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Kavanaugh's Accuser to Wait for FBI's Investigation; South and North Korea on their Way to Peace; Trade War Between U.S. and China Continues; Stormy Daniels Out with New tell-All Book. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: The woman accusing a U.S. Supreme Court nominee of sexual abuse says she won't testify until the FBI conducts a full investigation.

Republicans from the president's on down say that isn't going to happen, so now what?

CNN has a copy of Stormy Daniels' new book which has details about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. Three letters come to mind. TMI.

And a great leap forward towards peace on the Korean peninsula. The leaders of North and South Korea say they have reached a denuclearization deal.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

A vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court seems further away than ever. A woman who accuses the judge of sexual assault more than three decades ago, now says she wants an FBI investigation before she will testify in public.

Christine Blasey Ford says a drunken Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes when they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegation. Christine Blasey Ford says she wants a full investigation.


LISA BANKS, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S ATTORNEY: She came forward after these allegations were leaked. Her fears unfortunately have been realized because since coming forward, her life has been turned upside-down. And rushing forward into a hearing, when she's under this much pressure, isn't the way to do it.

There's no reason to do it. It's not that there's a stalling tactic at play. She's more than willing to go forward and talk to the committee in whatever forum that is, and to assist with law enforcement in their investigation.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just not by Monday? BANKS: Nothing of substance and nothing legitimate can happen by



CHURCH: President Trump is standing firmly behind his nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and brushing aside suggestions of any FBI interview.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel so badly for him that he's going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not the man that deserves this.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh hanging in the balance, President Trump expressing empathy for Kavanaugh and silence toward his accuser. The president forcefully defending his nominee amid new uncertainty over a public hearing at the Senate judiciary committee, even as the president pointing the finger at Democrats.


TRUMP: That's the name of the campaign against me. They just resist and they just obstruct. I don't want to play into their hands. Hopefully, the woman will come forward, state her case. He will state his case before representatives of the United States Senate. And then, they will vote. We will see what happens.


ZELENY: So far, he's been uncharacteristically silent, not tweeting or talking about the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who says she was sexual assaulted by Kavanaugh more than three decades ago.

But privately, officials tell CNN that the president is frustrated for the star pick for the Supreme Court, now could be in jeopardy. When we ask him about it today the president bit his tongue, for now, at least.


ZELENY: Is this all politics?

TRUMP: I don't want to say that. Maybe I'll say that in a couple of days but not now.


ZELENY: But 50 days before the midterm elections, Kavanaugh's confirmation battle is awash in politics. Amid a deeply serious discussion about a sexual assault allegations lodged against a federal judge with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

It's unfolding as Washington's biggest moment of the Me Too era. A way Trump is often diminished or dismissed. Yet that's not the approach he's taking to accusations concerning one of his most important nominee.


TRUMP: A delay is certainly acceptable. We want to get to the bottom of everything. We want everybody to be able to speak up and to speak out.


ZELENY: As Democrats call for the FBI to investigate the allegations, Republicans, along with the president, disagreed.


TRUMP: I don't think the FBI really should be involved because they wanted to be involved. If they wanted to be, I would certainly do that. But as you know they say this is not really their thing.


ZELENY: For the second-straight day, Kavanaugh was hunkered down inside the White House. Preparing for a public hearing on Monday, where officials say he wants to defend his integrity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you talked to Judge Kavanaugh?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go. Let's go. Press, let's go and make your way out.


TRUMP: So specifically I thought it would be a thing not to. He can handle himself better than anybody.


[03:05:02] ZELENY: So the president is taking a measured tone, but inching closer to diminishing the allegations, saying they should have been brought forward a long time ago. The president also, though, says he believes the accuser should still have a public hearing. The question now, is whether she will.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: And joining me now from Switzerland, James Davis, is dean of the school of economics and political science at the University of St. Gallen. Thank you so much for being with us.

JAMES DAVIS, DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALLEN: Good morning, rosemary. CHURCH: So, President Trump is making it clear, he is standing by his

Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. But Christine Blasey Ford now says she won't testify Monday, unless there's an FBI investigation. And that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

So, where does that leave Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, if it goes ahead, continues, without delay, leaving questions unanswered over the sexual assault allegations?

DAVIS: When I think about this situation, it's a sad commentary on the state of American politics and also the legacy of misogyny in the United States. There's actually no way we can get to the bottom of allegations that are 36 years old, unless both of the parties to this controversy agree to tell the truth.

Right now, they have opposing stories. And so, it seems to me that an FBI or some sort of investigation is probably the only way we can get somewhere close to the truth. And if we don't have that, there's going to be a cloud over Judge Kavanaugh if he gets confirmed because we'll never really know.

I think it's in the interest of Judge Kavanaugh but also the interest of the country, that we try to get as close to the truth as we can, even though we're talking about an incident 36 years ago, where it appears that two individuals had been drinking and were at a party. And the memories may in fact be clouded.

CHURCH: That is the problem, here, isn't it? I mean, does it make more sense, perhaps, for President Trump to direct the FBI to investigate these allegations, as was done in the Anita Hill case, during the confirmation of Clarence Thomas in 1991, to determine who isn't telling the truth. Why the rush here?

DAVIS: The rush is because the Republicans in the Senate want to get this thing wrapped up before the midterm elections. And the Democrats obviously have an interest in slowing things down. That's the political game we're playing.

But you're absolutely right. The president has the ability to direct the FBI, to investigate this. And it seems to me, although it's unlikely that they could find out what happened in a room, at a party, 36 years ago, they can certainly find out whether or not Judge Kavanaugh was at this party. He's claimed that he wasn't. Professor Blasey Ford says he was. There must have been other people at the party if it wasn't just a part of two people.

And so, we could pretty quickly find out who is telling the truth on whether or not they were at that party. And if it turns out that Judge Kavanaugh is not telling the truth, then I think he is going to have to withdraw his candidacy because we certainly can't have a liar on the Supreme Court of the United States.

CHURCH: Right. And you mentioned politics involved in this. President Trump tweeted this just a few hours ago. "The Supreme Court is one of the main reasons I got elected president. I hope Republicans voters and others are watching and studying the Democrats' playbook." So, you know, at a news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said the

Democrats resist and obstruct. So when we're looking that if the president is indeed making this a political issue, then, does he run the risk of it possibly backfiring? It could work for him coming up to midterms. But it could backfire as well when it comes to the women's vote?

DAVIS: Rosemary, I didn't get the question.


CHURCH: (TECHNICAL PROBLEM) in the near future.

President Trump later weighed in, tweeting, "Kim Jong-un has agreed to allow nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations and permanently -- to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts.

In the meantime, there will be no rocket or nuclear testing. Hero remains to continue being returned home to the United States. Also North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting." He says.

Now, Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul, in South Korea, to talk more about this. And Paula, it is a pretty extraordinary list that they've pulled together. Presumably, they had preplanned some of this. Because in one sitting there, on day two of this three-day summit, this is a very ambitious list.

And top of that list, is the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear facility, with those international experts watching on. What does North Korea, though, want in return from the United States? And will it get it?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, what North Korea has agreed to at this point is that they will dismantle the Punggye-ri missile test site and the launch pad. This is really the key ICBM testing area, the intercontinental ballistic missile. This is where the engine for that was tested just last year.

So it's something that Washington will welcome. We've seen that tweet, as you say from the U.S. president, welcoming it already. But when it comes to the nuclear concessions, what we've actually seen in this declaration, is it is a conditional concession.

We've heard that Kim Jong-un has agreed to dismantle or to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear facility if there are corresponding measures from the United States. So this is going back to that quid pro quo that Pyongyang has consistently said that it wanted.

It wanted a step by step process where it denuclearizes and then it gets some kind of concession. It's something that Washington has rejected up until this point. But as you say the tweet from the U.S. president does appear to say that he does welcome that development. So it is conditional. But certainly from the chief negotiator's point

of view, which is what Trump made the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, he can come back having felt that he has achieved something from this summit.

In fact, he says the press conference -- or I should say, the statement with Kim Jong-un, that it is the first time that North and South have agreed on denuclearization methods. And it is a very meaningful achievement. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Our Paula Hancocks bringing us up to date there from Seoul in South Korea. We should see what day three of this summit brings. Many thanks to you.

Well, China is fighting back at the latest U.S. plan for tariffs. President Trump announced Monday he would impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports beginning next week.

On Tuesday, Beijing announced it, in turn, will tax $60 billion worth of U.S. goods. Mr. Trump has promised a third phase of tariffs if China retaliates.


TRUMP: We just started. We didn't do anything with respect to China because we wanted to have the benefit of China having to do with North Korea. And they have been helpful. I hope they're still helpful. There's a question about that. But it got to a point where the numbers were too big. This should have been done for the last 20 years.


CHURCH: And for more on this escalating battle, Matt Rivers joins us now live from Beijing. So, China has responded. We'll expect to see the United States come back with more trade tariffs. So, where is the end point here?

[03:15:05] MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's an open question at this point, Rosemary. I mean, there's no end in sight for this trade dispute, this trade war, because neither side appears to be backing down.

If you thought that China was not going to respond to this latest, this latest round of tariffs from Washington, you would have been sorely mistaken. Sixty billion dollars were announced late yesterday evening here in Beijing, around 9 p.m. local time, right when the markets -- just shortly before the markets opened up in the U.S. perhaps the timing there, not a coincidence.

But the Chinese saying that they're going to tax $60 billion worth of American imports. That would bring the total amount of American imports taxed to $110 billion. That's 110 out of a total of a $130 billion the U.S. sends here every year. So, really almost every American product coming to China now facing taxes.

Five thousand two hundred seven products added to this list. They are going to be looking at rates between 5 and 10 percent and they'll go into effect the same day the new U.S. tariffs do which is next Monday.

And now the big question moving forward here, Rosemary, is the U.S. side last week, had extended an invitation for another round of negotiations with the Chinese side. And China was actively considering that. But then, they put the new tariffs into place.

So how is China going to respond? They haven't said they won't be a part of those next round of negotiations but they haven't said they're going to go, either. So that what we're waiting to hear really from the Chinese side. If there is an off-ramp, it's going to be through negotiations. But those are very much in jeopardy at this point.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Matt Rivers joining us live from Beijing.

We'll take a short break here. But coming up, full disclosure, the porn star who says she had an affair with Donald Trump, has a new tell-all book. And the details may make your eyes pop. We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH: We are getting our first look at another book President Trump probably won't be reading. Full disclosure includes details about the alleged affair between Donald Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels.

CNN has obtained a copy of her new tell-all book. And if you have children around you might want to get out of the room at this point. Here's our report from Sara Sidner.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In her tell-all book, Stormy Daniels write that her first sighting of Donald Trump in 2006 in his hotel suite in lake Tahoe was shocking. "Trump came swooping in wearing black silk pajamas and slippers," she writes. "What are you doing? I yelled. Go put some f-ing clothes on."

She writes that he changed and they both joked about his hair. "I pointed to his hair, what's going on with this? I know, he said with a smile, it's ridiculous." She said the two talked about family. "What would your wife think of you being here with me?" Stormy writes. "Don't worry about that, he said. It's not a big deal. And anyway, we have separate bedrooms."

She writes Trump then brought out a picture of Melania holding their son Barron who was just four months at that time. And when Daniels came out of the bathroom, she claims Trump was lying on the bed in his underwear. They had sex.

She then describes his genitalia in great detail. "His penis is distinctive in a certain way," she writes, proof her attorney Michael Avenatti says she is tired of being called a liar by Trump's people.

Daniels said the night of her sexual encounter with Trump, he invited her to a club. She showed up to find Trump and NFL Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger talking. She writes, "Trump eventually suggested Roethlisberger walk her to her hotel room." At the door, Daniels write, "Roethlisberger asked her a question while

pushing lightly on her door. How about a good night kiss? I was terrified. She writes. I am rarely terrified. He stood outside not leaving.

Every now and again, he'd knock, rapping his knuckles in a line low along the door. Come on, he repeated in a sing-song voice. I won't tell. He eventually left."

CNN reached out to Roethlisberger for comment. We have not heard back. But in January, after a few of the details came out in In Touch magazine, Roethlisberger's agent said Roethlisberger was aware of it but had no intention of addressing the story.

President Trump has never spoken her name in public nor admitted to any sexual interest. But his spokespeople and attorneys had denied it ever happened again and again.

Trump and Daniels allegedly met months later at the Beverly Hills hotel. She reveals while in his room, as the two were watching TV, Hillary Clinton called. Clinton was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination against Barack Obama.

When he hung up, he was effusive about Hillary. "I love her," he said. "She is so smart." Daniels writes. Fast-forward almost a decade to the Trump and Clinton campaigns and you'd never know it.


TRUMP: Lying, crooked Hillary. She is a liar. She's a liar.


SIDNER: Daniels also reveals, she was raped as a child. She writes, it happened repeatedly by a man who lived next door to one of her friends. "I was nine. I was a child. And then, I wasn't," she writes. He was raping Vanessa, so, I put myself between them. Continually offering myself up so he would leave her alone."

Daniels says a school counselor called her a liar when she revealed the rape.

And that's just one of the disturbing details she recounts in her young life. One of the themes that is throughout the book is Stormy Daniels hates being called a liar. And that explains why she went into such detail about President Trump. Her book comes out on October 2nd.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.

CHURCH: Speaking out against sexual assault can be a harrowing experience. Just ahead, we will speak with someone who knows what the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh is going through right now.

Plus, a high school friend of the Supreme Court nominee comes to his defense. Wait until you hear some of his controversial comments. We're back with that in just a moment. [03:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom. Let's update you now on the main stories we're following this hour.

South Korea's president says the era of no war has started on the Korean peninsula. On the second day of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Moon Jae-in said they have agreed on the path towards denuclearization.

They also announced a joint military pact, plans to link railways and cooperate on healthcare and for Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul in the near future. U.S. President Trump tweeted about the developments, calling it very exciting.

China is firing the latest round in the trade war with the United States. Beijing says it will tax $60 billion of U.S. imports beginning Monday. That's the same day that President Trump plans to impose a 10 percent tariff on Chinese goods. He has promised another round of tariffs if China retaliates.

The woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago, says she wants an FBI investigation before she testifies in public. The Senate judiciary committee has asked Christine Blasey Ford to appear on Monday.

Kavanaugh's accuser says she has received a stunning amount of support from her community. But she's also been the target of vicious harassment since she's told her story. Her attorney spoke with CNN on Tuesday.


BANKS: She just came forward with these allegations 48 hours ago. And since that time, she's been dealing with hate mail, harassment, death threats. So she's been spending her time trying to figure out how to put her life back together, how to protect herself and her family.


[03:30:05] CHURCH: Critics are questioning why Blasey Ford waited so long before going public with her assault allegations but for many victims that's not unusual. Rachel Denhollander was one of the first women to accuse former sports doctor Larry Nassar of abuse. She says she stayed silent for years because she saw how other accusers were treated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to realize that you are greatly compounding the damage done to these abuse victims by the way you are responding. This, what it took to get here, what we had to go through for our voices to be heard, because of the responses of the adults in authority, has greatly compounded the damage we suffer. And it matters. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: An American lawyer and former gymnast, Rachael Denhollander joins me now from Kentucky. Thank you so much for speaking with us.


CHURCH: When you think back, how difficult was it to make that decision to blow the whistle on Larry Nassar and how much strength you think you needed to speak up?

DENHOLLANDER: It took years to get to the point of being healed enough to face what I knew was coming when I spoke out. Because I knew Larry would be an international story, given who he was. And the thought of what that would entail was absolutely terrifying. In addition to that, just the idea of having to verbalize, something so shameful and something so private and something so intimate, is really terrifying for an abuse victim. It's a horrific process to go through.

CHURCH: What has life been like since you spoke out about the abuse and how did it change your life?

DENHOLLANDER: It was every bit as difficult and horrific as I expected it to be. You know, a lot of the same things that were being said about Miss Ford were said about me and said about every survivor who comes forward -- she is in it for the attention. She is in it for the money. She is in it for her personal gain. There's a political motivation. Larry was actually running for office at a time I spoke out.

Why did she wait so long? Those are the attacks that all victims get when they speak up. And that is one of the reason why we see such a massive delay in disclosures. It's the norm, not the exception, for it to take years and even decades for victims to come forward with their abuse stories. In fact, I have received many, many personal messages from people who are in their 60s and 70s. Who are telling me for the first time of their abuse? And they still hadn't spoken of it to anyone.

CHURCH: So many people do have their own secrets that they carry throughout their lives, regarding this sort of thing. We know now Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer has said, that she will not appear at the public hearing unless the FBI investigates her allegations. So far, that does not looks like that isn't going to happen. We know, too, that she has been driven from her home, has received death threats and is being trolled on social media and receiving vulgar e- mails. This as you point out is why people hesitate when it comes to reporting sexual misconduct. Can you relate to most of that? And what do you think Ford is going through right now?

DENHOLLANDER: I absolutely can. And I think any survivor who had to speak out against their abuser can relate to that. You know, the vulgar emails I got those too. We get the nasty comments. We always get those. That is one of the reasons that is the reason that survivors stay silent. Really, I think the lesson that we need to take away here is how we respond when it's in our own community. What do we do when the allegation is in our own community? Do we listen? Do we pursue the truth? Are we willing to consider?

Or do we have a knee-jerk self-protectionist reaction? Because really, everyone is saying at the table, why didn't you speak up earlier? Why didn't you speak up earlier? And the response they are giving her, precisely prove the point for why she didn't speak up earlier. And until that changes, we are not going to be able to see victims that are able to come forward earlier. Because they know the response they're going to get.

CHURCH: And of course, looking at the public hearing that is set for Monday, we don't know at this point, of course, if Ms. Ford is going to turn up, but if she did and if she went ahead and did this, we were going to hear from Brett Kavanaugh and from Christine Blasey Ford and no one else.

So, it is going to be a he said/she said situation. It would have been no corroboration. People would have just to figure out which one they believed. Do you find it extraordinary in 2018 -- we already saw what went on back in 1991 with Anita Hill.

Why has very little changed when it comes to that? Even back then, they had witnesses. People would come on either side and give their side of the story. You're a lawyer now, of course. As a lawyer, do you look at that and think, what is going on? Why are they not delving deeper into this?

[03:35:08] DENHOLLANDER: You know, that is a role that the FBI could play. I would like to see them take that up, but the reality is, in sexual assault cases, there isn't a lot of evidence most of the time. Because they're private and that is the nature of sexual assault. That being said, prior disclosures are something that an attorney who had experience it would weigh heavily. That is one of the main pieces of evidence that I brought forward, is my prior disclosures, including to medical personnel. And Christine Ford has that. You know, that is something that probative and indicative that she is telling the truth, it makes her claim worth listening to. Worth hearing.

CHURCH: Yes. I think for a lot of people, they have to ask the question, what does she gain from going public? And from what she said, she said it was her civic duty since this was a lifetime position that Brett Kavanaugh was taking. We will continue to watch this story and to follow of course. Rachael Denhollander, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We appreciate it.


CHURCH: And the other person who was supposedly in the room when Brett Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted Christine Blasey Ford is speaking out. In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mark Judge and his attorney write this, Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school, but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford's letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes. The judge's past is now coming under intense scrutiny. Here's CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Testimony from Brett Kavanaugh's high school classmate, Mark Judge, in demand by Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's important that we hear from witnesses, not least of which is Mark Judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can we get to the truth and not have Mr. Judge come to the hearing and be ask questions?

SCHNEIDER: Professor Christine Blasey Ford says Mark Judge was in the room at a house party when she alleges a 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to take off her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Ford says Judge, now an author and filmmaker witnessed everything. Through his lawyer, Judge sent a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday saying, I have no memory of this alleged incident and never saw Brett act in a manner Dr. Ford describes. Kavanaugh has also forcefully denied the incident. Judge's own memoir addiction depicts the heavy drinking and hard partying of Georgetown Prep Student at the time Kavanaugh was there in the early 1980s, but it does not recount any incident such as what Ford alleges.

In wasted tales of a gen x drunk, Judge writes, how the old boy's high school was swimming in alcohol and he was shock they got away with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One only needs to look at the writings of Mark Judge, who was the other person present, to know that he wrote about how stumbling drunk he and other members of Georgetown prep were repeatedly, routinely. This was part of their culture.

SCHNEIDER: Judge even seems to allude to Brett Kavanaugh in this passage from the memoir. Do you know Bart O Kavanaugh? One character ask another, yes, he passed out on his way back from a Party. Both Kavanaugh and Judge were varsity athletes of the prestigious all boys catholic high school, outside Washington, D.C.

Captions in quotes inside their class yearbook eludes to parties and women. 100 kegs or bust, written on Kavanaugh's yearbook page. On another page, did these guys beat their lives? And this one, prep parties raise questions of legality. And Judge's personal page reads, certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.

Judge has even waded into conservative politics, writing several articles for "The Daily Caller." He is written about former President Obama, saying, he seems to be a woman and a feminist one, at that. And Judge took on the topic of feminism in 2013 book review writing, the bogus line of women is really nothing but liberal women acting out against bad fathers.

The anger of the feminist has grown more acute, nothing short of a matriarchal (inaudible) suffice. It's easier than admitting what really ails you. Mark Judge telling the Senate Judiciary Committee he will not be testifying publicly or speaking out because he has no memory of the alleged incident. In addition, we talked to a friend of Kavanaugh and Judge, who says Kavanaugh did drink beer in high school, but was never out of control. Judge, in the meantime, they say, was a loud mouth and a lot wilder, but this person has no knowledge of the party where Ford alleges she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And we will take a short break here on CNN Newsroom. Still to come, the children of Yemen know what to do when they hear the planes coming. But sometimes, they don't make it to safety. Coming up, an exclusive look at the victims in Yemen's war.


CHURCH: In a CNN exclusive report, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen says it will investigate an air strike that killed two children. CNN provided the coalition evidence of last Thursday's bombing in Sanaa, it was the latest example of the horrific toll that the war with Houthi rebels is taking on the most innocent of civilians. Nima Elbagir, has our report and this warning it contains disturbing images.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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 three-month-old Samud and her three year old brother. This cell phone footage was sent to CNN, by the rebel Houthi back group on (inaudible) media. A rare glimpse of life of the bombardment in Yemen. Bashar is taking us down through 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. Bara and her family are not so lucky. They had to improvise.


ELBAGIR: For the last three years, Yemen has been the site of a devastating proxy war, pitting Iranian back Houthi militias against the U.S. back Saudi led coalition, seeking to restore the government of over thrown president (inaudible).

[03:45:05] In that time, local activist groups have collected 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 schoolboys covered with blood after their bus was hit by coalition planes. 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 an award-winning Yemeni activist group (inaudible) and independently verified by CNN is 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 attacks. 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 the Congress that the Saudi-led coalition is undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm. And that arm sales to the coalition could continue.

When CNN reached out on our findings to the Pentagon, spokeswoman commander Rebecca said it called upon all parties to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm civilians. The final decision 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. There, our cameraman met 12-year-old, Hayan. In April, a coalition bomb struck a village wedding.


ELBAGIR: You can see here, the moments before the planes arrived, killing 21 people, 11 children. This is part of the missile used in the attack. A weapons expert helped CNN trace it back to the U.S.- made GPU 12 bomb manufactured by (inaudible). Hayall was one of the lucky ones, (inaudible) will spend his life on crutches. His Hayas 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, Bara's little brother is allowed to play with his friend in the courtyard. Our cameraman asks why he doesn't play in the street. He knows the sound by heart. His cue to run toward safety, there is. Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


CHURCH: And as we mentioned the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen says the coalition would investigate the evidence presented by CNN. He says the coalition takes any allegations like this seriously. And, quote, targeting operations are carried out in conformity to the rules of engagement, which resemble the highest international standards. CNN requested a comment from U.S. Arms Manufacturer, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. We've not yet received a response from those companies.

We will take another break here. Still to come, the storm has passed, but not the danger. More rivers are flooding in north and South Carolina. And thousands are still in harm's way.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, parts of the southeastern U.S. are still threatened by the effects of what's left of hurricane Florence. This is video from one of the several towns in North Carolina where the flooding is getting worse. 14 rivers across the state have reached major flood levels. And some continue to rise. The death toll is now up to 36 in 3 states, most of them in North Carolina. Officials there warn the next two days will be extremely critical, as thousands of residents are still in danger. So let's turn, again, to our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri joining us from the International Weather Center with the very latest on these flooding concerns. Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Rosemary, you know, what's remarkable about what's happening here is the water levels are so far above flood stage that even once they receded over the next week or two, we are going to still be quite a bit of water across some of this communities, in fact Canada for at least 50 counties dealing with flood warning which typically flooding is imminent or occurring. We know in this case, it is all occurring at this hour across this region.

And really fascinating satellite perspective, when you kind of look at Ocean Boulevard, one more block north of this region. You go to South Anderson Boulevard. This is the before perspective on satellite imagery and once Florence came ashore, you kind a see what happened here. Much of that sand from the ocean pushes up right over Ocean Boulevard essentially that street, because non existing here. And then South Anderson Boulevard takes on some sand too and in between you even pick up some sand that is right there on the road ways and also some roof damage certainly to go around with it, as well. This is what happens. And of course, it was a downgraded storm as it came ashore, category two. Where it was initially, potentially had forecasts to make it to land at category four.

[03:55:00] So, it kind a shows you the damage that could have been done even further than what we saw. But upwards of 30 gauges. Expect to report flooding and major flood stage for the vast majority of them, Rosemary. As you take a look, I will leave you with this, the water levels will peak in some of these gauges sometime later on to the morning hours of Wednesday. And a gradual drop at least is forecast going in towards the weekend. Rosie?

CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much Pedram for keeping an eye on that. I appreciate it.

Now, to a controversy brewing at a popular children's show. A former writer for "Sesame Street" tells "The New York Times," that his comments about the puppets Bert and Ernie were misinterpreted. Mark Saltzman appears in the LGBT magazine saying they are gay. He is quoted as saying he always felt that without a huge agenda when he was writing Bert and Ernie, they were. He said, he didn't have any other way to contextualize them.

But Saltzman told the New York Times that his comments were misinterpreted. He told the Times, as a writer, you just bring what you know into your work. Somehow, the uproar that turned into Bert and Ernie being gay. There is a difference, the makers of "Sesame Street" after years have to shut down speculations about Bert and Ernie and were quick to do so again, issuing a statement that reads, they were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those that are very different from themselves.

33333Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics as most "Sesame Street" Muppets do. They remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation.

Thank you so much for you company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on twitter @rosemarycnn. I would like to hear from you. And "Early Start" is next for our viewers here in the United States. For everyone else stay tuned for more news with our Max Foster in London. Have a great day.