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Serena Sparks Sexism Debate; Airstrikes in Idlib As Offensive Gets Near; Bolton Threatens A Response If Chemical Weapons Are Used; Mike Pence Says He Would Be Happy to Take A Lie Detector Test; Far Right Gains in Sweden. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, in the new time slot, we have shocking new video

from inside Idlib showing the aftermath of an airstrike on the Syrian rebels' last stronghold in Syria.

Also, tonight, Donald Trump says the White House is, quote, a smooth- running machine while still railing against an explosive new book and that anonymous op-ed.

And it is the story everyone is talking about. Serena Williams has drawn praise, criticism and a $17,000 fine following the U.S. Open tennis final.

Was she right to do what she did? We'll discuss.

We begin with incredible video out of the last Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Syrian and Russian air strikes are pounding the city with a

government official telling CNN they're surgical. In other words, trying to say this will not target civilians. But they're targeting armed groups

linked to al Qaeda. But people on the ground have a very different story. As our Clarissa Ward explains.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rescue worker Anas al-Diab is shooting the aftermath of an airstrike.

Moments later, more strikes hit. This time, Anas is the victim. His camera is still rolling. Revealing serious injuries to his legs. Guys,

guys, please come get me he calls out to his fellow rescue workers. I can't move. The men try to drag him to safety. Without so much as a

stretcher, it is hard work. Another strike lands. Pinning them to the ground. And another. They call for backup.

Scenes like this are playing out across Idlib as regime forces begin an operation to take back the last rebel held province. Raising the specter

of a blood bath. Russia provides most of the air power. And claims that it only targets terrorists. Assertion that's contradicted by facts on the

ground. Here a woman's hand pokes up through the rubble, still moving. Rescue workers rush to free her from beneath the concrete. Eventually,

they succeed. But it's not clear if she survives. Anas was lucky. He made it safely to a hospital though his injuries are serious. They are

targeting innocent civilians, he says. They're trying to kill as many of us as possible. In spite of the risks, some of those civilians are taking

to the streets again. In scenes reminiscent of the early days of the protest movement against President Bashar Al Assad. Idlib, we are with you

until death, they chant. They may well be the last words of this uprising.


GORANI: Clarissa Ward, chief international correspondent, joins me live. Fred Pleitgen on the ground in Syria. What are you hearing from the

government about this anticipated offensive in Idlib?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we got word from the government source yesterday and today, as well, that this

offensive has not started yet. The air strikes they say obviously also part of maybe a prelude to such an offensive and the offensive itself has

not started. There's no movement of ground troops they say they're taking place just yet. One of the things it could mean is might be still some

sort of negotiations going on to try to prevent some sort of larger offensive, presumably taking part, Hala, or take place between the big

powers on either side of the equation.

[14:05:00] Of course, for the civilians trapped inside there, it's a very difficult situation this they're living under because there's no place to

go for them at this point in time. Of course, many of them would be afraid to leave and go into government-held territory and same time we have word

from inside is that apparently some of the rebel organizations including some of the ones affiliated with al Qaeda arresting people who want to

negotiate with the government and who wants to essentially switch sides or surrender to government forces. For the civilians, there really doesn't

seem a good way out of this unless the offensive itself is staved off.

GORANI: Clarissa, you put together this report there on strikes that are certainly not surgical as the government is claiming.

WARD: That's right. I mean, as for Fred says, it doesn't appear to have started in earnest yet but seeing regime forces nibbling away at the edges.

In particular, in the southern part of Idlib they're interested in trying to take the two highways that essentially connect Syria's major cities and

not able to do that yet but appears to be the focus of this effort and it is important to remember that they really only have two options here.

Either they go in guns blazing and try to do some sort of a blitzkrieg style scenario, the likes of which are similar to what we saw in Aleppo,

but there are a number of challenges that they would face. There are an estimated 70,000 rebel fighters in the province. This is a large area, a

rural area and there are 3 million civilians. It would be very costly and very challenging for them to attempt that. Much safer to take on something

like this and try piecemeal to take back chunk by chunk as they go along.

GORANI: What about the Russians then? Obviously, they support the regime. They have in the past militarily, politically, strategically. What is the

position with this Idlib offensive? Fred?

PLEITGEN: Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, Yes. Look. The Russians so far, you're absolutely right are absolutely standing behind the Syrian government and

certainly they said at the summit in the form of Vladimir Putin, obviously, they said that they believe the Syrian government has the right to take

back all of Syrian territory seeing the Syrian government under Bashar Al Assad as the legitimate government of this country and seeing with this

Russians, they're the ones conducting the vast part of the air missions going on right now. We have to keep in mind, also, Hala, they have right

now a lot more forces here in this area than they would at normal times. More warships, more planes because they had a large-scale-military

exercises here. Other thing to see is the complex of the possible use of chemical weapons. On the weekend the Russians came out and they said that

they believe the rebels were some way, shape or form going to stage a chemical weapons attack to try to essentially lure the United States into

this conflict. Where on the other hand you have the U.S. saying they fear that the Assad government is perpetuating such an attack. And then a

dangerous game that is being played here and again on the ground it's the civilian who is are bearing the brunt of that. Of course, many living in

the horrible conditions anyway and now you have these big powers essentially in a confrontation mode around this and then this possible

offensive at any time, as well.

GORANI: These civilians don't trust anyone, not the regime with good reason. They don't trust the Islamists because they don't like them

necessarily either. They're stuck. We heard last week that the Americans are now saying our mission there, they have a couple thousand troops --

WARD: 2,000 troops.

GORANI: --i is now open ended and won't leave at the end of the year once the mission or the objective to neutralize the Islamic state is over.

WARD: Right. Something of a 180. Originally the idea had been no, no, no. ISIS is the exclusive focus. Not interested in regime change and

taking on the Assad regime and then hearing, actually, staying here open ended and Iran appears to be the new focus for the U.S. we are hearing a

lot more rhetoric coming out from this White House, you heard Fred allude to the fact they talk about if there's another chemical weapons attack they

will definitely respond to it and respond to it strongly.

[14:10:00] We heard National Security Advisor Bolton today say the response will be much stronger if they use chemical weapons than it had been in the

previous two instances. For civilians they wonder it's OK massacre us and bomb us and not use chemical weapons? What I think it does show you is

that the U.S. is trying to have leverage here, it wants to have a seat at the table during the negotiations. It wants to be a stakeholder in what

future Syria will ultimately look like.

GORANI: Clarissa Ward in the studio, Fred Pleitgen in Damascus, thank you.

Now President Trump is calling the White House a smooth-running machine as he repeatedly rails against the explosive new book and an op-ed that paint

a very different picture. He is fixated on the two as the critical midterm elections loom just under two months away. The book was penned by veteran

Bob Woodward and finally hits shelves tomorrow and the author sharing a new tidbit on how a tweet might have set off an incident with North Korea and

Mike Pence vows he would take a lie detector test to prove he wasn't the one that wrote the anonymous op-ed in "The New York Times." let's get more

on this. Stephen Collison joins me now. Stephen, you wrote an opinion piece calling this a crisis of authority for the president. What did you

mean by that? Why is it more of a crisis of authority than previous times where there have been reports of chaos in the administration?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: You are right. I think, Hala, the reports of chaos and a sort of administration in tatters are not

new. We have had them really since Donald Trump became president. I think this Woodward book and the op-ed in "The New York Times" by this anonymous

official are crystallizing them. Think about this. There are a number of basic options of what's happening right now. Either the United States is

led by someone who's woefully unprepared for the job, who's not in full control of his administration, who is putting the economy and intelligence

operations and foreign policy and security of the United States at risk. Or, we have this cabal of resistance in the administration sketched out in

the op-ed and is sort of backed up by the Woodward book who are actually taking the powers of the president themselves and using that power and

trying to protect America from the president. That raises all sorts of questions, you know, about the integrity of the American Democratic

process. After all, Donald Trump was elected in an election by the American people. The least likely option seems to be that the White House

is a smooth-running machine as the president tweeted on Saturday and as you just mentioned.

GORANI: A couple of elements to get to. We mentioned Mike Pence, obviously the vice president of the United States which is unusual. I

mean, correct me if there's a parallel or precedent in history for this saying he'd be happy to take a lie detector test. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should all top officials take a lie detector test and would you agree to take one?

MIKE PENCE. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I would agree to take in it a heart beat. Would submit to any review the administration wanted to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that the administration should do that some.

PENCE: That would be a decision for the president.


GORANI: So, I mean, if your team says they're willing to take a test to prove they didn't write a secret op-ed trashing you, I mean, what does that

say about how the White House is running right now?

COLLINSON: Well, I think it's an example of how what would be considered outlandish and absurd and extreme in any other circumstances. Is just

normality in the Trump White House. When Pence said this yesterday I thought it would be like the biggest story in the world. But it doesn't

seem to have broken through as much as you would expect in the United States. It is just a symptom of, you know, how wild and chaotic things

have been in the Trump administration. If you imagine this scenario that - - it still seems difficult to believe but that officials, senior officials, in fact, number two official in the U.S. government was taking a lie

detector test, can you imagine the mistrust to sow in the White House? The dysfunction. It would be completely impossible for the U.S. government to

act in any meaningful way or to fulfill its duties but the fact that anyone is talking about, this Mike Pence particularly, is incredible.

[14:15:00] GORANI: It is. It is unprecedented, as well. We, by the way, are monitoring, Stephen, that White House briefing with Sarah Sanders. I

think we have a live shot of the briefing room inside the White House here. The podium is still empty right now. But we are going to monitor it. If

she says anything newsworthy about the op-ed, about who they believe its author might be or that Bob Woodward book, we'll go to it and bring you

that live. Thanks very much, Stephen Collinson, from Washington.

Still to come tonight, Serena Williams said it's sexism and her U.S. Open outburst has sparked a fiery debate. We will tell you all about it next.

And then Palestinians say the Trump administration is trying to liquidate their cause after it closed their diplomatic mission in Washington. We'll

be right back.


GORANI: Welcome back. Welcome back to "Hala Gorani Tonight." a new time slot. Great to have you all with us. It is a story that's almost everyone

talking. And just about everyone has an opinion on it. Serena Williams' outburst at the U.S. Open final. The fallout of the tirade with the umpire

Carlos Ramos continues. He penalized the grand slam champion for getting hand signals from her coach. She said she didn't see them and then for

calling him a thief. Williams accused him of sexism saying no man is treated this way. She's drawn praise, criticism and also a $17,000 fine

for her behavior. A reminder, if you haven't been watching television in 24 hours at all, here's some of that angry exchange.


SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PRO: You need to make an announcement that I didn't get coaching. I don't cheat. I didn't get coaching. How can you

say that? You need to -- you need -- you owe me an apology. You owe me an apology! I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand

for what is right for her. You owe me an apology!


GORANI: I want to bring in CNN sports analysis Christine Brennan from Washington. Christine, what is your take on what happened?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Certainly, that behavior, Hala, is something we don't condone. I don't think there's anyone on earth who

condones misbehavior by athletes at any point. However, you can believe that and feel strongly about that and still pay attention to the next

sentence which is, was Serena Williams' given different treatment, harsher treatment, than a man in that -- in that and the answer as we are all

finding out is apparently, yes.

[14:20:00] There is a video montage that's out there. I put it on the Twitter feed. You can find it easily from "USA Today" that shows the same

chair umpire dealing with men getting berated even worse, hard to believe, bad language, what have you, and not giving a penalty to any of those men.

So, the question is out there. And it is a question. I'll phrase it that way. Why? Why was Serena Williams treated in a different manner than the

men for --

GORANI: She says that because she is a woman.

BRENNAN: That's what she says.

GORANI: When a strong woman, you know, vents, especially, to a man, she is penalized more harshly. She has a point. Right?

BRENNAN: Oh, she absolutely does. I agree with that. Just because the evidence is overwhelming. Unless -- she's an African-American woman. She

is larger than life. She brings in a whole audience that doesn't like tennis and one person not speaking about this is the chair umpire. So, the

only one person on earth not talking. It's interesting to hear what he has to say and the record is clear and hearing from all kinds of voices, you

know, hall of famers and wonderful leaders in this sport. Billie Jean King, Chris Everett saying she's never seen this before. Billie Jean King

says a woman is called hysterical. When a man is angry, he is called outspoken. And I think that's really a fascinating conversation that

Serena Williams has taken us to.

GORANI: Well, as women, we can all, all confirm that that is true and we have our moments, we speak out. We're seen more often as troublemakers

than as people with strong opinions. You mentioned Billie Jean King. Obviously, tennis legend founder of the Women's Tennis Association. She

wrote women are taught to be perfect. We aren't perfect, of course. So, we shouldn't be held to that standard. We have a voice. We have emotions.

When we react to adversely to a heated professional situation far too often we're labeled hysterical. That must stop. That being said, others have

criticized Serena Williams saying she is a sore loser. She was down. Obviously, she docked a game and losing. She lost the first set. Took

away the attention from the winner of the U.S. Open final. How do you respond to people who criticize her that way?

BRENNAN: All of that may well be true but it doesn't change the pertinent question. That I believe is the one thing we're going take away from this.

Was she treated differently than a man and why? In 2018 the sport of tennis, equality, Billie Jean King fought for it, 1973 when the U.S. Open

started to pay women equally to the men. 1973. It wasn't until the 21st century for the other three grand slams. Wimbledon in 2007. A sport with

equality at the hallmark and yet this is the window into the world and shows us about other sports because if tennis has this kind of stuff going

on, including, of course, the reprimand for taking off her shirt on the court and Serena Williams with the cat suit in the French Open, this is

really fascinating to see. But yes. I think serena's behavior wasn't great but, again, for me, that is not the issue at this point.

GORANI: Christine, thanks so much for joining us.

BRANNAN: My pleasure. Thank you.

GORANI: Another media titan stepped down amid allegations of sexual misconduct. CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves resigned Sunday, the same day

the "New Yorker" published allegations of six new women accusing him of sexual harassment and assault and he denies the claims. CBS said it will

donate $20 million from a potential severance package to the me-too movement and other groups fighting harassment. Moonves could be paid tens

of millions of dollars on the way out the door pending the results of an internal investigation. It was reported to be $100 million. Golden

parachute and that 20 percent of that would be paid to me-too and me-too groups. And that has been suspended pending this investigation.

A word on this story. Palestinian leaders are accusing the U.S. government of bullying and blackmail after it closed the Washington mission of the

Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Trump administration says Palestinians are refusing to take steps toward direct and meaningful

negotiations with Israel. It is also angry that Palestinians have called on the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged Israeli war

crimes. National Security Advisor Bolton says the U.S. will not stand by quietly if that happens.


[14:25:00] JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies

from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. And we certainly

will not join the ICC. [applause]


GORANI: Well, it was never a question of the U.S. joining the ICC. The U.S. never been a member of the ICC. John Bolton there reiterating what

has been historically the case. The PLO said Washington is, quote, executing Israel's wish list. And wants to liquidate its cause. Let's

bring in Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian's ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador, thanks for being with us. First of all, your reaction to the

closure of this Palestinian mission in Washington?

RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, we see this as blackmail and trying, you know, to force us to do things that the

U.S. administration wants us to do. What we are doing with regard to the ICC, it's a civilized, peaceful, legal option available to us in order

really to investigate war crimes. And the ICC is a very respectable, legitimate, international organization. It's a court established by close

to 130 countries. Most of them are from Europe, Africa and in other places. Whether the U.S. administration likes it or not, this court is a

very important court that deals with the war crimes and those who commit war crimes need to be investigated by this court and we are seeking to do


GORANI: So, the Palestinians will not back down. They will continue to try to get the ICC to investigate Israel.

MANSOUR: We should be commended for doing that. This is a legitimate, legal, peaceful, civilized option. What do they want us to do? When

Israel commits war crimes, shouldn't we pursue justice through international court systems? These systems were not established by us.

The international court of justice was involved mainly by the Europeans and Americans after World War II. The ICC was established mainly by the

Europeans and Africans in order to go after those who commit war crimes and involved in war crimes.

GORANI: But the State Department -- sure. So, you will continue in this effort. The state department is saying this is also a way to put pressure

on you, the Palestinians, to negotiate, to be more, you know, to come to the table and accept terms. They're saying this is a way to pressure you.

Not just this. Obviously, cutting also funding to the UN/Palestinian Refugee Agency.


GORANI: Cutting funding to East Jerusalem hospitals. Cutting funding to the PLO, as well. To the tune of $200 million.


GORANI: Will that in any way change things?

MANSOUR: No. Is that a respectable way in dealing with countries to try to pursue peace? Which one is more respectable? Those who pursue legal

methods, peaceful methods, civilized methods to seek justice and the accountability? Or those who use blackmail, distortions, denial of money

that helps civilians when they are in the hospitals of East Jerusalem or the refugees in the Gaza strip or the civilian population in the occupied

territory? Is that a respectable behavior of a country that's supposed to be defending the law and international norms? I leave it to the audience

to judge who's acting honorably and in the opposite direction.

GORANI: Where does that concretely leave any kind of peace negotiations? If we can still call it this.

MANSOUR: If their objective is to have peaceful negotiation between us and the Israelis through international supervision I think they are

accomplishing the opposite because to keep punishing us in these methods and think we'll come crawling on our knees I think that they're mistaken.

That is not the approach to try to have peace between us and Israelis.

[14:30:00] On the contrary, they could have recognized the PLO as Israel did. Recognized in 1994 on the lawn of the White House. Why is the U.S.

administration more royalist than the king? More than the Israelis themselves. They negotiate with the PLO and dealing with them since the

Oslo Agreement. Why is the U.S. considering the PLO as a terrorist organization and every six months have a waiver to continue the opening of

our office. Instead, of recognizing the PLO as a representative of the Palestinian people and therefore paving the way for possible relationship

between us and Israel, not by imposing their opposition by this administration.

GORANI: Ambassador, joining us from the united nations, thank you for joining us.

MANSOUR: Thank you for having me.

GORANI: Still to come tonight in Sweden, election results are in and the far right and by that I mean Neo-Nazi inspired right is gaining ground. We

break it down with former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Blidt. Stay with us.


[14:30:11] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: So the big question this weekend in Sweden was, how will a party with a neo-Nazi words do in

national elections? Well, the end result was gridlock and a now fractured parliament. The main centrist coalitions didn't win majorities in Sunday's

election. And that far-right party gained ground, it came in third.

However, here's what people who are looking at that this favorably are saying. It fell short of expectations even though it secured its best-ever

results. The vote leads into a new trend -- and leaned into a new trend in Europe. Sweden is now the latest country to see a surge in support for the

far-right alongside the likes of Austria, Italy, and Germany. Atika Shubert has been following all of this from Stockholm. Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, I've been speaking to voters on the streets of Stockholm. Many said they

weren't surprised but they were concerned.


SHUBERT: Sweden's election night was a nail-biter with the far-right Sweden Democrats celebrating new gains. And nervous handwringing from the

ruling Social Democrats.

Just after midnight, party leader, Stefan Lofven, vowed to stay on as prime minister.

STEFAN LOFVEN, PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN (through translator): We have two weeks left until parliament opens. I will work on calmly as prime


SHUBERT: He may not have the votes, however, with no clear winners and a fractured electorate, this was the headline. It doesn't need much

translation, chaos this morning.

Now, we asked voters in Stockholm if they were worried about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it will be difficult for him to continue. But it's all so insecure at the moment. So it's the whole situation is a

bit scary, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not that worried, because in Sweden, we're really good at compromising. So if one party says, I want to paint the world

yellow and the other one says, I want to paint in blue, they would just paint them -- paint it green. So I'm not that worried.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel quite ashamed, actually, that, yes, that ,slight, Democrats has gained so much voices because I don't want to -- I

don't want to be -- Sweden be perceived as a country that's not open and I want people to come to us and stay here, live here. And be working in


SHUBERT: The ballots cast tell two different stories. On the one hand, the insurgent Sweden Democrats gained the most of any other party, nearly

five percentage points. Their pitch to voters was clear and simple, no more immigrants.

Party leader Jimmie Akesson campaigned on fears of violent crime and on an overburden welfare system. And on election night, he promised to drive

that agenda in parliament.

JIMMIE AKESSON, LEADER, SWEDEN DEMOCRATS (through translator): We see that we are this election's winner, but now, we enter a new mandate period. And

now, we are going to get influenced over Swedish politics for real.

SHUBERT: On the other hand, 80 percent of voters did not buy the nationalist rhetoric of the Sweden Democrats. But they were also not sure

who should be leading the country.

[14:35:05] It's now up to the social Democrats weakened but still the strongest party in parliament to cobble together a coalition if they can

get the votes.

Now, the vote so tight the country is going to have to wait until Wednesday for the official count to be done. That's when they're going to know

exactly which party has how many seats and just a few seats could make the difference between a viable coalition or facing fresh elections.


SHUBERT: Now, with everyone is waiting for here, Hala, is Wednesday. That's when the final count comes in, that's when you'll know which party

has how many seats. And this is important because the margin was so tight that there was really just less than 30,000 votes between the center left

bloc and the center right bloc.

So even just a few seats could make the difference between a viable coalition government and the possibility of fresh elections for Sweden,


GORANI: Atika Shubert, reporting live from Stockholm.

Let's get some insight from someone who has worked in the thick of Swedish politics, former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, joins me now from Stockholm via


So let's look at the -- internationally, really, the interest in this election was to see how the Sweden Democrats, this far, far right party,

would perform. So they secured 62 seats. A little less than 18 percent of the vote. But some have them potentially at up 25 percent of the vote.

So, what's your reaction to that? They underperformed?

CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDEN PRIME MINISTER: They did underperform. I mean, expectations were and opinion polls were given the figures are in -- six

months ago, they were up into 25 percent range and I think they seriously expected, perhaps not to become the largest party but become the second

largest. They remain at the third largest. They did increase their vote, but there is no question they were pushed back significantly in the

election campaign and are confident but disappointed today.

GORANI: So, should the E.U. be worried, though? Because what we're seeing in Italy, for instance, what we're seeing in Poland, in Hungary. And here,

even though they underperformed, the Sweden democrats scored -- this is their best score ever. Right?

BILDT: It's their best score ever. No question about that. And I think, as matter of fact, as you referred to, this is a phenomena that we've seen

all over Europe. We've seen it in -- if I look at the Nordic countries in Finland, in Denmark, in Norway, it's fairly -- a number of years back.

But we haven't seen them going much above these particular levels in any country. I mean, it seems to be like sort of -- we have just spoke this

party. They could be 15, they could be 20, they could even be 25 in certain cases. But we haven't seen them going much further than that.

Italy might be an exception by the races.

GORANI: Yes. And Italy is a founding member of the E.U. But in Italy, you could say, OK. Italians have had many, many migrants. Their economy

isn't doing great. They've suffered with austerity. Not that it's a justification, but it's an explanation for why some people might be

attracted by some of the populist rhetoric.

In Sweden, I'm a little bit more at a loss, because the economy is, in fact, one of the best performing economies in the E.U. So, how do these

far -- yes. So, how do these far-right parties convince people that refugees are bad for their country when the economy and your country has

been doing pretty well?

BILDT: The economy has been doing very well. The economy was hardly an issue in the election campaign. They're not dominant issue that the

election campaign has to decide what's the state of the health service? The hospitals. The long ques for serious operations and treatment like

that. That was the number one issue.

The immigration issue was -- and the integration issue was certainly there. But perhaps slightly less potent than some time ago. We had the -- we took

the largest numbers of refugees in terms of taking comparison with size of the population in 2015.


BILDT: And that was just a shock to the system. But since then, a number of measures have been taken primarily on the European level. So now, the

influx of refugees is very limited. And that might have had its effect in sort of moderate and influence of the Sweden Democrats.

GORANI: How has integration of these -- I believe more than 150,000 refugees that Sweden took in since 2015. Are there -- yeah. Are there

major integration problems in your country?

BILDT: There are. I mean, they're everywhere. But we've had perhaps facing difficulties that many other countries and that has to do with the

fact that Sweden's fairly advanced welfare society, we have a regulated labor market. We have all sorts of rules and regulations. That means that

to get into the system is likely more complicated in Sweden.

And it takes a longer time and what is needed -- and that's been controversial -- is perhaps they introduce more flexibility in certain of

our systems. So it makes it possible for these people who are willing and able to enter to come in foster than has been the case. Reduce the

financial burden and also make it possible for them to make their contribution to society. We need to do better there. That's clear.

[14:40:11] GORANI: All right. Former Swedish Prime Minister, Carl Bildt, thanks so much for joining us, from Stockholm. We appreciate it.

Well, we're entering in to the thick of hurricane season on the other side of the world from where we are. Hurricane Florence has intensified,

strengthening to a category four hurricane, as it moves toward the U.S.

Residents there are preparing for the worst. North Carolina state governor warned people they could lose electricity and utilities for several days,

once the storm hits. It's expected to be one of the strongest hurricanes to make landfall there in two decades. You're seeing there its progression

on the map.

Kaylee Hartung is monitoring the storm from North Carolina. She's outside a home supply store where residents are stocking up. OK. Talk to us about

how people are preparing, first off, Kaylee.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hala, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst is the general sentiment here. Some people here

cautiously optimistic. I will say, hoping that at this point we're so far out from the storm that maybe it could turn, maybe it could spare them.

But so many projections line up sending this storm straight into North Carolina. As North Carolina's governor said earlier today, this state is

the bull's-eye.

Here at this home improvement store, they can't keep their stock stocked fast enough. Given the demand for the hurricane essentials. Generators,

the top item in demand. And a lot of people in this area buying a generator for the first time. You have to go back 20 or so years to find a

storm of this magnitude that aimed for this part of North Carolina. 1996 there was Hurricane Fran and in 1999 Hurricane Floyd.

So while there is a certain risk that comes with living on the Atlantic coast, the east coast of the United States, a lot of people here preparing

for a storm in a way that they're unfamiliar with. Similarly, grocery stores, we're seeing water shelves cleared out, as well as bread and milk.

And some stores hoping to have restocked last night, not getting their new shipments of items in today to continue meeting the demand. There's a

Costco, one of the bigger box retailers just down the street. A gas station there where we've heard of lines weaving in and out of the parking


What I can tell you is that people are taking their preparations very seriously here. The governor is saying the best safety plan for people is

preparation and common sense. And luckily for the folks here, they've got time. Knowing the storm is coming their way before it makes landfall on

Thursday or Friday.

Right now, we're monitoring a news conference as well from the governor of South Carolina who is expected to announce that he's going to declare

mandatory evacuation along the almost 200-mile coast of South Carolina starting tomorrow.

We've already seen the first mandatory evacuations be put in place for the northern end of North Carolina. Hala, the storm is big. It is headed

right this way and there is nothing standing in its way.

GORANI: Mandatory evacuations for the entire section of coast. We're talking how many people here? Because where do they all go?

HARTUNG: Right. That's a good question to ask. We have heard that one of the main interstates running right into Charleston, South Carolina, the

biggest city on the coast of South Carolina, will be sent in one way with the help of the National Guard to help expedite that sort of process.

But you bring up the fairest question here and that is the logistics, the complication of all of this. And that's where, again, time is on people's

sides. Very rarely do you have this much of a heads up with this much certainty that a storm is headed in this direction or in a particular

direction, but that's what we have here.

And the states declaring a state of emergency from South Carolina, North Carolina, to Virginia. What that does so far ahead of the storm's

landfall? It allows them to put their resources in place. Whether that be people and staffing to coordinate these logistics or to put their assets in


Again, to get ahead of the storm when you know with the high degree of certainty where it's headed.

GORANI: All right. We'll see if it weakens. Hopefully it will or if diverts and heads into the ocean rather than right for the coast.

Kaylee Hartung, thanks very much for joining us there.

Still to come, it's 200 days until the U.K. splits from the E.U. But now we're hearing warnings of another fracture, inside the very party that is

meant to be driving the deal. How do you negotiate then? That's next.


[14:45:55] GORANI: More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested in Russia at anti-government deportations against plan increases to the pension age.

The proposals have dented the usually untouchable President Vladimir Putin's popularity.

Footage from the protests shows a fraught scene with police dispersing the rallies with batons in some cases.

The biggest crackdown happened in St. Petersburg. These dramatic images show police detaining an elderly man and a school-aged boy.

In Europe, the clock is ticking. It is 200 days until the U.K. is out of the E.U. But now we're hearing warnings of a "catastrophic" split in the

U.K. conservative party.

And on Sunday, former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, wrote that Mrs. May's Brexit strategy was, "a suicide vest" around the British


And, by the way, he got a lot of criticism for what. A suicide vest as a metaphor. Even members of his own party said, "You've gone too far, Boris


Let's delve into this a little further. CNN's Nina dos Santos is live for us at Downing Street. How does a party that's so divided negotiated a good

Brexit deal?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's been the real problem it had ever since the Brexit referendum, because you'll remember, Hala, you

and I covered it a couple years ago. It was actually just this promise of a referendum that caused the division within the country and also the

division right here in number 10 Downing Street and inside the conservative party.

Now, what you're referring to earlier today is the former Brexit minister, Steve Baker who actually resigned his position in protest at the so-called

unpopular checkers agreement when Theresa May rallied around her cabinet and tried to get them to agree to the type of Brexit deal she thought

Brussels would go for.

And of course, we've seen rebellions ever since. He says that he has about 80 Tory MPs who he thinks would vote against the prime minister,

particularly if she tried to rely on opposition support to try and push through this unpopular proposal that, by the way, Brussels also seems to

think is unworkable.

But, of course, there's more to it than that there. This so-called checkers agreement and the resistance to it is also being used as a vehicle

to try and ferment what is inside the conservative party to try and rally support against another person who would like to have the keys to number 10

Downing Street and that is the main person who's emerging as a potential leadership challenger who is Boris Johnson.

You remember he resigned as foreign secretary and has been using his paid newspaper columns here to agitate against the prime minister's stance on


But I should say all of this is happening at the moment for a reason, Hala. And it's because, not just the clock is ticking with 200 days to go until

Brexit takes place. But even before that, we've an E.U. summit set to take place next week and then the conservative party conference. And if there's

any idea of leadership challenges that are going to be mounted, those kind of conversations are likely to take place within the next two weeks. Hala.

GORANI: So when we talk about leadership challenge, we talk about who wants to be the next prime minister. Right? Because -- I mean, Boris

Johnson is clearly making a play. Some people have called his use of the term "suicide vests" to describe what Theresa May is doing with Brexit

negotiations as unacceptable. But he has his eye on the prize it seems.

[14:50:11] DOS SANTOS: He does. And he's also being advised reportedly by Steve Bannon, no less, the former chief strategist of Donald Trump, who

coached him towards election victory as well. And is somebody who is very outspoken. And it's right to say that Boris Johnson's messaging has become

particularly outspoken over the last couple of weeks.

We should also mention that when it comes to his private life, as well, there's been headlines there, as well, with news that he is divorcing his

wife of 25 years, too. So a lot of MPs you speak to here I Westminster will say, well, this goes with the idea of him preparing to mount a

leadership bid here. The idea is get rid of the potentially bad headlines for you, but also grab headlines with controversial and outspoken ideas


But there is one ally that Theresa May, how ironic, she does have on her side, and that is Brussels. Because Brussels is watching this kind of

domestic power play very keenly. They've been negotiating with Theresa May for some time and a keen to try and keep that consistency with somebody

who's key to keep a closer relationship with the E.U.

And in fact today, she got handed a lifeline by Michel Barnier, the chief E.U. negotiator, saying that, eventually, he thought a Brexit deal by

November could potentially be perfectly doable after months and months of negotiations. Hala.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Nina dos Santos at 10 Downing Street.

As I mentioned at the top of the hour, Sarah Sanders, the white house press secretary, is holding a briefing. It is the first briefing since headlines

emerged from that Bob Woodward book "Fear." And also the first official briefing since the publication of that anonymous op-ed in the New York


We're going to keep an eye on that and if she responds to any questions, I'm sure reporters will have plenty of those, for her, related to the book

or the op-ed, we will take that live.

A word now on what's going on in North Korea. This past weekend, the country held a massive military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of

its founding. Some analysts see a changing attitude of Kim Jong-un's regime as this year's parade had a few noticeable differences from year's

past. We'll have that in a moment.

But first, let's go back to the briefing at the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Department of Justice.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, if there's an individual, whether or not, since we don't know who they are, if that

individual is in meetings that where national security is being discussed or other important topics and they are attempting to undermine the

executive branch, that would certainly be problematic and something that the Department of Justice should look into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is that your suggestion of misuse of classified, information or what would that is all about?

SANDERS: Once again, it's something that the Department of Justice should simply look into and that's for them to make that determination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just have one quick follow-up and that if I could. Is the White House actively trying to find out who this person is or do you

not really care and you're moving on to other things?

SANDERS: We're certainly focused on things that actually matter and the staff here that is here to do their job and not undermine the great work

that this president and this administration has done. And we're going to continue focusing on that. It's, frankly, I think sad and pathetic that a

gutless anonymous source could receive so much attention from the media. And I think that the American people would be much better served if we

actually spent some time talking about some of the really important things that are facing our country and the things that this administration is

doing to help fix them. Justin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the president received the Kim Jong-un letter from the state department? So, can you share any details about the content or

tone or is there any request from them?

SANDERS: Yes. The president has received the letter from Kim Jong-un. It was a very warm, very positive letter. We won't release the full letter,

unless the North Korean leader agrees that we should. The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the

president which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that.

The recent parade in North Korea, for once, was not about their nuclear arsenal. The president has achieved tremendous success with his policies

so far and this letter was further evidence of progress in that relationship. Number of things that have taken place, the remains have

come back. The hostages have returned. There's been no testing of missiles or nuclear material. And, of course, the historic summit between

the two leaders and this letter's just further indication of the progress that we hope to continue to make.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The implication that the second meeting would be here in Washington?

SANDERS: We'll let you know when we have further details. But certainly something that we want to take place and will -- already continue to work

on making that happen.

[14:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To follow up on that, you mentioned the remains being returned, the hostages, the lack of testing, which were all

happening when the president cited a lack of progress, and canceled Secretary Pompeo's trip. So other than these really nice words from Kim

and a parade, what signs of progress warrant this new optimism from President Trump?

SANDERS: Again, certainly, the most recent parade this weekend is one of the first times, I believe, that they have had parades similar where they

weren't highlighting their nuclear arsenal. We consider that a sign of good faith. And, again, the letter from Kim Jong-un to the president

certainly showed a commitment to continuing conversations, continuing to work on the progress that they have had since their meeting, just a few

months ago. And also continued commitment to focus on denuclearization of the peninsula.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a separate question on Bob Woodward, because President Trump continues to call him a liar and says his book is

completely a work of fiction. He's also mentioned libel laws quite a bit. Is President Trump considering filing a lawsuit against Woodward?

SANDERS: Certainly keep you posted on that. But I think we've been extremely clear from the beginning. Many of the book's sources have

already spoken out to refute a couple of them, chief of staff, John Kelly aggressively pushed back in this. General Mattis aggressively pushing back

on the claims. John Dowd also pushing back against the things that are attributed to him.

And a number of people have come out and said that Woodward never even reached out to corroborate statements that were attributed to them, which

seems incredibly reckless for a book to make such outrageous claims, to not even take the time to get a $10 fact checker to call around and verify that

some of these quotes happened when no effort was made. It seems like a very careless and reckless way to write a book. John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, the president said that he was looking into whether or not to take action against the New York Times for the anonymous

op-ed. Does the president not think that that op-ed is protected by the First Amendment? Does he really think that the federal government should

contemplate action against a newspaper for publishing an article?

SANDERS: I think it's less about that part of it and whether or not somebody is actively trying to undermine the executive branch of the

government and a duly elected president of the United States. They don't want to be part of that process, they shouldn't be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tweeted earlier. It's been a while since we've had a chance to talk to you. So this goes back a little while. But he tweeted

last week that suggesting that the Justice Department should not be investigating, should not be prosecuting these two Republican congressmen

because it might hurt Republican chances in November.

Is the president really trying to suggest or for outright saying that the Justice Department shouldn't be investigating or prosecuting allies of the

president if it might hurt his party's political chances?

SANDERS: Certainly, the president thinks that no one is above the law. What he would like to see is a fair playing field that there also be --

there have been a number of concerns raised about individuals both in the FBI and the Department of Justice that have been ignored and we'd like to

see those looked at, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But those two prosecutions, he doesn't want to go forward because they're his allies?

SANDERS: I can't weigh in right now in an active investigation. But I can tell you that the president doesn't think anyone is above the law. And

we're simply stating that there should be cause for concern of a number of things that have happened both in the Department of Justice and the FBI

that we'd like to see those looked at, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With North Korea, how soon would you like to have the second meeting?

SANDERS: I don't have any specifics on the exact timing as these conversations for the second meeting are taking place. Now and as we have

more details I'll certainly let you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you just update us on where the Canada trade talks stand?

SANDERS: We continue to have ongoing conversations with the Canadians and are still hopeful that we'll come to an agreement with them. Jeff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, do you know if the president believes these denials that have been coming from some of his top advisors or does he

believe that it's someone from within? And does he believe that lie detector tests should be issued as the vice president volunteered too?

SANDERS: No lie detectors are being used or talked about. Or looked at as a possibility. Frankly, the White House and the staff here are focused on

doing our jobs and trying to show up here every day and do what we can to help better the American people, not deal with cowards that refuse to put

their names in an anonymous letter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tweeted something on a Friday after George Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days for $28 million, $2 million a day, no

collusion. What was he talking about, the $28 million?

SANDERS: I'd have to go back and then check and look at that. I didn't see that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, the price tag of the Russian investigation, if it so, that's highly inflated.

SANDERS: Again, I'd have to check on it. I'm not sure of that.