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U.S. Senate Vote on Kavanaugh; Interpol President's Disappearance; Nobel Peace Prize Champions Survivors of Sexual Violence; Russian Espionage; Indonesia Disasters; Boko Haram Threatens to Kill Schoolgirl; "A Star Is Born" Wins Critics. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired October 6, 2018 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Judge Brett Kavanaugh is set to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice after a set of dramatic speeches.

Plus a mystery at Interpol. This man, the president of the International Police Agency, is missing.

And the Nobel Peace Prize committee honors a survivor and a doctor who dedicated their lives to healing others from the horrors of sexual violence in war.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast.

In a few hours time, a controversial Supreme Court candidate is likely to pass through a divided Senate and on to the high court. A final vote is expected Saturday on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As of right now, he has the votes to be confirmed, this after two previously undecided Republicans and a single Democratic senator announced that they would support him. Looking at live images now in Washington, D.C., Democrats are holding the Senate floor open for debate tonight. CNN's Manu Raju has the latest now from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After one of the most intensely fought confirmation battles in a generation, Brett Kavanaugh now headed to the Supreme Court.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. RAJU: A key Republican senator, Susan Collins, announcing she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh for a lifetime seat and handing President Trump a historic victory amid furious protests over Kavanaugh's nomination and sexual assault allegations.

COLLINS: We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be.

The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night or at some other time. But they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the "more likely than not" standard. Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.

RAJU: Collins had been under enormous pressure for weeks, facing angry protesters, storming her office and forcing her to be escorted by police who blocked anyone, including reporters, from approaching her. The senator even interrupted at the beginning of her speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Collins, please don't vote. I'm a voter from Maine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator will suspend. The sergeant at arms will suspend.

RAJU: Senator Joe Manchin, a red-state Democrat up for reelection in November, also announcing his intent to support Kavanaugh as protests broke out in front of his office.

RAJU: You can listen to the people here. Are you concerned about --

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I'm concerned, basically, with the sexual abuse people that people have had to endure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame, shame, shame.

MANCHIN: And I'm very much concerned that we have to do something as a country, but I had to deal with the facts that I had in front of me.

RAJU: Kavanaugh now will be confirmed by one of the narrowest margins for a Supreme Court nominee in history, ending a fight that bitterly divided the country just ahead of next month's midterm elections.

Behind the scenes, Republican leaders scrambled, after Collins said she'd announce her decision on the final vote later in the afternoon, with top Republican leaders privately lunching with her and hearing her concerns.

Both parties were on edge all day, as protesters hounded key senators after Kavanaugh's nomination barely cleared a crucial roadblock to advance to Saturday's confirmation vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On this vote, the "yeas" are 51; the "nos" are 49. The motion is agreed to.

RAJU: Collins and Manchin, along with Republican Jeff Flake, all voted to advance the nomination. But Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska quietly voted "no."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Murkowski.

RAJU: She later told reporters it was the most difficult evaluation she's had to make, saying, "He's not the right man for the court at this time."

Now after her speech, Susan Collins told reporters that she had struggled with this decision, even as she went point by point, defending Brett Kavanaugh's record and all of the allegations made against him in that speech, even questioning --

[04:05:00]

RAJU: -- whether or not Christine Blasey Ford, one of Brett Kavanaugh's accusers, was being used by Democrats to derail the nomination.

And Joe Manchin, I asked him if he believed Christine Blasey Ford's Ford and he said he did but he isn't sure that it was actually Brett Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her. He believes it may have been somebody else. And he also thinks that the FBI investigation was thorough, from what he has seen, siding with the Republican argument.

But now the question is how much backlash will those two receive at home? -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: In the meantime the U.S. president is optimistic that his nominee will get confirmed on Saturday.

Mr. Trump tweeted this, quote, "Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting yes to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh."

Mr. Trump commented earlier this week about Christine Blasey Ford. You will remember he mocked her during -- of her allegations during a campaign speech, a rally that he had. Ford's attorney shared her client's reaction with CNN's Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA BANKS, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S ATTORNEY: She was upset by it. It was very hurtful, as it would be to any woman, any survivor, who had the courage to come forward, only to be mocked and belittled by anyone, really, but certainly by the President of the United States. It was very upsetting, it was very hurtful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And we will have more of Dana's interview with Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys just in about 20 minutes here in this newscast.

Let's talk more with Steven Erlanger, he is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for "The New York Times" live via Skype in Brussels.

Always a pleasure to have you. As of now, Brett Kavanaugh has the votes to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice. However, given what he said during his testimony defending against sexual assault allegations, there are questions about whether he would be able to be above politics, an impartial arbiter, as he insisted in the op-ed that he wrote.

We recently heard from Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan about the importance of impartiality and the validity of the court with impartiality. Let's listen.

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JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Part of the court's legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of this country now. In other words, people thinking of the court as not politically divided in the same way, as not an extension of politics but instead somehow above the fray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So the question, given what we know of Kavanaugh, given what we've heard during that testimony, what impact might he have on the overall perception of the Supreme Court?

STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It was very unusual to have a Supreme Court nominee attacking one party in the Senate hearing. That was pretty unusual.

It was very unusual to have a Supreme Court nominee go on a news channel, FOX News, before the nomination was carried through or to write an op-ed piece for "The Wall Street Journal," saying, gosh, he wishes he had behaved differently.

But the court has been seen as political for a long time. I mean, I would like Elena Kagan's words to be true. But they are not.

Ever since the famous Florida chad overturning of Gore's popular vote victory, the court has been seen as deeply political and partisan. Now not on every issue but we still fight in America about moral issues that the rest of the world seems to have put to bed, issues like the death penalty and abortion.

And this is one of the great reasons Donald Trump was elected president, I believe, because even Republican women who were not happy with what he has been saying in the campaign about women did not want Hillary Clinton nominating a Supreme Court justices. They wanted a Republican doing that.

So you know, here we go. Is it a partisan court?

Of course it is.

HOWELL: All right. Well, you say here we go.

Looking ahead, what are some of the cases where Mr. Kavanaugh could have the greatest impact should he be confirmed?

ERLANGER: I'm not entirely sure because I haven't studied the court. But one of the clear cases that Trump had talked about during the campaign was Roe versus Wade, which is the famous case that found abortion within limits to be constitutional within the United States.

Now a case would have to be brought to overturn it. That is not predictable. Who knows if that would happen. And even if it were overturned, it would go back to the states. And is not clear that Brett Kavanaugh would vote to repeal Roe versus Wade. The point is he has been a --

[04:10:00]

ERLANGER: -- very traditional conservative like many others on the court.

What the other thing about the court that is really interesting is that I think that there are -- you know, now will be six Catholics and three Jews, which makes it a kind of religiously interesting court, particularly on these sort of issues of what we consider moral values.

You know, Brett Kavanaugh is a man of his time. And so I think that he has more modern views on a lot of issues about sexual equality and so on, despite what we've just been through. But we'll have to see. We'll have many, many decades to see what Brett Kavanaugh is like on the court.

HOWELL: And politically speaking, where does this put the Democrats heading into the midterms?

Democrats obviously holding the Senate floor overnight for debate right now. We can show our viewers again this is happening throughout the night.

The other question, what does it mean for Republicans heading into November?

ERLANGER: Well, we'll see. I think November will be very, very important as you and I have discussed before. If the Democrats can win back one house of Congress, this would make a big difference.

The anger in the country is such on both sides, let's be fair, because Republicans consider that the Democrats have behaved badly and certainly vice versa. If this turns out voters, then we will have a very interesting set of races indeed.

But it does raise the possibility that the Democrats could take back the Senate also, depending on the level of real outrage.

And I'm very curious to see, you know, what will happen to Susan Collins in 2020. She won, after all, 68 percent of the vote in 2014. So it will be a difficult thing for her opponents to overturn.

But she has taken upon herself an important vote. I think she did try to think it through. And sometimes I wonder why we don't ask the men in the Senate to take the same kind of public responsibility for their votes that we've made the women do.

HOWELL: Steven Erlanger, thank you very much your time and perspective.

ERLANGER: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: So for viewers, let's talk about the process moving forward. Again, the final Senate vote expected later on Saturday. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, the judge would likely take his seat on the bench almost immediately. The reason being that the 2018-2019 Supreme Court term has already started on October 1st.

Kavanaugh could vote on cases now under consideration. However, it is traditional that only those on the bench during a case during the oral arguments get to vote on its resolution.

Now to a story we're following about the president of Interpol who is missing. Meng Hongwei's wife told police that she last heard from him 10 days ago and had received threats on social networks and by telephone.

There is a report that he was in China but police in Lyons, France, where Interpol has its headquarters, will only say that he was not on French soil when he was last seen. CNN's senior producer Steven Jiang is following the story live for us in Beijing.

Steven, there are reports that he has been taken in by discipline authorities. Tell us more about that.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That's right. According to a Hong Kong based newspaper known for its connections inside the Chinese government, the "South China Morning Post" citing an anonymous source saying that Mr. Meng was taken away as soon as he landed here in China last week and he is now under investigation for unspecified reasons.

Although there is no official confirmation just yet but given what we know and the fact that he is also a vice minister of public security, his vanishing act really bears hallmarks of what happens to senior Chinese officials when they are suspected of violating the Communist Party's regulations, usually corruption.

George, fighting corruption has been a top priority for President Xi Jinping since he took power. It's been an immensely popular campaign but also very controversial because of the methods and tactics deployed by the party investigators. They are known to snatch people away and hold them incommunicado for

months at a time and sometimes even use torture to extract confessions. The whole process is really shrouded in secrecy.

And George, to also illustrate the point of how politically sensitive the story is, as we speak, CNN's signal is actually being --

[04:15:00]

JIANG: -- blacked out here by Chinese censors. And also this story has not been reported by China's state media at all and on social media networks, even though Mr. Meng's name has not entirely censored, any mention of his disappearance has been scrubbed clean.

HOWELL: Steven, this is not the first high profile disappearance involving a Chinese national. In recent weeks, a high profile actress also mysteriously disappeared. Tell us more about that.

JIANG: That's right, that was also a fascinating and some would say terrifying story. Fan Bingbing, often compared to Jennifer Lawrence in Hollywood because she was the country's most famous and highest paid actress, she just disappeared into thin air in June.

And we did not find out what had happened to her until a few days ago, when the government announced she had been under investigation for massive tax evasion and she was found guilty and ordered to pay back taxes and fines totaling about $130 million U.S. in total.

So that story really illustrates the murkiness and the nontransparency of this legal and the political system here and that certainly does not bode well for Mr. Meng in this latest case.

HOWELL: Steven Jiang following the story for us live in Beijing. Thank you so much for the reporting. We'll keep in touch with you there.

America's top diplomat has arrived in Japan. Mike Pompeo making his first stop on a trip to Asia. He is set to meet with the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. And after that, the secretary of state will make his fourth trip to North Korea.

There he is set to meet with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The topic of denuclearization sure to be on the agenda. Pompeo could also lay the groundwork for a second summit between Mr. Kim and the U.S. president, Donald Trump.

The newest Nobel Peace Prize winner may not be a household name, two of them. But they should be because they are fighting an important battle for millions of women around the world. We'll tell you about that.

Plus thousands of people desperately waiting for aid a week after a double set of natural disasters. We'll have the latest on the recovery efforts in Indonesia as CNN NEWSROOM continues.

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HOWELL: In conflict zones around the world, militants and terror groups often commit terrible crimes against women and girls. And this year the coveted Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two people who are dedicated to healing those wounds and stopping the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Nadia Murad is a young Yazidi woman who was kidnapped and held in slavery by ISIS in 2014. She now works with the U.N., advocating for human trafficking survivors.

And Dr. Denis Mukwege is a surgeon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has treated thousands in his country who have been brutalized by rape and extreme sectarian violence.

Mr. Mukwege was performing surgery when he heard of the news that he received this award. Dr. Mukwege has been a Nobel Peace Prize contender before because of his tireless fight against sexual violence. CNN's David McKenzie tracks his career.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the clinic, the joy for their surgeon was immediate.

MCKENZIE: Hello, is this Denis Mukwege?

DENIS MUKWEGE, SURGEON, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: Yes.

MCKENZIE: First of all, many congratulations on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

MUKWEGE: It was so touching when I was operating and I hear people start to cry. And it was so, so, so touching.

MCKENZIE: That is lovely.

So you were operating when you heard the news?

MUKWEGE: Exactly.

MCKENZIE: How very appropriate.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): When we met him in Panzi Hospital nearly a decade ago, he was already called The Angel of Bukavu, confronting the horrors of war with the hands of a skilled surgeon and the heart of a tireless advocate.

MUKWEGE (through translator): I can help them heal physically and sometimes it is also important to help them heal psychologically and tell them, you are not destroyed.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): For years, sometimes without electricity, often without water, Mukwege tried to repair the victims of rape and sexual violence, conducting at least 40,000 delicate surgeries in his career.

In the Eastern Congo, the conflict continues to ebb and flow, rape always a favored weapon, women and young girls always a target left with brutal, often life-threatening injuries. Yet Mukwege has never become numb to their pain.

MUKWEGE (through translator): To see these atrocities is something that dismays you. You have a feeling that you don't understand anything. You are completely perplexed by what you're seeing.

But afterwards, you have to react. And the reaction is to regive life, regive the dignity that has been lost and try to repair what has been damaged. My personal joy is found in the strength of these women.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Mukwege always said that silence prolongs suffering. He helps his patients fight the stigma of rape to not accept victimhood but to demand change. And even before Friday's announcement, he took their message to the global stage, calling for justice, never shying from the horrifying reality that rape is a weapon of war.

Mukwege's brave stand made him enemies. He survived an assassination attempt in October 2012 and had to flee the country. But soon after, he returned to Panzi Hospital to his life's work, now recognized with the highest of honors.

MUKWEGE (through translator): You can't just imagine how a smile, a simple handshake, to just tell them to be encouraging, to feel that they are loved.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And also the other Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nadia Murad, endured unthinkable --

[04:25:00]

HOWELL: -- violence, terror and grief at the hands of ISIS. Our Arwa Damon reports that the pain isn't stopping her from empowering women around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So many have so much admiration for Nadia Murad, not just because of how she managed to survive her ordeal and emerge such a powerful figure but because she also has the courage to speak so openly about it. She, along with thousands of other Yazidi women, were kidnapped by

ISIS back in 2014, the vast majority of them were sold like animals into sexual slavery. She managed to escape but not before being raped by her so-called ISIS husband and then gang-raped when she tried to escape a first time and was punished for it.

But her ability to speak out is really perhaps serving to break a stigma of silence that so many other women are afflicted with because it is so hard to speak about these things in a society, not just one like Iraq but across the entire world.

She embodies not only that determination to fight, to not allow one's spirit to be broken but also a more broader movement among women, women who refuse to be silenced no matter what culture it is that they are in, women who are saying no to violence, no to sexual violence to be used as a weapon of war, women standing up together and embodying this movement for change.

She herself has said on numerous occasions that she wants to be a voice for change, a powerful voice for women, not just in her home country of Iraq but across the world -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Around the world and in the U.S., you are watching NEWSROOM. Still ahead, Christine Blasey Ford endured grueling public testimony about Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. Still ahead, her attorneys tell CNN about her reaction to the process, how she is responding to criticism and what she wants now.

Plus, Russia is being mocked after being caught in an alleged spy plot. CNN's Matthew Chance reports from Moscow. Stay with us.

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[04:30:00]

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HOWELL: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.

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HOWELL: Here in the United States, the nation is bitterly divided about the likelihood of Judge Brett Kavanaugh getting a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Senators voting in favor of Kavanaugh are struggling to explain their vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering, where she says the assault occurred.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), W.V.: I believe Dr. Ford. Something happened to Dr. Ford. I don't believe that the facts show that it was Brett Kavanaugh but I believe something happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And Christine Blasey Ford, her attorneys say that her client is satisfied, she told her story and does not plan to have any future plans to pursue the matter further. The attorneys spoke with CNN's Dana Bash about it.

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DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Have you heard any regrets from her about coming out the way she did?

BANKS: I don't think she has any regrets. I think she feels like she did the right thing and this was what she wanted to do which was provide this information to the committee so they could make the best decision possible. And I think she still feels that was the right thing to do. So I don't think she has any regrets.

BASH: President Trump, I'm sure you saw, mocked yours testimony at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night. The crowd who are obviously big Trump supporters applauded. Did you speak to Professor Ford? Did she see that and what was her reaction?

BANKS: She did. She was upset by it. It was very hurtful. As it would be to any woman, any survivor, who had the courage to come forward, only to be mocked and belittled by anyone, really. But certainly by the President of the United States. It was very upsetting, it was very hurtful.

BASH: So one of the things that has gotten Republicans really enraged is that during her testimony, Professor Ford told the committee that she wasn't clear that there was an offer to you, her legal team, from the committee to --

[04:35:00]

BASH: -- have the committee fly out to California and have a private conversation with her, interview with her, as opposed to flying her for a public hearing. Is that true?

BANKS: No. We as her counsel informed her of all options made available to us by the committee. We showed her all the correspondence. And what they were offering was to send staffers to California to interview her. Dr. Ford wanted to speak to the committee members themselves. And I think what you saw in the hearing was that Dr. Ford got a little confused and thought that Senator Grassley was suggesting that he himself would have come to California, which was not what he had offered at all.

BASH: The allegations they're making very blatantly, is that she has lawyers, you two, who are Democrats, who wanted to have a public spectacle.

DEBRA KATZ, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S ATTORNEY: Dana, that is such a ludicrous accusation. And we have not wanted to respond because it's such a distraction, deflection. Our client was advised of every single option given to her by the committee. She saw every single communication. She is a smart woman. She wanted to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Not speak to members of his staff.

BASH: If Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh or even if he stays on the federal bench he's on now. Would Professor Ford like impeachment proceedings to begin?

KATZ: Professor Ford has not asked for anything of the sort. What she did was to come forward and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And agreed to cooperate with any investigation by the FBI. And that's what she saw to do here.

BASH: She said no. She's not going there on impeachment.

KATZ: No.

BASH: She does not want him to be impeached.

KATZ: No.

BASH: She does not want him to be impeached?

KATZ: No.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: We are also hearing from members of Christine Blasey Ford's family. Her sister-in-law spoke to CNN about the backlash that Ford has received for speaking out against Brett Kavanaugh. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBORAH FORD PETERS, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S SISTER-IN-LAW: I think when her sexual trauma involved being laughed at and being helpless and both of those things have happened, she's been laughed at by the President of the United States, with people applauding and laughing.

So I can only imagine from what I know about trauma that she is probably feeling a whole host of intolerable, terrible feelings right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: In the meantime, demonstrations against Kavanaugh's confirmation are planned around the United States. One of the biggest scheduled for Washington, D.C., in the coming hours. The Planned Parenthood action fund, the Sierra Club and the NAACP are among groups supporting the rallies.

They follow several protests that have already taken place across the United States this week against the Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Now to Russia, fighting back against being accused of carrying out worldwide cyber attacks, Moscow says that it is all hysteria and spyphobia, it says. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are among those pointing fingers at Russia and identifying spies.

Just this week the Netherlands announced that it expelled four officers of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency. They were accused of planning a cyber attack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

But despite their reputation, a British official says that the Russian agents behaved a lot more like Mr. Bean than James Bond. Our Matthew Chance explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWAN ATKINSON, ACTOR, "JOHNNY ENGLISH": Johnny English. I'm here to see Pegasus.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all too easy to mock a bungling spy. More Johnny English than James Bond is how one British minister dubbed Russia's GRU agents in a series of embarrassing blunders.

Take the four agents recently expelled from the Netherlands. Not only were they caught red handed trying to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog, but one of them even had a Moscow taxi receipt in his pocket showing a ride from GRU headquarters in the Russian capital to the airport. Great for accounting, not good for espionage.

Of course, even the best secret agents can make mistakes. Not that long ago, Russia mocked British spies after filming them using an electronic gadget disguised as a rock to receive information. And it's just a few years since an alleged CIA agent was unmasked in Moscow and shown on TV wearing a particularly bad blond wig.

The concern about recent sloppiness of Russian spies, though, is that they don't seem to really care about being caught. The suspected GRU agents accused of poisoning the Skripals --

[04:40:00]

CHANCE (voice-over): -- in Britain earlier this year made little attempt to hide their tracks. The pair were repeatedly caught on CCTV traveling to and from Salisbury, even Novichok, the poison used, is identifiably Russian.

And as for their cover story, as broadcast on Russian state television, unconvincing is one that springs to mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our friends have been suggesting for quite some time that we visit this wonderful city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Salisbury, a wonderful city?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What makes it so wonderful?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's a tourist city. They have a famous cathedral there, Salisbury Cathedral. It's famous throughout Europe and in fact, throughout the world, I think. It's famous for its 123-meter spire. It's famous for its clock.

CHANCE: Implausible deniability, that's one way of seeing it. The Kremlin sending a blunt message to its enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, remember, every agent would carry a pen that looked just like this, completely innocent to the untrained eye, but click it twice --

CHANCE: Plain old incompetence, though, cannot be ruled out.

"ENGLISH": Have you seen my secretary?

CHANCE (voice-over): Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Got to love Mr. Bean there.

Still ahead, we're following this tragedy in Indonesia after double natural disasters. Rescue workers there are not giving up the search for anyone who could still be alive. We'll have the story ahead. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: More than a week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Indonesia, the hope of finding survivors is fading. Rescue teams are still searching for more than 1,000 people who are missing. But they are mostly bringing back bodies. Officials say more than 1,500 people have died and that --

[04:45:00]

HOWELL: -- that number will likely rise as information from remote areas continues to trickle in.

Joining me now from Palu, Indonesia, Wahyu Widayanto. Wahyu is with CARE Indonesia's emergency response, the coordinator.

We appreciate your time today, Wahyu. First of all, tell us about the difficulty of getting out to those remote areas and, of course, finding people who may still be missing.

Do you hear me here on the phone?

Are you with us?

WAHYU WIDAYANTO, CARE INDONESIA EMERGENCY RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, hello, George.

HOWELL: Thank you again for taking time with us. We are looking at images of what seems to be so many people in this area where they are searching for people who could be missing. Talk to us, if you would, just about the difficulty of getting out to those remote areas.

WIDAYANTO: First of all (INAUDIBLE) in Palu (INAUDIBLE) and I'm -- what I also am hearing (INAUDIBLE) area. There is a lot of people (INAUDIBLE) really depend (INAUDIBLE) after the earthquake (INAUDIBLE).

And right now it's (INAUDIBLE) people to leave and they're leaving -- (INAUDIBLE) shelter and also the (INAUDIBLE) also water and food, of course -- George.

HOWELL: Wahyu, again, we're looking at this image, these live images right now from Palu, Indonesia, where it is 4:46 pm . And again, what we're seeing, so that you understand it, we're seeing so many people who are all together in what seems to be an area where they are searching -- still searching for survivors.

What is the mood of people there?

Just given what everyone has gone through, how are people dealing with this so many days on?

WIDAYANTO: Yes, yes. Some people still are (INAUDIBLE) and some people still are leaving the (INAUDIBLE) aftershocks. And they also (INAUDIBLE) people from the government and the NGOs (INAUDIBLE) for -- from basic needs like food, water but, of course, the number is not enough.

Are you there?

Hello?

HOWELL: Still with you, yes. Go ahead and continue.

We may be having some technical issues with Wahyu Widayanto's phone. But again, what he has explained to us is that the search continues there and it will certainly take some time, an extended amount of time, certainly many, many more weeks, possibly months to reach out to those rural areas and find people who are still missing and the continue to recover bodies. We again appreciate Wahyu Widayanto, who joined us on the phone from CARE Indonesia.

And, of course, if you would like to help victims who were affected by this earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, you can find help at a link at cnn.com/impact. That is where you can find again links to organizations that you can trust that are working on relief efforts there. In Nigeria, the parents of a kidnapped schoolgirl tell CNN that the terror group Boko Haram is threatening to kill their daughter if its demands are not met. Our Farai Sevenzo has the disturbing details from Nairobi.

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FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are real concerns in Northeast Nigeria about the fate of 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, who was abducted along with 100 other of her schoolmates from the Government Girls' Science and Technological College up in Dapchi, northeast Nigeria.

Over the last couple days, Leah's parents, Nathan and Rebecca Sharibu, have issued a desperate plea for the government of Nigeria to try to do everything they can to bring their daughter back. They say that the militants have threatened to kill Leah this October if their demands are not met.

No one has been privy to them but we know that, in the past, they usually involve money, exchanging of money and the freeing of captured Boko Haram insurgents. Now we don't know what stage these negotiations are at. And we do know that October, no firm fixed date but October is when reportedly the Boko Haram militants have said that they will kill 15-year-old Leah.

And President Buhari is very keen to be seen to be on the side of those who are aching for better security up in the northeast of Nigeria. He tweeted in the last couple of days, "Toady I spoke with Ms. Rebecca Sharibu to reiterate our determination to bring her daughter, Leah, back home safely."

And of course he says we will do everything we can to bring them back.

There are over 1,000 kids that have been taken --

[04:50:00]

SEVENZO: -- by Boko Haram since 2013. And remember also, April 2014, 200 girls taken from Chibok. About 93 of those still remain missing. But the fate of Leah no one quite knows what will happen to her -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Farai, thank you for that reporting.

You're watching NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

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(MUSIC PLAYING) HOWELL: A movie star is buzzing about meeting New Zealand's prime minister and one very special guest. Anne Hathaway posted the picture that you see here of her and prime minister Jacinda Ardern on Instagram on Friday.

But it looks like the real star of the show was the prime minister's baby, Neve. Hathaway says she spoke with Ms. Ardern at the U.N. She praised the prime minister for supporting paid paternal leave.

This next story is the cinematic gift that keeps on giving. The movie "A Star Is Born," the fourth version of the romantic drama, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is out in the U.S. and the U.K. And this latest rendition has critics raving for hitting all the right notes.

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HOWELL: David Daniel has this report.

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LADY GAGA, ACTOR, "ALLY": Tell me something, boy, aren't you tired trying to fill that void?

DAVID DANIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bradley Cooper plays heavy drinking musician Jackson Maine, who falls for a young singer in "A Star Is Born.'

"ALLY": I don't sing my own songs.

BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR, "JACKSON MAINE": What?

"ALLY": I just don't feel comfortable.

COOPER: When you are in that environment and you create something that we're all proud of, it bonds you forever. And that is just -- I guess just luck that I happened to find myself working with people with such huge hearts.

DANIEL (voice-over): Lady Gaga plays Ally, who lacks the confidence to make it big.

"ALLY": Almost every single person has told me they like the way I sounded that they didn't like the way I look.

"MAINE": I think you're beautiful.

DANIEL (voice-over): "A Star Is Born" is also Cooper's feature directing debut.

COOPER: I think I just got to a point and I was so clear with the story I wanted to tell. And I think maybe people felt that and they were willing to trust me, that I was going to take care of them.

DANIEL (voice-over): The film is generating Oscar buzz for its acting, directing and music. (MUSIC PLAYING)

DANIEL (voice-over): In Hollywood, I'm David Daniel.

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HOWELL: Thanks for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Let's do it again, another hour of news right after the break. Stay with us.