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Shrapnel in Yemen Ties U.S. Bombs to Civilian Deaths; Report: Not Clear Trump has Given Lawyers Full Details on Key Events; An Emmy Award Show First. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:56]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: For three years now, the war between rebels in Yemen and a Saudi-backed coalition has taken a heavy toll on civilians living in Western Yemen. Yemen has been in the midst of a civil war for years that has killed thousands of people, mostly civilians. Since the Houthi rebels took over in Northern Yemen in 2015.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The fight between the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government has brought on a humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Innocent children and families are caught in the line of fire daily.

A new CNN exclusive reporting our Nima Elbagir reveals the extent to which American-made weapons and explosives are being used to kill civilians. And before you see this, we want to warn you about the graphic images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A direct strike in broad daylight. Rescuers rush in, but it's too late.

It's too graphic to show in full, but the bodies being pulled out belong to 3-month-old little girl and her 3-year-old brother.

This cell phone footage was sent to CNN by the rebel Houthi-backed media group Ansar Allah media. A rare glimpse of life of the bombardment in Yemen. Bashar (ph) is taking us down to his house, down, down, to the family's hiding place. This is where the children have been taught to come when they hear the familiar drone of planes overhead.

Baraa and her family aren't so lucky. They had to improvise.

For the last three years, Yemen has been the site of a devastating proxy war. Pitting Iranian backed Houthi militias against a U.S.- backed Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore the government of overthrown President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

In that time, local activist groups have collated data showing an estimated 17,000 aerial strikes. As Yemenis attempt some semblance of normal life. These are some of the stories of life under bombardment. On August 9th, the world was aghast when images emerged of school boys covered in blood after they bus was hit by a coalition plane. A CNN investigation subsequently identified the 500-pound bomb dropped directly on the bus was supplied by the U.S. to the coalition. We now know that wasn't the first or last incident of civilian deaths using U.S.-made armaments. Just the first to hit the headlines in years.

Using images collected by award-winning Yemeni activist group Muthana and independently verified by CNN as having been American made. CNN has been able to identify at least 11 separate incidents of coalition strikes on civilian areas using U.S.-made armaments. Lockheed Martin during the bus attack. But also, Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force material command.

It is a litany of death made in the USA. And yet the U.S. State Department has certified to Congress that the Saudi-led coalition is undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm and that arms sales to the coalition could continue.

When CNN reached out on our findings to the Pentagon, the spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich said it "called upon all parties to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. The final decisions on the conduct of operations in the campaign are made by the members of the Saudi-led coalition, not the U.S."

Many of these weapons were precision guided. We wanted to see the aftermath for ourselves. CNN was able to send a team to Hachi province. There, our cameraman met 12-year-old Hayal Jerad (ph).

[10:35:02] In April, a coalition bomb struck a village wedding.

You can see here the moments before the planes arrived killing 21 people, 11 of them children. This is part of the missile tail used in the attack. A weapons expert helped CNN trace it back to the U.S. made GBU-12 bomb manufactured by Raytheon.

Hayal was one of the lucky ones. Bhiamad (ph) will spend his life on crutches and Hayal's brother was killed.

As the team conducts the interviews in the distance, a plane is heard. And the children scatter.

In a rare moment of respite, Baraa's little brother is allowed out to play with his friends in the courtyard. Our cameraman asks why he isn't playing in the street. He knows the sound by heart. His cue to run to what safety there is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: CNN reached out to U.S. arms manufacturers Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin referred us back to the Department of Defense, and Raytheon has not yet responded to our request for comment. Poppy and Jim?

HARLOW: Just hearing that little boy, Nima.

SCIUTTO: Heart breaking.

HARLOW: You know, that that is the sound that he knows and knows what to run from, it is heartbreaking. I mean, I know that you have been trying to get a response from the Saudi government because it's the Saudis that lead this coalition. What are they telling you?

ELBAGIR: Well, we just heard from the Saudis before we came to air. One of the last incidents that we were able to verify, the one that we opened the piece with, that horrifying footage of the two little babies being brought out of the rubble. We handed all of that over to the Saudis, in addition to all of other evidence, and they have now come back and said that they do acknowledge wrongdoing. They acknowledge that that incident that you can see now on air, that was a mistake, and they admit that there were civilian casualties in that. Which is -- is excellent that they're able to admit it and they're able to do their assessment so quickly, but it's still incredibly heartbreaking that it took us having to refer it to them for them to be able to come forward, and it also puts another question mark next to the speed with which the State Department were willing to say that they are happy with the targeting procedures in place by the Saudi-led coalition.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it's hard to deny it when you see the babies' bodies brought out of the rubble after the strike.

HARLOW: You can't.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Nima, if -- I would just say, if it weren't for you, I think Jim and I both feel like if it weren't for you and your team on the ground consistently doing this reporting, no one would be seeing this. Som thank you from all of us.

SCIUTTO: Agreed. Nima, thanks very much.

Developing this morning also in the region, Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military plane over the Mediterranean Sea. And is now, we have Russia blaming Israel for that. 15 Russian servicemen were killed in this strike. A U.S. official says Syrians were trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles when the Russian aircraft was inadvertently hit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called it, quote, "a chain of tragic circumstances" and said Russia should consider additional security for its servicemen. Keep in mind, of course, Russia and Syria are allies in that conflict.

HARLOW: In all of this.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, as legal troubles mount for the president, a new report suggests his legal team might not have all the facts, including some crucial facts from the president himself.

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[10:43:41] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

The decision by President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to spare himself a second trial at the hands of the special counsel and potentially cooperate against the president is at best a complication for a legal team already swamped with complications.

HARLOW: That's right. "The New York Times" this morning, some fascinating reporting, is reporting that the president's lawyers fear that they're working at least in part somewhat in the dark, that his attorneys don't even know what Mueller's team was told by White House officials that they interviewed. "What's more," the "Times" says is, "it is not clear if Mr. Trump has given his lawyers a full account of some key events in which he has been involved as president or during his decades running the Trump Organization."

Dana Bash is with us for more.

SCIUTTO: Dana, you have been in touch with the president's lawyers for some time. And I'm curious if that is a frustration that they have expressed to you, or at least a question. Is the president being fully transparent with his own lawyers?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: To be honest, I have not heard that. I have heard a lot of complaints about the process while the first legal team was in place. But not so much specifically about the president not being forthcoming. If anything, people like Rudy Giuliani, for example, who boasts about a real relationship that he has had with the president for decades, insists that he does feel comfortable and confident that the president has told him everything. But we'll see.

[10:45:15] I mean, there's a wide range of players and people in the president's legal team. And most of them don't have that long relationship with the president. But I think the key is, more broadly, how in the dark the president's team is. And that is something that we have been seeing time and time again, not so much necessarily with the president, but with the whole process.

There have been dozens of administration officials, even more so when you're talking about the formers, who have gone before Robert Mueller, and by definition, you can't start probing them. That's how the president has gotten into trouble, potential trouble before, by saying what did you talk about? You can't do that. That's witness tampering.

And so, the combination of that and Robert Mueller's team being very opaque and not being responsive -

HARLOW: Right.

BASH: -- and haven't responded even in the past week to something even as basic as an interview does mean that they're operating with not a lot of information. HARLOW: Manafort's plea, Dana, brings the number to four in terms of close associates of the president who have agreed to cooperate, right? And that is important. This is not one, not two, this is four. And Steve Bannon is quoted in this "Times" piece as saying that the president, quote, "finds himself in a legal mess today because of what Steve Bannon calls his former lawyers' incompetence."

I mean, is there a sense, you talk to Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer now, quite often and get reporting from him. Is there a sense this whole thing, I mean, he says he would have done it differently. What is your read from your conversations with Giuliani and how do they agree with this assessment by Steve Bannon?

BASH: It's not just Giuliani. I mean, you talk to many people in and around the president now.

And look, to be fair to John Dowd, hindsight is 20/20. He did feel back when the Mueller investigation started that he had a good relationship with Mueller. That he got the sense from Mueller explicitly and from Mueller's deputies that this would be -- that this would move faster if the Trump White House complied. And boy, did they.

I mean, it really was to be fair to the Trump team, they gave the Mueller team everything that they wanted and then some in terms of documents and interviews. And didn't invoke executive privilege, which they could have done. And yes, there is a lot of shoulda, woulda, coulda going on and has been for some time, but that was the wrong approach because it has not ended quickly. It has dragged out, and it is potentially allowed the Mueller team to go in directions that they couldn't have otherwise gone.

I will say that Giuliani sent me a text saying that when he told the "Times" that he would have done things differently, which by the way he said to me and others before, he wanted to emphasize that he didn't mean basically that these are my words and not his, to you know talk about Dowd as being a terrible lawyer. He said that they put the current team in a good position to resist a subpoena. So, I just wanted to add that.

SCIUTTO: Dana, let me ask you this, though. Have the president's lawyers told you that they have advised the president against what's been a consistent pattern of his, certainly making a whole host of public comments about the DOJ, about the investigation. You have the declassification of documents now, in an ongoing investigation in which the president is involved. Have they told you that they have told the president back off from that because we know that Robert Mueller is looking at the president's public statements as part of his investigation into obstruction of justice?

BASH: The whole reason you have this new strategy from the president's legal team, in particular, Rudy Giuliani and to a lesser extent, Jay Sekulow, also a presidential attorney, going on television and being as aggressive as they are, is to prevent the president himself from doing it. That's a very big reason why, and it's for the reason you point out, Jim. They don't want him to get himself in any more trouble than he potentially is.

SCIUTTO: Certainly, hasn't stopped the president's public comments about the investigation, though. Dana Bash, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still to come, it was a star-studded night at the Emmy Awards, as TV's best were honored. But there was one moment that many are talking about. We're going to talk about that next.

HARLOW: The proposal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:53:55] SCIUTTO: HBO, Amazon and Netflix grabbed a lion's share of the awards during the 70th Annual Emmy Awards last night.

HARLOW: Did you watch?

SCIUTTO: I didn't.

HARLOW: I was sleeping. All three networks were upstaged by this very sweet moment last night on stage. Stephanie Elam joins us now. Steph, this was so great.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was awesome. Jim and Poppy, like you could tell that this was one of those genuine moments within the telecast. If you take a look, what you have here is the director of the Oscars who won, who has won several times, Glenn Weiss. He's won. So, he took the opportunity to have a very sentimental moment. Take a look at what happened on stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN WEISS, DIRECTOR: You wonder why I don't like to call you my girlfriend. Because I want to call you my wife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: Look at that. You see her hands shaking. She was clearly surprised. Did not expect that to happen. She said yes. Also, Glenn Weiss talking about how he just lost his mom just two weeks ago. And that she would have been so happy for this moment here. So, all around, just completely an emotional moment.

[10:55:02] And definitely the highlight of the show. That was pretty safe. This definitely was the moment that everyone was into. Folks were standing up. Actors were crying in the seats. Everyone was feeling this one.

SCIUTTO: Now, he's just shamed all of us guys.

HARLOW: What are you, going to - re-propose to Gloria?

SCIUTTO: No, but --

HARLOW: He's great.

ELAM: He kind of did a little mike drop there.

HARLOW: Boom. Thank you. And Leslie Jones' reaction, priceless. Appreciate it, Steph. Thank you so much.

Still ahead, confirmation turmoil. We're on top of all the breaking news on the nomination for the potentially the next Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Stay with us.

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