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Hong Kong is Back to Business; President Trump Postponed Tariffs to China; Genoa, Italy Remembers the 43 Victims; Kremlin Keeping Their Mouth Zipped; Best Friends in Good and Bad Times. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: We're live at Hong Kong International Airport where things are slowly getting back to after a day of violent protests.

Break from the trade war. Why the U.S. president has decided to delay new tariffs on Chinese products.

Plus, a somber anniversary in Italy. The Genoa Bridge collapsed that claimed dozens of lives one year ago.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Hong Kong is trying to recover after a violent demonstration at its international airport. Pro-democracy protesters had already forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights over the past two months, they've also clashed with police.

But as the world to watch Tuesday night they began turning on people in the crowd. At least one man who was tied up and attacked and police had to come to his rescue.

The mainland the Chinese government is comparing the violence to terrorism.

CNN's Ivan Watson has more.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Overnight, confrontations in Hong Kong turning violent, as thousands of pro- democracy protesters flooded the country's busy international airport paralyzing it for a second day.

As the growing tension played out on live television police moved in carrying shields and wearing body armor, pushing the crowd back, at times it was hard to tell who sided with whom.

We were there as this group of protesters turned on a man they suspected of being a Chinese agent. Some tried to protect him as others kicked him, medics eventually succeeded in taking the injured man away. He's since been identified as a reporter for the Chinese state news outlet Global Times. Other protesters blocked passengers from reaching their planes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have medical, I don't have (Inaudible), I don't have (Inaudible).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, finish, go home.


WATSON: Forcing the cancellations of hundreds of flights and stranding thousands of passengers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot avoid this. It's somehow unavoidable because we fight for our final goal, that is our freedom.


WATSON: Hong Kong's leader who is effectively appointed by the Chinese government admits she is losing control.


CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): Hong Kong society is not safe or stable. The rioters have pushed Hong Kong to the brink of no return.


WATSON: The protests here began peacefully two months ago as millions of pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets to oppose a proposed extradition law with mainland China. But some hard-liners who don't want this former British colony to be controlled by communist China have grown significantly violent clashing week after week with police. At times leading to showdowns with tear gas and night sticks.

The protesters were spoiling for a fight and now they've got one.

Tonight, the central government in mainland China is sending increasingly ominous warnings. Showing off security forces close to Hong Kong. What's not clear is if China will use that force to quash the descent or if protesters who's seen motivated for a fight for their freedom will back down.

President Trump tweeted about intelligence reports that China's moving troops to the border and he appealed for calm. But this is the worst political crisis the city has seen in decades.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

CHURCH: And CNN's Andrew Stevens is live at Hong Kong International Airport, he joins me now. So, Andrew, it's much quieter at the airport today. What are protesters saying about the violence last night and how is the airport coping with all the backlog?

[03:05:02] ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the airport is coping, Rosemary, and in fact, it looks like things are getting pretty much back to normal here. The crowds have shrunk. The cues are much, much shorter now, all the airlines, all the cancellations have gone through the system and it's getting back to business as normal.

There have been increased security measures put in place here to avoid any repeat of what we've over the past two days, basically blocking access to anyone who is not traveling. Various areas of access have been closed and those who are getting through the airport security have to show before they get into the building their actual travel documents.

So, that is how the authorities are managing it. Now they've also taken out an injunction against anybody who would try to impede the national operations of this airport.

There is a small group of protesters still here. They are in a designated area, just a handful though sitting in a sea really of placards and pictures and posters showing what they claim is extreme police brutality targeting the protesters.

As far as what people are saying, I think there are people who are expressing shock for some of the scenes they saw at the airport last night, particularly when it happened as genuine travelers were coming here to try to get on to flights and they were witnessing these clashes against riot police.

The fact that a mob of protesters had surrounded and was holding someone they suspected of being an undercover police agent, that person actually lost consciousness at one stage but protesters took a long time before they allowed paramedics to get through to treat him.

So, all this is being played out in front of travelers so there was a lot of people we're speaking to this morning saying that they were terrified about what was happening here.

So, as a result, there's been a much, much tighter security here, Rosemary. The protesters are showing no appetite anyway for coming back. These protests are not over. The demonstrations will continue. Already social media is a light with plans for protest tomorrow outside the inland revenue department and also further marches on Saturday, and particularly a big march is planned for Sunday, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Interesting. CNN's Andrew Stevens joining us live from Hong Kong's International Airport. Many thanks to you.

Well, the U.S. president has been offering his take on the Hong Kong protest, as well as taking action in the trade dispute between the United States and China.

Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta reports on Donald Trump's busy day. JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Revealing what may

be sensitive national security information in a tweet, President Trump inserted himself into the growing crisis in Hong Kong.

As the protest there were becoming more violent the president hinted China maybe about to take action, tweeting, "Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong, everyone should be calm and safe."

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy criticize the president's tweet, saying "This is not foreign policy." The president hardly sounded fazed by it all.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We'll see but happens, but I'm sure they work it out, I hope it work out for everybody including China, by the way.


ACOSTA: The president is backing off his trade war with China, delaying a new round of tariffs on Chinese products until December. The president said his administration is doing that to spare shoppers during the holidays even though he's repeatedly said the tariffs aren't hurting consumers.


TRUMP: We are doing this for Christmas season just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. consumers.


ACOSTA: On the domestic front, the president continue to express confidence that new gun control legislation could make its way through congress despite stout GOP opposition.


TRUMP: It's very simple. There is nobody more pro-Second Amendment than Donald Trump, but I don't want guns in the hands of a lunatic or a maniac. And I think if we do proper background checks we can prevent that.


ACOSTA: The president also defended top immigration official Ken Cuccinelli who told NPR that the poem of the Statue of Liberty should be changed to reflect new administration policy to punish legal immigrants who receive government assistance.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet. TRUMP: I don't think it's fair to have the American taxpayer pay for people to come into the United States.


ACOSTA: Cuccinelli was echoing top White House official Stephen Miller who downplayed the importance of the poem two years ago.


STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The poem that you are referring to that was added later is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.


ACOSTA: The president also resumed his war of words with former communications director Anthony Scaramucci.


TRUMP: He wanted to come back into the administration for the last five months, begging me to come back in, I said, Anthony, I can't take you in, I'm sorry. He called so much. He's a nervous neurotic wreck.


[03:10:04] ACOSTA: Scaramucci fired back, tweeting, "President Trump isn't a fan of anyone willing to tell him the truth, the emperor has no clothes.

The president then turned an official White House speech into a sounded like campaign rally.


TRUMP: In 2020, we are running, so you better get out there and make sure we win.


ACOSTA: As he complains that just being president has cost him billions, a claim that came with zero supporting evidence.


TRUMP: You know, it's probably going to cost me including upside, downside, lawyers, it's probably costing me from three to five billion for the privilege --


ACOSTA: For the moment, the White House is offering at least the appearance of taking the gun issue seriously. A White House official said daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump is sounding out lawmakers on the phone. It is unclear though how much pull the first daughter will have up on Capitol Hill as both Democrats and Republicans are miles apart on the issue.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

CHURCH: It's a somber day of remembrance. One year later Genoa, Italy is marking the anniversary of the bridge collapsed that cut the city in two. We are live on the scene. That's next.

Plus, a sacred city, a suspected missile accident and the Kremlin in damage control. A closer look at Russia's mystery rocket.


CHURCH: In about 45 minutes the Italian city of Genoa will hold a mass to mourn the victims of the Morandi Bridge collapsed. It happened a year ago during a torrential rainstorm, 43 people were killed when dozens of cars plummeted to the riverbed railway tracks and streets below.

The last two towers of the bridge were demolished at the end of June, clearing the way for reconstruction.

CNN's diplomatic editor Nic Robertson was in Genoa on holiday when this happened. He is there again and joins me now. So, Nic, you covered the shocking collapse of this bridge, what's the scene there today one year later, and how are people remembering that tragic day.?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, it's quite a somber scene in many ways, you may be able to hear in the background here the music that's being played before this commemoration service gets underway.

But literally, as you were just speaking to me, silence has descended here as well because this is the scene and the site of the bridge collapse. And you can probably see some of the cranes, and the moving equipment here, part of the old bridge and the construction here for the new bridge has only, just in the last few minutes, seized with this commemoration service beginning to get underway.

And the commemoration service itself takes place at the bottom of what is known as pier nine which is going to be one of the new piers of the new bridge that's being built here.

[03:15:05] But, of course, people here are remembering it in many different ways. The pope offered his message of support and prayers to the community here. Just yesterday the local cardinal would be giving the service.

But of those 43 people who died and their families, many are still asking questions and some weren't calm today because they don't have the answer to those questions. Why did the bridge collapse, what was the reason it stood for 51 years it was a state-of-the-art at that time? Steel tension wires are encased in concrete that it become increasingly fragile and weak over the years.

So, the question that is still being asked who was responsible and why more was not done to prevent this horrible tragedy. So, it is a somber mood, but of course, some of the people arriving here will have questions.

The prime minister is expected, Giuseppe Conte later today here for the service. We're expecting the president as well. And we've just seen the populist leader of the right wing the League Party arrived here as well, Matteo Salvini.

So, there are political dimensions in this as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Absolutely, a very difficult day for that town. Nic Robertson, bringing us the very latest there on a very somber day.

Well, Russia has called off the evacuation of a northern village where a suspected missile accident killed at least five people. The Kremlin is not talking publicly about what may or may not have happened, but officials in Moscow have been boasting about a new nuclear weapon.

CNN's Brian Todd has our report.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. officials fear what Vladimir Putin has yet to acknowledge that a deadly explosion late last week in Russia was caused by a nuclear-powered missile.

Russian military officials on Tuesday called for the evacuation of the village of Nyonoksa, about 30 miles west of the coastal port area where Thursday's explosion occurred. They said it was because of military drills.

But hours later, they called off the evacuation even though independent groups have verified that some radioactive particles have very likely gotten into the air.


ALEXANDRA BELL, SENIOR POLICY DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION: I think, you know, a lot of other countries would've probably already evacuated the surrounding areas but I think the Kremlin is a bit damage control at this point.


TODD: Damage control experts say because they believe the explosion may have tipped off the U.S. and others to information that Putin may never have wanted to become public.

The five elite nuclear specialists killed in the accident where from Sarov, one of Russia's secret cities. During the Cold War it was known as Arzamas-16.

The Russians have at least 10 secret cities like it, experts say, and they are the rough equivalent of Los Alamos, New Mexico, the birthplace of the first American nuclear bombs.


BELL: The 10 facilities are going to be focused on the wit and breath of the Russian nuclear arsenal, so some are going to have to do with developing the delivery systems, missiles or, you know, gravity bombs. Some are going to be more focused on the actual weapons themselves, and you know, processing the plutonium.


TODD: Analysts say the secret Russian cities are even more closed off than those notoriously secretive American facilities like Los Alamos or Area 51, the classified aircraft and weapons compound in Nevada.


MICHAEL CARPENTER, FORMER NSC OFFICIAL ON RUSSIA: Look, if you're a foreigner you can't get anywhere near these cities. Sometimes they will grant foreigners access if you give up your passport, your phone, your camera, they'll let you in for a little bit but that is very rare. Even for Russians. You have to go through a checkpoint to get in there, sometimes electric fences around the cities.


TODD: Experts say many of these cities are decrepit, decaying and have experienced deadly accidents with nuclear material and even anthrax, but they are still important to Vladimir Putin who is developing an ambitious new weapons program which includes the missile that U.S. officials say just exploded. A cruise missile with essentially, a nuclear reactor on board and which could have unlimited range.

Experts say the deadly explosion is likely not on the scale of Chernobyl, the 1986 nuclear plant explosion which killed dozens initially and may have contaminated thousands more.

Like this explosion the Soviet Union at first refused to acknowledge the nuclear accident until the west detected high radiation levels over Europe.


BELL: What the danger really is here is that the Russians continue to pursue these kinds of potentially dangerous and risky systems.


TODD: Analysts say despite this deadly accident we shouldn't expect Vladimir Putin to cut back his ambitious new weapons program. They say the Russian president is simply too eager to develop a sophisticated, high-powered missile that he hopes is going to be able to evade American missile defenses in the future.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

[03:19:54] CHURCH: There is optimism about two new treatments for Ebola, they are proving so effective they are being offered to all patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the current outbreak is the second deadliest ever, 1,800 people have died since last summer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN LINDMEIER, SPOKESMAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The preliminary results in 499 study participants indicated that those individuals receiving Regeneron or it may be 114 had a greater chance of survival compared to those participants with the other two.

These are great news of course. And this news will save lives and move us closer to finding an effective treatment for Ebola.


CHURCH: It is wonderful news. Well, famed opera singer Placido Domingo is facing sexual harassment allegations. Eight singers and a dancer all describe encounters beginning in the late 1980s.

In a statement, Domingo calls the allegations deeply troubling and inaccurate. He says he believes all his interactions were welcomed and consensual.

The Los Angeles Opera where Domingo is conductor and director is investigating. The San Francisco Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra have canceled appearances by Domingo.

Well, a British socialite's long-time friendship with Jeffrey Epstein is under scrutiny. How she fits into the ongoing investigation of sex trafficking, we'll take a look.


CHURCH: The tearful plea of a young girl drew global attention after her father was among hundreds detained in a major immigration sweep in the U.S. State of Mississippi. Video of 11-year-old Magdalena went viral as she pleaded for her father to be released. He wasn't, and we've now learned that he's being held at a correction facility.

On Tuesday, for the first time since his arrest, Magdalena's father spoke to his family by phone, her mother tells CNN the couple has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade after leaving Guatemala for a better life. The father has no previous criminal convictions.

We are learning more about the circumstances surrounding Jeffrey Epstein's death, the accused sex trafficker was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell in New York.

The U.S. attorney general says there were serious irregularities at the facility and has launched an investigation. The warden has temporarily been reassigned and two staffers are on leave. Guards on duty were responsible for checking on Epstein every 30 minutes, checks that weren't made for hours.

The New York Times reports the guards falsified records and were actually asleep for up to three hours the night Epstein died.

Well, a primary focus of the criminal investigation is Epstein's longtime friend, Ghislaine Maxwell. Max Foster reports on the British socialite at the center of a scandal that involves prominent politicians and a member of the royal family.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: She is the figure that keeps reappearing in images associated with the Epstein scandal.

At Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago party in 2000. On the front row at Chelsea Clinton's wedding. And here right behind Prince Andrew and of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts Giuffre who claims in court documents that Epstein kept her as a teenage sex slave, and that he was assisted in his efforts by a British woman, Ghislaine Maxwell.

[03:25:08] In the court filings, Giuffre alleges she was forced to have sex with the royal under Epstein's instructions including in Maxwell's London's apartment and that she acted as a madame.

All the allegations against Andrew are being denied. "Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors was dismissed by Buckingham Palace as categorically untrue."

Known as his right and left hand, Epstein described Maxwell in 2003 as his best friend in this profile with Vanity Fair, not a colleague or an employee. The revered daughter of the media baron Robert Maxwell she grew up in this vast country state in the idyllic Oxfordshire countryside.

After her father's mysterious death at sea in 1991 falling from his luxury yacht named in her honor, Maxwell reportedly moved to New York to start a new life.

So how did she go from a highly educated and connected figure in British high society to an accused figure in the background of an investigation into underage sex trafficking?

Footage of her is as elusive as she is. Here she is speaking on ocean sustainability at the United Stations in 2014 under her role as founder of the TerraMar Project, a nonprofit.


GHISLAINE MAXWELL, FOUNDER, TERRAMAR PROJECT: It's a pledge. There is no taxes, by the way, it's all free. I know you're signing is you love the ocean, that you will spread your love of the ocean because we're a digital platform.


FOSTER: out of public view though, Epstein's accusers claim Maxwell was sourcing teenage girls for him and directing them to have sex with Epstein and his friends.

Newly unsealed documents from a 2015 defamation case referred to her as one of the main women, primary co-conspirator, acting as a madame for Epstein, assisted in internationally trafficking Giuffre and numerous other young girls for sexual purposes. Giuffre says Maxwell recruited her when she was only 15 years old. In her court deposition, Maxwell says Giuffre's claims are untrue. "I know that Virginia is a liar and I know that what she testified is a lie. So, I can only testify for what I know to be a falsehood, I can categorically deny everything she has said. I have no knowledge of anything else."

Maxwell hasn't made a public statement since Epstein was charged in July but has previously denied the allegations. She's not been charged herself, and her attorney hasn't responded to numerous requests for comment.

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York has said the investigation is ongoing so more indictments are possible. Investigators are currently looking for any allege co- conspirators.

Along with her flat in London, records show an address registered to Maxwell in Salisbury and Wilshire. There's no doubt investigators would like to talk to her.

Max Foster, CNN, London.

CHURCH: And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Vital Signs is up next. But first, I'll be back with a check of the headlines. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.