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Inter-Korean Summit Begins in Pyongyang; Russia Turkey Announce Idlib Demilitarized Zone; At Least 32 People Dead As Storm Heads North; Trump Announces New Tariffs on Chinese Imports; Typhoon Mangkhut; U.S. Supreme Court Battle. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, all hugs and smiles as South Korea's president arrives in Pyongyang, the first time in more than a decade a South Korean president has traveled North.

Now comes the hard part, providing stalled talks and formally ending a decades-long war.

Also ahead, a he said/she said that just may tip the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court. Nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault prepare for a high-stakes public showdown.

The storm has passed but the worst may still be to come. Floodwaters continue to rise in many parts impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A.

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VAUSE: This hour, leaders in North and South Korea are meeting in Pyongyang, the fragile relationship between the U.S. and the North is at stake. There was pomp and circumstance as South Korean president Moon Jae-in arrived in the North Korean capital.

Kim Jong-un was there to greet Mr. Moon underscoring the importance of the summit. South Korea's president is acting as mediator between Pyongyang and Washington, hoping to revive their stalled nuclear negotiations as well as working toward a formal end to the Korean civil war.

CNN's Paula Hancocks following all these developments from Seoul.

So, Paula, here's our President Moon, described his role as chief negotiator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm willing to talk candidly with Kim Jong-un to find a balance between the U.S. demands for denuclearization and North Korea's request for dropping hostile policies and enforcing measures to secure their safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So essentially what we have is both sides here, Washington and Pyongyang, need to talk specifics which is something they avoid like the plague.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're looking for some kind of bold action by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. President Moon says he wants the same, matching measures from the U.S. president as well. Really we're seeing here a tricking balancing act for the South Korean president.

This a very high-stakes three-day summit for him. He has to come back with some kind of agreement or action by the North Koreans so that the U.S. will be willing to move forward with really this stalemate that we're seeing at this point.

So Mr. Moon is in a familiar position. This is what he's done for months, trying to negotiate between Washington and Pyongyang to bring the two positions closer together.

The fact is that the two positions are fairly far apart. You have North Korea, who says they made concessions and believe they have made enough concessions for a quid pro quo. They want a step by step denuclearization and to be rewarded along the way.

Washington, on the other hand, wants complete denuclearization and then they will give the concessions and the potential lifting of sanctions, declaration of the end of the Korean War.

This is the position the South Korean president is in right now, trying to figure out how to bring U.S. and North Korea closer together. From a personal point of view, he wants to make sure there's no military tension. He wants to lessen the chances in the future of any military sparks.

It will be an very important meeting in about 2.5 hours, when the official summit begins. The two leaders will sit down then and that's when the hard work begins.

VAUSE: Caught between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un as chief negotiator, that is a difficult place to be. Paula, thank you.

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VAUSE: For more now, Paul Carroll joins us, a senior advisor at N Square Group, committed to reducing the risks of nuclear weapons.

OK. So Paul, on the surface, it seems, a peace declaration for a war which ended what,70 years ago -- maybe 70 years ago? That doesn't seem like a big ask but there are potential implications

here of what it could mean for American forces on the Korean Peninsula.

PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISOR, N SQUARE GROUP: Well, thanks for having me, John. You're right. I mean, in reality for the United States simply to declare the war over, would be a rhetorical gesture but it would be a significant one.

And you have to keep in mind that it's not simply a war between North and South Korea or even a war between South Korea, the United States and North Korea. That it was a U.N. police action that last for three years; there was multiple parties.

So it's one thing to declare hostilities over, it's another to have a formalized peace regime and declaration that something --

[00:05:00]

CARROLL: -- the North has always wanted.

And as Paula mentioned, this is quite a big deal. Quite a big deal for the North and the south. President Trump may cavalierly say, well, sure we can do that but he has to be aware of the implications of doing something in a formal sense.

VAUSE: And we're looking at live pictures there. I think we're calling it Seoul, we should be calling in Pyongyang. We can see the two leaders there in that limousine being driven through streets.

So Paul, you know, we're talking about some kind of declaration which will have symbolic value but no relevance to the U.S. forces in the region. That's coming from the South Koreans.

Is that likely to be enough for Kim Jong-un?

CARROLL: Well, I feel like Kim Jong-un is having his cake and eating it, too. He got a summit with the U.S. president in June that many people criticize and I would be among them.

It gave him legitimacy, it gave him equal footing on the world stage and what did the United States come away with -- a declaration that is quite thin on details and really it was just aspirational. The first two elements of that statement had to do with piece regime in an architecture of security on the Peninsula.

So that may not seem like much but third on the list was this aspiration of someday working towards denuclearization of the peninsula, not the North giving up their weapons but broader architecture of nuclear security.

So these phrases and these nuances matter a lot. For the U.S. and for the South Koreans to write down in pen and ink, a formal end to the Korean War would be a huge win for the North and huge loss, frankly, for the U.S.

VAUSE: OK. So with the nuance involved, listen to President Trump at a campaign rally earlier this month.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just came on stage and I was told that Kim Jong-un said some terrific things about me. He said, I have faith in President Trump. Think if this, you don't hear that from them.

And just moments ago, they put on -- they put on that he said, very strongly, that we want to denuclearize North Korea during President Trump's tenure. That's a nice -- he just said it. Just said it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: But according to the New York Times, what the president left out was this clause, "... but only if Washington take simultaneous reciprocal actions, starting with an end-of-war declaration, according to South Korean envoys who met recently with Mr. Kim."

Is this the problem here?

Donald Trump hears what he wants to hear. Others within the administration are much more realistic, much more concerned about the sincerity of the North Koreans.

CARROLL: It's certainly a big part of the problem. I wouldn't say it's the only problem. I think the administration, the U.S. administration is learning the, the realities of the complexity of this process. The same mistakes that happened in the past and some held their breath and thought, well, maybe this will be different.

As much as President Trump is a wild card, maybe going big right out of the gate could loosen things up.

Well, now, we're finding that going big meaning, promising or indicating that you would promise a peace regime in response for denuclearization.

Now we're getting bogged down in details and nuances, Secretary of State Pompeo's trip was canceled abruptly in August. It is an ego game with respect to President Trump and Kim Jong-un and his people to know that.

VAUSE: Sorry. Continue. Sorry, mate. Finish your thought.

CARROLL: Just going to say, so beyond the realities and the complexities of the step-by-step processes and verification, there is, frankly, the personality of the U.S. president.

VAUSE: OK. So -- this is a concern that many have and was expressed by the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham over the weekend.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Are they playing us? I don't know. If they're playing Trump, we're in a world of hurt

because he's going to have no options left. This is the last best chance for peace right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So are we at the point now where the outcome of these talks between Moon and Kim Jong-un will reveal just how serious the North Koreans are and if they're playing the president?

CARROLL: I'm hopeful about the inter-Korean summit. I think President Moon understands how tricky a position he is. He's walking a tightrope. He needs to help grease the skids and recover and restore the broader dialogue that includes the nuclear program.

But he also can't be seen as getting too close too fast to the North while also distancing himself from the U.S. He also -- his own political capital and sort of, you know, CYA to take care of. His polling is down. And so, this is something that he ran on in the campaign. It's about his own political capital --

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CARROLL: -- and legacy.

And meanwhile, you know, for those keeping score at home, what Kim Jong-un has succeeded in achieving is more time on the clock, no real limits on his nuclear and missile program, the intelligence that we have seen public and otherwise is that they're churning away, they're just being quiet about it.

Meanwhile, it gives them space to develop their economy and gain even more legitimacy on the world stage. So at the moment, things are going Kim Jong-un's way and President Moon is doing the best he can to bring things back into the fold and let's keep our eye on the nukes.

VAUSE: And with the economy in mind, there's a, you know, host of business leaders in Pyongyang with President Moon on this trip as well, to trying and woo Kim Jong-un economically, from that point of view. So Paul, thank you. Appreciate you being with us.

CARROLL: My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: The U.S. president is escalating his trade war with China, announcing new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to take effect in one week.

For more now, live to Beijing. Matt Rivers is there.

Matt, if we look at the new tariffs, Beijing has already warned it will cut off all trade talks if the U.S. went ahead and imposed them. Not only are they new tariffs but they automatically increase from 10 to 25 percent by the year's end.

Where is the off ramp here?

Is this a case of who blinks first?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If people weren't willing to call this a trade war before, you can certainly call it one now; $200 billion in additional tariffs will mean the United States will have put tariffs on nearly half of all Chinese imports to the U.S.

It is a massive escalation by the U.S. president. You can expect the Chinese side to retaliate. The off ramp would have been negotiations, continues to be negotiations. There was an invitation extended from the U.S. side just last week to the Chinese side to say, let's get together for another round of negotiations led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

But the commerce minister here in Beijing said last week, they don't operate under threats of blackmail. So those negotiations, while not formally canceled yet, I would extremely surprised if the Chinese envoy went to the United States as planned for later this month.

It would be a big surprise.

So if those don't happen, where is the off ramp?

Like you say, is it a who blinks first situation?

Yes, it is. And if neither side blinks, you could very quickly get to the point where both economies will be severely affected. And what you hear from economists all the time is that nobody wins in a trade war.

Whether the president of the U.S. believes that or the president of China believes that, we don't know. But it certainly seems, the way things are going, this is going to get worse.

VAUSE: Time is short and it keeps ratcheting up day by day.

Thanks, Matt, Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing.

There is a new agreement between Russia and Turkey which will see their troops join the demilitarized zone and the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Russian president Vladimir Putin announced the plan for Idlib on Monday.

Essentially it delays an planned Syrian government offensive to retake that province but, as Matthew Chance reports, the agreement is short on specifics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is a diplomatic agreement that could well postpone if not avert a full-scale military assault on Idlib, the last Syrian province, of course, that is in rebel hands. Russia and its Syrian government allies have been building up military forces in preparation for a potential attack on Idlib, home to about three million people prompting international concerns of a humanitarian disaster.

Turkey, which already hosts 3.5 million refugees from the conflict in Syria, fears an attack on Idlib could push even more people across its borders and it's been using its close diplomatic relationship with Russia to push for an alternative to military action, something that now appears to have been agreed between the Turkish and Russian presidents.

Take a listen.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): During our meeting, we examined in detail the situation and decided to create along the line of contact by the 15th of October, a demilitarized zone of 15 to 20 kilometers long. And to make sure that the militants will be removed including Jabhat al-Nusra.

By the 15th of October, on the proposal of the Turkish president, all heavy equipment, tanks and ground to air missiles and mortars of all opposition groups will be removed and the demilitarized zone will be patrolled by mobile Turkish units and Russian military police.

CHANCE: For the Turkish president, he says that plan will prevent a humanitarian crisis.

But the detail of how it is going to work, just isn't clear how rebel factions inside Idlib, for instance, can be persuaded to give up their weapons in just the next few weeks.

Russia's foreign minister has called Idlib a hotbed of terrorists that need to be liquidated. But the Russian defense ministry now says that a --

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CHANCE: -- military assault on Idlib is no longer on the agenda -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thank you, Matthew, for the report.

Coming up here, Donald Trump's choice for the U.S. Supreme Court has hit a potential snag. (INAUDIBLE) from a woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. More on that when we come back.

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VAUSE: In the Philippines, the search is on for anyone who may have survived a huge landslide. Typhoon Mangkhut hit the Philippines hard on Saturday, killing at least 63 people and dozens are missing believed trapped in the landslides that were triggered by the typhoon. Alexandra Field is live this hour and has the very latest.

Alexandra, do we know how many people are missing, how close they are to getting toward the survivors?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, if you take a look, you could see exactly where the devastation started. It is at the top of the hilltop, you could see where the wind washed away, that landslide coming down after the supertyphoon hit.

We know dozens of miners who were working here and their families were trapped. They took shelter during the storm and hadn't taken shelter in the right place. Look behind me. See the houses over there. We're told the families lived in similar structures but they evacuated in advance of the storm further down the hillside to something that has been described as a large bunkhouse.

And that's where dozens of people were riding out this storm together. I'm out here now with the special rescue unit. They've been here for the last three days, trying to find some of the dozens of people who were reported missing. They say they can barely see a sign of the bunkhouse.

This is careful work. They can't bring in heavy machinery. They say most of that house buried and you can see just a small corner of it essentially. They're doing this work with shovels and crowbars. It has been labor intensive and difficult and grueling work.

So far they found 14 bodies. Some of them inside the house that was buried by the mud and other bodies thrown from the house during the course of the landslide. They say this is work that could go on for weeks, if not months.

A lot of people gathered here, not just the huge rescue group. There's a number of family members we have seen and they're set up at a staging ground a little bit farther down the road from here.

That's where medical workers are on hand, in case they find survivors at this point. Certainly that's the hope that we're talking about here. And hopes have faded --

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FIELD: -- for some, although, of course, if it is your loved one down there, you're hanging on to every bit of hope. Once they have located bodies, they have had to go through the difficult process of assigning a team of six rescuers to carry the bodies up the hill.

It is about a two-hour hike, given the conditions out here. Now at this point they have devised a rope system and they're able to pull some of the bodies up and then bring them toward the spot where family members are waiting for any news.

The rescue workers certainly not giving up on this, doing their job and listening for any sounds they could hear and doing this slow work by hand in difficult conditions.

VAUSE: Alexandra, thank you. Alexandra Field live there with the very latest on that search and rescue mission in the Philippines.

The woman who accuses the U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault three decades ago will have her chance to tell her story to the American public. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh will testify before a Senate committee this coming Monday.

Ford says back in high school, Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. He spent the day at the White House working on a strategy to try and save his Supreme Court nomination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I wish the Democrats could have done this a lot sooner. They had the information for many months. I have great confidence in the U.S. Senate and in their procedures and what they're saying. I think this is probably what they're going to do. They'll go through a process and hear everybody out. I think it is important. I believe they think it is important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining me now from London, Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman; here in Los Angeles, Republican commentator DeAnna Lorraine and CNN's legal analyst and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin.

So there's a question about why, you know, the allegations have come out now. The timing is an issue. Here's how "The Washington Post" reporter, who broke the story, explained why Professor Ford has come forward at this point in time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her calculation shifted because she felt like her privacy was already being invaded and she still had this thing in her that wanted people to know what had happened to her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Deanna, first to you. This is a woman that decided it is out there now. She may as well follow through and go public with it.

Is that explanation good enough?

DEANNA LORRAINE, REPUBLICAN COMMENTATOR: I don't really think. I'm not buying it. She had 35 years to come forward with a phone call, a text, setting up a meeting. There's 100 things she could have done. She could have pressed charges earlier. He's been a judge for decades.

Why is it coming out now?

It's awfully convenient and we're right around the corner from midterms and about to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

Why now?

I'm not buying the story and it reeks of Hail Mary, a desperate plea from Democrats. And I think it is pretty shameful.

VAUSE: Areva, from a standpoint of credibility, does the timing matter here?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely not. And statements like that are right out of the playbook of 27-30 years ago. I've been litigating these kinds of cases for decades.

And what we've seen over the course of the last several months with the #MeToo movement is that, for the first time women are being believed. And there's so much scientific evidence, so much, you know, credibility that has been given to -- to victims about why they tell their stories, when they tell their stories.

And we are in no position to judge Dr. Ford as it relates to when and how she tells her story. The fact is she has told her story. We're talking about a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. A week or two weeks' delay is not going to be all that important when you think, in the scheme of things, how important the appointment is.

VAUSE: Ford wrote to Democrat Senator Feinstein when Kavanaugh was on the short list of those that the president was thinking of nominating for the Supreme Court. She went into a lot of details in that letter about what happened. Here's part of it.

"They both laughed as Kavanaugh and the two men in the room tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh's hand over my mouth, I feared he may inadvertently kill me."

She also told a therapist about the attack a few years ago. She passed a lie detector test.

Caroline, you're a Democratic strategist but also an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Those details that we're hearing and everything else, how much credibility does that add to her claim?

But other concerns that Ford hasn't actually been able to recall when and precisely where the attack happened and she didn't write anything about it at the time.

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it is actually quite typical for survivors to respond the way she has. Most survivors never come forward, over 70 percent never come forward.

Often when they do come forward, it is many decades later and the ability to recall details comes back over time. But in this case, she actually has remarkable recall of the details of the incident, which she recounted six years ago --

[00:25:00] HELDMAN: -- to a therapist. So that adds some -- lends credibility to her claim as well as the fact that she's passed a polygraph test. But I think that we -- it is very difficult for us in this culture, which I would typify as a rape culture, one that doesn't really believe women when they come forward, I think it's really hard for people to process why a survivor might wait.

But if you're questioning why it is a woman who was sexually assaulted wouldn't want to come forward, just look at comments that have been made on the show this evening by the Republican strategist.

Just look at how Republicans are treating her. She wanted to avoid another Anita Hill situation. And in Anita Hill's case, two other women came forward over the years. So we know there's at least one sexual predator on the court. The question is whether or not the Republicans will put a second sexual predator on the court.

VAUSE: There was a very measured response on Monday, very much on message from the White House, despite apparently the president privately fuming about all of this. Here's the senior aide, Kellyanne Conway.

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KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: She should not be ignored. She should not be ignored. She should testify under oath on Capitol Hill. But that's up to the Senate Judiciary Committee. They need to decide the forum. And Judge Kavanaugh should also testify as to the 36-year-old allegation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: She should not be mocked. She should not be ignored. That is, of course, a day after the president's son, don Jr. appeared to mock Christine Ford on Instagram with this post, which was written in crayons.

"Dear Cindy, will you be my girlfriend, yes, no, love, Brett."

DeAnna, given the Instagram post and Don Jr., given the president's past when it comes to allegations of sexual assault, how seriously can you take Donald Trump when he says we just want the process to play out, we want everyone to be happy with getting all of the facts out there?

LORRAINE: I think if he said anything less than that, then we would accuse him of hiding something, right?

And making a mountain out of a molehill.

What is he hiding?

The fact is who do we believe?

There's many women that said -- that you know, Kavanaugh is -- is a schoolboy. That he is so -- such a whistle clean record, a boy scout. Never done anything wrong. Full of integrity and honesty.

Are we to believe a woman that came out of the woodwork after 36 years over these women that know him. Some have dated him in high school. If we talk about believing a woman and credibility who do we choose to believe?

What women do we believe?

The whole thing stinks of a Hail Mary where the timing really is important here. The timing is important and I think that shouldn't be understated.

VAUSE: Areva, when it comes to this, this hearing is more like a trial. It will be a he said/she said and back and forth.

How do you determine credibility?

MARTIN: First of all, John, it shouldn't be a he said/she said. If the president was really serious about the statement he made, there's something he could do that he refuses to do or hasn't done to date, that's to direct the FBI to conduct an investigation.

There's no way that allegations this serious should be played out on national television. If someone went to law enforcement and reported an attempted rape, there would be an extensive investigation by trained professionals, who are accustomed to investigating these kinds of charges.

What we have on the GOP side of the Senate are 11 white men, none of whom have any experience or expertise in investigating attempted rape claims. We have Senator Hatch today, saying maybe she's mistaken.

Again, right out of the playbook of blame the victim, undermine the credibility of the victim. He's going to be a final arbiter when he's already stated pretty much how he believes and what his thoughts are.

And that's unfair process. The process starts off being unfair because we don't have a thorough investigation by trained professionals and we have someone sitting in judgment that has already made a determination. He doesn't know this woman.

Let me say this to DeAnna's point, those 55 women, none of them were in that room. So their statements about Kavanaugh --

(CROSSTALK)

LORRAINE: I had guys pull my hair in 4th grade.

(CROSSTALK)

LORRAINE: This is -- how far back do we go though?

Is it a traffic ticket that someone is not allowed to be confirmed?

MARTIN: Now we're comparing it to a traffic ticket?

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Come back next hour, come back next hour.

Caroline, for many conservatives, this is all part of a, you know, a big conspiracy basically to derail Kavanaugh's appointment. Here's how Rush Limbaugh put it on Monday on his talk radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: If this woman did not want this taken further, the Democrats are betraying her and I don't think they are. I think she's part of a cabal doing everything they can to stop Kavanaugh or if not to stop him cast such a cloud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: We have 30 seconds, Caroline.

So what is the likelihood she made it all up?

HELDMAN: The likelihood she made it up, according to the FBI and general statistics is 2 to 8 percent. But in her particular case, she took a lie detector test.

[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: OK. We have 30 seconds, Caroline. So, what is the likelihood that she made it all up?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: The likelihood that she made it up according to the FBI, of general statistics, is two to eight percent. But in her particular case, she's taken a lie detector test, and of the 65 women who came forward to support Brett Kavanaugh, only two of them still backed up their claim that he was a good guy.

But if I -- if somebody murders somebody, you can find 100 people to say that person's a good guy. It happened. That does not discredit the survivor. And so, in this particular case, this is (INAUDIBLE) this is an issue of a woman coming forward and telling the truth.

And unfortunately, for the Republicans, it's another sexual predator just like Roy Moore and just like the man in the White House with 22 allegations of rape.

VAUSE: OK. Next hour, we'll get into it a lot more. I'd like to thank you all. We're going to take a very short break. Thank you. We will come back in a moment. We'll deal with the flood waters still rising in North and South Carolina with warnings, the worst may still be to come.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. South Korean President, Moon Jae-in is in Pyongyang, to talk with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Mr. Moon's goal on all of this, irreversible, permanent and unwavering peace, he's acting as a chief negotiator between the North and the U.S., which will denuclearize Korean Peninsula.

And the U.S. President, ramping up his trade war with China, announcing new tariffs to go into effect on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. The new 10 percent tariff begins next Tuesday, then, jumps to 25 percent in January. Beijing has promised retaliation.

The president of Russia and Turkey, have agreed to a demilitarized zone around Syria's last rebel held stronghold. The plan calls for the opposition to withdraw of heavy weapons, tanks, rockets, mortars, by next month. Russia's defense minister says now, there will be no offensive to retake Idlib.

Pope Francis has defrocked one of Chile's most prominent priests, the Reverend Cristian Precht Banados, over allegations of sexual abuse. Precht is regarded by many Chileans as a hero, for standing up for human rights during the dictatorship of Pinochet.

Remnants of Hurricane Florence are now moving up the U.S. East Coast, but for North and South Carolina, the worst may still be to come. Rivers are rising to record levels, a dam has burst. Hundreds are trapped by the flood waters. An entire city is cut off with no way in or out.

The death toll has risen to 32, including one person in Virginia, killed, when Florence (INAUDIBLE) several tornadoes.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has more now, reporting in, from North Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deadly and deep, flood waters are rushing to the Carolinas as days of rainfall break 140 year records in some places, deaths, continuing to mount, including 1-year-old, Kaiden Lee-Welch, whose body was found this morning.

[00:35:14] Police say the baby was swept out of his mother's arms as she tried to pass through fast moving waters, Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a stranger to this community, driving through this road, she did not know the water forced her off the road and across an open field.

SANDOVAL: There are on-going rescue efforts across the region as water levels continue to rise. The Lumber River outside of Wilmington invaded many neighborhoods, still not yet recovered after Hurricane Matthew, two years ago.

Images shot by CNN showed the devastation at ground level. Dozens who thought they had survived the worst of Hurricane Florence, now suddenly reliant on rescue workers as they leave their homes behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people have been praying for a while. Some people -- some people are crying and some people are just like, thank you, Lord, you know.

Teams searching for survivors and submerged trucks, and hovering above flooded homes to airlift citizens to safety. This woman was stranded in her house for days without medication. One Myrtle Beach official tells CNN, "We are slowly becoming an island." Some citizens try to make their way through flooded roadways by car and even canoe.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: They're saying 500-year flood levels. This is not a matter of hours and days, it's a matter of weeks and months and maybe years to fully recover from the storm.

SANDOVAL: Flood watches and warnings have now expanded to include 10 states, and early 30 million people all looking at the Carolinas for signs of what may be coming next.

COOPER: Some areas have not seen the worst flooding yet. So, this is a monumental disaster for our state.

SANDOVAL: Both mandatory and voluntary evacuation still remained in place through various cities both in North and South Carolina. Though, Mother Nature is responsible for all of this, the weather is certainly allowing rescuers to get the upper hand with finally a break in the clouds, for the first time, in several days.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Lumberton, North Carolina.

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VAUSE: Cynthia de la Torre is with the Red Cross. She joins us from Columbia in South Carolina. Cynthia, thanks for taking the time, when you look at the forecast out there, there's a prediction of what, another two to five inches of rain just for North Carolina and then you've got all that water gushing downstream.

So, if you look at the calculation here, the time frame, how long is the Red Cross preparing to stay in the region? Have you got any idea when you think the worst of this might be over?

CYNTHIA DE LA TORRE, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, RED CROSS: Well, the Red Cross is definitely here to stay until, you know, we're no longer needed. We're here, you know, before -- we're here during, and we're here definitely.

There's about -- or over 15,000 people still in shelters in North Carolina and South Carolina, we have about 150 shelters throughout the region with 3,000 disaster workers from all over the country who have been deployed.

We're helping with you know, hot meals, you know, comfort kits, cots, blankets or just, you know, a shoulder to lean on. There are a lot of people who have left their homes and their belongings behind. And who just really -- you know, need somebody to talk to. It's a very difficult situation, emotionally, as well.

VAUSE: Yes. Some people have just lost everything and clearly not being able to get back home to know what the fate of their home might be, is incredibly difficult to deal with.

But I was reading -- the last time I checked, the Red Cross has sent in enough supplies and temporary shelter for about a hundred thousand people. How does that compare to other similar natural disasters and what are the chances that you'll have to, you know, send in more supplies because more will be in need?

DE LA TORRE: Well, we're definitely planning for, you know, more supplies to come in. It has been difficult with the road closures because of the flooding. So we have partnered with the National Guard to try and get us to different places because, you know, like I said, it has been difficult to get supplies due to, you know, road closures.

You know, there's power outages, over half million people have no power still. So, you know, what we're trying to do is try to provide them with shelter, hot meals, we've got a partner that we're working with, Southern Baptist Church, that, you know, we're going out and we're deploying field kitchens to, you know, give and provide meals to different communities out there.

So, very important to just, you know, shelter people, keep people fed and definitely try and comfort them when it is necessary.

VAUSE: For all of these people who are currently in need, what would you say is their greatest requirement? What do they need the most right now?

DE LA TORRE: Well, you know, right now, we definitely need, you know, assistance as far as, you know, donations, blood donations, a lot of blood drives have been cancelled, over 200 blood drives have been cancelled in the area due to, you know, the weather conditions.

[00:40:14] So, we do urge people, you know, that haven't been affected by Hurricane Florence to, you know, give blood. Call 1-800 Red Cross, and, you know, set an appointment, give blood and of course, you know, financial assistance is needed and will be needed with the recovery, as well.

You know, you can text, you know, the word, Florence to 90999, you know, for $10-dollar donation. Anything, you know, blood or financial, you know, donations is definitely appreciated as we help the residents here, recover.

VAUSE: Cynthia, thank you so much for the update. We appreciate it. And, you know, I guess so many people are thankful for the work that you're doing. Thanks for being with us.

DE LA TORRE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break here on NEWSROOM L.A. When we come back, there is a lesson on how to survive these floods. You've got to stick together, take a look at the ants, back in a moment.

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VAUSE: Someone said we're stronger together than apart. And that has been taken quite literally in this flood zone, especially by the ants. Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Floating in the flood waters, it looks like nondescript vegetation until you notice it's moving, yuck, yikes, ant islands. Reporters covering the storm are tweeting images of islands of red ants, the kind that sting, and expert Adrian Smith lets them sting him after they first probe for a promising spot.

ADRIAN SMITH, HEAD OF THE EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR LAB: Look right here, between the mandibles, you could see her extend her mouth, part of her tongue, basically, and actually lick my finger.

MOOS: Before inserting her stinger with its drop of venom. Fantasy Island, it's not.

SMITH: As the water level rises, the ants cling to each other, forming a living raft.

MOOS: Their bodies are waxy, water-resistant. They take turns being tops and bottoms and look how tough their raft is, tweeted one admirer, it is strangely heart-warming to see a species that sticks together in hard times. But not everyone's heart was warmed, thank you for a week of nightmares. OK. It could be worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So hideous. There is no way to describe them.

MOOS: These may be smaller than them, but they're way more of them. Imagine these ants in your pants. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well (INAUDIBLE) whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" starts after the break.

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