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Desperation Grows in Indonesia after Quake and Tsunami; Trump Family Faces Fraud Accusations; Trump Defends Supreme Court Pick; The Fight over Brexit; Bishops Convening under Cloud of Sexual Abuse Scandal. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 3, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Desperation in Indonesia as earthquake and tsunami survivors face yet another day of dwindling resources.

A bombshell report details how Donald Trump is not the self-made billionaire he claims to be.

Plus Theresa May set to deliver a major speech just one day after her former foreign secretary called her Brexit plan a, quote, "constitutional outrage."

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church and this is this is CNN NEWSROOM.


CHURCH: Indonesia's president is getting a first-hand look at the devastation from Friday's earthquake and tsunami and cargo planes packed with supplies have been arriving in the region.

On his second to Sulawesi Island since the disaster struck, the Indonesia leader was at the side of collapsed eight-story hotel. Search and rescue teams have been digging through the rubble, trying to find anyone trapped and still alive. Aid officials say there is an urgent need for food, clean water, settler and medical care. More 1,200 people died in that quake and tsunami; hundreds are injured.

CNN Matt Rivers is in Palu with the very latest and we must warn you that some of the images you're about to see are disturbing.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four soldiers to a bag. They drag the person inside to a crude resting place. Feels coarse and undeserved. This is a hastily dug mass grave on a Palu hillside. A direct result of an earthquake and tsunami no one was prepared for.

RIVERS: There's 194 people buried here. Some of whom are still unidentified that didn't deserve this. These are brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandparents, friends and they all just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

RIVERS (voice-over): Authorities had laid hundreds of bodies in streets for days after the morgues ran out of room. We saw them for ourselves. Officials say the bodies could spread disease.

The World Health Organization says that's not completely true, but the burials go on. The unidentified bodies had their pictures taken so hopefully they can be ID'd later.

A short drive away those lucky enough to be alive gathered in a place where life is hard. A makeshift camp designed to help the newly homeless is widely unable to meet people's needs. Baby Mohammed is sick. Even if they had formula, which they don't, water here is scarce.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Drinking water, we are really short of drinkable water.

RIVERS: For others, the indignity of living outside is exasperated by having no clean way to use the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need public toilets. None are provided to us. There are some here, but they are all broken and can't be used.

RIVERS: Five days on in camps like these, there's a lack of electricity, of food, of water, of health care, of hygiene. It's no wonder people are getting frustrated and they are increasingly blaming the government for what has pretty obviously been a slow response.

RIVERS (voice-over): Fuel has been scarce, too. A few stations are open. If you follow the rules and line up, you could trade a day just for a few liters.

RIVERS: So, the way you join the line is by taking your gas container and running this rope through the handle. Basically, the rope snakes all the way around and ends at the only gas pump open right now. So, you hook up. You move up the line. And you wait.

RIVERS (voice-over): These people wouldn't wait. We watched them loot fuel tank underneath the ground. Bamboo poles dipped in, coming up full. Armed soldiers merely watched. They told us they didn't want to spark a riot.

They just run their bikes through generators, another said. It's not like there's anywhere else they can get it fast. Dozens of people though, have been arrested for looting city-wide.

The government says there have been challenges in their aid mission, but that overall, they're making the best of a bad situation. And, yes, help is slowly increasing. Aid shifts are in route. Aid flights are picking up but not fast enough.

Looting, thirsty babies, hungry kids, filthy camps and mass burials do not equal an effective disaster response -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Palu, Indonesia.


CHURCH: Now to Donald Trump and an explosive months' long investigation by "The New York Times." The paper alleges Mr. Trump built his real estate empire with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax dodges and instances of outright fraud.

"The Times" says Mr. Trump inherited today's equivalent of more than --


CHURCH: -- $400 million from his father, much of it coming from schemes to help his parents evade paying taxes.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blasted the report, saying this, "Fred Trump has been gone for nearly 20 years and it's sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times. Many decades ago, the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions."

"The Times" has also published a letter from Mr. Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in which he describe himself and his friends as "loud, obnoxious drunks."

Kavanaugh wrote the letter in 1983 as he and his friends were preparing for a beach vacation. It comes amid questions concerning Kavanaugh's honesty about his drinking and behavior when he was in high school and college.

President Trump is standing by Kavanaugh. At a rally in Mississippi Tuesday, he mocked the woman who accuses Kavanaugh of sexual assault.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thirty six years ago this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer. Well, you think it was -- no. It was one beer. Good. How did you get home? I don't remember. How did you get there? I don't remember. Where was the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know.

I don't know. I don't know. What neighborhood was it in? I don't know. Where's the house? I don't know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don't know. But I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember.

And a man's life is in tatters. A man's life is shattered.


CHURCH: Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote on the nomination this week. We get more now from CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): President Trump voicing confidence in his Supreme Court nominee today, but not without a word of caution.

As he left the White House for Philadelphia, the president telling reporters he's optimistic the Senate can vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in the coming days.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hopefully, as Mitch said, they will have a vote by the end of the week and it will be a positive vote.

COLLINS: But Trump making clear Kavanaugh's fate remains uncertain, as the FBI investigates the sexual assault allegations made against him.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: A lot is going to depend on what comes back from the FBI, in terms of their additional, number seven investigation.

COLLINS: Trump implying even he could be swayed by the outcome.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're going have to see what the FBI says. They will come back with a report.

COLLINS: Amid questions about whether Brett Kavanaugh was truthful when he downplayed drinking in high school and college, the president drawing a line at lying to lawmakers.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't think you should lie to Congress. To me, that would not be acceptable.

COLLINS: Trump, who sources say has privately voiced suspicion about the MeToo movement, claimed today it's a scary time for young men in America.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's a very scary situation where you're guilty until proven innocent. COLLINS: Adding, he believes the outcome of all of this will be

bigger than Judge Kavanaugh.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: What's happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. It really does.

COLLINS: Those statements echoing what Donald Trump Jr. said about the allegations against Kavanaugh in a recent interview.

QUESTION: Who are you scared most for, your sons or your daughters?

DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: I mean, right now, I would say my sons.

COLLINS: Asked for what message he has for young women, Trump today only offering this... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Women are doing great.


COLLINS: Now what were seeing from President Trump about his Supreme Court nominee is sense of cautious optimism and that is a far cry from what President Trump was saying when he first nominated Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee, touting him as essentially the ideal justice, a family man, Ivy League educated with a head full of hair, who President Trump believed was right out of central casting.

And it seems the president is just hoping that nomination can hang on -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.



CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about all of this is CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. He's also a senior editor at "The Atlantic."

Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: Well, a lot to cover, of course. So, let's --


BROWNSTEIN: It's Tuesday.

CHURCH: There's more than usual. So, we do want to start with what "The New York Times" refers to as dubious tax schemes that Donald Trump apparently used in the 1990s to grow the fortune his parents gave him. Essentially, tax evasion schemes that "The New York Times" calls outright fraud.

What might be the consequences of this tax analysis?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first, this is remarkable reporting. It is an incredible level of detail compiled by journalists who don't have subpoena power. And it is something that the New York --


BROWNSTEIN: -- State authorities have already indicated that they will be following up on.

Look, this -- what they documented was a multi-year, multi-pronged effort. Successful effort to evade federal taxes, particularly the estate taxes that would flow from the transfer of the father's wealth to the children. And they showed systemic attempts to lower the value of properties.

Perhaps, fraudulently, create sham companies to drive down assets and take all of these steps to radically reduce their tax burden.

Now, you know, on the one hand, I think that most people have turned away from Donald Trump because they view him as personally vile or unfit. We're probably at the peak of that.

So, it may not be that there are many more voters who will reject him because of this -- than have already rejected him because of other personal issues surrounding him.

But I do think that in an election season, where Democrats are arguing very -- with a good deal of success at the Republican tax bill is unfairly tilted toward the wealthy and will ultimately threaten programs on which the middle class depend, particularly, Social Security and Medicare.

I mean, this is a powerful talking point that Donald Trump is basically rewarding people who have approached the tax system the way that he did.

CHURCH: Yes, be interesting to see those people who pay every single tax dollar they owe to the government, how they feel about.


CHURCH: This you know that in November, won't we? So, let's turn now to Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the contradictions that we are starting to see emerge in regard to his drinking defense.

We're now learning about a letter reportedly written by Kavanaugh in 1983 when he described himself and his buddies as "loud obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us," his words.

And now, we don't know if this was perhaps a joke. But it comes in the midst of former classmates coming forward, saying Kavanaugh is not being honest about the extent of his drinking.


CHURCH: And some insists he was lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

How damning is all this put together?

Because, of course, in isolation, maybe it's not so bad.

But altogether, how damning is this for Kavanaugh?

And how might Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins be responding to all of this?

BROWNSTEIN: And that -- you know, the answer of the first question is really the answer of the second questions. Because they are the ones -- those three Republican Senators are the ones who hold the nomination in his hand.

I think it's pretty clear in their hands. It is pretty clear at this point that his answers about the extent to which he -- you know was drinking both in high school and college were misleading at best and outright false at worst as some of his classmates have argued.

And what makes this I think it kind of the two wires crossing is what makes this so potentially powerful is that -- you know, there are a variety of other areas where many Democrats and outside observers believe he has been misleading in his testimony. Particularly, on various aspects of his work in the -- in the Bush White House.

Including I think direct -- he's been caught in a direct contradiction on something quite serious about whether he had access to e-mails that were stolen from judiciary committee members when he was in Democrats, when he was a member of the Bush White House.

So, I think this does raise serious questions about his credibility, but they will only matter if in fact, those three Republican Senators are willing -- you know, will come to the conclusion that it's too much for him to carry on to the Supreme Court.

CHURCH: Now, on Tuesday, President Trump responded to the pressure that Kavanaugh is currently under by attacking his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, for not knowing all the details about when she was sexually assaulted, which is the case for most women who have been sexually assaulted. They don't remember all of the details.

Now, then, he added that boys and men are the real victims in this current #MeToo climate and that Kavanaugh's life is now shattered as a result of it. How is that likely to play it be received by female voters?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look this is -- this is a really important moment. First of all, the biggest single threat to Republicans in the midterm election is the sharp turn away from the president and the GOP among college-educated white women.

Professional white women who look and sound and have experience as an awful lot like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who has three degrees and was talking very comfortably in medical jargon.

It is not true that there is a -- it was a uniform response to Trump or Kavanaugh among women. Among blue-collar white women, the Trump is much more popular. And in polling just out yesterday, a majority of non-college white women said they believe Kavanaugh and he should be confirmed.

But on the other side of the ledger, among those white collar white women, Democrats are poised to have their best showing in a midterm election possibly ever.

The best they've ever polled among them is 52 percent. They are polling at above 60 percent now. Routinely, in surveys measuring of support for November. And in that poll yesterday, roughly 60 percent of them said they believe forward and believe that Kavanaugh should not be confirmed.

So for the president to come out and mock this woman at a moment when the backlash, the recoil from him among suburban professional white women is the single biggest threat to the Republican majority in the House, in these white-collar suburban --


BROWNSTEIN: -- districts, in every major -- around every major city in the country. It is just -- you know an extraordinary moment of putting out a fire with gasoline.

CHURCH: You're right. And Ron, just finally --


BROWNSTEIN: I have to saying those.

CHURCH: Just finally, CNN is reporting that Donald Trump tried to get his son Eric to help him with hush money payments to Stormy Daniels along with his former lawyer Michael Cohen. Which means, of course, Mr. Trump apparently knew about these payments to keep Stormy Daniels quiet.

What do you make of all of that?

BROWNSTEIN: Leaving aside the family dynamics of enlisting your son and to help pay off your mistress. And the issue of your alleged mistress and the issue of his continued involvement in the Trump Organization which was something, of course, which was supposed to be in the past.

Look, I mean, this is just another area. We have over 60 percent of Americans consistently saying in polls that the -- they do not believe the president's honest or trustworthy.

Now, I said to you before, the fact that his approval rating is around 40 percent, while unemployment is around four percent, our two numbers that should not be able to be contained in the same sentence. There's no president in American history, I think, for the president having such equivocal approval ratings when the economy is this strong.

And the reason that he is below where he should be are precisely these kinds of doubts about him personally.

Some people say -- you know, he's kind of skating above all of this. It is simply not true. He should be 15, 18 points higher I think in approval than where he is. And the only reason he isn't is because many of the people who are doing best, this kind of comes back to where we were before.

And these white collar suburbs who are doing the best in this economy, nonetheless, are making a judgment about his values, priorities, temperament, that is causing more of them than usual to vote Democratic in the midterm and that's the biggest threat to Republicans of five weeks from tonight. CHURCH: Ron Brownstein, always good to have your perspective and analysis. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.


CHURCH: Still to come, the political survival of British prime minister Theresa May could be on the line. In just a few hours from now, she will defend her Brexit plan after one of her fiercest critics challenged her authority. We'll have the details for you next with a live report.

Plus a major meeting of Catholic leaders is about to begin in Rome with the dark cloud of the sex abuse scandal hanging overhead. We'll have a live report on that as well. Back in a moment.




CHURCH: In just a few hours from now, British prime minister Theresa May will again defend her Brexit plan which is closely tied to her own political survival. This photo shows her preparing her --


CHURCH: -- closing speech at the Conservative Party conference.

Ms. May is standing by her proposal to keep some close economic ties with the European Union but Brexit negotiations have stalled less than six months before Britain leaves the E.U., deal or no deal.

And now, she's facing fierce criticism from one of the most recognizable and flamboyant figures in British politics, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson urged the Conservative Party not to support May's vision for Brexit. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: All this nonsense we would have to implement with no ability to change or resist. That is not pragmatic. That is not a compromise. It is dangerous and unstable, politically and economically.

My fellow Conservatives, it is not democracy. That is not what we voted for.


CHURCH: CNN's Bianca Nobilo joins us now live from Birmingham, where Ms. May will deliver her closing speech at the conference with her Conservative Party.

Good to see you, Bianca.

So what is expected to come out of Prime Minister Theresa May's speech, as the pressure mounts with her rival, Boris Johnson?

We just saw him there making it clear he rejects her Brexit plan.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in his speechful news, he is passionate address yesterday when he told the audience and the country at large as he knew they would be watching that they should chuck Chequers and revert to her original plan which saw a more different relationship with the E.U.

So key to Theresa May's speech today is to strike an optimistic tone, to say that the country still has a future full of promise, that their best days are ahead of them and that Britain has everything it takes to succeed.

It's important that she strikes that tone because it's something that has been lacking from this Brexit debate. It's something that people have been talking about on their doorstop, in the High Street for a while. But I've noticed it a lot here at conference from membership and indeed from many MPs that I have spoken to.

They've been in quite a hurry to speak to journalist and let them know that they do want a more optimistic vision for the future of Britain and they're keen to move past Brexit (INAUDIBLE) agenda.

So she'll be trying to strike that tone because Boris Johnson, although many people have a plethora of areas over which to criticize him, he does manage to convey that vision convey that optimism for what Brexit can bring for Britain. So that's what she's competing with and that's what we're likely to hear from the prime minister today.

CHURCH: So given that, which plan is likely to be supported by the Conservative Party in the end, with the strategy of May or of Johnson prevail?

NOBILO: I think it will depend on what we hear from the E.U. in the coming weeks. We're approaching this critical deadline of October 19th for the U.S.. Back when the referendum happened in 2016, that date was always the one where the U.K. and the E.U. were supposed to have a deal agreed for Brexit.

Any later and it is moving past the deadline and then it's really getting to that crunch period before Britain leaves in March next year. So Theresa May this week has dug her heels in. She's demanding respect from the E.U. That's also likely to go down well with the party membership.

Her inner sanctum of cabinet ministers have also given speeches this week demanding the same level of respect from the E.U. and saying that they don't want to compromise on the prime minister's Chequers plan but it is a way of getting the best of both worlds.

However, many people I've spoken to at this conference -- and it does, in some respects feel like a parallel conference going on -- want to chuck Chequers. They feel it is actually not the best of both worlds; it is the worst of both worlds because you're not fully aligned with all the access that Britain currently has with the E.U. but also you don't have the autonomy because Britain won't be fully broken away, unable to strike trade deals with the rest of the world.

And rather concerningly for the prime minister, I also heard that remark from Remainers. So people you think would take a more moderate tone with these negotiations have said that Theresa May's middle path, that her Chequers proposal is, in fact, the worst of both worlds and if Britain can't remain in the E.U., then they want to see Britain break away firmly in the Canada-style deal.

In fact, Boris Johnson's own father told me that on CNN last night. So she's trying to mend those divisions within the party and get them all on board to support her plan.

CHURCH: It is quite a mission for her. Let's hope she doesn't have the same problem she had last time. Bianca Nobilo, joining us from Birmingham. It is nearly 7:30 in the morning. Many thanks.

In Rome, a major meeting of Catholic bishops from around the world will soon get underway. The synod is expected to focus on the role women and young people in the church and its positions on gender and sexuality.


CHURCH: Also for the first time ever, two bishops from China will be attending. CNN's Delia Gallagher is live. She joins us now from Rome.

Delia, this comes at a very difficult time for the climate change with a worldwide sex abuse scandal casting a very dark shadow over its operations.

How will the church broach that issue or will it choose to ignore the matter during this meeting?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: This is a meeting that is going to take a month. It brings together some 250 bishops, including 50 cardinals, from around the world.

The particular theme of this meeting is young people, state and vocational discernment. So it has a very specific agenda. But as you say, this is all taking place as the Catholic Church and the Vatican are under increasing pressure for the sex abuse crisis.

So while there's an official agenda, there's also a sort of informal agenda when you get all of these bishops together from around the world. Certainly it may not be part of the formal discussions but in the informal talks, there's no doubt that the sex abuse crisis is looming large. And it is an opportunity for these bishops to speak to each other ahead of a February meeting next year that the pope has called specifically to talk about the sex abuse crisis. But this meeting, is something that the pope called to bring everybody

together with young people. The Vatican held a survey a couple of months ago with young people from around the world as to what their concerns were. And what came out was everything from technology to sexuality.

So they've got a lot of ground to cover and the young people will come and tell them what is happening in their countries. What are their concerns. What are the things they would like changed.

One of the new things on the agenda is LGBT young people and their concerns. That's an acronym that the Vatican hasn't used before and there will be some discussion about that, as there will be about contraception and gay relationships. So the floor is quite open for Vatican, is saying, the bishops to hear what are the concerns of young people.

Now what could actually come out of this is very up in the air because usually what happens is they have a lot of talk and they produce a final document about what their discussions were and that goes to the pope.

And then it's up to Pope Francis if he chooses to issue some kind of change or to simply restate what the church has always said about these things and so on.

So we see in the course of a month what kind of changes, if any, are going to come out of this synod.

As you say, one of the new things is the participation of two bishops from China. This comes on the heels of the agreement between the government in Beijing and the Vatican to try and unite the two churches there, which one an official Chinese Catholic Church, really run by the Beijing government, and one an unofficial Catholic Church.

The Vatican is hoping now that these two will be united and the presence of these two Chinese bishops is a result of that agreement.

CHURCH: Delia Gallagher, many thanks to you, joining us live from Rome, where it is nearly 8:30 in the morning.

Let's take a very short break here. Still to come, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo travels to Pyongyang later this week after several hiccups in the negotiation process.

Will the U.S. and North Korea make a deal on denuclearization?

We will have a live report for you from Seoul.

And on her first major solo trip as U.S. first lady, Melania Trump heads to Africa, a continent her husband has belittled in the past. We'll take a look at that.


[02:31:10] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. Indonesia's President is getting another firsthand look at the devastation from Friday's earthquake and tsunami. He was at the side of an eight-story hotel that collapsed with dozens of people still inside. His visit comes amid frustration over the pace of aid.

More than 1200 people died in the disaster and hundreds are injured. The toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered. The White House is blasting a New York Times report on how Donald Trump made his fortune. The paper's investigation shows Mr. Trump inherited today's equivalent of more than $400 million from his father, much of it from schemes to help his parents evade paying taxes. The Times has also published a 1983 letter from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in which he describes himself and his friends as loud obnoxious drunks.

It comes amid growing concerns over how honest Kavanaugh has been about his drinking while in high school and college. Well, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading back to Pyongyang later this week in an effort to organize a second summit between U.S. President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. This trip comes just as South Korea's Unification Minister says the North they may as many as 60 nuclear weapon.

Our Paula Hancocks is closely following all these developments and she joins us now live from Seoul. Good to see you again, Paula. So what is expected to come out of this visit to North Korea by the U.S. Secretary of State particularly with this new information regarding the number of nuclear weapons Pyongyang may have?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, this was -- this was the unification minister talking to parliament and giving information that he'd been given from the intelligence agencies here in South Korea saying that there could be as few as 20 nuclear weapons that -- nuclear warheads that North Korea has in its possession or as many as 60. Now, it's the first time we've heard that kind of figure from a South Korean official as far as I can tell.

So clearly, this is hanging over the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's trip to Pyongyang whether it's brought up. We simply don't know but he will be meeting Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader on Sunday according to the State Department. And one of the main issues that they're expected to talk about is laying the groundwork for this upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. This has been talked about at length by the U.S. President in recent days.

He says he wants it to happen fairly soon. He has been very complimentary in his speech about Kim Jong-un talking about extraordinary letters that the North Korean letter has sent him. Even talking about how they have fallen in love so raising some eyebrows there. But the enthusiasm that the U.S. President has for this second summit certainly seems quite strong at this point. So that is expected to be one of the main things they'll talk about.

And on top of that, the North Koreans having said that they would be open to shutting down the Yongbyon Nuclear Facility if there are corresponding measures from the U.S. Clearly, those corresponding measures could be a rather a topic of conversation for Mike Pompeo when he goes to Pyongyang as well, Rosemary

CHURCH: And Paula, when might we hear more details about this next meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un?

HANCOCKS: Well, the U.S. President has said he wants it fairly soon. Kim Jong-un, according to the South Korean President Moon Jae-in who meet him a couple of weeks ago says he wants it as soon as possible, so that he can denuclearize and focus on the economy that in the words of the South Korean President. We did have one U.S. official speaking to CNN saying that Mr. Trump would potentially like it to be in the United States this next summit.

[02:35:12] But they have to check whether that's even possible for Kim Jong-un to do that whether he would be willing to go to the U.S., whether it would be the White House or New York. Certainly, straight after the Singapore summit back in June. The U.S. President said he was open to having it in the White House. When asked whether that would be possibly, he said, absolutely. But there are according to this U.S. official some reservations from within the Trump administration that an Oval Office meeting at a time and there aren't really clear signs that North Korea is denuclearizing whether or not that would be appropriate, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Paula Hancocks joining us live from Seoul in South Korea. We're just 3:35 in the afternoon. All right. So one of China's most famous actresses who hasn't been seen publicly since June is now facing massive fines for tax evasion. State media report that Fan Bingbing has been ordered to pay nearly $130 million for lying about how much money she made from some of her films. Fan posted an apology on social media saying this, as a public figure, I should have abided by laws and regulations and been a role model in the industry and society.

Fan says she completely accepts the decision by tax and authorities and plans to repay what she owes. We'll take another break here. Still to come, Melania Trump is in Africa right now. Why she chose to visit the continent for her first solo international trip as U.S. First Lady? We'll take a look at that. Back in just a moment.


CHURCH: A 96-year-old American has become the oldest person to ever win a Nobel Prize. Arthur Ashkin who is still doing research was cited for developing optical tweezers that helped laboratories examine viruses, bacteria, and cells. He shares the prize in Physics with France's Gerard Mourou and Canada's Donna Strickland, the first woman to win that Nobel Prize in 55 years. Strickland says she wasn't expecting it.


DONNA STRICKLAND, NOBEL PRIZE WINNER FOR PHYSICS: No. Why -- no. No. Very -- I mean obviously very few people win the Nobel Prize, so why would you want to waste too much time thinking about that? No. You know, obviously, I'm thrilled to win it. I'm not saying that it is an absolute thrill to win it. But certainly it never entered my mind that I would.


[02:40:10] CHURCH: Well done. Strickland and Mourou pioneered laser pulse technology used in corrective eye surgery. And the U.S. First Lady Melania Trump is expanding her presence on the world stage. She is visiting four countries in Africa this week travelling without her husband and that might be a good thing considering what President Trump has said about African countries in the past. CNN's Kate Bennett reports.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Melania Trump today touching down in Africa visiting Ghana to kick off her first major solo international trip as First Lady, greeted at the airport by dignitaries and children. The First Lady's initial steps as part of this good will tour to Africa where she will head from Ghana to Malawi, Kenya, and finally Egypt. It's a continent that her husband President Donald Trump has had a somewhat contentious relationship with after a fork that he referred to some nations there as S-hole countries earlier this year.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.

BENNETT: Additionally, the President's administration has made steep budget cuts and funding for assistance programs such as USAID which the First Lady has partnered with on this Africa trip. That agency continues to spend billions of dollars helping Africans with medical needs, disease prevention, and educational programs. Mrs. Trump's own initiatives often strike a stark contrast from those of her husband including her stance on preventing cyber bullying even as the President continues to go on social media habits.

And it's expected that Mrs. Trump will visit an animal conservation program at some point during the Africa trip, she would notably be doing so at odds with her stepsons who advocate and hunt big game. In March of this year, Trump's administration loosened rules for trophy hunting allowing it on a case by case basis. But earlier today, the President for one didn't seem to mind his wife's policy positions saying he was happy to see footage of her on television.

TRUMP: So Melania is in Africa. I just saw on television her walking out of the plane. It was beautiful and saying hello to the kids. She is really doing a great job as First Lady.

BENNETT: As for the First Lady, she spent the morning at a local hospital where Trump who is trying to promote her Be Best Initiative of helping children on the global stage watch as a baby was being weigh and then got hands on picking up a six-month-old for a little FaceTime. Her trip goals include helping smooth the relationship between America and Africa, a continent she has never before visited.

MELANIA TRUMP, UNITED STATES FIRST LADY: Each of us hails from a country with its own unique challenges. But I know in my heart we are united by our commitment to raising the next generation to be happy, healthy, and morally responsible adults.

BENNETT: Kate Bennett, CNN Ghana.


CHURCH: And what's where we leave you. Thanks for your company on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN. Stick around.


[02:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)