Return to Transcripts main page


No Signs of Calm in Hong Kong; Jeffrey Epstein's Suicide Now Being Investigated; Allies Turning Each Other in Yemen; Attempted Terrorism Act Against Muslims on Eid al-Adha; North Korea Cutting Off Future Talks with South Korea; Typhoon Lekima Devastated Eastern China. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 12, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hong Kong police escalate their crackdown on protesters, violent scenes in the subway after a day of anti-government demonstrations, this hour hundreds are gathered at the airport. And we will have a live report.

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was left alone and his jail cell and was not being monitored the night he apparently committed suicide.

And a big setback for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as allies turn against one another.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom.

A massive protest is underway right now at the Hong Kong International Airport, it's in response to scenes of police violence during demonstrations on Sunday.

And our Ben Wedeman is there, he joins us on the line. Ben, we are looking at pictures there, of so many people gathered there at the airport, what are they saying, what are they hoping to achieve.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary. I was at the airport on Friday and Saturday we see similar protest but the numbers today dwarf what we saw on those days and this is not a planned protest as the others, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday airport sit-ins where this is largely spontaneous. And the focus of their anger is the impression that Hong Kong police has escalated their use of violence against protesters.

You had one incident where a tear gas was used inside a subway station. Another incident where a young woman was hit with some sort of projectile during the protest that her eye bloodied. And so many of the people here have put bandages over one of their eyes in solidarity with that young woman.

Now, we were actually at a police demonstration earlier today where they were showing us their latest technology that they're going to deploy against this growing protest movement. They were showing us water trucks used to fire at protesters, but clearly, the protesters are one step ahead of them, there is no way you can use that sort of technology here.

And certainly, just given the number which is breathtaking, to see the protesters ability to mobilize, to move around and to they haven't brought the operations of the airport to a standstill. In fact, they are trying not to impede the operation. But nonetheless, they are making their message clear that they will not tolerate an escalation of force by Hong Kong. Rosemary.

CHURCH: They are certainly standing firm. Ben Wedeman with the latest there from Hong Kong as we watch those pictures, a spontaneous protest there at the international airport in Hong Kong. We'll continue to follow that story.

Well, new details are emerging raising more questions about the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. A source says guards were not regularly monitoring Epstein on the night he is believed to have killed himself in prison.

The politically connected multimillionaire was a convicted sex offender and was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein was found unresponsive in his prison cell Saturday; he had been taken off suicide watch.

Polo Sandoval has more now on the reaction from Epstein's accusers.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anger, frustration, and certainly a lot of questions here especially when you begin to hear from some of the victims. Many of them have been speaking to their attorney or their attorneys.

I want to read you a portion of a statement that was released by Lisa Bloom who is the counsel to one of these alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein.

Bloom, writing, "I will never have a sense of closure now, I'm angry as hell that the prison could've allowed this to happen. And that I, and his other victims will never see him face the consequences for his horrendous actions. I hope that whatever allowed this to happen and whoever allows this to happen also faces some time of consequence. You stole from us the huge piece of healing that we needed to move on with our lives."

Again, that's a statement that was released by Lisa Bloom in which she's representing one of her many alleged victims here. So, there it does seem to be a sense here that many of these victims feel like they were robbed of that opportunity to have that representation in court, to potentially face this defendant.

[03:04:59] However, there is still that possibility that they can still pursue legal action in civil court as we heard another attorney representing one of the victims that they should never lose hope because that is still a legal pathway that some of these victims could potentially pursue moving forward.

CHURCH: Joining me now from Los Angeles CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin. Areva, always good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So many unanswered questions about how it was possible for Jeffrey Epstein to take his own life in the metropolitan correctional center in Manhattan. We've learned that multiple procedures were not followed, Epstein had no cell mate and was not being monitored regularly as should've happened.

How was it possible for this protocol to be violated in a facility like this?

MARTIN: These are the questions, Rosemary, that the inspector general and the Department of Justice and the FBI are going to be asking.

What we have heard is that the two guards or at least two guards who were involved with supervising Epstein apparently were working extreme amounts of overtime.

Almost the suggestion has been made that perhaps they were negligent somehow, maybe they fell asleep, maybe they, you know, just failed to follow the protocol perhaps because they had been working so many extra hours overtime.

Of course, that's not the official reason for why protocol was not followed but there is some reporting coming out today suggesting that the man responsible for watching him perhaps were overworked and just extremely tired.

CHURCH: And Areva, why do you think Epstein was taken off suicide watch given the July 23 instance when he was either assaulted or try to take his own life?

MARTIN: Again, that's a good question, Rosemary, and the officials will be trying to answer that question, obviously the psychologist and the prison warden who had to approve of him being taken off of suicide watch will have to answer to those questions.

One of the things that came out of the reporting when he was found with the marks around his neck was there was some indication that maybe he had faked it, that, you know, that he wasn't either attacked or he had in himself try to commit suicide.

So, there are so many questions that I think the public deserves an answer to with respect to his prison state, his psychological evaluation and the higher ups in that correctional facility who had to sign off on him being taken off of suicide watch.

CHURCH: And we know now that an autopsy has been performed, we should learn more about that pending more information. But what about video evidence, how long before we hear what that might reveal and how much video evidence might there be in a facility like this? MARTIN: Yes. There's some good reporting coming out that there should

have been surveillance video cameras in the area where Epstein was being held, so the question is, you know, where those cameras operational, you know, is there actual footage of what took place in that cell?

And will that footage be made available to the public? We don't know how much of this information even after it's gleaned from the investigators and those tasked with investigating this, you know, his alleged suicide, how much of that evidence the public will actually, you know, ever have access to?

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And of course, just because Epstein has died doesn't end efforts to ensure that the victims get the justice they deserve. What is the next step to ensure that happens?

MARTIN: Well, a couple of things. What we know is that the Southern District of New York, the federal prosecutors have made a very clear that their investigation will continue and it's important to note that this was a conspiracy case that was filed against Epstein which means there are co-conspirators, there are other individuals that the southern district apparently is looking at.

So, I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see additional indictments coming down for those individuals who aided and abetted him in this sex trafficking ring that we learned so much about in the last couple of weeks and then there's also the civil suits.

Just because he's dead, victims won't have their day in court in terms of being able to confront him in a criminal trial but several claims can be made against his estate.

We already know that there are dozens of civil lawsuits that have been filed by victims and we should expect that additional lawsuits may be filed as more victims come forward and tell their stories. So, this case is far from over.

And then there is the investigation of what happened in Florida in 2007 in 2008.

[03:09:50] We know that there are investigations about whether there was any, you know, a criminal conduct engaged, or you know, criminal conduct that was engaged in by officials who executed the non- prosecution agreement which allowed Epstein to just serve 13 months in jail in Florida.

CHURCH: Yes, as we say, a lot of questions to be answered. Areva Martin, always great to get your legal analysis. Many thanks.

MARTIN: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, a separatist group in Yemen takes control of a key city and that could mean big trouble for the Saudi-led coalition. We'll have the details in a live report.

Plus, North Korea is threatening to shut the South out of talks with the United States. How Pyongyang is getting some unlikely support from the White House, we'll have that for you.

And the latest on what's left of typhoon Lekima with that rip through eastern China leaving dozens dead and many more trapped. We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH: In Yemen, a new campaign by a separatist group has made the turbulent civil war even more complicated. The separatists have suddenly turned against the Saudi-led coalition and seize the key city of Aden.

[03:15:03] The interior minister of the Saudi-backed government there has conceded defeat and called the situation a coup. Aden became the seat of that government after Houthi fighters took over Sana'a in 2014.

Now CNN's Sam Kiley joins me now from Abu Dhabi with more on all of this. Good to see you, Sam. So, what are the likely ramifications of the actions of the separatists, and of course, how Saudi Arabia likely to respond?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, disastrous potentially for the coalition which was put together not to fight themselves of course, but to fight the Houthis in the north.

Now, there are essentially two elements to this. The first is the government which is largely backed or entirely backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates. But those countries backed different militias as their partners and proxies on the ground.

Now the Saudi militia in Aden, one of them known as Islah, which its opponents say is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood has been driven out of the city and the government blamed for siding with that militia and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the southern transitional counsel, Rosemary, which is always made a point that it wants autonomy or semi- autonomy for the southern region of the Yemen swept through Aden. And up until now at least has been backed by the United Arab Emirates and somewhat sarcastically the interior minister yesterday said that this was a victory for the UAE.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the UAE was behind, or were backing or even cognizant of what has been described as a coup, but it does therefore put enormous strain on this coalition when you have essentially, a Saudi element up against a UAE-backed element, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, what triggered all of this, why did the separatists turn against the Saudi-led coalition at this particular time?

KILEY: There has been a lot of frustration in the ranks of the coalition partners on the ground over support for militias that have an extremist background, both in areas backed by the United Arab Emirates and in areas dominated by the Saudis. Local militias on the ground in both cases had some alliance sometimes

in the past with groups like Al-Qaeda. There had indeed in the past couple of years been fierce fighting between those groups, in the early stages of this war that began in 2015 to get rid of the Houthis.

And the separatist are saying that they have moved against the government because of this alliance with this party Islah which is backed by the Saudi Arabian's but also out of frustration they say, at the slow pace of the war against the Houthis, which frankly, over the last three years certainly, really has gotten nowhere from the perspective of the coalition.

Of course, simultaneously with that the coalition has come under strain, particularly out of Washington where there is a lot of pressure on the Trump administration to stop Saudi support for the operations across Yemen. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Sam Kiley bringing us the very latest on what's happening on the ground in Yemen from his vantage point there in Abu Dhabi.

Well, the fierce fighting in Aden has left 40 people dead and hundreds of others are injured, that is according to the U.N. which has been trying to deliver food and medical care to civilians there.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen says she's heard reports of civilians trapped inside their homes with little food or water and she says the fact there is fighting during the important Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, is heartbreaking.

But even those casualties don't begin to illustrate the magnitude of suffering Yemen civilians are facing that U.N. says the conflict has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis, of Yemen's 28 million civilians, 10 million are facing starvation and 24 million are in need of some form of assistance.

In addition, it says that most 18 million have no clean water and almost 20 million lack adequate healthcare. The U.N. says the civil war has shattered Yemen's economy, it has shrunk 50 percent since the conflict erupted more than four years ago.

Well, in Norway, police are investigating a shooting that wounded one person inside a mosque as a possible act of terrorism. Investigators say the suspect a Norwegian man in his 20s express right-wing sympathies online.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has more.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: On the eve of a Muslim holiday tragedy strikes, at about 4 p.m. local time, Saturday, a man in his 20s, a Norwegian citizen entered the Al-Noor Islamic Center by shooting through the mosque's locked glass door.

[03:20:09] According to local media, witnesses say the shooter was wearing all black, had on body armor and carried a shotgun-like weapon and a pistol. What happened next made 65-year-old worshipper Mohamed Rafiq a hero to his community.


ABDUL-SATAR ALI, COUNSEL FOR MOHAMED RAFIQ (through translator): Mohamed acted immediately. When the shooter entered the room, he toppled the shooter and pinned him to the floor, sat on top of him. After a while, board member Mustaq (Ph) came and helped holding him down, then police arrived and arrested the man.


ABDELAZIZ: Afterwards, the suspect's home was searched by police and another terrible discovery made. The body of a 17-year-old woman, the gunman's stepsister. Police say the man is suspect in her murder.

The mosque shooting is being investigated as a possible act of terrorism after it emerged that the gunman had expressed right-wing sympathies online.

On Sunday, mosque members were forced to celebrate the most important Muslim holiday of the year, Eid al-Adha, at a local hotel. The country's prime minister, Erna Solberg, visited the group and vow to battle the rise of the radical right.


ERNA SOLBERG, PRIME MINISTER OF NORWAY: We are trying to fight this, but it is also difficult, but the police is having a higher priority against hate speech a harassment on the internet.

So, we are trying to combat it but it's a challenge. I think it's a worldwide challenge.


ABDELAZIZ: Yet, another worldwide leader struggling to contain the rapid spread of hate and fear.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.

CHURCH: North Korea is again threatening its southern neighbor over a joint military exercises with the United States. Over the weekend, it warned South Korea could be locked out of future talks.

CNN's David Culver explains from Seoul.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in South Korea U.S. military members are working alongside their South Korean counterparts, they are taking part in annual exercises that are computer simulated war games, essentially. But this year it's happening amidst rising tensions on the peninsula.

Now, the North has weighed in on this. North Korean leadership considers this to be an aggressive war act, so to speak, that's how they are labeling this, a war exercise in their words. And their response has been several launches, five in nearly three weeks' time. They've been launching these short-range missiles and the tests have

cost a lot of concern. Now North Korea says they are in the right doing this and they point to President Trump.

They say President Trump in his tweets and in his own words has given them justification for going ahead with these tests, because they are not, according to the president, intercontinental ballistic missiles, or nuclear tests, they're not as great of a threat.

And the North is saying well they are doing this as an act of self- defense in preparation for any hostility that may come.

All of this comes as President Trump last week called out South Korea saying that essentially they are not paying enough when it comes to U.S. military protection and that he hopes to see more money flow into the U.S. from South Korea as part of these resources that have been helping out for the past several decades along the Korean peninsula.

Meantime, here in Seoul some 30 miles or 50 kilometers from the border with North Korea there was a weekend filled with families out and about, now really concerned with what was happening to the North that they were living their lives, it seems a rising tensions have become the norm.

David Culver, CNN, Seoul, South Korea.

CHURCH: What remains of typhoon Lekima continues to devastate eastern China. These scenes played out on a river in Shandong Province as Lekima made a second landfall along its coast on Sunday. At least 33 people have died and more than a dozen are missing while many more are trapped by landslides.

Well, he's been in power for little more than two weeks but increasingly, it's Boris Johnson's special adviser Dominic Cummings, the controversial mastermind behind Brexit dominating the headlines.

Nina dos Santos has our report.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A genius to some, arrogance to others.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I'm not arrogant. I don't know very much about very much.


DOS SANTOS: Just two weeks into his job, Boris Johnson's most senior adviser cuts a divisive if dress down figure in Downing Street.


ANDREW ADONIS, PRO-REMAIN LABOUR PEER: He hates the political establishment including in his own party, it's very important to understand that there is almost nobody that Dominic Cummings likes in politics.


DOS SANTOS: In 2016, he was credited from masterminding the winning vote leave campaign, fronted by Johnson.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Do you think they won, no they haven't.


[03:25:00] DOS SANTOS: A seminal moment in Britain's recent history immortalized by the Benedict Cumberbatch in the channel four drama "Brexit: The Uncivil War."


BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, ACTOR: Everyone knows who won. We want to return to a time where we knew our place and where things made sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will lead to a significant destruction in the commission ECJ institutional architecture.


DOS SANTOS: But after refusing to answer questions on whether his campaign misled the public, he was held in contempt of parliament.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Few things are more we need or that destruction --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish what I'm saying.


DOS SANTOS: And that has made him a wholly inappropriate choice for such a prominent role say pro-remain M.P.s


ADONIS: The combination of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings is very dangerous. Cummings is very much to Boris Johnson what Steve Bannon was to Donald Trump, he is the brains and a massively disruptive force.


DOS SANTOS: But these former colleagues says Cummings is just what the country needs now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABRIEL MILLAND, FORMER U.K. CIVIL SERVANT: He's not a member of the establishment and he's not really a member of the elite. He works best with outsiders. He doesn't particularly want to be liked either and that's actually quite powerful.


DOS SANTOS: Cummings has often talked about respecting the will of the British people who voted narrowly in favor of leaving the E.U. three years ago. However, with the working majority of just one seat as Boris Johnson won't have an easy ride forcing a no deal through parliament, which is why some say Cummings wasn't just hired to deliver Brexit but instead, to fight an early election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can parliament stop Brexit?


DOS SANTOS: The U.K. has already extended departure date this October the 31st, unless the government sanctions a last-minute reprieve, with that departure less than three months away the only question is, which one will come first?

Nina dos Santos CNN, London.

CHURCH: Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Katie Taylor Undisputed is just ahead. And for our viewers in the United States the news continues in just a moment. Do stay with us.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone I'm Rosemary Church. Wanted to update you now on the top stories we've been following. A protest is underway right now at the Hong Kong International Airport, it is in response to scenes of police violence during demonstrations on Sunday.

Officers in riot gear chased protesters in to subway stations. They were shown on video firing teargas at close range. At least nine people were injured in the clashes, including one police officer.

Interior Minister of Yemen's internationally recognized government as conceited defeat to Separatists. After they seize the key port city of Aden, the Separatists have been fighting alongside the Saudi-lead coalition, but suddenly turned against their allies.

According to a source Jeffery Epstein's prison cell was not regularly monitored the night he apparently committed suicide, that lack of supervision violates prison protocol, the multi-millionaire was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. A medical examiner performed an autopsy Sunday, and said a cause of death is pending more information.

While meantime President Trump on Saturday promoted a conspiracy theory linking the Clinton family to Epstein's death. It isn't the first time Mr. Trump has promoted baseless conspiracy theories and falsehoods without regard for the consequences of his rhetoric or the facts. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is following that part of the story.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: While in vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey, the president once again fanning the flames of controversy, the president this weekend sharing a conspiracy theory linking the Clinton's to the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein. Now there is no evidence to support this conspiracy theory that the president shared with his 63 million followers on Twitter just this weekend.

There have been questions of course about the circumstances surrounding Jeffery Epstein's death, but federal officials have been very clear that this was an apparent suicide. The president though and his allies press to defend his latest claims. Here's Kellyanne Conway this weekend.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I think the president just wants everything to be investigated as you -- as your reporter just revealed just the day before. There are some unsealed information implicating some people very high up, and I'm not going to repeat their names. Jeffery Epstein has done some very bad things over a number of years. And so let's continue to investigate that.

DIAMOND: Now Trump's retweet of this conspiracy theory is certainly not an isolated incident, the president has a long history of sharing falsehoods and conspiracy theories going back to before his time as president.

He rose to prominence in politics in particular, over the loud voice that he gave to those false birtherism (ph) conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama, falsely accusing him of not having born in the United States. That pattern continued when Trump decided to run for president in 2016, when he shared a conspiracy theory linking Senator Ted Cruz's father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And then as he came in to office -- in his first months in office the president accused former President Obama of wiretapping his phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. So far he has provided no evidence for those claims.

As far as the conspiracy theory regarding the Clintons and Epstein, a spokesman for the former President Bill Clinton has called those claims ridiculous and of course not true, and he said, and Donald Trump knows it.

Jeremy Diamond, traveling with the president in New Jersey.


CHURCH: Well many people across the United States remain on edge one week after 31 people were gunned down in two massacres, one in Dayton, Ohio -- the other in El Paso, Texas where 22 were killed at a Walmart.

Law enforcement agencies say in the past week at least eight Walmart locations across the U.S. have received threats. Natasha Chen has more now, from El Paso.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of the several threats we've heard about so far, some of them involved no shooter at all -- it involved people, customers reporting to police that they saw something -- they saw someone with a gun. But police in those places told us that they actually did not see any shooter on property.

But in a couple of other cases it was more serious. For example in Winter Park, Florida police there tell us they arrested 26 year old Richard Clayton of Winter Park. They said that on August 6 Clayton allegedly posted on Facebook saying that he had three more days left of probation and then he could get his AR-15 back. He allegedly posted "don't go to Walmart next week." The police there said that Clayton had a history of posting threats and believed white supremacist ideology.


Then in Harlingen, Texas police there told us they also arrested a man for making terroristic threats related to a store as well. So a couple of situations there where police actually identified someone making threats. In other cases people simply on edge reporting to police threats that they are observing.

Now here in El Paso, people are definitely still living with some fear, especially knowing more about this suspect here in El Paso who drove all this way according to the affidavit to target Mexicans. And one person we met said that his cousin and his cousin's husband were here last weekend, and that the husband died protecting his family, here's what he said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He blocked them and they all fell to the ground, and my cousin and the granddaughter (ph) were pretending to be dead until the guy was away from them, and then they ran out. And they were trying to wake (ph) David, and he just -- nonresponsive.

CHEN: We continue to see a steady flow of people coming to this memorial that's continually growing in front of the Walmart. There was a few days ago the green fencing put up around the parking lot so authorities could continue to work.

But we do see a lot of people in this community, despite their fears and their tensions saying that they want to be together and show the country that they are resilient and they're sending a message that they believe in diversity and being unified at this time.

In El Paso, Texas -- Natasha Chen. Back to you.

(END VIDEO TAPE) CHURCH: Thanks so much for that report. And it is a crowded field and a key state in the race for the White House. The majority of 2020 Democratic hopefuls spent this weekend in Iowa demanding action on gun control. In the wake of those deadly back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Rebecca Buck has more.


REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well as presidential candidates converged on Iowa this weekend, the discussion of guns in America remained in the spotlight, with some candidates taking more aggressive policy positions than they ever have before.

Senator Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar became the latest Democratic candidates to stop selling guns in their stores. Meantime Beto O'Rourke speaking to CNN from El Paso after the tragic shooting in his community says he has changed his mind on the idea of national gun licenses and he now supports them.

Senator Cory Booker was the first Democratic candidate for president to back this proposal, and we walked through the fairground with him this weekend and asked him if he expects more Democrats to line up behind that proposal? He said he is optimistic that more and more Democrats will be getting on board.

However Senator Bernie Sanders, not there yet. We asked him if he would support licenses for all guns, not just assault weapons and here's what he had to say.

BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Something I want to think about. But at the very least, 30 years ago I ran for the United States Congress 1988, a long time ago, in Vermont and I said then -- was 30 years ago, that assault weapons are weapons of war. They are designed to kill people in very rapid ways.

BUCK: Now of course this weekend in Iowa, and here at the state fair was also about these candidates continuing to build support in the crucial state of Iowa which will hold the first in the nation caucuses of February next year. Kamala Harris signaling with a five day bus tour from river to river across the state that she is going to be taking Iowa seriously and intends to compete here.

Meanwhile some polling released last week showing Elizabeth Warren clearly on the rise in the Hawkeye state. She was greeted here at the Iowa State Fair with an enthusiastic reaction, and one of the biggest crowds of the weekend.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is still the front runner according to polling here in Iowa and nationally, but he said this weekend when asked about Warren's rise that he's not worried, it's still early -- this is a marathon. And of course we will have six months to go until the Iowa caucuses.

(END VIDEO TAPE) CHURCH: Well Natasha Lindstaedt joins us now from Colchester, England. She is a professor of government at the University of Essex. Good to see you.


CHURCH: So I do want to start with the retweeting by the U.S. president of a baseless conspiracy theory that tries to suggest the Clintons are involved in the death of Jeffery Epstein. Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke says it's all about distracting from the gun debate, is that what's going on here?

LINDSTAEDT: I would have to agree with that. It is just crazy to tweet this, and Trump has had a history of tweeting conspiracy theories, or talking about conspiracy theories that turn out to be completely false. Sometimes I think he does it without thinking, sometimes it seems to be part of some sort of greater plan, such as the Obama birther conspiracy theory.


But in this instance it was a terrible week for America, it wasn't a particularly good week for Trump in particular. And he is trying to distract attention from all the negative things going on right now with this crazy tweet.

CHURCH: Right, and on the issue of gun controls, President Trump has raised a possibility that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will support background checks for gun owners. Critics are skeptical though, given past flip-flops on the issue, but could it be different this time? Are the signals there in the wake of those three deadly mass shootings in this country that something might actually be done this time?

LINDSTAEDT: Well the signals are there in that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader is actually talking about it. But I think the problem is, and this is something that Chuck Schumer, the lead Democrat in the Senate pointed out is that he could convene the Senate to vote on this, and he just wants to discuss it. He's pushing it back a little bit, and he hasn't really agreed to any kind of vote. He is just saying this is a conversation, this is a topic.

But as has already been reported you have almost 90 percent of the public that supports better background checks. And there's a lot of momentum at the moment, but where I am hesitant to say something is going to happen, is because I do think Mitch McConnell is sort of running out the clock waiting until time has passed and momentum sort of does on this. Because I think he's concerned about pushing for our stricter gun regulations and how that might effect his chance for reelection in the state of Kentucky which is very Conservative and wants fewer gun restrictions as possible.

CHURCH: Yeah, because we're seeing there is no sense of urgency is there? There's no attempt here to bring politicians back to Washington to actually do something. He's saying, yes well we might do this in September when everyone returns. So the optix (ph) of that -- there is that sense that they're waiting out the clock.

LINDSTAEDT: Exactly, and if it was more urgent they could meet now, they could just get this passed -- even the House already passed this in February. There is some bipartisan support, but not enough bipartisan support, and there were a lot of Republicans after the mass shootings going on various news channels, trying to keep repeating the rhetoric that it's not guns that kill people, it's people that kill people -- that their videogames are the problem, or mental health issues are the problem and they don't seem to want to accept that, as many studies have shown it's just that the U.S. has so many guns and not really that many regulations on them, and that's why we've seen a huge surge in mass shootings from the 1990s where there were only a handful, and now I don't know (ph) every 47 more people die in a mass shooting.

CHURCH: Yeah indeed, and as you point out more than 90 percent of Americans want to see some background checks, possibly ban on assault weapons. We'll see, maybe the force of that will push politicians to make a change, but we've talked about that before and nothing has happened so we'll be watching very closely.

Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much for chatting with us -- appreciate it.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Well any way you look at it, it's way too hot in the United States. We will take a look at the extreme heat choking much of the country, and if it's going to break any time soon. Back in a moment.



CHURCH: Well, nearly 70 million people in the United States are facing dangerous temperatures. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now to talk more about that. And it is oppressive heat, isn't it, Pedram? When is there going to be some sort of relief in sight?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEORLOGIST: It's a late week. We got a few more days left, Rosemary. And really, when you think about how oppressive this heat is, consider that we're only five weeks away from the official start of autumn, and you have big time heat in place.

And we're talking about heat indices climbing to 110, to 115 degrees into the afternoon hours of Monday, potentially on into Tuesday as well, and not just an isolated spot. Rosemary mentioned some-70 million people, but it's part of 14 states that are going to be dealing with the excessive heat that's in place.

And into the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts we go, where temps there are also expected to be into the 105 to 110 range. And an interesting side note, it just goes some-350 miles to the north of region into Eastern Nevada, and the cities of - such as Elko, Ely on into Eureka, frost advisories have been issued. Some parts of the United States beginning to feel some cooler air coming in. Officials there are saying, if you're camping, be advised, freezing temperatures are possible into some of these areas, into the overnight hours. But really, the broad perspective, the most disruptive pattern in place across the U.S. has to be the excessive heat. And again, talking about 5 to 10 degrees above average, but it is extremely humid in this region.

So if you're tuned in places such as Memphis, Tennessee, the afternoon high of around 95 degrees in the shade, the 94 to 95 range, is going to feel closer to 110 to 111 by the afternoon hours; much the same in Houston, where it's around 100 and feels closer to 110 degrees.

But go towards, say, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, slightly cooler air begins to push its way across portions of the Midwest, and even down in places such Dallas, Texas, a cooling trend is restored as well across that region.

Lastly, I'll leave you with an interesting tidbit here, a side note as well, coming out of the State of Alaska, in fact some - just 300 miles south of the North Pole, lighting strikes observed on Saturday afternoon. (Inaudible) courtesy of the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Alaska, the reason that's impressive is that's almost unheard of, to see lightning strikes at the 85-degree north latitudinal mark near the top of our planet.

This map shows you the lightning disparity across our planet. And typically into the tropics, right around the equator, indicated in the white contours, that's the highest density of lightning strikes on our planet. And the farther you move away from the - from the equator into the polls there, that's when you see a significant drop in strikes to almost none. And we had enough instability, enough severe weather in place, even near the North Pole, for some strong thunderstorms in the past 24 hours.


CHURCH: Pedram, thank you so much for keeping such a close eye on all of that. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, 50 years on, Woodstock remains the most famous music festival of all time. We hear from one of those who was there. That's next.



CHURCH: Fifty years ago, this week, on a farm in New York State, the legendary Woodstock Festival took place. One woman, who was there and 17 years old at the time, spoke to CNN's Paul Vercammen about being part of music history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAUREEN MCFADDEN, WOODSTOCK ATTENDEE: I just can't believe that I saw all of those people in one weekend. It is more than any music lover could have asked for.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Maurine McFadden saw it all in the muddy mess, fifty years ago, the Woodstock Music Festival in New York - Jimi Hendrix, Santana, The Who.

MCFADDEN: They played every fricking great song that they had ever written up to that point.

VERCAMMEN: In 1969, McFadden, the 17-year-old theater nerd from Philadelphia, defied her mother's wishes and traveled to Woodstock. He fellow actor, Denise Montana [ph], came along.


They loaded up to get loaded.

MCFADDEN: We had our mescaline, and we had our hashish, and it was - it did enhance everything. And it was - it just - that's, I think - everybody took care of everybody at Woodstock.

VERCAMMEN: In this psychedelic celebration, the young stage addresses said they met handsome German bikers and made out.

MCFADDEN: And they had really long hair. You know, it didn't matter that they couldn't English. Broken English, you know, it was fine. They were - they were rebels, and we were rebels, so.

VERCAMMEN: For McFadden, the real romance was with her rock idols and the spirit of Woodstock.

MCFADDEN: There are a lot of people who still live by the Woodstock credo of peace and love. I've signed my letters, peace and love, ever since. And I've had a couple people in business say, "Peace and love?" And I'm like, "Yes, peace and love. Don't forget about that. It's what it's all about."

VERCAMMEN: McFadden is an entertainment publicist. And you would argue that, right now, in these troubled times, we could use another Woodstock?

MCFADDEN: Damn straight, we could. Damn straight, we could. We need to be reminded about that, that it's not all the (expletive deleted) that we hear everyday. Take a break, think of where you are, think of who you love, keep family here (ph).

VERCAMMEN: Paul Vercammen, CNN, Santa Barbara, California.


CHURCH: Peace and love to all of you. Thanks for company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter.