Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to Pay Respects to Synagogue Shooting Victims; 5,200 Troops Deployed to Southern Border; German Chancellor: Time For Me To Start A New Chapter; Lion Air Crash Aftermath; Synagogue Massacre; Khashoggi's Fiancee Calls for Justice. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): All onboard a Lion Air jet feared dead after the newest and most advanced Boeing 737 crashes minutes after takeoff from Indonesia's capital.

Dramatic news of the worst attack on America's Jewish community faces a judge and the death penalty as more is learned about his online rage and anti-Semitism.

And the long goodbye for Angela Merkel. The German chancellor announces her retirement but will the world's most powerful woman survive politically for a smooth, orderly exit from power?

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm John Vause. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: The search continues for a second day for what is left of a Lion Air jet which crashed Monday shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. Debris from Flight JT-610 has been recovered as well as some human remains. The fuselage has not been found, which is where most of the 189 passengers and crew are believed to be as well as the flight data recorders.

The Boeing 737 went down minutes after takeoff. The flight crew did not declare an emergency, only that it was heading back. CNN's Anna Coren following the story now for us from Hong Kong.

Anna, one of the big unanswered questions, where are the flight data recorders and seems those emergency locator transmitters may have failed.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Those black boxes, they will hold all of the answers, that cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder. That's what the search and rescue teams are looking for, along with the 189 people on board.

Authorities made it very clear there are no survivors, that all 189 people were killed onboard the Boeing 737 Max Asia. A relatively new aircraft, two months old when it crashed. Let's talk about that -- that timeline.

We know that the day before this flight took off, this plane experienced technical problems from Bali to Jakarta. Obviously it landed safely and as far as Lion Air was concerned, the technical issues were resolved.

Now it took off on Monday at 6:21 am from Jakarta and was heading to Pangkal Pinang, which is an island off Sumatra and a destination that is only a one-hour domestic flight away. A routine flight, when, as you say, the pilots told air traffic control they had problems and wanted to return to base.

That permission was granted. Shortly after that the plane disappeared off the radar. Now witnesses saw it crashing into the Java Sea. You mentioned the debris that has been recovered and the human remains that are recovered, including that of a baby.

But we heard from the deputy police chief a short time ago. He held a joint conference -- a press conference with the head of the hospital where the human remains are being taken.

He said it is going to be extremely difficult to identify the remains because none of the bodies are intact. It gives you an idea of perhaps the speed at which this plane was hurtling towards the ocean when it crashed.

They've appealed to family members to come forward and provide FDA samples, whether it be medical or dental records. The police chief saying that dental records would be the most reliable due to the circumstances.

But as we say, the search and rescue operation is happening around the clock; divers are out there, boats and helicopters, looking for the black boxes as well as the bodies of the 189 people.

VAUSE: Anna, thank you, we appreciate the update. We'll check in with you again next hour. Anna Coren live for us in Hong Kong.

The suspect in the massacre out of Pittsburgh's synagogue shooting has made his first appearance in court. The senior law enforcement official from Pittsburgh is seeking the death penalty for Robert Bowers. The penalty, which must be approved by the U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

The president will visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday and pay his respects along with the first lady. His daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. That's despite some of the city's Jewish leaders urging him to stay away. They say his words and policies have emboldened the growing white nationalist movement and they called on him to speak out --


VAUSE: -- against it. On Monday the White House press secretary spoke out about the president's family ties to Judaism.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren. His daughter is a Jewish American and his son-in-law is a descendant of a Holocaust survivors.


VAUSE: President Trump blames the media for the spike in political violence, tweeting, "The fake news media is the true enemy of the people."

Once the crocodile tears had dried, press secretary Sarah Sanders doubled down on that.


SANDERS: The president is not placing blame. The president is not responsible for these acts. Again, the very first action that the president did was condemn these heinous acts.

The very first thing that the media did was condemn the president and go after him and try to blame not just on the president but everybody that works in the administration.

The major news networks first public statements were to blame the president and myself included. I mean, that is outrageous that anybody other than the individual who carried out the crime would hold that responsibility.


VAUSE: For weeks before the synagogue shooting, the suspect targeted Jews in frequent anti-Semitic rants and posts on Gab. That's a social network site for those who find Twitter too civilized, too regulated. Critics say it is nothing but a platform for hate. Gab denied supporting violence. Details now from CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voce-over): Just before authorities say he entered this synagogue to kill 11 Jews, the killer posted his intentions online.

"I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered," he posted. "Screw your optics, I'm going in."

Where was that?

On a social media site you most likely never heard of but it turns out has become an online home for those who love to hate.

HEIDI BEIRICH, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: What you find is just an absolute cesspool of the most vile commentary that you can find, extreme misogyny, anti-Semitism racism. There are thousands and thousands of people on there who trade in the ugliest propaganda that mankind can create.

GRIFFIN: Gab is currently not operating. An online statement says the company has spent the past 48 hours probably working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist. Until now, the site has put few restrictions on its users. A former company official told CNN Gab does ban users who call for violence, child porn or drug trafficking, but not hate speech.

According to the site itself, Gab's mission is very simple: defend free speech and individual liberty for all people.

On Saturday evening after the shooting, Gab users were calling the shooter a hero. On its website, Gab says it's the alleged shooter who holds sole responsibility for his actions.

When CNN tried to get more information on the suspect's profile, Gab tweeted: "You have our statement. Deal with it."

The Southern Poverty Law Center said it's no surprise to anyone the shooter's online home was Gab.

BEIRICH: It was the first place that we looked actually.

GRIFFIN: The suspect posted about the infestation of Jews. He reposted calls for Jews to get out or leave. He promoted a conspiracy theory that it is Jews helping transport migrants on the migrant caravans in Central America, repeatedly calling the migrants invaders, using language common on FOX News and right-wing radio.

He linked the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, HIAS, an organization that helps resettle refugees to those caravans.

"HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people," he posted.

On Saturday morning when he wrote, "I'm going in," he was going into a synagogue that hosted a HIAS service just a week before -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


VAUSE: Brian Levin is director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. He joins us now from Los Angeles.

Brian, it is good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

Part of an e-mail sent to "The New York Times" from the CEO and founder of Gab regarding the Pittsburgh shooter.

"Because he was on Gab, law enforcement now have definitive evidence for a motive they would not have had this evidence without Gab.

"We're proud to work with and support law enforcement in order to bring justice to this alleged terrorist."

Yes, that may be true but I very much doubt that the shooter posted what he did with -- [00:10:00]

VAUSE: -- law enforcement in mind was far more likely to be doing it for his followers and friends on Gab and for some kind of affirmation.

BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: I think you're right. And you know, one of the things that we've seen -- and Andrew Thompson was so kind to help us just magnificently with his research.

We saw this increase in anti-Semitic and other types of hate speech, go up dovetailing with the explosion of hate crime that took place election month 2016.

And what we've seen is this migration of hardcore hatemongers to places like Gab or V.K., the Russian Facebook, Telegram and other places, as more commercial platforms have had used their terms of service to get rid of these hatemongers.

So I don't know. That's kind of like saying, gee, the seamstress who made the Nazi flag helped us identify where the Nazis were. I don't think they're that civic-minded.

VAUSE: I guess the question which follows through this also is did the, you know, the social media platform like Gab where anything goes, did that radicalize the Pittsburgh shooter? I mean, jihadist can be radicalized online, why not domestic terrorists?

LEVIN: Excellent point. And one of the things I said on Friday to Canadian television was how these loners are now among the big ascendant threat and in particular while it crosses ideological lines, in particular for the right-wing world, because, after Charlottesville, there was this implosion of these major hate groups and an unraveling of the leadership.

So what has it left?

It's left the Internet as a vessel for this narrative, these folklores -- this folklore and hatred and unfortunately Gab is a big part of this. Salon called it Twitter for racists.

VAUSE: Yes, that's to put it mildly.


VAUSE: You know, it's now offline. You know, they're arguing the case that it's just basically they're First Amendment absolutists. It's all about free speech. And you know and under net neutrality principles, Internet users should actually have a right to access Gab and say whatever garbage and read whatever garbage they want.

But then there are privileges not rights, companies like PayPal and GoDaddy which pull their support that made it difficult for Gab to stay online. You know, that's the privileged part of the Internet.

So is it possible though that doesn't seem to be a very effective way of regulating this?

LEVIN: No. And one of the things, too, the First Amendment does protect freedom of speech and it gives people a soapbox. But it doesn't have to give them a network if you will.

And companies can very much determine by terms of contract who can be on their sites and who can. But the bottom line is what we've seen in an era of social media manipulation.

Another thing our research showed, that in the run-up to that explosive month of November 2016, which was the worst month for hate crime in 14 years and the worst November ever, we not only saw an increase of hate speech on places like 4chan, that Andrew Thompson found but we've also seen all kinds of examples of bigotry taking place, not only in public spaces but virtual ones as well.

And I think going forward, folks are going to have to consider how people become radicalized as well as how social media can be manipulated by foreign actors like the Russians.

VAUSE: There's also the politics surrounding all of this. Let's go back to 1996, to the Republican convention. Nominee Bob Dole, who fought off a charge from Pat Buchanan; Buchanan had been supported by a bunch of racists and bigots. And Dole had this message for them.


BOB DOLE (R), REPRESENTATIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If there's anyone who has mistakenly attached themselves to our party in the belief that we're open to citizens of every race and religion, then let me remind you, tonight this hall belongs to the party of Lincoln and the exits, which are clearly marked, are for you to walk out of as I stand this ground without compromise.


VAUSE: In other words, Dole didn't want their support. Two decades later, back to 2016, the year you talked about, Donald Trump was asked in the leadup to the election if he would disavow support from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK. Here he is speaking to our Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Even if you don't know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you.

Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don't want their support?

TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you're talking about. You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that --

[00:15:00] TRUMP: -- I know nothing about. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. (CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: -- groups in there that are totally fine. It would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I'll let you know.


VAUSE: What are the consequences here when the man who becomes president does so without outright rejection of support from racists and bigots and does this two-step, nudge, nudge, wink, wink stuff?

LEVIN: You are making a critical point, one of the things that the far right hate, they're not talking about conservatism and goodwill. But the far right hate world, Neo-Nazis and the alt-right, what they have lacked for many years, the alt-right it is a relatively newer thing, has been a charismatic, telegenic leader. And President Trump and not calling him a bigot necessarily. But what I'm saying the haters regard him as a fellow traveler.

And what we've seen -- and please, thank you so much for letting me bring our research to you. And it's not just me; it is Dr. Nolan (ph) from West Virginia University and the great college of Cal State.

What we found was, when we took hate crime data from the FBI and parsed it apart, we found, at various critical times, statements by political leaders around catalytic events can correlate to significant spikes in hate crime.

We saw that after the Muslim ban proposal when hate crimes spiked and after candidate Trump talked about sending back the Syrian refugees. Interestingly, it doesn't happen all the time. When you watch his campaign, hate crimes against Mexicans did not go up right then; it took a while.

But the bully pulpit is important and we actually have data that shows that when leaders are irresponsible, it has an effect. But when they are responsible, it has a positive effect, like when President Bush spoke six days after 9/11 of tolerance in the mosques, hate crimes dropped against Muslims by two-thirds the next day and two-thirds over the following year.

Instead, what we've seen lately is a doubling of hate crimes against Muslims from 2014 to 2016 and consecutive years of increases in hate crimes against Jews.

And our (INAUDIBLE) report from Cal State showed that in many of America's largest cities, Jews are in the top two or three for targets, even though in the large cities they're only about 4 percent of the population and 2 percent of the American population.

VAUSE: Brian, evidence, logical argument, all that kind of stuff. Thank you. We appreciate it.

LEVIN: As always. Thank you. We miss you out here in California. VAUSE: Thanks, man. Likewise.

LEVIN: Thank you.

VAUSE: The man accused of sending 14 pipe bombs in the mail to senior Democrats, Trump critics as well as CNN was also in court on Monday. He was in Florida. Cesar Sayoc faces five federal charges. He could receive 48 years in jail if convicted. His attorneys have told CNN he will plead not guilty.

Law enforcement officials, meantime, tell CNN that Sayoc had a list of more than 100 people he planned to target. Those people are being warned to stay vigilant. This comes as another suspicious package was discovered, this one right here in Atlanta, addressed to CNN's Atlanta headquarters and was intercepted at an offsite screening facility. Authorities believe it was also sent by Sayoc.

The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi has called upon the U.S. president to help reveal what happened to the Saudi journalist. Khashoggi's death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has sparked international outrage and a diplomatic crisis for Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis insist the king and crown prince had no knowledge of the operation and President Trump has tempered his response, saying he wants to protect the $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh.

But at an event in London, Khashoggi's fiancee said the West should stand up to the killers.


HATICE CENGIZ, JAMAL KHASHOGGI'S FIANCE (through translator): I'm deeply grateful for the solidarity of the people all over the world. I am, however, disappointed in the actions of the leadership in many countries particularly in the U.S.

President Trump should help reveal the truth and ensure justice be served. He should not pave the way for a coverup of my fiancee's murder. Let's not let money taint our conscience and compromise our values.


VAUSE: Turkish authorities are still trying to find out who ordered the killing and what happened to the body. Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor went to Istanbul to report on the case. We do not know if Turkey received any answers.

Just hours after the synagogue massacre, blood drives, vigils and fund-raising have begun. In one group leading the way, Muslims around the world, as they came together in a call for unity. Details in a moment.




VAUSE: There's been an overwhelming outpouring of love and solidarity for the community at the center of Saturday's mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. No shortage of offers of help and support like this.


WASI MOHAMED, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PITTSBURGH ISLAMIC CENTER: We just want to know what you need. If it's more money, let us know. If it is people outside your next service, protecting you, let us know, we'll be there.


MOHAMED: If you need organizers on the ground, we'll provide them. If you need anything at all, if you need food for the families, if you just need somebody to come to the grocery store because you don't feel safe in the city, we'll be there and I'm sure everybody in the room would say the same thing. We're here for the community.



VAUSE: The man making that heartfelt and generous offer is Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Pittsburgh Islamic Center.

On the fund-raising side, two non-profit Muslim groups, one called Celebrate Mercy, the other MPower Change started a crowdfunding Web site on the day of the shooting aiming to raise $25,000. They reached that target in six hours. Less than 24 hours later, they hit their next goal $50,000, then $75,000. Then they grew to $125,000 then $150,000 and then they said hey, we're good.

Posting this: "We are currently assessing whether any more funds are needed for the victims' families but we are keeping this campaign. Any leftover proceeds from the campaign, after dispersing funds to the victims' families will be spent on projects that help foster Muslim- Jewish collaboration, dialogue and solidarity."

They added this, "Please consider donating to help all the victims of a recent hate shooting in Kentucky.

Tarek El-Messidi is the founder of Celebrate Mercy. He is with us from Chicago. Tarek -- thank you for taking the time to talk with us.


VAUSE: You know, it has been such a bleak and depressing few days with the news. But amid all that darkness, you know, this offer of help from the Muslim community and all those who have donated seems to be that sort of flicker of light that just refuses to be put out. EL-MESSIDI: Yes. We're in really troubled times. And you know, both the Muslim community and the Jewish community have felt so threatened over the past couple of years with all the bigoted rhetoric, you know, sometimes racial profiling. There's just so much otherizing going on right now of so many different minority communities.

So we felt like what better way to show and to -- and to really display our shared humanity especially because Muslims and Jews are really like Abrahamic cousins. We have a shared -- we have a very similar theology and shared history of a thousand years worth of collaboration and working together.

There's an amazing -- Muslim-Jewish history, you know, before the mid- 1900s which is pretty amazing. So we really wanted to reach out first and foremost as human beings, as fellow believers in faith and Abrahamic cousins and try to help alleviate some of the burden of what they're going through.

VAUSE: You know, in situations like this, let's be honest, money is always helpful but what really --


VAUSE: -- struck me was the offer from Wasi Mohamed from the Islamic Center for Muslims to stand outside temple and act as security, to go to the grocery store just to be there.

You know, when it comes to bridging divisions in this country -- that's the sort of action which is what is needed right now. And it is not what we're seeing from the current administration.

EL-MESSIDI: Yes. It is very unfortunate that, you know, it is almost like an ecosystem of hate has been created since the presidential campaign and it has emboldened, you know, some of these extremist to take -- you know, to take up arms.

And what could be lower than going and attacking people for what they believe? And what could be even lower than attacking them in what should be a sacred, safe space? The safest places in America, place of worship.

And what is even lower than that is going after people who are elderly. So it was the lowest of the low. And I feel like a lot of this rhetoric, words matter. You know, a lot of this rhetoric is emboldening extremists, white supremacists and others to attack anyone that looks different than them. Attack people they don't know and probably they've never met that they have stereotyped against. It is horrific.

VAUSE: Words matter. But actions matter more. And this is not the first time your group Celebrate Mercy has stood in support of the Jewish community. Last year, you raised money to help with Jewish headstones which have been vandalized and destroyed.

EL-MESSIDI: Yes. You know, a lot of this is inspired by what we feel is the core teaching of our faith and core teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him which is to be merciful to people and to respond. If there's evil, if there is someone that treats you wrongly to respond with a better action, to take the high road -- the Quran says to repel evil with that which is better.

And something that really inspired us last year when the cemeteries were vandalized and this year again was one story of when the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was sitting down with his disciples and when he saw a Jewish funeral procession passing by him at a distance he stood up from where he was sitting.

And some of his disciples said why are you standing up? It is merely a Jewish funeral, it's not a Muslim funeral so there's no need to stand up and pay respect. His response was so beautiful. He said, is it not a human soul? Is it not a human soul?

So really at the core of this is our shared humanity. And we wanted to reach out as human beings first and foremost to our brothers and sisters in humanity and help them out, to help lift some of this burden from them.

VAUSE: You know, we like to think of THE shared humanity. But at the same time, you know, all the numbers point to this big increase in hate crimes, not just against Jews and Muslims but, you know, other minorities as well. So, you know, how do you explain this? How do you see the causes of this increase?

EL-MESSIDI: Well, I just think every group has their extremists. There's Muslim extremists, there's Jewish extremists, there's white extremists. There's extremists in every category you can think of, you know. But the question is, is there extremism being is normalized or not? Is it being -- are the fans being flamed of that extremism? And I would argue the political rhetoric over the last couple of years has fanned the flames of hatred towards any, you know, towards many minority groups in America.

But while there is, you know, there are crazy people out there, there are nut cases, there are extremists -- there's a lot more good in people than there is bad. And the fact that this campaign, you know, hit its goal in just a few hours.

And, you know, we started it Saturday afternoon. By the time I went to bed on Sunday night we had hit $100,000. It was raising a thousand dollars every 20 minutes. That says a lot about people. It is not just Muslim donors, by the way.

About a third -- we estimate that about a third of the people donating are not Muslim, many of them Jewish. It's become really an interfaith effort and people of all faiths or no faith are contributing. So that says a lot about what America is and what humanity can be.

VAUSE: Yes. From your lips to God's ears. Tarek, thank you for being a bright spot in a pretty bleak couple of days.

EL-MESSIDI: Thank you for having me.


VAUSE: For more than a decade, she's been a political force. Now Angela Merkel says she's calling it quits. We'll take a look back on her legacy and we look ahead to what could be next for Germany.


[00:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour. Rescue crews are still trying to locate the passengers and crew from Lion Air Flight JT 610. The Boeing 737 crashed in the waters of Jakarta, 189 people were onboard. Crews are yet to locate the fuselage, as well as the flight data recorder.

U.S. President Donald Trump hits the Pittsburgh on Tuesday, to pay his respects to the victims after Saturday's Synagogue massacre. The suspect appeared in court, Monday. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Another group of Central American migrants bound for the U.S. has crossed a river into Mexico. President Donald Trump is sending more than 5,000 troops to help stop the migrants from illegally entering the country. They are still weeks away from arriving at the U.S. southern border.

For 13 years, Angela Merkel has been a calm and consistent leader, steady and dependable, in a world where politics went from out of the ordinary to array, to downright Looney Tunes. But now, the chancellor of Germany says, her time on the world stage is coming to an end.


ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): This fourth term is my last term as chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the next Bundestag election in 2021, I will not run again as chancellor. I will not run for the German Bundestag, anymore, and I will not take any other political positions.


VAUSE: Her CDU Party lost heavily, in regional elections, over the weekend. Dominic Thomas is CNN's European Affairs Commentator. He is with us now from Los Angeles, Dominic, OK, good to have you with us.


VAUSE: OK, the big question, I guess, will she last, as chancellor, until 2021? You know, her coalition partners, you know, they could pull out mid next year that would trigger a federal election. She could face a leadership challenge inside the party. It would seem, you know, a smooth exit for a frail Merkel, who is anything but guaranteed.

THOMAS: Right, nothing has guaranteed here, and it's obviously now it's out of her hands. We've known for a while, it's been common knowledge that she was not going to be running for a fifth term as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union.

I think that by strategically and getting ahead of the game here and announcing, first of all, that in December, she will give up the leadership of the Party, and is a way of sending a message, not just to her Party, but to others.

That the post-Merkel era, as ironic as it may be, that people want her out of power, has in fact, she has provided such consistency. She's been the rudder for the German Federal Republic for so many years now.

[00:35:03] And probably, what she's asking them to do is to look at the last general elections at which we saw, not only mainstream political parties score terribly, but also a proliferation of smaller political parties where we saw six parties, the largest to enter into the parliament and the longest coalition talks.

And at this particular juncture, even though the CDU is underperforming in these elections, it still is the major party. But you have several other political parties that are doing very well in this, and it becomes almost unconscionable to think about what a coalition talk would look like, should a federal election come about tomorrow.

And so, I think these parties would be very wise to take their time, considering their new leadership and the new directions that the country is likely to be taken in.

VAUSE: It does, though, feel very overly lame duckish, regardless of how long she survived. Politico wrote this, she has stayed on too long, missing that magic moment when she could have walked offstage in a blaze of glory. Now, she will slink off amid the mendacious accolades of those who once feted or feared her.

You know, according to a former senior Obama aid, it was Donald Trump's election in 2016, which made her stay on. You know, remember this, that famous photo from the G-7 in Canada, earlier this year. It seems like she was standing up to it, at least, standing over Donald Trump.

You know, if that is true, you know, has she had much success in actually trying to moderate the impact of Donald Trump. If she did stay on because of his election, how much impact does she have, you know, on his brand of Trumpian policies?

THOMAS: Well, in general, I think, her career, she might argue has been shaped by dealing with men in politics, by dealing with very powerful German politics as well, and yet, she's managed to carve out a place for herself, as you pointed out there, talking a little bit about her history, what's actually extraordinary.

And about Angela Merkel, it's just the number of years that she's been there in power. I mean, she's worked with four different French presidents, four British prime ministers, and three American presidents. And obviously, beginning with the, sort of, the second-term of George W. Bush, all the way through to Donald Trump, and she has had a very different and very combative relationship with him in many ways.

Now, has she been able to stop him, and then the answer, you know, would not be there. You just have to look at the Paris climate accord, the Iran deal and other kind of foreign policy issues. The relationship with the United States and the European Union today, is at an all-time -- an all-time low.

And -- but until she stepped away from power, and there are many that, you know, thought that running again in this particular time around was not the -- not the wisest thing to be able to do.

But it's not just the Trump era that's been an issue for him, it's the sort of the general broader political climate that has also seen Donald Trump give value to so many other far right leaders in Europe. Many of them were there beforehand.

But, the issues that she's faced with Hungary, with Poland and particularly, within her own political party and sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, very much impacted by these kinds of questions.

VAUSE: We're almost out of time. But let me get into that point because this suggests who will be her successor. There's no obvious successor at this point. So, you know, the next chancellor, given the lurch the right that we have seen in many parts of the world.

You know, could we be seeing a German chancellor who is a right wing populous, who has the ability whip up a crowd, you know, who is a nationalist, who maybe doesn't set the tone for Germany's past. I mean, anything is possible at the moment in politics.

THOMAS: Absolutely. And so, of course, you know, in the, sort of, the climate of, you know, Brexit and Trump, and so on and so forth. You know, Angela Merkel seemed like a fairly good preposition. It's not just the extreme right, the alternative for Germany that's now present in all 16 German States, that has entered the German parliament.

That it's also those that are speaking analogous kinds of rhetoric in the CSU Party, in the CDU. And some of the people that are positioning themselves for the leadership of the CDU, which is of course, the path to the chancellorship, and are also embracing and have a record of embracing far right rhetoric or certainly, anti- immigration rhetoric and so on.

And at the opposite end of the spectrum, we have this remarkable rise of the -- of the Green Party that is opposing this. But this is a political situation where a chancellor is appointed, following coalition talks. And when you've got a proliferation of parties that are all scoring under the 20 mark, except for the CDU, the outcome in the future is incredibly unpredictable.

And all of these political parties are going to be positioning themselves now, for this post-Merkel voting moment whenever it comes about.

VAUSE: Unpredictable is the name, I guess, is the word that we are dealing with right now when it comes to politics everywhere. Dominic, thank you. Appreciate you being with us.

THOMAS: Thank you.

[00:40:00] VAUSE: Kanye West, remember him? He raised a few eyebrows when he appeared on Saturday Night Live, as a bottle of sparkling water, but the (INAUDIBLE) has got nothing on pumping the Yeezy. The story behind the giant gourd, that's next.


VAUSE: Kanye West's critics say he's out of his gourd. Well, now, he is a gourd. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kanye West has gone from being a bottle of sparkling water on SNL, to being talk about freaky, a 315-pound pumpkin. Every year, Jeanette Paras unveils a new celebrity pumpkin on her Dublin, Ohio porch, facing her choice on who's hot.

KANYE WEST, RAPPER: I love this guy right here.

PARAS: I don't make the news, but Jeanne, I do pumpkinize the news.

MOOS: Pumpkinizing starts with a sketch, she then spends seven hours painting Kanye. But the hardest part --

PARAS: Make Pumpkins Great Again.

MOOS: The hat took nine hours to saw, it's 3-1/2 times bigger than Kanye's Make America Great Again hat.

WEST: When I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman.

MOOS: Yes. Well, now, he can feel like the great pumpkin. He now has been out of a gourd over pumpkins for 30 years. Every year, she teases who will it be? There was Donald Trumpkin, Hillary, Kim Jong- un, he even did Kanye once before, wearing weird sunglasses. She uses plastic to protect them from the rain, with air holes.

People stop to take photos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's cool as heck.

MOOS: And what does Jeanette get out of it? Self-entertainment, she says.

PARAS: It's just fun. I mean, who doesn't like giant celebrity pumpkins?

MOOS: Kanye will last a few months and then -- PARAS: Like a stabbing knife thing and we have to cut them up and put them in the trash.

MOOS: Don't let Kanye hear that, which he won't, since his ears might look like dinner to, but to Jeanette, they're giant celebrity pumpkin ears. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.


[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)