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Release of Mueller Report Ecpected; AG William Barr to Hold Press Conference Regarding Release; North Korea Says It Test-Fired New Tactical Guided Weapon; Latest on Notre Dame Fire. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired April 18, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHURCH: The U.S. attorney general has decided to hold a press conference about the Mueller report before making it public or giving it to Congress, sparking outrage from Democrats. North Korea says Kim Jong-un directed the firing of the tactical guided weapon just months after the failed summit with U.S. President Trump. And we are live in Paris, where investigators are interviewing witnesses as they try to figure out what caused that devastating fire at Notre Dame.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN Newsroom. Well, the long-awaited Mueller report is hours away from being released, and the timing of its rollout is sparking complaints.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to hold a news conference on the report at 9:30 am Eastern time. Congress won't receive Barr's redacted version until more than an hour and a half later. "The New York Times" reports the White House has already having several conversations with the Justice Department about the report's conclusions, and that's raising concerns that Barr's loyalty is to the president and not the Constitution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The central concern here is that the Attorney General Barr is not allowing the facts of the Mueller report to speak for themselves, but is trying to bake in the narrative about the report to the benefit of the White House. This is wrong. It is not the proper role of the attorney general.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Pamela brown has more on what's ahead.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The release of Mueller's nearly 400-page report, an investigation shrouded in secrecy for nearly two years, is expected to fuel Democratic calls for more investigations and reveal details of hundreds of hours of interviews with officials from the highest levels of the Trump administration, many of which could embarrass or enrage President Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line, the result is no collusion and no obstruction.
BROWN: And while the president has falsely claimed complete exonerated.
TRUMP: I've been totally exonerated.
BROWN: The report could explain Mueller's indecision regarding obstruction of justice, detailing evidence that lays out alleged attempts by the president to derail the investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election, including the firing of then FBI Director James Comey and how investigators view the actions.
What's unclear tonight is how much the public will see of the underlying evidence Mueller gathered, both a potential obstruction and Russian interference. The attorney general has vowed to redact information from grand jury interviews, as well as other categories, setting up a showdown with Democrats on the Hill who plan to fight for the full unredacted report.
NADLER: Congress had the need of the - of the entire report, including the grand jury material. If we don't get everything, we will issue the subpoena and go to court.
BROWN: Attorney General William Barr has that much of the evidence in the obstruction case is already publically known, but it's not clear if Mueller found examples outside of those that happen publicly, something Barr was pressed on while testifying before Congress.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Do you express any expectation, interest in leaving the obstruction decision to Congress?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Not that -- he didn't say that to me, no.
LEAHY: So he said the obstruction decision should be up to you?
BARR: He didn't say that either. But that's generally how the Department of Justice works.
BROWN: Sources say one of the biggest concerns is whether Mueller's interviews with the presidents top aides reveal embarrassing information about Trump's behavior and operations the White House. The president has repeatedly tried to discredit unfavorable accounts of what happened in the west wing, accusing media outlets of using nonexistent sources.
TRUMP: I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources.
BROWN: But the current and former officials who cooperated with Mueller are expected to be named and spoke under penalty of lying, given the details more credence. It's also possible the report could lay out additional contact between Trump associates and Russians beyond the at least 16 connections already known, and could detail more about the multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign that Barr referenced in his letter to Congress.
It's what will be hidden from public view in the report that will also be telling. Attorney General Barr says the report's redactions will be color-coded, concealing grand jury material, information about ongoing investigations, sources and methods or information about uncharged third party individuals.
SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ (D-HI): But the basic question I think for the public is: Are we going to get the gist of this, or is it going to be on January of 2015 and then - and then you have to flip 15 pages to find the next text?
BARR: You will get more than the gist.
BROWN The Attorney General Bill Barr will be holding a press conference at 9:30 Eastern time on Thursday, hours before the report is released to Congress, raising the question of why he's holding this press conference before that.
A person familiar with the matter says that Bill Barr, alongside Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, will be talking about process, Bill Barr's thinking through the process with the redactions and an overall view of the report. The president has also said publically that he may hold a press conference, and we'll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: So let's turn now to CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. He joins us from Tucson, Arizona. Thank you so much for being with us.
STEVE HALL, CNN NATONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Sure.
CHURCH: So the redacted Mueller report won't be released until more than 90 minutes after the start of the attorney general's new conference. Republican's say it's about being transparent. Democrats say it's about the president and the attorney general controlling the narrative. Why do you think William Barr's doing this?
HALL: You know, for me, William Barr lost a lot of credibility when he used the phrase spying, when he decided to characterize the counterintelligence investigations that were ongoing, looking at who in the Trump administration, who in the Trump team during the campaign was in touch with - with the Russian Government or could've been.
So you know, if you held a gun to my head, I would say the obvious, which is that there's a lot of politics going on here. And I think what Barr has done by using that spying terminology has essentially sent a message to the White House, to his boss, saying, "Look, I got your back on this. I'll do what's necessary to try to make whatever impact this report is going to have not damaging to this administration."
CHURCH: Right, because it has to be said (ph). Traditionally, how it's done is, in these instances, with reports like this, they get embargoed, allowing journalists to wait for all the documentation, and their news outlets are able to release their stories at the same time that the report's officially released. By rejecting this tradition, does it make you wonder the attorney general and the White House are afraid of, what they're trying to conceal perhaps in this report?
HALL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, again, under normal circumstances when you're - the process that you just described, for example, is perfectly reasonable and probably best serves the public, in terms of understanding both sides of the story and what's going on. The same holds true for redactions. Under normal circumstances, redacting some of this information out of this report makes all sorts of sense.
I, as a foreign intelligence officer, am very concerned about revealing, unnecessarily, sources and methods. But under these circumstances, you have to always ask yourself: All right, is this - is this a common sensical approach to rolling this out and talking about this report, or are there other politics and bad things going on? And I would - I would vote for the latter on this one.
CHURCH: Yes. And of course, we know now that "The New York Times" is reporting the Justice Department has been consulting with the White House for days about the Mueller report. What does tell you about the loyalty of this attorney general?
HALL: Yes, again, I think you need to look at - at the background here about the - you know, the context that this all happening, because the context is important. So under normal circumstances, if we were to have a normal administration, a normal president here in the United States, you might expect some limited communication between the Department of Justice and this administration on something like this.
But it's unclear exactly how much conversation, how much communication has gone on between the Department of Justice and the Trump administration. And again, you have to ask yourself: OK, what is the motivation for that? Is the motivation so that the public has the best view so that everything is done properly, or are there other motivations?
And again, I've got to bet that there's other motivations involved.
CHURCH: And we are being told that the obstruction of justice section of the report will have minimal redactions. That's what we're being told at least. If that is the case, what should we all be looking for? And do you think that's what's got the White House worried??
HALL: Yes, I think the White House is - if I had to bet, is - and I have no inside knowledge on this, but, you know, analytically, I would say that that's probably what they're most concerned about because names are going to be - names are going to be named and specific allegations are going to have to be addressed.
We know, from Barr's own words, that the obstruction of justice issue was not one that Mueller apparently had come down firmly on, even though Barr's Department of Justice has.
Personally I'll be looking very carefully at the counterintelligence implications of this, and that's going to be a little bit deeper in the weeds to see what came out during the course of the investigation, which perhaps didn't rise to a legal level where prosecution could occur, but where never the less there might be some very, very damning information about the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
CHURCH: Right, and President Trump says he may hold a news conference after the Attorney General speaks at 9:30am which means they both get a head start on making their version of the Mueller report dominate the news cycle before journalists can even sit down and read through these 400 pages. Is that what's going on here, or that coincidence -- what's your reading of that strategy?
HALL: No -- no coincidence at all, and I think it's a very consistent strategy from this administration. Because if anybody on any part of the American political spectrum, or just commonsensical people say, "wait a second, does that really make sense?"
Then the Trump administration is going to simply say, "well I've already told you about these horrible press people -- they're enemies of the state, they're enemies of the American people, they are liars don't believe them." So why in the world, if you believe that would you want to give them any break? Would you want to give them an advanced opportunity to go through this information?
So that's all part of the Donald Trump narrative here, and as a strategy from that perspective makes sense for him.
CHURCH: Steve Hall, we thank you for your analysis.
HALL: My pleasure.
CHURCH: Well Attorney General Barr has been criticized in a different issue, his recent decision involving people seeking asylum in the United States will face a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Barr struck down a decision that had allowed some asylum seekers to ask a judge for bond while their cases moved through the system. Instead the Department of Homeland Security will now decide alone whether to hold or release immigrants who cross the border illegally and later claimed asylum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): People who have been deemed to have a credible fear of persecution were they to be returned to their home countries on grounds of religion, or race, or politics, or ethnicity have been able to ask for a bond hearing within seven days so that they could be released on bail while they await a final determination of whether or not they're granted asylum.
And the Attorney General has basically used his administrative power over administrative law judges within the Department of Justice -- the immigration law judges to say, "no you can't even seek that hearing, so a judge could determine whether or not you could be released on bail." Everybody's going to be held on jail (ph) whose picked up under those circumstances.
It's clearly something that we're going to want to look at and it is a further constriction of the rights of people who are seeking asylum, to get in to our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The ruling could effect thousands of recent migrants, most from Central America -- it takes effect in about 90 days.
North Korea says it has test fired a new type of tactile guided weapon, that is according to state media which reports that Kim Jong- un climbed an observation post to oversee the test and give directions. It's the first time Pyongyang has tested a weapon since the second U.S.-North Korea Summit ended abruptly in February. And it happened as the U.S. tries to reengage North Korea after the collapse of those talks.
And now Will Ripley is live in Hong Kong, he joins me now. Will, good to see you again, so what more are you learning about apparent weapons test?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know much about it, Rosemary aside from what North Korean media is reporting at this hour. They haven't even released any photos yet so we don't know if this was long-range artillery, a multiple rocket launcher which is what South Korea thinks North Korea tested the last time they announced a tactile weapons test which was November of 2018.
This is the kind of test that does dial up the needle of tension just a little bit, it's a reminder from North Korea to the United States and South Korea that they have a very large military, they have a large arsenal and that they are not entirely pleased with the peace process. Because the peace process on the North Korean side needs to result in sanctions relief in order for them to meet their economic goals.
And they're not getting sanctions relief because the U.S. feels they haven't taken any steps to get rid of their nuclear weapons, and haven't acted in good faith to do so. So this is a reminder that things could go back to the escalating tensions that we saw before -- the fire and fury days. But it's not provocative enough -- it's not a missile launch, it's not a nuclear test so it's not enough to derail diplomacy and that's very deliberate on the part of the North Koreas, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Right, so what message is Kim Jong-un trying to send President Trump, and is Mr. Trump listening?
RIPLEY: Well my sources told me after Hanoi that the North Koreans really were at a loss about what to do, they didn't have a plan B. They thought they would have a deal, they thought they'd start to get sanctions lifted -- in exchange for dismantling Yongbyon their main nuclear reactor.
So they've been really scratching their heads to figure out how to proceed forward. Do they dial up the tensions to the level of 2017, when a lot of the world thought that the U.S. and North Korea might be at the brink of war?
Do they continue to try to engage in diplomacy after losing so much face in Hanoi when Kim Jong-un went all the way there by train, state media talked about the Summit ahead of time -- they called it a success before the result was even out.
And then Kim had to come back home with nothing which was humiliating and a major blow, and a major loss of face. So how do you continue to look strong both domestically and internationally, but also engage in that diplomacy that North Korea desperately needs to get sanctions relief that they also desperately need -- their economy is shrinking.
So it seems like what they've done Rosemary is carved out this middle path where they're not going to launch anything just yet, but they are starting to test weapons. You saw those images of Kim Jong-un conducting an air force pilot combat readiness drill.
There might be some activity being observed at the nuclear reactor, and these are not so subtle signals on the part of the North Koreans that this is where things could be headed if diplomacy doesn't go in a direction that they need it to go.
CHURCH: All right, Will Ripley bringing us up to date on that very delicate story -- appreciate that.
All right, well we will head live to Paris after this very short break. What investigators are learning about the fire at Notre Dame, and who they plan to speak with next.
Plus, a historic day in Sudan -- ousted President Omar al-Bashir ends up in the same prison he sent his political rivals to.
CHURCH: Bells ringing out across France Wednesday evening in honor of the Notre Dame cathedral ravaged by fire. Investigators in Paris will speak with more construction workers and security staff in the coming hours as they try to figure out what caused the fire.
The two contracting companies with work in progress at the time say no workers were on site when the flames broke out on Monday.
New aerial photos show the vast damage to the cathedral's roof, and you can see what it looked like before and after the fire. Prosecutors say they still think this was an accident. And CNN's Michael Holmes joins us now live from Paris at this hour --
good to see you, Michael. So as we say, investigators trying to figure out what caused this fire. They've already talked to some contractors and security agents, they'll talk with more of them today but what all have they learned so far? And when do they expect to release their findings?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes it's going to be some time, they say expecting a fairly long investigation because they want to be thorough about this Rosemary. They have interviewed dozens of workers involved in the renovation that was about to commence here at Notre Dame, and also staff as well to find out what they might know.
They're still saying, investigators -- the prosecutors office, still saying that an accident is the most likely thing. What caused it, we don't know. All of the workers that were up there at the top of the Notre Dame working on the renovation and preparing for the renovation they all say they were gone an hour before the fire broke out.
One of the leads that French media is saying that investigators are looking at is perhaps an electrical fault. Now it's interesting, because there was no electricity at the top because they were worried about the fire risk to those ancient timbers that held up the roof.
But there was an elevator that was set up for the renovation, and so they're looking at that as a possible aspect of what started this, but they don't know for sure. Investigators were pouring over Notre Dame yesterday, there are (ph) firefighters escorting architects and engineers around, looking at the stability of the structure after this devastating fire and also looking for clues as well.
That investigation continues today, we expect to see more activity behind me at Notre Dame as the investigators continue looking around, looking for clues -- and also checking out the building. It's a parallel thing, they're still trying to make sure everything is structurally as sound as it could be. There's a couple of areas they are concerned about.
Meanwhile, yesterday French President Emmanuel Macron set up what is in effect a mini-ministry, if you like -- that will look -- will (ph) focus solely on the reconstruction effort, $900 million has been promised so far by wealthy French families and also small donors as well. Very important for Mr. Macron that this gets done in five years, a lot of people say that's a very optimistic outlook it could take a decade or more. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes, and Michael at the start -- just before we brought you in we heard all of the bells ringing across France on Wednesday evening, and I can see there it's a beautiful day in Paris. What is the scene at Notre Dame today? As people across the country come to terms with the burned out (ph) ruins of their treasured cathedral?
HOLMES: Yeah, of course it's such a cultural icon not just for Parisians, but for people around the world and the Catholic church as well -- a very important place for people of the Catholic faith. And of course it is Easter week, all of the services that would have
been held in Notre Dame over Easter weekend are being moved to another church St. Eustache which is about half a mile away.
So they will continue to have the services, they just obviously won't be able to have it at Notre Dame. People here, it's a mix Rosemary -- I mean, obviously very emotional about the damage done but also grateful that the artifacts -- the important things that were inside there were apparently saved by and large (ph).
And also the fact that the structure is still there, the fire brigade yesterday had a news conference -- the fire chief saying it was the most complex fire he had ever seen in his entire career.
And there was a window of 10 to 20 minutes where it could have gone either way, they fought valiantly to save the timber supports in the belfries, they were fighting the fire from the top and also from below because if those support structures in the belfries had gone, the whole structure would have collapsed. They were able to save that support area, and fortunately Notre Dame is still standing, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, it is extraordinary that it wasn't more catastrophic than what we're seeing there. And Michael Holmes bringing us up to date on the situation from a very sunny Paris, where it is 8:30 in the morning. Many thanks.
Well Sudan's ousted president is now in a maximum security prison, Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the international criminal court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the military's action in Darfur.
Meanwhile, protestors are still out in the streets, calling for radical change. Cnn's senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir has the latest.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been a historic day for Sudan. It is it is difficult to underplay how symbolic al-Bashir's transfer from house arrest to the notorious Kober prison, where so many of the opposition figures and the dissidents were relegated on his rule.
In fact, we're told by eyewitnesses that we - he will have been led to past the very same hangman's noose that he sent so many of his political rivals to. But what's been extraordinary is that it is still not yet enough.
Not that, not the list of anti-corruption measures that the new military council has put in place, not the call for justice for so many of the key regime figures, and their gradual picking up at airports and in their homes and in their far-flung farms.
All of that is not yet enough. More and more protestors are called out onto the streets, onto the demonstration cites, because as so many of them tell us, they understand that their strength lies in their presence on the ground, that their strength lies in their occupation, that spot of land in front of Khartoum's military headquarters.
And if they seat it, then they seat control. And what is it they want? Well, they say it's the same thing that they have always wanted, civilian transitional rule. They want the authority to be back in the hands of civilians, for the first time in three decades. And they tell us they're not going to leave the territory they hold. They are not going to leave the demonstration site, until they get that. Nima Elbagir, CNN, Khartoum, Sudan.
CHURCH: The U.S. is targeting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua with a new set of economic sanctions. It is an attempt to ratchet up the pressure on Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro and the country supporting him. And it resurrects a decades-old trade embargo on Cuba.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are also announcing five additions to the Cuban restricted list, which prohibits direct financial transactions with entities tied to Cuba's military, intelligence and security services and personnel. These additions include arrow Aerogaviota owned by the Cuban military, among others.
These actions should be a signal to all that working with the Cuban military and intelligence services will not be tolerated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Cuba's president tweeted this message after the remarks. He said in part that Cubans don't surrender, nor do they accept laws over their destiny that are not in the constitution.
Well, a quick break here and then Kim Jong-un message to the U.S.: "Military is ready if diplomacy doesn't work." Plus, dozens are killed when severe storms whip across three Indian states.
[02:30:38] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM. Let's update you on the main stories we've been following. We are just hours away from the release of the Mueller report on Russian election meddling. U.S Attorney General William Barr is set to hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
More than an hour and a half before Congress receives the redacted version. That raised more complaints from Democrats about Barr's handling of the report. On the Portuguese island of Madura at least 28 people were killed when a tour bus went over a cliff. Local government officials says the driver lost control on a steep road. There are reports it was carrying German tourists. 28 people were injured in that crash. North Korea says it has test-fired a new type of tactical guideline weapon. State media reports that leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the test and praised the weapons capabilities. It's the first time Kim has tested a weapon since the nuclear talks with President Trump in February when they failed to reach a deal. While the North Korean leader maybe trying to send a message to the U.S. with its latest test firing.
Lift the sanctions or else. And he's making some other high-profile moves as well as to prove where it. Brian Todd reports.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim Jong-un back on camera and in command. In newly released photos, the 35-year-old dictator is seemed beaming as he watches his fighter pilots prepare for war. Tonight, reports from the region indicate Kim's regime may have just test-fired a tactical weapon. But it's not clear if that was a missile, a piece artillery or something else. North Korea's so-called dream commander loves to flexes military muscle on camera.
Something he often does when back into a corner. According to his news agency, in this case, he ordered his pilots to perform "complicated air combat actions." In case they're needed against the U.S." Tonight, there's also word that the dictator could be preparing other weapons against America in case his talks with President Trump which are already strained fully breakdown.
New satellite images analyzed by the group beyond parallel show the presence of what the group calls specialized train rail cars near an enrichment facility at North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Complex.
DAVID ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: This is likely a plan to separate tritium that's used in thermonuclear weapon. It would have been produced in a reactor Yongbyon and they have shipped it possibly by rail car to this facility.
TODD: Beyond parallel says it can't rule out the possibility that these cars are being used to move radioactive material. Although it cannot confirm that's being done. CNN reached out to the White House, the State Department and the CIA. None of whom are commenting on these new pictures. Analysts believe that while he's doing this diplomatic dance with President Trump, Kim is still producing nuclear bombs and missiles in secret.
ALBRIGHT: The biggest fear is that he's refining his ability to put thermonuclear weapon on an ICBM that -- and building many of those. Many in that sense is, you know, five to 10. And it would be able to really target the United States.
TODD: As for these new pictures, analysts say it's possible the North Koreans want U.S. official to see what they're doing and want to send a signal.
DAVID MAXWELL, SENIOR FELLOW, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: To raise tensions or conduct provocations to get political or an economic concessions. They want political concessions, they want the United States to agree to a summit but most importantly, they want the United States to lift sanctions.
TODD: And tonight, Kim seems to be preparing to use another kind of leverage against President Trump. A senior Russian official tell CNN, preparations are being made for a possible meeting between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reports say they could meet as early as next week in Russia's Far East. Putin analysts say would love to drive a wedge between Kim and Trump. And Kim could use Putin to his own advantage.
MAXWELL: Kim wants to see Putin to be able to use him to support his blackmail diplomacy. An alliance where close relations with Putin will put pressure on the United States.
TODD: And analysts warn there are other ways that Vladimir Putin could help out Kim Jong-un. They say that the Russians could give some important weapons to the North Korean leader. Aircraft, maybe even submarines.
[02:35:01] And they say Russia could help North Korea perfect its capabilities in cyber warfare. Capabilities that have already been very dangerous for the United States. Brian Todd, CNN Washington.
CHURCH: And we have this just in the CNN, the U.S. geological survey says a 6.0 magnitude earthquake has hit Taiwan's Eastern Coastline. Video from the capital Taipei shows the shaking in an office buildings with light fixtures swing from the ceiling. Taiwan's weather viewer says there are no immediate reports of damage or injuries and we will of course bring you more details on this story as they come into us.
Well, deadly storms barrel across India killing dozens and the forecasters say it's not over yet. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri will join us next with the details.
CHURCH: In India, at least 29 people were killed when unseasonal rain and thunderstorms battered several parts of the country. Strong wind knocked down buildings and trees. Severe thunderstorms are expected for the next few days. So, let's find out more on this form our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who joins us with the details. So, it's not over yet, is it?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Not over yet, yes. You know, and this is the heart of the dry season, Rosemary, so to see this amount of rainfall, the intensity of this particular storm and not just impacting India but also areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan on into India. This has led to significant amount of fatalities widespread over this particular region. And we know the rainfall has been persistent from Afghanistan and you work your way on into neighboring regions into Pakistan.
We've had trees down, of course, power lines have come down and some of these trees have come down on property. So that has led to some of the fatalities that we're seeing. But the system itself, the initial one that has cause all the devastation is actually exiting the picture into the Tibetan plateau. But the steering environment and the atmosphere is a such that we are going to continue to see heavy rainfall and additional thunderstorms.
Now, we know this portion of India is directly to the agricultural industry. If you take a look at the population, about 15 percent of its population works in the agricultural industry. About 250 million people which is more than the population or roughly the population of the United States to kind of give you a scale are considering themselves farmers across India and then about 15 percent of the country's GDP also comes from the ag industry.
So rainfall is certainly an important part of it but not really the months let's say February, March and April and in particular April because that is among the driest times of the year. The transitions happens rather quickly.
[02:40:07] The winds begin to shift in late May in turn into June. And then you have months (INAUDIBLE) and that accounts in parts of India for 90 percent of the annual rains. It really speaks. Essentially it's a desert environment leading up to this wet monsoon season but the last couple of days of course have not been a such year and with the rainfall we've seen a tremendous drop in temperatures.
Record heat had been in place. The best they can do across Delhi, only 31 degrees when they were around 40 in a few spots in recent days. Now, we know as of the last 24 hours the forecast has been released by the India Meteorological Department that just about 96 percent of normal as what we expect here for the rainy season upon us from the months June through September.
And 96 percent kind of puts it on the tail end or the bottom end of what is considered a normal wet season across the portions of India. But when you break down this and when you consider the significance of the importance of heavy rainfall there, Rosemary, for the past seven seasons only one of these seven seasons has come in actually in the surplus department. So, they need the rainfall but unfortunately a little too soon, a little too much and of course a little too destructive as well, Rosemary.
CHURCH: It is not good at all. Thank you so much. We're keeping a very close eye on all those details, Pedram. Appreciate it.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
CHURCH: An Australian couple has been rescued in the outback after writing the word help in the mud. Look very closely here and you can see the message. The pair took off for a fishing trip on Sunday but then their truck got stuck in the wet ground. They used a fence post to scroll the message after spending a sleepless night in Keep River National Park. The area is one-and-a-half hours from their own town and is known for its saltwater crocodiles.
The couple says they saw tracks on the reptiles nearby and police say, if the pair had not (INAUDIBLE) and told family members about their plans, they might never have been found. A lesson all of us, right? Well, thanks so much for your company on CNN NEWSROOM. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day.