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Pressure Grows on the Saudi as it Prepares to Admit Khashoggi was Killed; Business Leaders Pullout of Investment Summit in Saudi Arabia; Saudi King Denied Knowledge of Khashoggi Disappearance; Yemen Worst Famine in 100 Years; Civilians Inside Idlib's Demilitarized Zone; Pressure for U.K. Brexit Plan; Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, Pregnant. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 16, 2018 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: An interrogation gone wrong, perhaps. Two sources say Saudi Arabia is preparing a report on what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We are live in Istanbul and in Riyadh with the details. Plus, CNN gets an exclusive tour of a negotiated demilitarized zone, one that stands as a last hope for people living in (inaudible) Idlib province.

And then later, President Trump goes on a hurricane relief tour and admits there is something there when it comes to climate change. Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is "CNN Newsroom".

Faced with a deepening diplomatic crisis, Saudi Arabia is reportedly ready to admit a prominent journalist who has been missing for two weeks is dead. Sources say the Saudis will acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi died in botched interrogation. They are expected to say the plan was to abduct Khashoggi from turkey and they will likely say the operation was not authorized. U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to Saudi King Salman on Monday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The king firmly denies any knowledge of it. He didn't really know. Maybe -- I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows? We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.

It's just one very, you know, relatively fast phone call, probably lasted 20 minutes. His denial could not have been stronger that he had no knowledge. And it sounded like he and also, the crown prince had no knowledge.


CHURCH: And the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has just arrived in Riyadh. We're bringing you these live pictures now. The plan is that he will meet with King Salman to discuss this case. And Turkish authorities were finally allowed inside the consulate late Monday. They searched it for about nine hours.

We will have the latest from CNN Sam Kiley in Riyadh and Nic Robertson outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. We have them here now. Sam, let's start with you, as we just saw with those pictures. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just arrived there in Riyadh. He will meet with the Saudi king. That is critical to see what comes out of that. What are the expectations and will we then hear a little bit more after that critical meeting?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Rosemary, the first element of this meeting that the Saudis will be able to present to Mr. Pompeo is that they have indeed ordered -- the king has ordered the Saudi attorney general to lead an investigation into what is being termed the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi.

So that indicates a step taken -- first of all, it reinforces the reporting that came out overnight from CNN sources that said that that is just what he has done. That is now publicly confirmed that an investigation is ongoing by the Saudi authorities in to what they now accept is a disappearance of their citizen.

In terms of what Donald Trump said there in that clip that we played, Rosemary, it is very telling that he was (inaudible) the U.S. president to distance both the Saudi king and his son the crown prince from any future or potential responsibility as far as the United States is concerned.

Joining in the narrative now which is to project down through the Saudi system if there is an admission of some kind of Saudi role in this towards what the U.S. president called rogue killers. Now, that is not so far satisfying at all to Mr. Khashoggi's family who put out a statement and I'll read a little bit to you, Rosemary, because I think it is very important what they're trying to say here.

They said, "Our family is traumatized and yearns to be together during this painful time. The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us, to call for an establishment for an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death."

Whether or not the Saudis would agree to an international commission when they now have their own local investigation being conducted into what they are terming a disappearance, I think it's pretty unlikely that this will be a moment when Kin Salman and the U.S. Secretary will be trying to put this whole issue behind them because it has caused extreme friction between the two nations who are normally and particularly under the Trump administration in lock step with one another, Rosemary.

[03:05:11] CHURCH: And sticking with you Sam, because on that, you know, we talked about President Trump mentioning this rogue element and then a short time after that, that's exactly the line that came out of Saudi Arabia. So there's a lot of questions about that. Is there a sense that this meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Saudi king is to sort of define a common line on what happened here? KILEY: I think in all probability, the U.S. administration will want

to try and preserve every element of credibility it has, but it will be I think incumbent upon the Secretary of State to work very closely indeed with King Salman. There has been speculation here as to the role of his son, the crown prince, who really has been running this country, Rosemary for the last couple of years.

He has been presided over the war in Yemen, the incarceration of more than 200 princes and other members of the sort of mega-rich elite who only released upon payment of many hundreds of millions of compensation or re-compensation to the Saudi (inaudible) allegedly of the corruption. But there were no trials.

He's got a number of moves that really meaning, none of which have gone terribly well and this is all crowding in on his reputation. But I think it is telling there that the U.S. president is still defending both the reputation of the king himself and the crown prince, but it is the king now that is leading really emerging from semi-retirement it would have appeared but now very much in charge of this whole process, Rosemary.

CHURCH: We'll be watching very closely to see what does come out of that meeting. Nic Robertson, I want to turn to you now there in Istanbul out the front of the Saudi consulate building. What is the latest information you're getting on the Turkish investigation there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: (Inaudible) Rosemary, the investigators went in a little after the sun went down last night and left this morning just before the sun came up. Nine hours they were inside the building overnight. At one point, one of our cameraman was able to see in an upstairs window, a blue purple flashing light, the sort of thing that I think our viewers might be familiar with on crime investigative type movies.

It is not clear what that light was and what exactly the investigators were doing. The forensic teams were in there, we saw them go in. Ans we understand from Turkish officials that they knew where they wanted to go to precisely in the building. They said all along this is where they believe Jamal Khashoggi was murdered.

And we understood that they had the technical expertise to be able to search for DNA for example after a possibility of a murder. So, the investigators are gone. Are they coming back? It is not clear. We don't have word of that at the moment. They were in there for an extensive period. Where else may their investigation take them? May it take them to the consul general's house where the investigators want to speak with the consul general himself.

These points haven't been made clear to us. We know from Anadolu, the state news agency here, that several truck loads of soil and brick were taken away from the consulate last night, overnight as well. What's that going to be used for and when can we expect results from this investigation.

None of that is clear. And another question of course and a lot people (inaudible), were the investigators able to get to all of the areas of the consulate they wanted to get to. So we're waiting for a read out on that at the moment and perhaps Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is expected here Wednesday, Turkish official say he's expected to meet with his counterpart, the foreign minister here.

Perhaps he may get a read from Turkish authorities then on how it is all going. But what they were expecting to do going in last night, is really there to firm up what they all said. They already had evidence for which was the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the consulate, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Trying to get to the truth of the matter. Nic Robertson bringing us a live report from Istanbul in turkey, Sam Kiley in Ryadh. Saudi Arabia. Many thanks to both of you.

Let's talk more about this with CNN U.S. security analysts, Steve Hall, joining us from Tucson, Arizona. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So Steve, the Saudi government has agreed to let Turkish investigators inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey, but before that, CNN saw cleaning crews enter that same building.

[03:10:04] So if Jamal Khashoggi was indeed murdered inside that consulate building, how much evidence could be removed by cleaning chemicals say like bleach and what would be left for the investigators to piece together what happened here?

HALL: I would assume that that would depend largely on the skill and abilities of the Turkish forensic crew that went in to the consulate, which by the way is somewhat unprecedented. It is highly unusual for a diplomatic mission regardless of whether it's an embassy or a consulate to (inaudible) members of the host nation inside to take a look around.

My bet also is that there are parts of that consulate that will be considered off limits to the Turks because there must be or my guess is, there is probably secure communications types of equipment, and those would all be kept in special rooms, which of course could also double for locations where if there was any evidence that they wanted to keep from the Turks could also be stored there.

CHURCH: So how useful would that investigation be then given all of that?

HALL: You know, my understanding is that the Saudis have had close, what, close to two weeks now to go through and to, you know, clean up, to make thing shipshape and to make it look like everything is normal. So, really under the best of circumstances even with the best forensic scientists, I would imagine that it would be somewhat challenging to go in and try to get, you know, affirmative evidence, actual proof that something untoward happened.

If it were me and this might just be because I come from an intelligence background, I would be much more interested in the actually intelligence surrounding the event. What was heard, what was seen, what was talked about, what are sources saying, and what is signals intelligence perhaps producing in terms of what were the plans and intentions of the Saudi government in this event.

CHURCH: And what if it's being done to fight all of that intelligence you were referring to?

HALL: My sense is that the Turks have probably got a pretty good idea is to what's going on. I mean, we've seen them trickle out bits and pieces of information. Of course, it is a double edged sword. It's the constant tension between an intelligence operation and the people who want to consume that information.

The more you put out publicly, the more you get, in this case the Turks, the more the Turks give an idea is to what their actual capabilities are in terms of collecting intelligence against the Saudis. So, it's a difficult position but my sense is that the Turks probably have a pretty good bit of information as do some of the western allied intelligence services as to what was going on before the event took place.

CHURCH: Now, the Saudi king has denied any knowledge of the fate of Jamal or knowing of the fate of Jamal Khashoggi and President Trump seems to accept that. Do you buy it?

HALL: It doesn't make a whole lot of sense I think really from just a commonsensical perspective or from a counterintelligence perspective. Having served most of my career in CIA in countries that are not -- how should we say, fully democratically developed yet, you see this in a lot of autocracies.

You see an event happen and then you see time taken to try figure out OK, what are we going to say? What are we going to put out there? How are we going to handle this in terms of it being really a propaganda or a press issue.

But no, it makes little sense to me when you have the king first saying we have no idea what is going on and we deny everything to suddenly saying, well, you know, perhaps there was an interrogation that went wrong and perhaps over this rogue agents. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense at a bunch of different levels from my perspective.

CHURCH: And what does that mean when they say an interrogation went wrong, what does mean to you?

HALL: Well, it really is a beautiful story, if you will because it covers so much ground. You can say, well, you know, we had him because we had some very difficult questions we had to ask this individual and he wasn't in great health to begin with and suddenly he had a heart attack, all the way to yes, we were interrogating him but, you know, something was awry.

And then you can even go further to, well, these were rogue agents who were not authorized to use very aggressive types of interrogation and it ended in is death. So there is a broad scope of things that you can cover. Many sins can be covered up in a story like that. CHURCH: And what about these 15 Saudis that apparently got inside the

embassy again. How does that happen?

HALL: Yes, it is a really good question and I think it is a real stretch to have to believe -- bring yourself to believe that you had 15 Saudi agents arriving on two separate private Saudi jets, who then show up in the consulate and undertakes some sort of rogue operation. I mean it really stretches the bounds of beliefs especially given the style of government that you have in Saudi Arabia, which is an autocracy.

A lot of power concentrated at the very, very top. How could these people not know that there was 15-person team going out to do this? Again, a real stretch, difficult to believe.

[03:15:05] CHURCH: Yes. Still so many unanswered questions. Steve Hall, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

HALL: Sure, absolutely.

CHURCH: And a growing number of the VIPs who had planned on attending an upcoming investment summit in Riyadh are pulling out of the gathering. We are told the World Bank president is the latest to withdraw. President Trump says the U.S. Treasury secretary will decide by Friday whether he will attend. More now from CNN John Defterios.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Until Monday, the major players on Wall Street were planning to attend the second so-called "Davos in the Desert." That's all changed through the biggest CEO has decided there is too match uncertainty associated with the Kingdom fter the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi the Saudi journalist.

Larry Fink of Blackrock, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase all deciding to bow out, certainly not a vote of confidence one week before the crown prince of Saudi Arabia's investment summit, especially after reports that the Saudis are prepared to admit the Saudi journalist died of an interrogation gone wrong.

Meanwhile, after severe selling Sunday, the Saudi stock market recovered all its losses on Monday with a gain of four percent. Telephone diplomacy between the king of Saudi Arabia and the presidents of Turkey and the U.S. eased market concerns. However, after the latest news from Riyadh, Saudi exchange traded funds on Wall Street dropped nearly two percent.

A statement out of Riyadh calling for potential retaliations that any U.S. sanctions on Saudi Arabia had many believe oil supplies would suffer. Three major parties seem eager to find common ground. As bad as the tragedy over Jamal Khashoggi is, there seems to be an effort at this point to try to limit all the fallout. John Defterios, CNN Business, Abu Abi.


CHURCH: Well the outrage over Saudi Arabia's suspected role in Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance is drawing attention to the kingdom's regional influence, most notably its role in Yemen civil war. CNN has obtained this exclusive video of an airstrike on Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.

They show the aftermath of a Saudi-led air-raid on a key port that brings in food and humanitarian aid. The U.N. says Yemen is on the brink of the worst famine the world has seen in a century. And it didn't have to happen. Some 22 million people need some kind of humanitarian help. 17 million people don't have a dependable food supply.

And 8 million are on the brink of starvation according to the United Nations. Millions more do not have access to safe drinking water which the U.N. worries could cause a new wave of cholera. And you could take action to help the people of Yemen, head where you can find a list of better charities, giving food and aid to people on the brink of starvation.

Syria's foreign ministry says government forces are prepared to fight rebels if they haven't withdrawn from a newly established demilitarized zone in Idlib province. That is the last remaining major rebel stronghold this the country. The minister says it's up to Russia which negotiated the deal with Turkey to set up the buffer zone to ensure its being implemented. The deadline for rebels to leave and take their heavy weapons with them was Monday.

Well CNN got exclusive access inside the demilitarized and as Arwa Damon reports, children who have grown up surrounded by war and now hoping for a chance at peace.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite their smiles and giggles at our camera, these kids have never really known the innocence of childhood. (Inaudible) says she still has nightmares, of the day she was wounded by shrapnel.

Her two cousins are orphans. Their parents killed in an air strike years ago. (Inaudible) father, a rebel fighter himself says, they weren't living, they were just waiting to die. But now he says he has hope.

(on-camera)So, as you can see this is basically the demilitarized zone, the belt of pink. And within it there are only meant to be Turkish observation posts. The Russians, the Iranians and the Syrian regime are meant to be taking up their positions well on the outside.

(voice-over): After years of cease fires and de-escalation zones that failed to hold, the Russia-Turkey negotiated demilitarized zone is perhaps an agreement that at least in the short-term stands a chance.

[03:20:00] The main difference between this and other agreements are Turkey's assurances. Saaif al-Raaad (ph), spokesman for one of the main rebel groups, the National Liberation Front explains. The Turks said that they will protect this area, protect us against any threat.

Rebel fighters can keep their light weapons within the zone. And we're shown what are some of the last heavy weapons, multiple grand (ph) rocket launchers, howitzers, that are being pulled out of Syria's DMZ.

(on-camera): Commanders that we have been talking to here have been very quick to emphasize that this is nearly a withdrawal of heavy weaponry. And while everybody hopes that this agreement will hold. There is a serious reality and the fact that they have to ready themselves for the eventuality that it does not.

But that (inaudible) says would result in an ocean of blood if this agreement doesn't hold. It's far from a long term solution to Syria's tragic bloody, recent history, but it's meant at the very least to allow for a respite from the bombings and violence that has torn so many families apart, create a sense of stability and perhaps, just perhaps, allow for a viable political solution. Arwa Damon, CNN, in the demilitarized zone, Syria.


CHURCH: Well, pressure mounts for a Brexit deal. The British Prime Minister faces her cabinet ahead of a critical Brussels summit to determine to achieve a livable deal. But the odds on that are getting longer. Plus, as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tour Australia, a new addition to their family is announced, and we would have all the details after a short break.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to hold a cabinet meeting in just over an hour from no, one day before a crucial Brexit summit in Brussels and pressure is mounting. Dominic Raab, the U.K. Brexit secretary hit a wall after weekend talks over the thorny issue of the Irish border.

The E.U. wants Britain to agree to a back stop or full back position to avoid a hard border and European Council President Donald Tusk says no deal is looking more likely than ever. Meanwhile, the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is trying to pour some oil on the troubled Brexit waters.

[03:25:05](BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think everyone in the U.K. should have confidence that this Prime Minister, Theresa May, will never sign a deal that is not compatible with the letter and spirit of the referendum results, but we also firmly believe that we can find a deal on that basis that works with the European Union and non-partisan friends in Europe.


CHURCH: And while politicians scramble to find some solution to the Brexit crisis, the British royal Family has an exciting announcement. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting their first child. Kensington Palace says the baby is expected spring time next year. And the happy news came as the royal couple kicked off their first overseas tour in Australia. In just a short time ago, Prince Harry spoke at a reception in Sydney and mentioned the Duchess of Sussex is expecting.

All right. Anna Stewart joins me now live from London with the latest on all of this. Of course, we mentioned that about Prince Harry. Let's talk about what. What all did he say about the happy baby news.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a fantastic moment. It's been after a very long first day in Sydney. They've been all over the city and met so many different people. But he thanked everyone in a reception held by the governor general in Sydney for that warm welcome and then he had this to add.


PRINCE HARRY, UNITED KINGDOM: We also generally couldn't think of a better place to announce the upcoming baby, be it a boy or a girl. So, thank you very, very much.


STEWART: Saw the rabbit in the headlights moment. I've been a little bit worried about, you know, the alarming prospect of becoming a new father or maybe it's just all the novelty because finally after weeks and weeks of secrecy the couple can finally talk about it and did think through at the beginning of this insane 16-day tour. They have 76 official engagements, Rosemary, at four different countries. It's going to be a very busy time. So, if the Duchess newly pregnant feels tired or a little unwell, now people will totally understand why.

CHURCH: Yeah. I mean it's incredible, isn't it? Sixteen days, 76 engagements, as you mentioned, they've only done a couple so far. So, let's a lot of handoff (ph) for her, and of course, the different countries as well, there are a couple of health issues that have concerned them. Talk to us about that.

STEWART: Yeah. So, a couple of countries they're going are Tonga and Fiji. They go to these after Australia. And these are areas that have gotten Zika virus, a moderate risk. And so, there was some speculation that it would have to -- that the Duchess at least wouldn't have to travel to these places, but we have confirmation yesterday that are carrying on with the trip as planned. They have taken all the appropriate advise and medical advise that you would expect them. And you see, they've been planning this for some time. And while we only just learned out that the Duchess is pregnant, of course, they've known for far longer.

CHURCH: Yes. But still a very ambitious schedule ahead for Meghan. Anna Stewart, thank you so much for bringing us up to date on the details live from London. I appreciate it.

An essential break here (ph). Still to come, a loser look at the diplomatic crisis Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance has created to Saudi Arabia. Plus a voter registration showdown in the U.S. State of Georgia, the Democratic candidates for governors says her Republican rival is trying to keep thousands of people from voting. He's firing back on that. We'll have the details for you.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Welcome back everyone this is a CNN Newsroom and I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you on your main stories we are following this hour. At least 10 people have been killed in southern France. After some of the regions worst flash floods in a century. Engulfed homes and swept away cars. The months' worth of rain fell in just a few hours from Sunday night into Monday. Hundreds of firefighters and several helicopters have been brought in to help with rescues.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allan has died due to complications from cancer. The billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist was 65. Allen founded Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975. He also own the NFL Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.

British Prime Minister Theresa may will face her cabinet in about an hour and then she will meet with E.U. leaders in Brussels on Wednesday, words all about Brexit. Pressure is mounting to do a deal after European Council Chief Donald Tusk said a no deal Brexit is more likely than ever.

All right. Recapping our top stories now. Sources say Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit, Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation gone wrong. The journalist has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago, Turkish investigators searched the consulate for nine hours late Monday, but it was after a cleaning crew was seen going into the building earlier in the day. After speaking with King Salman, U.S. President Trump suggested rouge killers will be responsible for what happened to Khashoggi.

CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer joins me now, good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So President Trump says he talked to the Saudi king. He denies any knowledge of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and it looks like Mr. Trump except that explanation in the same time, the president is working on an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $110 billion. How likely is it that the arms deal is clouding his judgments and were the likely ramifications of an American administration doing business with the government that could very well be behind the possible murder of journalist?

ZELIZER: Well, it's pretty shocking news that the administration has a lot of incentive to keep moving forward with this relationship. The arms deal is on the table. Saudi Arabia has been really the key to the administration's Middle Eastern plans and obviously this relationship predates the Trump residencies. So I think there is a lot of forces that are pushing for continuation, even after what might be a very horrific act by the government.

CHURCH: Now early Tuesday, President Trump mentioned the possibility of rouge killers being behind the desk of Khashoggi and then just hours later, we hear the same explanation emerging from the Saudis and the possibility of Khashoggi dying as a result of an interrogation that went wrong. What do make of that? Stories?

ZELIZER: I think some people will find that it either suspicious or upsetting meaning, on the one hand, the president can denounce what happened and keep a pretty firm stand in terms of the government did it, but then continue with relations and saying they're pretty vital. But if he's just replicating the words of the government at this moment I don't think that will sit well, including with some members of Congress who were pretty upset with this attack on the journalist.

CHURCH: How likely is it that the hit team was sent from Saudi Arabia to kill and dismember Jamal Khashoggi and were the king or the Prince have known about it?

ZELIZER: Well, that's that it's hard its speculation, but I think there's enough suspicion about him and in the government there. That is not impossible. And when that is on the table. Then it is impossible to rule anything out. So, I think the suspicion stamp from some of the human rights concerns that already existed about the government.

[03:35:07] CHURCH: So, in Saudi Arabia there could be the possibility of teams like these being sent to Turkey without the King or the Prince knowing about it?

ZELIZER: Well, it's hard to know the inner operations of this regime, but obviously it is a possibility, but the likelihood with this would be coordinated in some ways with the regime. That's what many people suspects. So, many people find it difficult to simply distance him from what happened if this was the responsibility of the government.

CHURCH: And the -- as you mention Congress, you know, many members of Congress not happy with the optics of this and what is possibly happened here. They're looking at possible punishment for the Saudi's. What do you think needs to be done and what would really be a punishment that would speak to the Saudi's, because clearly money is not going to be a concern, sanctions, impact Saudi Arabia in anyway, aren't they?

ZELIZER: No, they have incentives to keep money coming into the country in his arms deals are important, but it's an incredibly wealthy countries or some say they could live without the deals. My guess is the deals do matter and if they were actually potentially going to go off the table at the regime would care about this, but they also want international stature and international legitimacy, that's been a lot of what's been going on in the past year and a half, so if they were really being condemned by world leaders, including the United States. I do think back that matter. I do think that could have an effect for a country that really wants to emerge as a global leader, particularly in any potential Middle East peace deal. CHURCH: Yet many people looking for more answers on this story is

that we continue to delve and get to the truth of, Julian Zelizer. Many thanks at you for joining us. We appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

CHURCH: We are just three weeks away from critical midterm elections here in United States and digital advertisements are ballooning as candidates, political parties, and other groups adopt new ways to target voters, especially younger ones, this year's midterms will be a crucial test for President Trump and his Republican Party.

If Democrats succeed in taking either the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives from Republicans. It could shift the balance of how dramatically Democrats are looking at younger voters as key to their hopes and here is one reason why, according to a just released, Washington Post, ABC news poll, President Trump's approval rating has climbed to 41 percent among registered voters this month.

That's up five points from August. But even with those gains 54 percent of registered voters disapprove of how Mr. Trump is handling his job as president. And here in the U.S. state of Georgia. Early voting started Monday, and issues of voting rights are front and center. The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor. Each accuse the other of playing foul. Details now from CNN's Kaylee Hartung.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the first day of early voting in Georgia. These phones keep ringing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How may I help you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today for the first time we had some elevated anxiety about -- can you just make sure I'm registered?

HARTUNG: Picky Wilson is a self-described blue blood Democrat, but she says her work for the last six weeks as a volunteer at the Georgia Democratic Party's voter protection hotline has not been partisan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just want people who want to vote, I think people really have decided, I am going to vote. I am to letting the system get me down.

HARTUNG: But there skepticism, about the integrity of the voting system in Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The me atmosphere that is created through the voter suppression is as much about terrifying people about trying to vote, as it is about actually blocking their ability to do so.

HARTUNG: Tension are red hot in the race for Georgia top job, Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate is accusing her opponent, Republican Brian Kempt of voter suppression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a smoke screen trying to hide her radical views.

HARTUNG: As Georgia Secretary of State, (inaudible) in charge of voter registration for statewide election, including his own. Abrams is calling for him to resign in that position and is being sued by a coalition of civil rights groups. According to the lawsuit filed Thursday, more than 50,000 voter registration applications are on hold. The problem they didn't meet the standard of a voter verification one known as the exact match. The error could be as simple as a missing hyphen or a typo.

And because of problems in the database. Sometimes the applicant is even at fault. Some 80 percent of the people in limbo are minority civil rights groups say. Emory University professor of political science Kendra Gillespie (ph) explains why.

[03:40:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could potentially affect people who have more culturally unusual names in the United States. People who have unusual spellings of names. These people tends to disproportionately be people of color.

HARTUNG: Kempt say, Abrams claims for manufactured crisis to turn out her base. And he assures all voters, their vote will count.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those folks that are on the pending list, all they have to do is go to the poll, show a photo I.D. and they can vote.

HARTUNG: Kempt addressing in batting down the accusations had on, but Georgia Senator David Perdue was asked about the controversy while campaigning for Kempt over the weekend, things got touchy, so to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you endorse a candidate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stole my property. Give me my phone back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want a picture --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me my phone back, Senator. Give me my phone back.

That is U.S. Senator David Perdue. He just snatched my phone because he won't answer a question.

HARTUNG: Perdue's office say he thought he was being asked to take a selfie. Since the news broke that thousands of voters could be challenge when they go to cast their vote. The voter protection hotline has received more than 2000 calls, the volunteers continue to problem solve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a grandson's calling for their grandmothers. I have parents calling for their parents. So everything seems to be helping each other out, but I think people are waking up to the fact that if they don't vote they can't say anything about the results. HARTUNG: Even if you're on a pending list. Professor Gillespie says,

go vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first people should do is take secretary of his word in this case. So, if somebody knows that they are on the pending list, they can take their voter I.D. and try to correct the situation on the spot, if they encounter problems there.

HARTUNG: Not everyone on the pending list is aware, check the state's database to ensure your voter registration status or call the voter protection hotline and you have trouble in the polls, a provisional ballot will allow you to cast a ballot in person. Even if all the requirements for doing so cannot be met at the time, then you have more time to sort it. Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: Some good advice there and till to come. Donald Trump tours the area hit hard by hurricane Michael and in a familiar refrain praises his administration's response to the storm. We will have it for you in just a moment.


CHURCH: In Nigeria a second aid worker held hostage by Boko Haram has been executed. The Nigerian government confirms the terror group killed the female aid worker who had been held hostage since March. Our Stephanie Bulsari joins me now live from Legos with the details and Stephanie, it is horrifying. All of it, what more you're learning about the execution of this aid worker and the circumstances leading up to her kidnapping and of course there was another aid worker who is being held hostage.

STEPHANIE BULSARI, CNN REPORTER: Yes, from the state reports coming out of Nigeria this morning, we are hearing that (inaudible) is 24 year old aid worker who works with the IRC, the International Red Cross appears to have been executed by Boko Haram. Now this has been confirm by the Nigerian government, but ICR people on their part to say that they are still waiting for some independent confirmation before releasing an official statement from this. They say they will be devastated if this reports confirms to them. On Sunday, they release a desperate appeal to Boko Haram to spare her life. Because they say she had nothing to do with the conflict, she is just a health worker, helping the most vulnerable people in that region. But if this report confirm, it appears that their feet had fallen on (inaudible). And you know, last month, one of another ICRC aid worker was executed by Boko Haram. So, there is every indication that this reports are to be taken very seriously indeed. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Stephani Bulsari, joining us there live from Legos. Many thanks to you.

We have 12 years to avert a climate change catastrophes. That is what the United Nations says, but President Trump doesn't seem too worried, this as his administration is getting rid of all scientist, back to that in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TRUMP: You see this, personally it is very (inaudible). Total devastation.


CHURCH: Donald Trump got to see the damage caused by hurricane Michael first-hand on Monday as you saw there. The U.S. President and First Lady Melania Trump to a disaster zones in Florida and in Georgia. Mr. Trump said the first priority is to take care of people's basic needs. He also praised his administration's response to the storm, claiming they are doing more than has probably ever been done.

People who live in one of the worst hit areas will be able to return to what's left of their homes on Wednesday and you can see in his drone video that the storm decimated the Gulf Coast community of Mexico beach in Florida. So far hurricane Michael is blamed for 19 deaths across the region. One estimate puts damages between six and $10 billion.

While on his hurricane relief tour, President Trump admitted that climate change is a thing, he says there is something there, but he still isn't ready to acknowledge scientific consensus that major industrialized powers need to take action to stop it.

[03:50:12] In fact, CNN has learned that the administration is getting rid of scientists at the E pay the -- EEA. CNN's Rene Marsh has the details.


RENE MARSH, EARLY START SHOW GUEST CO-HOST: After the strongest hurricane in 50 years in the U.S. ripped through Florida. President Trump questions scientist and their dire warnings about the impact of climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the scientist will say it is worse than ever?

TRUMP: You have to show me the scientist, because they have a very big political agenda.

MARSH: Trump called to show on the scientist is raising eyebrows because his administration continues to dismiss panels of scientists from agencies like the EPA, which advice on issues like public health and climate change. CNN has learned the EPA replaced seven mostly academic scientists, five of them just this week on an air quality standards committee. The new members, many from local governments lack expertise in health science. That's according to environmentalist. The EPA also needs two additional panels with more than 20 scientists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I am very concerned that a scientist will not have a voice at the table.

MARSH: Jack Harkin, was one of the scientists dismissed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any political agenda, we are scientist who are independent and are concerned about public health.

MARSH: The EPA defends the changes saying they are quote consistent with the clean air act in the agency's mission. These changes come just days after the United Nations issued a report with the dire warning. The planet has just 12 years to avert climate change catastrophes, including food shortages, wildfires, and massive flooding which the Trump administration is downplaying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we should panic. I don't think there's an imminent catastrophe coming.

MARSH: And not only the Trump administration dismissing scientists and the president casting doubt on scientist research, Trump also made several statements not backed up by science, including that climate change will reverse course and that he doesn't know that climate change is man-made. Both statements are the exact opposite of what the majority of the scientific community has concluded. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Well, the Philippines is one country that is taking steps to protect its environment. One of the country's great natural treasures Boracay beach was shut down due to a massive sewage pollution. The beach was cleaned up and is officially set to reopen on October 26. Our Anna Coren reports it will be a lot of restrictions.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Consistently ranks one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the island of Boracay, here in the Philippines is finally reopening after being shut down six months ago to undergo massive rehabilitation works. The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte early this year declared the island a cesspool following years of mismanagement, corruption over tourism and environmental degradation. Government inspectors found more than 2,000 businesses and homes were illegally connected to the islands drainage system instead of the main sewer line which led to effluent being pump directly into the sea. And using task force was fond to oversee the rehabilitation of the island, which includes the construction of a new sewage and drainage system. Telecommunications lines, as well as 20 kilometers of new roads and foot parks. The two year project only a quarter of the way through is estimated cost $25 million, but for the residence, the most dramatic improvements is the quality of the water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (TRANSLATOR): Take a look, its beautiful the shoreline to, it's so beautiful here.

COREN: With Environment laws and billing codes now being enforce, only 68 of the 600 resorts lodging here in Boracay has actually complied which means this establishments can only resume operations to the official opening on October 26, tourists arrive at the end of the month. They may be shocked to learn the Boracay's reputation is now a thing of the past. No longer people will be allowed to smoke and drink on the beach, there will be no beach beds, chairs and tables or umbrellas on the sand. No masseurs or vendors be allowed to operate on the beach. Single used plastic has been band and had (inaudible) within 100 meters of the shoreline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love it that Boracay is our pilot for sustainable tourism, this is just the beginning and we want all major tourist destination to be practice sustainable tourism.

[03:55:00] COREN: There is no denying that the rehabilitation of Boracay still has a long way to go and there are some asking, whether this island is really ready to be open up to tourist. Well, the government says that the laws are in place to protect this piece of paradise and it hopes that I will be a blueprint for other tourist destination in the country and around the world. Anna Coren, CNN, Boracay, Philippines.


CHURCH: In the White House is not the only the home and office of the President of the United States it also serves as the museum and art gallery featuring many displays of past American leaders and that collection now includes this, a painting that depicts Donald Trump sipping a Diet Coke and sharing a laugh with former Republican president among the Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Abraham Lincoln. It was faltered drying a television interview inside the White House that aired Sunday and we spoke with the artist behind this picture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On all the president and everything I always try to make the president look as nice as I can. I will still look like him, but I want to flatter my (inaudible) and I want him to be happy. So I look for a good smile, President Trump was another challenge because he's a, you know, it tends he is a fair complexion and no deep recesses and so he is a very subtle person to paint. The face I paint on there is actually the second face, the first one I painted I was happy with, but it was not a real, it wasn't the smile you usually see so I found a bunch photographs of this particular smile and I thought it seemed more appropriate.


CHURCH: And a similar painting from that same artist featured famous Democrats, including Barack Obama, John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. But as far as we know that one is not hanging anywhere in the White House, surprise, surprise. Thanks for our company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. Remember connect with me anytime on twitter @rosemarycnn, we love to hear from you and the news continues next with our Max Foster in London. You are watching CNN, stick around.