findings of the assessment team and yet, everybody saw that there were children on that bus. But you're saying its still was a legitimate target?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Houthi has -- they have told their story that the bus is going to school and there is kids on there on the bus. That time when the incident had happened that there is no school time and also in Yemen.
[03:50:04] We have seen some of the picture we cannot confirm it as being announced also by jihad yesterday some of the video, some of the picture cannot be likely liable sources by the Houthi or what's the source for that picture and videos. However, it's very confirmed intelligence information that the coalition conducted the attack against Houthi commanders and some Houthi element fighters in that bus. You need to ask the Houthi, we need to know the truth, because our foot is not on the ground inside there. The Houthi need the answer the question, if that bus is for the commander. What the kids are doing there. We have taken it as questionable or controversial point.
ELBAGIR: Just to clarify, you believe that there were Houthi commanders on that bus. And that is why you believe it was a legitimate target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not talking about expectation. The war has nothing to do with expectation. We're talking about fact. Figures. And we have shown the jihad the evidence, the videos. The satellite picture and also the ISIS are recording from that mission being conducted. So, it's not about what do I believe or what's the expectation. We are talking about the fact being given to the jihad and according to that information they have looked to it and they have examined all the information. And the finding came yesterday.
ELBAGIR: the Jihad though does say that they believe that the coalition forces, that there was clear delay in preparing the fighter jet at the appropriate time. And that the opportunity was lost to target the bus as a military target. So they believe that a mistake was made. And a lot of those who have been speaking both the U.N. panel of experts last week and other human rights organizations believe that that could meet the criteria for this to be seen as a war crime. What are the next steps? Will anybody be punished? Are you taking steps to investigate if it was a war crime?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: War crime or any systemic target is not found in the operation in Yemen. We are applying the highest standard major and the best practice for our wits. The special instruction and also for the air operation directors. Now this is the story of the Houthi again, the jihad is an independent team. We have announced that we are accepting the outcome and the finding. We have given all the evidence that we have for the jihad. And if the Houthi, they are telling the story and other organization, it's being proofed by the information that we have as intelligence information it's not a school bus. Because there's no school time at that time when the incident happened and also we have shown all the videotape that we never, I mean, observed or noticed kids on the bus. And it being announced that some of the Houthi fighters are inside that bus.
ELBAGIR: The Jihad is an internal mechanism. Will you be allowing an independent external investigation into the incident and all these denies?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the jihad is an independent team has nothing to do with the joint force command. They have their own mission. They have their own mechanism so, it's not part of the joint force command.
ELBAGIR: What changes can we expect moving forward? Will you be changing for example your rules of engagement? That is one of the recommendation of the joint incident assessment team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we are expecting, if you're asking about the steps it's going to be taken for as an extra step. We have a multi- step process. It will be conducted. We have the legal advisory office. They will put the accountability on those who committed the mistake. And also as we are receiving the -- learn by the -- which is announced by the jihad, we will look to those lesson learned and we will improve and revise our ways to make sure such incident in the future will never happen.
ELBAGIR: So you will be revising your rules of engagement? That is one of the next step moving forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not the only step as I said, there are many steps that will be taken. And also by revising our ways and improving our ways. And also the joint committee to assist granting as sent to the ones in particularly Yemen. It will take place and the composition for those people who lost their lives. The compensation will be given to their families. ELBAGIR: How would you characterize currently you're the Saudi led
coalition relationship with the Department of Defense in the United States? That is something we have been hearing chatter about in D.C. that there had been concerns on the part of the Pentagon around the targeting. Being the specificity of the targeting on the part of the Saudi coalition. How would you characterize your current relationship?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I represent the coalition to restore the legitimacy in Yemen.
[03:55:03] I don't represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, we have -- we are sharing the information with the coalition, as a coalition and also with our friends. We are sharing the intelligence information. We are sharing some of the information about the campaign in Yemen. The most important point that we are facing and we are getting information exchanging the information about the threat that we are facing all. The Houthi threat is not just for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not just for (inaudible), but also for the international community. We are threatening the (inaudible) and also the Red Sea, this is why we are sharing the information and we are fighting the group inside Yemen.
ELBAGIR: So, a legitimate target. A denial that war crimes are being committed in Yemen. In spite of the findings of that U.N. panel of experts. The concern is that can lessons truly be learned if the Saudi led coalition still refuses to acknowledge what so many people can see for themselves. What CNN was able to broadcast when we obtained cell phone footage filmed in their last hours by schoolboys on that bus. That there were children on that bus. Can lessons truly be learned? Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.
CHURCH: And we would like to thank you for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn. Early Start is next for our viewers here in United States and to everyone else stay tuned for more news with Max Foster in London. Have yourselves a great day.