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Kavanaugh and Accuser to Testify In Senate; New Tariffs On Chinese Imports; U.S. Slashing Refugee Admissions Cap To 30K From 45K; Russia Turkey Announce Idlib Demilitarized Zone; U.S. Supreme Court Battle; South Korean President in Pyongyang for Talks; Florence Persists on U.S. East Coast. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Public hearing: Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser to speak in front of the world and under oath about the sexual assault allegation threatening to derail his Supreme Court nomination.

The waters and the death toll rising in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and now a tornado outbreak on the heels of the monster storm.

Plus a third inter-Korean summit. South Korea's president meets Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, trying to revive stalled nuclear talks.

Welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and from all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: The American public will soon get to hear directly from the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than three decades ago. The U.S. Supreme Court nominee and Christine Blasey Ford will testify before a Senate committee Monday.

Ford says back in high school a drunken Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

President Trump is coming to Kavanaugh's defense. On Monday, he called the judge one of the finest people he's ever known. But he said he's open to a delay in order to keep the process going and eventually getting Kavanaugh confirmed.

Democrats are calling for a more thorough investigation of Ford's claims. CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brett Kavanaugh stepped into the White House Monday morning amid a swirl of uncertainty. Kavanaugh offering to tell lawmakers his side of the story as his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said she'll testify too.

Kavanaugh released this statement, "This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who is making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.

"I'm willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation from 36 years ago and defend my integrity."

But the lawyer for Kavanaugh's accuser says her client's story will stand up.


DEBRA KATZ, LAWYER FOR KAVANAUGH ACCUSER: She's telling the truth. She took a polygraph. She mentioned this to her -- in her therapy sessions in 2012. She came forward before this nominee was nominated.


SCHNEIDER: Now all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling for the vote on Kavanaugh, currently scheduled for Thursday, to be delayed.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILL., DEMOCRATIC WHIP: Chuck Grassley, the Senate Republicans and others have to make sure the American people believe that everyone is being treated fairly. Rushing this through is not treating someone fairly.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Key Republican senator Susan Collins pushed for more public testimony, tweeting, "Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee."

But chairman Chuck Grassley hasn't promised more hearings, only saying, "Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has deserves to be heard. So I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented (ph) and respectful manner."

Blasey Ford told "The Washington Post" about the alleged attack when and Kavanaugh were in high school.

In her letter, said, "Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom and tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh's hand over my mouth, I feared he may inadvertently kill me."

Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh's friend, Mark Judge, was also in the room. Judge has denied the incident.

But Judge has described his drunken high school days in his 1997 addition memoir, "Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk," where he could be alluding to Kavanaugh.

"Do you know Bardo Kavanaugh?"

"Yes, he's around here somewhere. I heard he puked in someone's car the other night."

"Yes, he passed out on his way back from a party."

Meanwhile Blasey Ford's attorney alleges sexual assault.

KATZ: She believes that but for his inebriation and his inability to take her clothes off, he would have raped her.

SCHNEIDER: The accuser's attorney said she struggled with whether to come friend and finally talked to "The Washington Post" after her identity became known through press reports.

We are expecting to hear from Kavanaugh's accuser at a public hearing Monday. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from both Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh at a 10:00 am hearing -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: I'm joined now by Joan Biskupic, she is a CNN Supreme Court analyst. So good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Joan, as a journalist, author and lawyer. You have covered the Supreme Court since 1989. Including the confirmation Clarence Thomas back in 1991. When Anita Hill testified. And now of course the parallels are being drawn --


CHURCH: -- between those events and the nomination hearing of Brett Kavanaugh. But there are a number of differences too. And of course this all comes in the midst of the #MeToo era. How likely it is the outcome will be any different?

BISKUPIC: I think we just don't quite know. We'll know much more once his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford has a chance to testify. And we get a chance to see what kind of witness is she. How does she present these allegations of his sexual attack that she is alleged from a time when they were teenagers in Suburban Maryland? And then how does he counter it?

You mention 1991 and I have to say that Anita Hill was quite a compelling witness. But so is Clarence Thomas and the Senators just couldn't break the difference there. And he got on the Supreme Court. By a vote of 52-48. Which for our country was the closest Supreme Court confirmation in more than a century. By I should say that he had a lot of Democratic support at the time. Eleven Democrats switched over to help him. A Republican appointee.

Right now, one key difference is that we're so polarized in a partisan way that it will be very hard I think for any Democrat to switch over. Although as I caution we don't know yet how things will unfold on Monday.

CHURCH: No, we don't. Of course, you know, as you point out that confirmation vote for Brett Kavanaugh had been set for Thursday. It has now been delayed. And now instead we are looking at this public hearing Monday. Where we will hear testimony from both Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. How will that be enough though and how will it be enough time to make a fair judgment on who is telling the truth?

BISKUPIC: That is an excellent question. And I should tell you that Senator Dianne Feinstein who is the senior Democrat on the committee has raised exactly those concerns. And said there won't be enough time. That there should be an investigation by the FBI. There should be more questioning. Beyond just these two witnesses. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley, has scheduled only two witnesses. Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.

And there are a lot of other questions swirling around this. And we'll have to see as I said how they present themselves. The kinds of questions that Senators themselves ask. And what kind of firm answers they give. There's so much to be determined. We only know both of them essentially through their public statements through others. The interview in the "Washington Post" that was just nearly 24 hours ago. That we first learned her name. And what her claim was.

CHURCH: This has moved very quickly. I mean, it was only just a matter of hours ago that they were going ahead with the votes. This is moving and galloping along very quickly. How likely could it be that the other witnesses who were at the high school party will be questioned? At some point for corroboration. Surely that needs to be done. Isn't that the only way to get to the truth of the matter? The guy Mark Judge who was there in the room with him. Apparently, he has said that he has no memory of this taking place. But there were other young people who were there in the other part of the house. There so much more that we need to learn about this. To get to the truth of the matter. Surely the Senators feel that is a requirement here.

BISKUPIC: One would think. The Democrats definitely feel that way. The Republicans just want to move it along, try to instill some confidence and key swing votes. That they will need for his confirmation. If they can get it. So they have more of a speed mentality here. Whereas the Democrats are trying to slow this. One thing we have not address, I do want to mention, because it gives the context to your -- he is nominated to a very crucial seat. To succeed Anthony Kennedy who has been a swing vote on our Supreme Court and has been the justice who has kept affirmative action and has kept abortion rights and very critical. He wrote the ruling in the same sex marriage case, back in 2015.

So, a lot is riding on this lifetime seat. So Republicans want it to happen and they want it to happen quickly. They're not getting it on Thursday. But now they're trying to schedule this hearing for Monday and hopefully from their mind have --


BISKUPIC: -- a vote pretty quickly thereafter.

But I think the Democrats feel like right now time is on their side. And even if those individuals you referred to, Mark Judge and others who might have been at the party in question. Aren't put questioned under oath, they might come forward in other news stories. There are several days until next Monday. And I think we might see further allegations.

CHURCH: Right. And it's exactly that reason when you say, you know, lifetime seat there. On the Supreme Court. It is important that the right person is in that position. That is why they do need to take the time to get to the truth of the matter. We will be watching this very closely, of course. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.


CHURCH: We will have more on the story later this hour.

To another story, a report by North Korea's state news agency said the U.S. is totally to blame for a stalemate in talks ever since the Singapore summit in June.

Right now, South Korea's president is trying to get those negotiations back on track. Moon Jae-in is on a rare visit to Pyongyang meeting with Kim Jong-un. So far all smiles between the leaders as thousands lined the roads earlier to watch the motorcade ride by.

But very soon, it's down to business; namely, trying to make progress toward denuclearization and perhaps a formal end to the Korean War.

Let's turn to Paula Hancocks, who is following the story from Seoul, South Korea. She joins us live from there.

Paula, North Korea's Kim Jong-un offered a very warm welcome to South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in when he arrived for this three-day summit. But then we see this aggressive language from North Korean state media blaming the U.S. for the stalemate in dialogue with the U.S.

How much harder does this make Moon's role as chief negotiator as he tries to bring the U.S. and North Korea closer together?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was no accident that this (INAUDIBLE) article is coming out on the same day, at the same time that President Moon is being so warmly welcomed by Kim Jong-un. There's a huge amount of pomp and ceremony.

As you say, the motorcade going through the streets of Pyongyang with both leaders hanging out of the sunroof and waving to people that are lining the routes. The fact is that we are seeing at the same time this North Korean state-run media newspaper saying that the U.S. is totally to blame for the fact that there's a stalemate in the relations. This is not something new we're hearing from North Korea. But of

course, the timing, as Moon is touching down and being the negotiator on behalf of the U.S. and North Korea, that's something you can't ignore.

From the North Korean point of view, according to this article, their issue is that the United States wants full denuclearization and then they want to talk about potential concessions or lifting of sanctions or the declaration at the end of the Korean War.

That's fairly accurate. That is what Washington said all along. They want to see the denuclearization first before they give concessions.

Of course, from the North Korean point of view they want more of a quid pro quo attitude and a step by step process. One senior advisor to Moon described this quite well. He said the U.S. is talking about presence and the North Koreans are talking about future.

It is really all down to (INAUDIBLE). What the South Korean president has to do is try to bring the positions together. It'll be a tall order. It is going to be a tricky balancing act for him. But he has said before he wanted to see a bold action, a courageous action from the North Koreans and that he could go to Washington and try an get the same from the Americans.

CHURCH: It is a very delicate operation. We'll keep an eye on that. Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul in South Korea, where she's watching this play out in Pyongyang. We will join you again next hour. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Take a short break here. Still to come, the storm that keeps going is now posing new threats. Florence has left the Carolinas but thousands in shelters could not return home because rivers are rising to record levels.

And as if devastating flooding and endless rain is not enough, what is left of Florence is bringing tornadoes as it moves north. We're back with all of that.





CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

What is left of Hurricane Florence is moving north. But it is still posing new threats. The storm brought several tornadoes to Virginia, where at least one person was killed. And the disaster in the Carolinas could get worse as rivers rise to dangerous levels.

This new video shows one of the communities now completely under water; 32 people are now confirmed dead and the historic and catastrophic flooding is expected to continue for days

Our Scott McLean has more from Conway, South Carolina.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Widespread flooding, impassable roads and bridges and entire communities under water. Florence has weakened and moved northward but the next threat is still rising.

GOVERNOR ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Some areas have not seen the worst flooding yet.

MCLEAN: The worst may still be ahead. Rivers rise, some won't crest for days. The Coast Guard and rescue teams from across the country are scrambling to help those stranded in homes and cars.

In North Carolina, a 1-year-old drowned after he was swept away by rushing water. His mother drove through a flooded area and tried to escape her car while holding the child but lost her grip.

EDDIE CATHEY, SHERIFFF, UNION COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: Driving through water where the roads are closed is dangerous for anybody. We had some success and then we had some tragedies.

MCLEAN: Meanwhile, volunteers are braving flooded roads and high water vehicles to bring food, water and supplies --


MCLEAN (voice-over): to cut-off communities. Lumberton, North Carolina, is bracing for the worst as the Lumber River levee teeters on failure prompting flashbacks to 2016 when Hurricane Matthew made its unwelcome visit.

COREY WATTERS, LUMBERTON PUBLIC WORKS DEPUTY DIRECTOR: We're throwing everything we got at it; here we're standing at right now, it scoured 20 feet deep when Matthew came through.

MCLEAN: The time to return home is still unknown for thousands who evacuated.

COOPER: We do not want evacuees to go back. We do not want that to happen right now. There's too much going on.

MCLEAN (on camera): This is worse than Matthew. Matthew only got up to right there.

In Loris, South Carolina, Pastor Tim Osment woke up to the smell of smoke from his electrical circuit shorting out and the sound of rushing water as the storm sent more than 2 feet of water into his basement.

Moments later, he was walking through a knee-deep fast moving current to get out.

PASTOR TIM OSMENT, LORIS RESIDENT: It was scary as we were going out. It was up to my knees and you know I'm six feet tall. That much water moving swiftly it can take you off your feet.

MCLEAN: Osment has flood insurance. Carly McCall does not.

CARLY MCCALL, FLOOD VICTIM: When it hit, it hit bad.

MCLEAN: McCall had to walk out of his apartment in waist-deep water. It's the second time he's been flooded in the past two years.

This printing company across the street they are still operating though they've resorted to shuttling their products across the street by boat. They have conceded that they will flood. They don't think that they could save the whole building so what they've done is sand bagged around their biggest and most expensive pieces of equipment.

Right now the water is just a couple of inches from the door though this river is forecast to rise at least another 3 feet before the weekend -- Scott McLean, CNN, Conway, South Carolina.



CHURCH: Adam Emrick is the city administrator in Conway, South Carolina. He joins me now with the very latest on the situation there.

And I understand your biggest concern right now clearly is the flooding. But more specifically is this makeshift dam. And the concern that this water will flood in to the neighboring area. Talk to us about how likely it is that will happen and what your biggest concerns are.

ADAM EMRICK, CITY ADMINISTRATOR, CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, certainly. We had a major concern that we think has been a little bit alleviated. The Department of Transportation here for South Carolina has acted swiftly to begin erecting a barricade along one of the major roads that comes from the city of Conway and goes toward Myrtle Beach. The antenna that barricade is to block water from overcoming the road and overcoming the bridge.

As that will be the last bridge and last road that gets people from Myrtle Beach and out and people in the Myrtle Beach and that includes our food our gas, everything. That is the lifeline as what they're calling it.

Our concern from the city of Conway whether that barricade might also block water that is flooding and trying to get out of our Waccamaw River and back into the ocean. So we know we asked some pointed questions yesterday and we're not given answers very quickly. And that necessitated the city council here in Conway to begin

pursuing an action against the state to be able to explain to us and explain to our citizens that we were doing everything we could to protect them from flood waters that might be caused by a manmade barrier instead of nature. Today we were fortunate to have the highest level of transportation person from the state, Secretary Christy Hall fly in from Columbia. She spent a number of hours with us and dedicated a lot of her staff time as well as herself to us. And the engineers explained to us exactly what is going on and what they are doing. They gave us a tour.

And I think the fears that we had and the concerns that we had have been alleviated almost completely. I think we can say with a straight face to our citizens that everything that can be done to protect them has been done. We've done our due diligence to protect them from flooding and from manmade barriers. And it's not the greater good that we're looking at here, it's everybody's good.

CHURCH: Well, that is a relief that you've come to the point because flooding is really big. That has been the major problem for most people across the number of states this has affected.

So what are the other challenges for the people, people have lost their homes, they don't have anywhere to go back to, where they are sheltering. What's happening and likely to happen to those people in the next few days, weeks and months? Because it's going to take a very long time to get back to normal, isn't it?

EMRICK: That's right. Those were all very good questions. The storm has been a lot different than most storms. Most storms last about between, you know, between 8 to 12 hours. They cause immediate flash flood that we have to respond to and swift water rescue and things like that.

And then those waters will subside slightly for a couple of days and then the rivers will rise. And the rivers will cause sustained flooding. It happened in 2015 after hurricane Joaquin. It happened in 2016 after hurricane Matthew. And it's happening again with Hurricane Florence --


EMRICK: -- in 2018.

But Florence is different because the rain -- the rain event lasted days. It lasted three and a half days with heavy rains coming over and over and over again. And what that caused is the immediate flash flooding of those other events that happened in the first 12 hours did not occur until today after the rain subsided.

So we had areas of the city flooding today after our residents thought that they were out of the woods and areas that are flooded so far today with that -- with that -- with Hurricane Florence are flooding at a much greater rate than anything we've seen ever before. With houses that aren't even in floodplains that are flooding. And it's an event that we're still preparing for.

When these waters recede, the rivers will start flooding. And then with river rain flooding it will get to a level that's even higher. We're expecting three feet higher than hurricane Matthew which was all-time record. So our river level at Matthew was 17. It's going to get over 20 with what we're expecting from this -- from Florence.

And that's something that's going to be hard to even fathom what we're expecting. We hope to be going door to door in some areas that we think might flood in the next couple of days. And make sure that people know not only to protect their items and their homes but to protect themselves to make sure that they're not in harm's way.

It's going to be a difficult journey for us. And those waters don't just come up and subside. They come up and they'll stay for, you know, two, three, or four weeks. You know, we looked at hurricane Matthew we had sustained flood levels or over 30 days.


EMRICK: So there will be people who cannot get to their homes for extended periods of time.

CHURCH: That certainly puts it in perspective. People think because the hurricane is gone that it's all over, it isn't. It's all about, isn't it? It's about flooding and as you mention--


EMRICK: The worst isn't got here yet.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is really, this could be another month, it could be another couple of months as far as you say, right?

EMRICK: That's right.

CHURCH: Right.

EMRICK: We expect the waters to continue to rise through next week and then be here for an extended period of time.

CHURCH: All right. Adam Emrick, thank you so much for joining us. We wish you the best and hope that things get back to normal soon or rather than later. Many thanks.

EMRICK: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.



CHURCH: The controversy around Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick reminds some of another contentious battle from decades ago, the parallels with Justice Clarence Thomas -- when we come back.


[02:32:36] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. The remnants of Hurricane Florence are heading up the U.S. East Coast. But in North and South Carolina, flooding make it even more dangerous as rivers are rising to record levels. The death toll is now up to 32 including one person in Virginia who was killed when Florence caused several tornadoes.

Donald Trump is ordering the declassification of documents and text messages in the Russia investigation. They include parts of a warrant application to surveil former campaign aide Carter Page. Republicans have been asking for the documents for months. But a top democrat calls the release an abuse of power. A woman who says President Trump's Supreme Court pick assaulted her more than 30 years ago will get a public hearing.

Christine Blasey Ford will appear before a senate committee on Monday. Judge Brett Kavanaugh who denies the allegations will also testify. And joining me now from London to talk more about this is Freddy Gray, Deputy Editor of The Spectator. Thanks so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So now Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford will both testify Monday in this public hearing. The president is standing by his man. But at the same time he's not attacking the accuser which is something we haven't seen before. What might this change in tactic signal politically do you think?

GRAY: Well, politically I mean obviously a delay in the nomination process strong possibility. These are over historic however suspicious timing you might say is a very serious accusations and they have to be taken seriously. I think there's going to be a struggle not to delay this nomination.

CHURCH: Right. And Democrats are calling for a full and fair investigation into the allegations made against Kavanaugh. The issue of course corroboration, that's critical in getting to the truth of the matter by interviewing witnesses. But that's not going to happen. Instead, the White House is pulling together its battle plan to support Kavanaugh. Ford on the other hand won't have access to the same level of resources.

So if there's no investigation, how much closer to the truth will we be and how will senators make an informed decision to determine which one of them is telling the truth come Monday?

[02:35:06] GRAY: I think it's a very good question. It's going to be almost impossible. I mean this is a very historic claim and we see this very often with this historic sexual assault claims. Do we now live in an era where we just have to believe the accuser and therefore Kavanaugh is unfit to be a Supreme Court judge or do we say -- do we have to delay the whole process until it's after the midterm which is politically difficult? This is an extremely difficult.

Whatever the rights and wrongs with the case, this is an extremely difficult political situation for the Trump administration.

CHURCH: Right. And whether Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed for this lifetime spot on the Supreme Court, will ultimately come down to key senators, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, and Bob Corker. They are the ones to watch. We don't know who they'll believe in the end, but what are the numbers look like right now and what all is at stake here?

GRAY: I think two or three sentences between them and obviously people like Jeff Flake are inclined to derail the Trump presidency anyway and this might be the opportunity they're looking for. I think -- I mean, you know, it seems so very cynical to talk about such things in light of a rape allegation. But I'm afraid that's what's happening. There's a -- there's a very big political game being played on top of this historic alleged crime.

CHURCH: And if senators are not sure in the end because of course without an investigation, how can they be? This will be a matter of he says and she says situation, right? Will Brett Kavanaugh always have a cloud hanging over him if he ultimately gets confirmed after all of this plays out?

GRAY: It's very hard to say. I mean I think -- I'm not sure as (INAUDIBLE) to a certain extent having once somebody is very publicly accused of rape. I think it does dog them for the rest of their lives. And, of course, you know, if you believe Brett Kavanaugh, you know, this is just at worst sort of a drunken behavior in his youth that is now being dragged up to ruin his life. So it could well dog him for the rest of his life.

And if it does, that's extremely sad and I would say that the sort of orchestration of this hit on him will be seen as a -- as a very wrong political cynical action.

CHURCH: And then of course, on the other hand, you have the woman who is accusing him and one could say that this has had an incredible impact on her life throughout. So it is a very difficult situation. We will be watching of course their testimony on Monday to see what the senators think and what the rest of the United States and indeed the world think of this. Many thanks to you, Freddy Gray, for joining us and bringing us your analysis. Appreciate it.

Well, the drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh's nomination is drawing comparisons to a controversy that gripped the country more than 25 years ago. We just talked about that. Anita Hill testified under oath that she suffered sexual harassment by then nominee and now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Tom Foreman has that report.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two federal judges conservative nominees for the Supreme Court. Two women reluctant witnesses from the men's past accusing them of sexual misconduct. What is else is similar? Plenty.


FOREMAN: In 1991 when law professor Anita Hill said her boss, Clarence Thomas, sexually harassed her in the '80s. She offered details of routine advances and lewd comments. HILL: He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals

with large penises or large breasts involved on various sex acts. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.

CLARENCE THOMAS, THEN-U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: This is a circus. It's a national disgrace.

FOREMAN: Thomas forcefully denied it all.

THOMAS: And from my standpoint as a black American as far as I'm concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way dane to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.

FOREMAN: Brett Kavanaugh's accuser Professor Christine Blasey Ford is also laying out details saying at a high school party, Kavanaugh pushed me into a bedroom, climbed on top of her, and try to disrobe me. And Kavanaugh just like Thomas' is saying this is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They began with the Roy Moore revelation by Kellyanne Conway. It ends with Charlie Rose accused of unwanted sexual advances toward women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accusations of sexual harassment against powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

FOREMAN: So what's different, the times above all else. On the roaring tide of the Me Too Movement, many powerful men are being held accountable for alleged and in some cases admitted sexual wrongs.

[02:40:08] And ABC News Washington Post poll earlier this year found 72 percent of Americans feel sexual harassment is a big problem compared to 17 percent just before Anita Hill made her case. So Hill is saying Kavanaugh's accuser can't be taken lightly and this time even some in the judge's corner agree.



FOREMAN: The real question of course is what comes next? For all of the uproar and a very close vote, Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court and remains to be seen if Kavanaugh can also weather the storm and come out on top. Tom Foreman, CNN Washington.

CHURCH: Let's take a quick break here. But still to come, Washington's trade dispute with Beijing is escalating. President Trump's new tariffs and how China is expected to respond. We'll have that in a live report. The U.S. president says America is one of the most generous when it comes to refugees so why is the government slashing the number of people it will accept? We'll take a look at that too. Back in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. President Trump is wrapping up his trade battle with China. He announced a new 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. It will go into effect next week. Then in January, it will jump to 25 percent. Smart watchers, health, safety devices, children's playpens are being spared the trade penalties. This is on top of earlier penalties on $50 billion worth of goods. And for more on all of this, we turn to our Matt Rivers who joins us live from Beijing.

Good to see you, Matt. So, Beijing had warned that if the U.S. went ahead and imposed these new tariffs on Chinese imports, it would cut off all trade talks with the U.S. So, what are we dealing with here? How close are we now to a trade war?

[02:45:13] MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there is no doubt about it. And, at least, in the opinion of most people that we speak to here in China, they are openly referring to this as a trade war. And it's really hard to call it anything else at this point because if -- when these tariffs go into effect next week, that will mean that the United States has tariffs on nearly half of all Chinese imports to the United States.

China for its part set to impose another $60 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports here to China. Now, we're waiting on a response officially from this announcement out of Washington. We're waiting for the Chinese government to respond officially today.

The earliest response that we're probably going to get, at least, on camera is going to be at the press briefing of the daily press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Whether they use that venue to announce these retaliatory tariffs that they have promised, we're not sure, usually, those announcements come from the Ministry of Commerce herein China.

But make no mistake, Rosemary. The Chinese government will be retaliating in some way shape or form. We expect it will follow what they have said previously. $60 billion in new tariffs. And so, $200 billion on the U.S. side, another 60 on the Chinese side. That there's no doubt about it, we are absolutely in the middle of a trade war.

CHURCH: Wow! That -- that's pretty sobering, isn't it? Is there any way out here? I mean, could is there a path to some sort of negotiation or they've pretty much given up on that?

RIVERS: Well -- you know, it was just last week that the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin invited the Chinese side, his counterpart here in China for another round of negotiation. So, at that point, people are saying well maybe that means that the administration in the U.S. is going to hold off on levying those $200 billion in tariffs.

Well, not only did not -- that not happen but now the president of the U.S. is saying that they're going to go into effect on September 24th. That's a lot quicker than he -- than he has to. So, you know, in terms of an off-ramp here, if you're looking for one, I don't see one. The Chinese side has consistently said they're not going to negotiate under the threat of blackmail which is what they're calling these U.S. tariffs.

And so, the negotiations haven't -- this latest run haven't been completely or officially canceled yet, but I would be very surprised if they go forward Rosemary.

CHURCH: Global markets will be watching very closely, and Matt Rivers, joining us live from Beijing which is 2:47 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

The Trump administration will slash the number of refugee admissions to record lows next year. This year's cap of 45,000 will be lowered to 30,000 in 2019. Senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski has more.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the admissions of refugees to the U.S. have already been at record lows in four decades that this program has existed. The current fiscal year cap was set at 45,000 refugee admissions.

Now, the Secretary of State announces that this administration is dropping that to 30,000. So, you clearly see the stance of this administration. The direction it's moving in. Especially when you consider even with the current 45,000 cap. When you look at how many refugees have actually been admitted so far in 2018, it's only around 20,000.

So, now the lower cap doesn't mean that even 30,000 will eventually be admitted. You'll also have to compare that to the prior administration.

Under Obama, that administration wanted to see given the current humanitarian crises around the world, 110,000 refugees admitted per year. This is a stark contrast to that, and we know that some within the White House including the President himself and his advisor Stephen Miller, wanted to see the cap set even lower.

Others within the administration wanted to see it kept at 45,000 so you see the compromise was reached there, but still, it is a record low. Secretary of State that wanted to emphasize that the U.S. and his words is the most generous nation in the world, it gives a lot of money to humanitarian causes.

He also said that in the next fiscal year, 280,000 asylum applications will be processed. That's a huge number, but keep in mind, that doesn't mean that's how many people will be granted asylum.

For the last several years, the number of people given asylum and admitted into the U.S. that way has hovered pretty steadily around 25,000 a year. So, they are processing a lot of applications, we'll see how many are actually admitted.

This has already drawn some harsh criticism from groups like Refugees International who called the new lower cap for refugees' appalling. Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.

[02:50:02] CHURCH: Well, Turkey's president says a humanitarian catastrophe has been averted. Ahead, the new agreement for the last rebel stronghold in Syria and the questions it raises, we'll have a live report.


CHURCH: Russia and Turkey planned to patrol a demilitarized zone around the last rebel stronghold in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the agreement for Idlib on Monday.

It calls for rebels to withdraw their heavy weapons from the province by next month. Russia's defense minister says the Syrian government's planned offensive to retake Idlib is now shelved. Let's turn to Jomana Karadsheh, she joins us from Istanbul with the very latest.

So, Jomana, how significant is this agreement? Can it really avert a full-scale attack on Idlib? And if so, for how long and how exactly is this going to work?

[02:54:50] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, it is a very significant development for the past couple of weeks. We have been talking about what many have been warning could be a bloodbath in Idlib. It seemed that preparations were underway that there was a military operation that was going to be -- it seems to be imminent at that point.

Then, you know, many of the residents in Idlib that we've spoken to say that they were hoping that Turkey would be able to stop this operation and this seems to be one of those instances where diplomacy did avert a humanitarian crisis as President Erdogan puts it. But the feeling is this may have been averted, at least, for now.

It really is unclear how this is all going to work out, Rosemary. So, you've got Russia and Turkey that signed this memorandum of understanding that calls for the creation of this demilitarized zone, this buffer zone between government-held territory and rebel-held territory.

It goes 15 to 20 kilometers deep into Idlib. This is supposed to be set up by October the 15th, by October the 10th all heavy weaponry is going to be pulled out of this area. And Turkey is to ensure that all armed groups including radical groups like the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. That is the al-Qaeda-linked group will evacuate this area. It's very difficult to see how this is all going to be enforced.

How it's going to be implemented, we've seen agreements in the past whether it was ceasefire agreement or the de-escalation zone agreements that were -- that Turkey and Russia were party to. You know, work in the short-term and then, collapse. We'll have to wait and see how this is going to be any different. But for the 3 million civilians in Idlib province, this is a huge relief, at least, for now, Rosemary. CHURCH: For now, as you point out. Jomana Karadsheh, joining us live from Istanbul in Turkey, where it is nearly 10:00 in the morning. We thank you so very much. And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. So, do stick around. You're watching CNN.