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Trump Refuses To Listen To Audio Tape of Jamal Khashoggi's 'Vicious' Murder; Economic Forum Ends Without A Joint Communique; Russian Propaganda Farms Spread Lies On U.S. Social Media; Whole Communities Burned To The Ground; Donald Trump Sat Down With Fox News; Florida Will Send A New Senator To Washington; A Turning Point In the War In Yemen. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 19, 2018 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:07] GEORGE HOWELL, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: Entire communities burned to the ground after days of deadly wildfires, large areas of California caked in ash. Emergency teams trying to clear much of the devastation. Plus, the U.S. President says he's fully aware of how Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered but says he will not the listen to the tape recording of that killing.

Also ahead this hour, for the first time in 25 years, the leaders at Apex didn't reach a joint communique. We'll tell you why the U.S. and China are being blamed. Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around. I am George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Two a.m. on the U.S. east coast, the scope of destruction in the state of California almost impossible to comprehend. The death toll continues to rise. Take a look at the map. You see the state here, these fires in both the north and south. So far, they've destroying an area larger than Chicago. The death toll across the state now stands at 80 people who have been killed, 77 of those lives lost in the campfire in northern California.

Hundreds of people there still unaccounted for. Officials warn the search for the dead and missing is painstaking, and that it is far from over. In the aftermath of so much chaos, there are incredible stories of survival. One of them involving a school bus driver praised for helping 22 students to escape the campfire in northern California.

CNN's Paul Vercammen reports how the man was able to navigate that bus and its passengers to safety.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: There are so many stories of absolutely stomach-churning despair, but here is one of great heroism. There was a bus driver just about two or three months in to his job. He goes to Ponderosa Elementary School. That is in Paradise. The flames are burning ever so close to the school. It would eventually be damaged.

But he gets 22 school children, 2 teachers on that bus, and they begin a harrowing drive to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very scary. It was like -- it felt like Armageddon. I don't know another word to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like seeing like smoke everywhere. I couldn't see hardly anything. I saw like houses burning. And animals and cars wining, and I love animals. And it was so crazy. And there were like fires left and right. Everywhere you look, there was like smoke everywhere. And people trying to get out. And it was like really hard.

VERCAMMEN: So the odyssey through the inferno continued. Some of the young lungs of these little school children started filling up with smoke. They were on the brink of passing out. So they made makeshift respirators, dampening pieces of the bus driver's t-shirt and putting it over their mouths. Eventually, they made it to safety, parents just relieved, and that bus driver, Kevin McKay, made a joke.

He said I am sure glad I paid attention closely in class when I was taking those safety lessons, and pointing out that after all safety is the first issue for a bus driver.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Liz Sherer. Liz and her neighbors were evacuated from the town of Paradise as the fire broke out. So first of all, we're just thankful that you are OK, that your family is OK. And we are so distraught by all the images that we are seeing from Paradise. Tell us about what you have seen, what you have experienced, and the how things are right now.

LIZ SHERER, WILDFIRE SURVIVOR: Well, right now it looks horrible. All the pictures I have seen. But when we were being evacuated, it was chaos. There were so many cars trying to get out at one time. And we had to rush to try to save my mom and then we got trapped with hundreds of (Inaudible). There are probably about a hundred, maybe a little more people all trapped in the parking lot for hours. And we couldn't get out. There was no way out.

HOWELL: What is the sense of what you and so many other families do next? Just given how much loss, how much devastation has come about there? Where do you go from here?

SHERER: I don't know. Most everybody lost their homes and jobs. A lot of people lost their jobs too. But we have a strong little town. And we're going to try and rebuild it, I hope. I don't know.

[02:04:52] HOWELL: What was it like in those hours when you were trying to get out? Because we have seen all of these images, right? We've seen people driving down that main road, fire on either side. And then the question is there fire around the corner, you know, that would prevent you from getting out. What was that experience like?

SHERER: It was terrifying. We -- in our family, it was my mom and my boyfriend and our one-year-old son. And we got trapped on the road. And they just -- they kept telling us to stay in our car, and let the flames go over us and hopefully we would be OK. And then eventually, we got to move up and that's when we got trapped in a parking lot. And there were names everywhere.

And everybody was crying. We all thought we were going to die. We called our loved ones and said goodbye and we texted people. And it was horrible.

HOWELL: Sorry. You know I -- it's just hard to imagine what you are going through. I mean we are looking at the images of your town right now. And it seems like everything that was there, mainly everything that was there is pretty much gone. What about people that you know, friends, people there who are maybe reported missing at this point. Are there a lot of questions for your family and others with regards to missing?

SHERER: All our family, our immediate family made out. And as far as I know, that my friends made it out. But I am a hair stylist. And a couple of my clients I have called and I can't get a hold of them. Their name is on the missing list. And I don't know what happened to them. And a couple of them I did -- their families got a hold of me and told me that they did pass away. So I have lost a couple. And it's really hard. This is horrible.

HOWELL: Liz, it's just so difficult to imagine over here in Atlanta what you are dealing with over there in California, just the reality of so much loss. And I want you to know that our hearts go out to you, everyone there. And we certainly are, you know, hoping for the best. Especially for those that are still looking for the missing, the unaccounted for at this point, Liz, thank you for taking time for being with us.

SHERER: Thank you. Thank you.

HOWELL: Now, we are going to turn to a different story, the mystery of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The U.S. President spoke about the investigation on Sunday, and says that he doesn't know if the Saudi Crown Prince lied to him when he claimed that he wasn't involved, despite evidence to the contrary. Here is what Mr. Trump said about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A month ago, you said you had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and that he told you directly that he had no knowledge of this.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: That's right. That's right. And still does that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we now know that some of the people closest to him, some of his closest advisers were part of this. Question, did MBS lie to you, Sir?

TRUMP: I don't -- I don't know. You know who can really know. But I can say this. He has got many people now that say he had no knowledge. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The Saudis have always denied the Crown Prince was involved. But sources say the CIA believes he personally ordered the murder. The U.S. government has yet to reach a conclusion. Mr. Trump says he will get a full report on Tuesday. He's already been briefed on some of the evidence, including an audio recording that details that you can hear part that have murder.

But Mr. Trump said that he does not plan to listen to it, and hasn't listened to it.


TRUMP: I don't want to hear the tape. No reason for me to hear the tape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you want to hear it, Sir?

TRUMP: Because it's a suffering tape. It's a terrible tape. I have been fully briefed on it. There is no reason for me to hear it. In fact, I said to the people should I? They said you really shouldn't. There is no reason. I know exactly -- I know everything that went on the tape without having to...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what happened?

TRUMP: It was very violent, very vicious, and terrible.


HOWELL: The Saudis have changed their story multiple times since Khashoggi disappeared from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Their latest narrative, that he was tied up, injected with a deadly dose of a sedative, and then dismembered. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is following the story live in Turkey, outside the Saudi embassy there. And let's talk about the consulate office. Let's talk about this.

Because during that interview, Mr. Trump indicated he is fully aware of the audiotape taken from inside the consulate. He described it as a suffering tape, but has chosen not to listen to it, Jomana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, you know, George, first of all, we don't actually know what is on this audio recording. We don't know how many audio recordings there are. But by all indications, there is something horrific that was recorder, whether it's, you know, the statement you heard there from President Trump. We also heard from the leaks, you know, over the past few weeks, as you know very well.

There has been very little that's been said publically. These audio recordings have not been released publically. So a lot of it has come out from these leaks and this drip feed of information from Turkish officials. President Erdogan in recent days saying that, you know, it's really shocking, it's appalling, a real disaster that was caught in these audio recordings.

[02:10:02] He even said a Saudi intelligence officer who listened to them was so shocked. That he said only someone on heroine would be so capable of carrying out such an act. So I think the question right now is if the President doesn't want to listen to it, and there will be many who will be very critical of President Trump. We know others in his administration, including Secretary Pompeo when he was here on a visit also refused to listen to these recordings.

We know that others, including the CIA Director Gina Haspel did listen to it. Some will be very critical of President Trump, because you are looking at a time this is a very critical moment, a defining moment perhaps in the U.S.-Saudi relations. And he is refusing to listen to what some say is this critical piece of evidence.

The question right now, George, is why is this taking so long? Why only now is the United States coming out, saying the administration saying that they are going to have a report on Tuesday. Why these statements from the President, you know, keeping in mind this took place nearly 50 days ago. The CIA Director was here four weeks ago. There are some in this region, some in Turkey.

Officials, we have heard this from the highest levels of the government here, saying they feel that there is this stalling tactic by some in the administration, hoping that the world will move on and just forget about this whole case, George.

HOWELL: Well, let's push on that, Jomana, given the report that is due out Tuesday to the U.S. President, and also recent reports that the CIA has high confidence that the Crown Prince ordered the murder of this journalist. If what we know of that report is true, where does that leave the U.S. President?

KARADSHEH: Listen. I think, George, the thing is if you look at these latest statements. What we understand, you know, this CIA assessment, the conclusion they reached. None of it is based on a smoking gun sort of evidence. It is several things they have taken in to consideration, several pieces they have put together to reach a conclusion, according to what we have been told by some officials that there is their conclusion (Inaudible) assessment at this point.

And one key thing here and we have been hearing this for weeks, George. They say that something like this that would have involved members of the inner circle of Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, wouldn't have taken place without his knowledge. He is the de facto ruler of that country. But I mean we'll have to wait and see what, you know, the next moves, what this report will say when it does come out.

But I think the U.S. administration and President Trump's position has been very clear from the beginning. He is prioritizing his relationship with Saudi Arabia, business and economic ties with that country over this case, over this murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And also some would say that this is not the, you know, first issue with Saudi Arabia. The administration has pretty much turned a blind eye to other human

rights abuses that the Saudi regime has been accused of, whether it is the war in Yemen or the imprisoning activists in the country over the past year and other critics. But so many people in this region, George, see this as a very critical moment, that if the United States does not act. There is so much at stake, whether it is Turkey here.

This NATO ally that sees this as a serious attack on its own sovereignty, and it has been hoping that the United States would take serious action to make sure something like this does not happen again. And then also have dissidents, activists, journalists in this region who view this as such a dangerous development.

They feel that unless the United States, unless the international community takes real action, they feel there will be many more incidents like this. This will only embolden other regimes in the region to silence their critics, George.

HOWELL: And you know it could be a bag of mixed messages, in fact, Jomana. You could see, you know the sanctions of course, coming up from lawmakers. And a response from the House of Representatives could be very different from that of the U.S. President. So they will -- you know, we'll have to square the circumstance on what the U.S. response will be come Tuesday. Thank you again for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

The questions from the President of the -- for the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and that Russia probe. Donald Trump says he answered those questions himself and is prepared to hand them over. But at least one question remains. Will the President sit down with Mueller's team for an interview in the investigation? We'll take a look at that, plus this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there is anything that we have established at this point that's going to fundamentally deter them from continuing this kind of operation.


[02:15:00] HOWELL: Russian propaganda still in full bloom, spreading misinformation on social media. Getting rid of them is proving to be a real challenge. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome book to CNN Newsroom. I am George Howell. The U.S. President sat down for a wide-ranging interview that aired on Sunday. He answered questions about the Special Counsel's ongoing Russia investigation and went after a retired Navy Seal Commander who led the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. Our Boris Sanchez has more now from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BORIS SANCHEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Trump making news on a multitude of fronts this weekend. First, with an interview on Fox News, in which he criticized Retired Admiral William McRaven, McRaven had previously criticized President Trump suggesting that he was un-presidential, and saying that the President's comments about the press being the enemy of the people are a threat to democracy.

[02:19:48] The President, during this interview, shot back saying that McRaven was a Hillary Clinton supporter, a backer of President Barack Obama. The Admiral spoke to CNN about this, providing us with a statement, saying that he did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else. He also said, quote, I admire all Presidents regardless of their political party who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times.

He went onto say when you undermine the people's right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the contusion and all for which it stand. The President also talked about the Russia investigation during that interview, revealing that he probably would not sit down for that one-on-one in-person testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Something he said in the past that he was looking forward to. Listen to this portion of the interview.


TRUMP: I think we have wasted enough time on this witch hunt. And the answer is probably -- we are finished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the odds, 1 in 100?

TRUMP: I don't do odds. We -- I gave...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ran a casino, Sir.

TRUMP: You are right, and very successfully, actually. We gave very, very complete answers to a lot of questions that I shouldn't have even been asked. And I think that should solve the problem. I hope it solves the problem. If it doesn't, you know, I will be told. And we'll make a decision at that time. But probably, this is the end.

SANCHEZ: Now, President Trump did say that he would be handing over his written responses to Mueller's questions sometime this week, likely before thanksgiving. Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


HOWELL: Boris, thank you. Let's talk more about this now with Scott Lucas. Scott, a Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham in England, live this hour in Birmingham. It's good to have you, Scott.

SCOTT LUCAS, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, EA WORLD VIEW: Morning, George. HOWELL: Let's start by talking about the questions that President

Trump says he answered himself. He insists he did it without the help of his attorneys, but Mr. Trump now saying that he most likely would not sit down for an interview with Mueller's team. He said before that he would be open to sitting down for an interview. So what is your take on Mr. Trump's change of heart?

LUCAS: Well, first, if you believe that Donald Trump wrote the answers that Robert Mueller will see I have got a Trump Tower in New York to sell to you. He sat down with lawyers last Monday. They discussed the written responses. And the lawyers will be going through them very carefully, because of course, if they are inaccurate, or if they verge on falsehood, that opens up further charges against the President, mainly perjury.

In terms of the change of heart, there hasn't been a change of heart amongst the Trump team. There had been discussion with months with Mueller's team about the President sitting down one-on-one with Mueller to be questioned. The White House lawyers have held out against that, and the move taken the day after the elections to replace Jeff Sessions with Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General is deliberately to block any chance of Trump sitting down with Mueller.

And that's because Whitaker can veto any subpoena that Mueller issues trying to get that oral rather that the written testimony.

HOWELL: Let's talk about the President's attacks on the Retired Admiral William McRaven. Again, this is a person who was the architect of the Bin Laden raid, a very significant moment for the United States. The question here, given his background, Scott, given his reputation and experience, could an attack like this on a person like that backfire on this President?

LUCAS: Of course, it can. But the question is when do we reach the breaking point on backfires? There are two reasons why Donald Trump launched this attack against William McRaven, you know, one of the highest ranking, most highly decorated veterans. The first is personal. Trump doesn't like anyone who criticizes him. McRaven had raised the issue of Donald Trump attack a free press and Trump lashed out.

That's the only style Trump knows. But the second is linked to the Trump-Russia investigation. Trump is going to attack anybody right now, because he's frightened and he's scared. Now will it backfire? Look. Donald Trump tried to drag the name of John McCain, a prisoner of war for 5 1/2 years through the mud, even as McCain was dying, and even as he was being buried.

Donald Trump has attacked former directors of the CIA. John Brennan, Jim Clapper, you know, those people who have tried to keep the country safe. Simply because he fears what they say puts him in a bad light and exposes him to political risk. There are probably a group of people out there, George, and Donald Trump could probably invoke the name of our good lord, and say that he is a threat to himself and American democracy, and they might stick with Trump. The question is beyond that Trump loyalist. Where do Americans go,

because we are not just talking about a President? We are talking about an American system and where it goes from here.

[02:24:54] HOWELL: You know earlier in the show, Scott, we talked about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Looking ahead this coming Tuesday, the President says he will receive a full report from the CIA assessment of that investigation. We have seen the Saudi narrative, the response, the story shift several times.

The President still seems willing to change his conclusion to basically leave the door open, saying that it's premature to make any definitive conclusions here at this point. But come Tuesday, given what we know of this report, could this further force the President's hand?

LUCAS: Here is how it plays, George. The CIA has concluded with high confidence that the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Donald Trump will get this report on Tuesday. And the White House will counter spin. They will say that the report is not conclusive, that it doesn't directly link Mohammad bin Salman.

I.E. that he made a call to that consulate in Turkey and said kill Khashoggi. The White House will try then to sweep away the CIA report, hoping the State Department will give it cover. Why is that? Donald Trump's highest priority is the $110 billion in arms that he agreed to sell Saudi Arabia last year. There was a ceremony in Saudi Arabia to celebrate that in May 2017.

Eighteen months later, Donald Trump says Saudi Arabia gives us jobs, gives us business, and that is far more important to him than the murder of a journalist, no matter how gruesome it is, and no matter what his agencies say about the responsibilities of the Saudi Arabia monarchy.

HOWELL: Scott Lucas, thank you again for your time and perspective, live for us in Birmingham, England.

LUCAS: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: After a contentious Senate race and recount, Florida will send a new Senator to Washington. Current U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, on the right, conceded to his Republican challenger, Rick Scott on Sunday. The margin was just over 10,000 votes. Now that Florida is settled, here is where things stand. The U.S. Congress you see in the House of Representatives, Democrats have a majority with 232 seats.

Republicans now have 200 seats. Three races still undecided. But no matter what happens, they won't swing the balance of power. In the Senate, Republicans keep their majority 52 seats, Democrats 47 seats. One undecided race in Mississippi will be decided later this month in a run off. The wildfires burning across California left entire cities destroyed, including the hardest hit town of Paradise, California.

Up next, we speak with the Mayor about how people are coping. Plus, it could be a turning point in the war in Yemen, what the Houthis say about a potential ceasefire deal as CNN Newsroom continues.


[02:31:12] HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from the ATL. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. The U.S. president indicated in an interview that we may never know if the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was lying about his investigation in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Trump also said that he won't listen to a reporting of the murder calling it a violent vicious hate. The Israeli prime minister is urging his coalition to hold the government together. Many Israelis are upset that Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas last week. His defense minister quit his majority and parliament is down to one seat and now he is calling facing calls for a snap election. Mr. Netanyahu says that that would be irresponsible.

In the State of California, a vigil was held on Sunday for victims of the deadliest wildfires hit that state. At least 80 people have been killed. Hundreds more still unaccounted for. The so-called Camp Fire in the north is now about 65 percent contained, while the Woolsey Fire from the south of the states almost 90 percent. Those fires devastated so much of California. My colleague Natalie Allen spoke with the mayor of Paradise, California earlier.

Jody Jones spoke about whether more could have been done to warn residents about the dangers of these fires.


JODY JONES, MAYOR OF PARADISE, CALIFORNIA: I got a text on my phone at 8:31 to immediately evacuate. I do live sort of on the east side not on the far eastern side, but I don't know how accurate it is that I can tell you that fire came in so fast. There was -- it wasn't that notifications were delayed. It was that that there was no time to give them.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Is there anything that could have been done though? Is there anything that should have been done in retrospect?

JONES: You know, the notification system where you get that text on your phone, it's an off-sim system. It's automatic for landlines, but cellphones have to opt in. And so, I think we probably about have done more to sign people up to get them to opt in to that system, so more people would have gotten that notice. Housing is the big problem. There's just not enough housing for everyone in Butte County. And so, people are having to go far away to find places to stay on the short term, so that is a big need right now.

ALLEN: And how would you assess the support though that you're getting, mayor? How would you assess? There's always heroes in this people that just so to do good deeds to lend a helping hand?

JONES: I would say I'm just amazed by it, the outpouring of support from communities surrounding us and far away. And also, the work that FEMA is doing and they showed up on Saturday. The fire happened on Thursday and they've been working 24/7 ever since.


HOWELL: The mayor there I remember seeing her walking through so much destruction debris left behind. So many people in her town just no longer have homes and now there's the smoke to deal with and rain on the way.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: And then we got rain on the way which, George, you would think it would be a good thing and it will be obviously for the fires. But the problem is the potential for mudslides is going to be there when you heard her say there there's not too many places to go in Butte County and the issue there is that people are still out in tents, right, and so we get the heavy rain coming in and that's going to be an issue as well.

So let's talk about where we are as far as the Camp Fire. To tell you what, not much containment (INAUDIBLE) we have some very gusty winds early on in the morning.

[02:35:08] We started 65 percent. That's basically we ended Sunday. I think we're going to do better on Monday as a result of the winds beginning to subside, so that's going to be a good thing. A hundred and fifty thousand acres of course have burned so far. We're talking about (INAUDIBLE) Camp Fire. Now, this is the improving weather condition scenario that we have winds subsiding, so we're not going to have those 50, 60 mile an hour winds that we're up in the 40s this morning, but that's bad enough.

Humidity also, that's going to be on the increase and then we have some cooler temps on the way along with the fact that we're talking about rain fall. We shouldn't be into these kinds of fires to this late into the State of California where we should be is in the rain season and that's at least going to happen the next few days but I'll talk about that why that maybe a problem as well. The gray you see there, that has been -- we've been talking about this.

This is one of the worst outbreaks here as far as the stagnation and the air quality in California and because of the valleys the way we're shaped here, everything that sinks down and stay there. It doesn't move despite the fact that we have gusty winds up at the ridges here. Look at the plum. This is from (INAUDIBLE) even if you're nowhere near the fire which is you can see the hard part of the north depending on the prevailing wind states far away is (INAUDIBLE) has been really unhealthy has been in California.

The red dots you see there, that's in the unhealthy stage. We were up towards purple. One of the highest numbers we've seen as far as the air quality index that goes up to 500. We were in the 300s (INAUDIBLE) so how much rain do we need to help things out? Well, we need at least half an inch to stop the spread of the fires, right? The winds will also going to help as it begin to calm down. But we need initially upwards of two inches to extinguish the fires. So I think in fact heading into Thanksgiving, this thing is going to

be put out because of the heavy rain and the heroic firefighting efforts that continue at this hour. Look at these weather systems. Not just one. I'm counting three here. We have one that comes in on Wednesday. This will be the first big rain that coming in and that's going to be heavy at times as all that moisture gets pump in from the Pacific.

Then we have another one Thursday and into Friday and then looking into next week perhaps even a little bit more rainfall. When it's all done, we're talking a potential of anywhere from two towards five inches (INAUDIBLE) fire, right, so that's where we're looking at some significant rainfall and when you mix the rain with the scarred and the burn scars here in the California, you're going to have a potential for I think mudslides over the next few days, so we're going to have to watch that very closely.

We have that issue last year. We had fires and we had what usually follows with the heavy rainfall which is the mudslides (INAUDIBLE) and that's going to increase victim I think beginning on Wednesday.

HOWELL: That's a big deal. The rain obviously welcome but, yes, real concern there. Ivan, thank you.

CABRERA: You're welcome.

HOWELL: And of course if you'd like to help you can find ways to reach to the victims to help at our website, There you will find a list of vetted charities helping the people there in need. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi could impact the war in Yemen. For several years of war and bloodshed now, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Iran-backed Houthis there. Now, a Houthi leader says that his fighters are ready for a ceasefire and after the Khashoggi murder, Riyadh might be open to accepting.

Saudi-backed forces hold much of Yemen. But the Houthis still control much of the west. Last month, a top U.S. official several said that there need to be a truce within 30 days. CNN's Sam Kiley is in Abu Dhabi and has the very latest on this peace offer.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just on the three weeks ago, the United States and the United Kingdom joined voices with the United Nations to call or renew their calls and demands for a ceasefire within 30 days in Yemen. There has been a dialing down in the violence and just in the last few hours, there has been a statement published by the leader of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are clinging onto the Port City of Hodeidah and control some 25 to 30 percent of the country more general.

That statement said in part that they are prepared. This is the Houthi rebels to end their drone attacks and their used of long range missiles as a sign of goodwill. There was an offer of goodwill that came from the Saudi-led coalition side which about a week ago agreed to allow the medical evacuation of about 50 wounded Houthi rebels as a pre-condition to meeting their army. Things hoped for to be held sometime over the next couple of weeks somewhere in Sweden. But this is a major breakthrough in a conflict that really has running

to the sand for the Saudi-led coalition which is trying to battle the Houthi rebels and above all to try to make sure that Iran does not get a foothold in that strategically important part of the Arabian Gulf that controls access to the Red Sea. At the same time, of course, the Iranians is insisting that they're backing their Shia brethren, the Houthis in their efforts to prevent an annihilation if you like of the Houthi rebellion.

[02:40:23] But this after many, many years of bloodshed some tens of thousands of people injured, thousands wounded, and four hundred thousand children according to the United Nations children's then on the verge of starvation offers a slim glimmer of help, just of hope, just as the United Kingdom who is expected to sponsor a demand at the U.N. Security Council, a demand for a resolution calling for a ceasefire and putting pressure particularly on the Saudis for that and that would come on the eve of the publication expected from the United States on what the United States government believes happen to Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post correspondent who was murdered inside the consulate of the Saudi Kingdom in Istanbul.

Those two issues have been tighyl connected now for many weeks because it is seen really that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi which is now accepted as a premeditated killing by the Saudis was effectively the straw that has broken the camel's back in terms of particularly congressional support for the very, very bloody and humanitarianly disastrous campaign that has unfolded over the last few years in Yemen. Sam Kiley, CNN Abu Dhabi.

HOWELL: Sam, thank you. The U.S. president said his vice president to the APEC Summit this weekend. President Trump's economic agenda was front and center at the gathering of leaders, why that's angering China? Stay with us.


[02:45:04] HOWELL: Tensions between the United States and China came to a head this weekend at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea. For the first time in 25 years, the forum ended without an agreement on a joint communique.

A U.S. official, says Chinese President Xi Jinping, grew frustrated with the criticism over his country's trade policies, particularly, from the United States. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, says Washington will not back down from the trade war with China until Beijing changes its ways.

Following the story, CNN's Ivan Watson, live in Hong Kong. Ivan, we saw this rivalry on full display impacting the outcome of this overall summit, it seems.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, where for the first time in 25 years, you couldn't have this routine joint communique published. APEC, these summits, they take place every year, and they're usually pretty straightforward affairs where you have heads of state dressed usually in very loud brightly colored ethnic shirts.

But in this case, there was a breakdown. And there was some last- minute drama, as well. Because CNN has learned from a source with direct knowledge that after the host country's foreign minister denied a request from Chinese officials to meet with them, to try to influence the final joint communique which was never published in the end, that these four Chinese officials then, barged into the Papua New Guinea's foreign minister's office.

A rather unusual rupture in a normal kind of diplomatic protocol in the wrangling over this final document, which again, was never published. We're hearing from the Canadian Prime Minister because of disagreements over trade and that is the big disagreement between China and the U.S. who have a slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of products going to each other's countries.

And they were thinly veiled kind of criticisms coming from Xi Jinping who was present and from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who went in President Trump's stead to this gathering. Take a listen to some excerpts from their speeches.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (through translator): History tells us to take the road of confrontation whether it's in the form of a cold war, open war, or trade war, it will produce no winners.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Offers a better option. We don't drown our partners in sea of debt, we don't coerce or compromise your independence, the United States deals openly and fairly. We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road.


WATSON: George, that's Pence taking aim at China's ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative where they've lavished huge amounts of money on infrastructure projects around the world that puts Xi Jinping on the defensive. He was pledging that there is no hidden agenda to his One Belt, One Road initiative.

You also had Pence, announcing the creation of a new military base in Papua New Guinea in conjunction with the Australians part of bigger jockeying and competition in the region for influence between China and the U.S. and its allies there.

There is the chance perhaps, at a negotiated way out of this trade war and that could be an upcoming meeting between Xi Jinping and President Trump in Argentina later this month. George.

HOWELL: All right, Ivan Watson live for us in Hong Kong. Thank you. We'll be right back after the break.


[02:50:47] CABRERA: With your "WEATHER WATCH", I'm CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. Across North America, we are looking at a frontal boundary across the Eastern U.S. What does that mean for you and me? Not much. It's not going to be a huge storm system that I think would impact the airports or anything like that. But we are looking at this pushing towards the east, a little bit of snowfall with a weak system moving it through the Great Lakes into the central provinces of Canada where they originate.

And then, out west, we need some rain out there for the fires in California. We're eventually going to get it, in fact, to the next 72 hours. Big storm system moving through there for now remaining on the dry side and some gusty winds, as well, not helping things out.

So, as our temperatures cooling off in Denver about eight degrees, but that's temporary. We're going to have temperatures warm up actually as we head to the middle-latter part of the week. 10 in New York, 19 in Atlanta, down in Miami, of course, usually warm this time of year. It takes a little bit longer for the cold fronts to make it through all the way into the Caribbean. Not quite there, yet.

New York City looking just fine between the seven and 10 degrees that frontal boundary I mentioned is going to trigger a few showers. And then, look what happens here. My goodness. That cold air will begin to move in. Minus two for Thursday, but that is a temporary cold snap for the holiday on Thanksgiving, and then, into a Black Friday.

Look at the warm-up though, by the time we get into Saturday and Sunday. But temperatures about nine to 10. There is that fast moving clipper system with a few snow showers into Western New York.


HOWELL: U.S. tech companies and government agencies are trying to keep Russian connected accounts from spreading propaganda online, but the information in this information from these so-called trolls continues. Here's our Fred Pleitgen with more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Russian troll Factory once known as the Internet Research Agency is still up and running. Now, operating its various new legal entities under the name Project Lakhta, according to U.S. criminal complaint.

CNN has obtained video, this flashy business center in St. Petersburg where several of Project Lakhta's firms are now apparently working. And Project Lakhta is putting down more cash to harm America. Company financial records in the U.S. criminal complaint reviewed by CNN show huge budget increases since 2013, especially, in 2018.

Around 650 million rubles, almost $10 million in the first six months of this year alone. Though prosecutors say not all of that money goes to operations targeting the U.S.

BRET SCHAFER, SOCIAL MEDIA ANALYST, ALLIANCE FOR SECURING DEMOCRACY: It is essential to look at these efforts as consistent and persistent as opposed to they rally around specific geopolitical events or an election. The way that they actually gain influence is by talking to these specific populations over a period of time.

PLEITGEN: A former employee, we're not naming out of safety concerns' tell CNN, Project Lakhta's operatives constantly create new online identities using special tools called anonymizers along with virtual private networks and variant cloud services to mask their origin.

SCHAFER: I don't think there's anything that we have established at this point that's going to fundamentally deter them from continuing this kind of operation. Because frankly, it's been pretty successful.

PLEITGEN: According to the criminal complaint, Project Lakhta is part of a sprawling business empire controlled by this man, Russian tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed, Putin's chef, because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and because of his restaurant empire. Putin has denied the two men are close.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I know him, but he is not among my friends. This is misrepresenting the facts. He is a businessman, he has restaurants and some other businesses. But he is not a state official, we have nothing to do with him.

[02:54:55] PLEITGEN: But Prigozhin, clearly has major dealings with the Russian State. A firm linked to him runs a mercenary company active in Syria that even attacked U.S.-backed forces there.

CNN also spotted a man who appears to be Pregozhin in this video from Russian State T.V. Of the meeting between Russian officials and Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for severe human rights abuses.

Prigozhin's firm tried to push back on the special counsel's indictment arguing like President Trump that the Mueller investigation is a witch-hunt. On Thursday, a federal judge refused to dismiss the indictment charging Prigozhin's company with having a role in Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential.

Meantime, cybersecurity experts, say Project Lakhta's trolling efforts are expanding in the United States and elsewhere. Their message unabashed and unapologetic. Like this recent online meme planted by the group, which reads, "Remember 90 percent of online trolls are paid professionals." Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


HOWELL: All right, Fred. Thank you. And thank you for being with us this hour for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Let's do it again. More news right after the break. Stay with us.