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CNN NEWSROOM

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Resigns; Cardinal Pell Loses Appeal Against Conviction; Pentagon: ISIS Resurging In Syria And Iran; Trump Touts Economy, Backs Off Background Checks; Biden Stressing His Electability over Trump; Rape Survivor Freed, Judge Clears Her of All Charges; Gangs and Gold: Inside the Mines Keeping Maduro in Power; Bond 25 Gets Its Official Title. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, an already chaotic Italian government plunges further into uncertainty. The country's Prime Minister calls it quits under pressure from his far-right deputy.

Donald Trump once claimed to have wiped ISIS off the map but now his own Secretary of State says there are certain places where the terror group is more powerful than before. And later, Venezuela's blood gold. We go deep in the Amazon where armed gangs and corrupt officials compete for control of valuable gold reserves.

Good to have you with us. So a new turmoil in Europe as Italy copes with political upheaval and an escalating migrant crisis. Italy's Prime Minister has resigned after launching a blistering attack on his own Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. The outgoing Prime Minister accused the far-right Salvini of endangering Italy's economy for personal and political gain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIUSEPPE CONTE, PRIME MINISTER, ITALY (through translator): The decision to postpone the communication of a decision evidently taken some time ago, and I regret to say it with such clarity is a gesture of grave institutional and disrespectful imprudence towards the parliament and in any case is liable to tip the country into a spiral of political uncertainty and financial instability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And at the center of their bitter feud is a migrant ship that was forced to languish for weeks of the Island of Lampedusa until Tuesday night when this happened.

Jubilation and relief from nearly 100 migrants who were finally allowed to disembark thanks to a ruling from an Italian Court. Barbie Nadeau is in Rome with the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A group of migrants who've been stranded on board a Spanish NGO rescue vessel for 19 days are finally on solid ground after an Italian court ruled that they must be disembarked immediately due to deteriorating hygienic conditions on board that vessel.

The Spanish NGO open arms rescue the migrants from sinking rubber dinghies up the coast of Libya over the course of the last several weeks and we're hoping to disembark in Italy. But last year at least far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini had instituted a closed court policy which has made it very difficult for NGO ships who have rescued migrants to bring them to Italy as a path into Europe.

So desperate were the conditions on board, the open arms ship that many of the migrants jumped overboard and tried to swim to shore when they had land in sight. They were rescued and taken back to the ship. Now the migrants will be processed and have to ask for asylum before it can be determined whether or not they can actually stay in Europe. This is Barbie Latza Nadeau for CNN Rome.

CHURCH: For more insight CNN European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas is with us now from Berlin. Good to have you with us.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN European Affairs Commentator: Thank you, Rosemarie.

CHURCH: So Dominic, Europe again and the grip of a political crisis with Italy's Prime Minister quitting and warning of financial instability and political uncertainty. Is he right about that and where is this all going do you think?

THOMAS: Well, I think, Rosemary, whenever it comes to talking about political crisis in the Italian context, we have to be careful how we use the term because they have just been so many coalition breakdowns and governments over the last 50, 60 years or so. So this is not an uncommon occurrence.

I think what's particular about this instance is that we're actually ending up with a complete split really in Italy around this question that Matteo Salvini's Northern League has been pushing for power over the past few years seeking all along to weaken this coalition and to improve his situation.

And his political party, this far-right anti-immigration party has really galvanized discussion in Italy and raised serious concern about what a Salvini prime ministership would look like. And so the question of the crisis here really has to do with the future outcome. He's doing very well in the polls but the opposition parties are discussing a kind of anti-Salvini front.

And none of these options are really very good when it comes to dealing with serious issues that Italy is confronting today.

CHURCH: Right. And Italy's president now has to decide if a new majority government can be formed or if Parliament has to be dissolved. What do you think will be the most likely outcome when you look at the political landscape right now?

[01:05:03] THOMAS: Well, Salvini is polling really well and really since May, the European elections -- I mean, this is a government that's only been in power for about 14 months since March 2018. And in the European election, Salvini's party went from being third that it had been in the general election to number one. And not only that, but increasing its positions in the polls to almost 40 percent.

So I think it's going to be very difficult for President Mattarella to not allow a general election to take place because the longer they wait for this, the more Salvini can spin the narrative that the country wants to go to the polls, wants to support his policies, and of course, as a sitting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, he's been really able to focus on all of these issues.

And one could argue that he spent the entire summer period essentially in a pre-general election campaign mode traveling around Italy, visiting revellers on the beaches and holidaymakers and so on too. And it's going to be hard for him to hold off any kind of interim government and to prevent the Italians from going back to the polls yet again.

CHURCH: So your sense is that Salvini would win a snap election. Well, the question is winning and having the lead party. This is always the question with these coalition issues and we've seen this you know, throughout Europe this sort of massive proliferation of political parties and movements and so on.

It's clear that he's ahead in the poll. Does he get to that sort of magic number of 40 or so percent and ahead of the race where he can actually form a coalition government is the big question. But as the figures stand right now, he's well-positioned to do that.

The big question is whether if he's not able to form this coalition, whether the five star movement that only entered into parliament -- or into government sorry and with him back in 2018 and work across the political spectrum with the center-left which is Matteo Renzi's party essentially pitting these two Matteos, the Matteo Salvinis and Matteo Renzis in an election a spinoff. So there's a lot of uncertainty there.

What is clear is that Salvini is well ahead in the polls and that his sort of Italy first nationalist rhetoric has really been echoing with the Italian people.

CHURCH: So given all of this was likely to happen with the migrant crisis on the island of land producer after an Italian Court did rule the migrant ship was able to dock. What's going to happen to those migrants?

THOMAS: Yes, well, I mean, the thing is this isn't -- this is an ongoing you know, question as to whether it's a you know, a crisis, whether it's sort of more as usual. The fact is though that Italy is on the front lines and this situation of course as a Mediterranean country and close proximity to the African continent which is the populations we're talking about here. And all along Salvini has been trying to push the European Union to

help the country more with the question of these newly arrived migrants. And so even within this government, this come with loose coalition with the five-star movement, there was a constant standoff about justice how tough Salvini was going to be and how much the Italians would resist here.

But this is in a bigger picture, of course. You know, we have the G7 meetings coming up just later this week where Boris Johnson will be meeting with Donald Trump. And many of these policies and debates around migration and emotions and so on will coalesce. And so Salvini is also feeding off this bigger global rhetoric when it comes to these questions.

CHURCH: Dominic Thomas, always appreciate your analysis, many thanks.

THOMAS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: In the United Kingdom, there's little hope of averting a no- deal Brexit by the October 31st deadline. The E.U. is rejecting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest call to scrap the Irish backstop. Our Nina dos Santos reports from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Boris Johnson was perfecting his No Deal message for E.U. years over the course of the last two days. After Monday, it emerged that he had written a full-page letter to the head of the European Council Donald Tusk during which he demanded the E.U. open up the withdrawal agreement. His predecessor had negotiated with them and scrapped that unpopular backstop arrangement over the Irish border, otherwise, there would be no deal.

Donald Tusk then a day later took to Twitter to publicly rebuff that suggestion saying, those against the backstop are not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border even if they did not admit it.

What we're seeing is Boris Johnson seeming to play hardball with the E.U. setting out his stall before key meetings for the set to take place in Germany with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday and then later on in the week in France with Emmanuel Macron the President of France. And at the weekend he'll have the chance to meet two other big world economies that are outside of the E.U. that he would like a trade deal with, one of them is Canada and the other one is the United States.

Well, it also emerged that Boris Johnson over the last few days also had the chance to speak to another Donald, not just Donald Tusk but in fact, Donald Trump the U.S. President who he spoke to by telephone on Monday evening.

Apparently, the U.S. President reiterated that he was looking forward to speaking him at the G7 Summit and they had various conversations about future economic cooperation. And speaking of which, Downing Street also confirmed that U.K. officials will stop attending E.U. meetings after September the first so that "they could focus on their future relationships with the E.U. and other partners around the world.

All of this means that's set to be a big week for Boris Johnson but also for Brussels on the international stage. The big question is with just over 70 days to go before Brexit happens, which side will blink first? Nina dos Santos, CNN London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[01:10:57] CHURCH: Australian Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic official to be convicted of child sexual assault has lost his appeal. A three-judge panel decided two-to-one to reject pearls argument to have his conviction overturned. The 78-year-old is serving a six-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting two teenage choir boys in the late 1990s.

Our Ivan Watson joins us now from Hong Kong with more on all of this. Good to see you again, Ivan. So let's talk about how this all played out and what the reaction was to Cardinal Pell losing his appeal.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was ordered back to prison. He will have to wait in jail at least three years and several months before he can apply for a parole hearing. He was also sentenced previously to be a lifetime sex offender and the Chief Justice explained part of why she and her colleague ruled against this appeal motion set by Cardinal Pell's defense. Take listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNE FERGUSON, CHIEF JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF VICTORIA: Part of Cardinal Pell's case on the appeal was that there were 13 solid obstacles in the path of a conviction. Just as Maxwell and I have rejected all 13.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now, victim's groups including the father of one of the two people who were assaulted by Cardinal Pell in the 90s according to this conviction and one of these two boys subsequently died as an adult of a drug overdose, the father who we cannot identify said he was very happy with the results of the panel of judges at decision. And he also had a message for other victims that may still be out there and may not have spoken. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing to be frightened of. You're going to be heard. Justice will prevail. People are not going to laugh at you and tell you that you're stupid. They're going to listen to you. So if this has happened and I know there's a hell of a lot of victims out there that have not said anything, just do it. Come out and say something.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WATSON: The 78-year-old Cardinal Pell, he appeared in court wearing his priest's collar. He did not visibly respond as the judges overturned his appeal motion but he did issue a statement that was distributed via the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney in which he continues to maintain his innocence. He also says he's "obviously disappointed with the decision today."

Now, the Cardinal was stripped of his position as the treasurer of the Vatican but his term had effectively expired but he has not yet been defrocked even though he's been convicted on five charges of abuse -- sexual abuse of children.

However, the Prime Minister of Australia has said that he is likely now to be stripped of state honors that he received again as the highest-ranking Roman Catholic cleric to have now been convicted of child abuse. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Ivan, you did touch on this but what happens to Pell now in the next few years? What's his future looking like?

WATSON: Well, he goes back to prison and he was already serving his six-year jail sentence. He still has an option for an appeal. He can go to Australia's High Court to try to appeal but some legal experts are saying that those chances are quite slim given the ruling that he faced today.

He is quite old. Well, he's 78 years old but he is also suffering from a number of ailments. He recently was released on bail for knee surgery. He suffers from heart problems as well. And when the judge sentenced him back in February, he said that it wasn't consideration his health problems and his age and the fact that he had led what appeared to have been an honorable life with the exception of the conviction and this quite horrific case of assault that he was convicted on. And all of that went into consideration when the judge sentenced him to six years in prison for a crime where the judge added the cardinal exhibited breathtaking, arrogant.

[01:15:45] CHURCH: Ivan Watson bringing us that live report from Hong Kong, many things to you. Well, President Trump says we have won against ISIS, but destroying the caliphate has not stopped the thread and ISIS still has the money weapons and men it needs to carry on. Why the danger is far from over, that's a head.

Plus, convicted of intentionally inducing an abortion, she faced decades in the Salvadoran prison. But after three years behind bars, medical evidence finally provided the justice she deserved. Now she says it's time to help other women just like her, in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is playing down reports that ISIS is resurging in Syria. The Pentagon says the terror group is growing in power and Iraq and in camps for displaced civilians in Syria. CNN Barbara Starr has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The bloody aftermath of an ISIS suicide bomber attack at a wedding in Kabul that killed 62 and injured nearly 200. It is the latest devastating show of ISIS resurgence remaking itself to organize, and to finance, and carry out attacks where security forces are fragile. Secretary of State Mike pump pail trying to explain the renewed ISIS threat.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: It's complicated. There's certainly places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago. But the caliphate is gone and their capacity to conduct external attacks has been made much more difficult. We've taken down significant risk, not all of it, but a significant amount.

[01:20:06] STARR: ISIS has lock on vest areas of Iraq and Syria is largely gone, often celebrated by President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have won against ISIS. We've beaten them and we've beaten them badly. We've taken back the land.

STARR: But the Pentagon has always warned that a victory on land is not the defeat of ISIS ideology which has spread to Afghanistan, North Africa, and across the Middle East. Today there may be as many as 15,000 ISIS fighters and operatives inside Iraq and Syria with the financing and weapons to organize and conduct attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means that ISIS remains a viable terrorist network. They were never just Caliphate.

STARR: And another 70,000 displaced persons are at this camp in Northeastern Syria including nearly 50,000 under the age of 18. Its prime ISIS recruiting ground. President Trump finding it tough to meet the promise to bring troops home. James Mattis suddenly resigned as Secretary of Defense when Trump wanted a full withdrawal from Syria.

In Iraq, 5,200 troops are still a backstop for Iraqi security forces. In Syria, there are just about a thousand troops still conducting counterterrorism missions and supporting local Syrian fighters. And at least some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan may not be home by the 2020 election as the president hoped given the terrorist threat.

TRUMP: We are bringing some of our troops back but we have to have a presence.

STARR: President Trump also said that a number of al-Qaeda and ISIS leaders have been killed in counterterrorism missions in recent weeks and he expects to make an announcement about that in the coming days. Barbara Starr, CNN the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Kimberly Dozier is a CNN Global Affairs Analyst and Contributor at The Daily Beast and she joins us now from Washington. Good to have you with us. KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Good to be here. So

President Trump claims he has wiped out ISIS but here's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted Tuesday that ISIS is more powerful now than three or four years ago in some areas despite those claims of victory by the president. What are we supposed to make of those mixed messages?

Well, Secretary Pompeo is saying out loud in an interview that the president might hear something that his national security officials have been saying carefully all along. They've been saying yes the Caliphate, the territorial Caliphate is defeated but ISIS is not, as an ideology or as a fighting force.

The president however keeps using that overarching phrase ISIS is defeated because it sounds good on the campaign trail. This has been frustrating for his team that has tried to stress to him that they don't want to shrink the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria or in Afghanistan because in both places we've had deadly activity by ISIS which shows you that they just changed form, they haven't lost the will to fight.

CHURCH: Yes, because we saw the -- Secretary Pompeo did try to downplay the risk now posed by ISIS, didn't he, in the wake of a report warning of its resurgence saying the Caliphate is gone and their capacity to conduct external attacks has been reduced. What is your reaction to those comments because clearly, that's not what we're seeing on the ground, is it?

DOZIER: Well, it's complicated. And I'm glad to see that Pompeo is at least backing up some of his officials in the State Department. The ISIS envoy Jim Jeffrey and the counterterrorism ambassador Nathan Sales both gave a joint conference earlier this month saying that ISIS had metastasized in other parts of Africa, the Middle East, that there are up to 15,000 fighters or more inside Iraq.

And when I was last in Iraq even then, yes they had retreated from many of the cities that they had held but what intelligence officials told me is what they had simply done was decided not to fight. They just changed their -- out of their uniforms into ordinary clothes and now they're coming back and menacing people at night. That's happening in Iraq.

In Syria, both of these officials talked about the fact that yes ISIS doesn't hold territory in Northern Syria but in places like Idlib and places where Assad's forces are still fighting rebels, they're pretty strong there.

CHURCH: And of course we saw that a deadly attack at the wedding in Kabul over the weekend. So we're seeing this happen in Afghanistan, what does the U.S. need to be doing to counter this resurgence, this ISIS threat?

[01:25:08] DOZIER: Well, what many national security officials will tell you is they can only do part of the job. By the time it gets to it being a group of fighters that they have to defeat on the battlefield, it's too late, that there are many things going on in terms of the economy, lack of jobs, that things like climate change are causing some people to move from some locations to others seeking work and then they're turned away. That feeds this ideology of the rest of the world, the West is rejecting you. Come with us. Fight with us. We'll give you jobs and we'll give you something to believe in.

CHURCH: Right and you touched on this. President Trump indicating earlier that he did want to reduce U.S. troops in Afghanistan although he's now signaling he may have to hold off on that plan. What would be the impact of troop reductions in a region where ISIS is now becoming more powerful?

DOZIER: Well in Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for the Pentagon has said if you take away U.S. troops, the Afghan forces simply don't have the strength to stand without at least some logistical support, some financial support.

What proponents of keeping some presence there are trying to get the President to agree to is at least a small counterterrorism force that would help stiffen the spine of the Afghan forces and it wouldn't be a large U.S. footprint. But it would also be a reminder to the Taliban that the U.S. is still there and they can't completely take over the country again.

CHURCH: And just finally what about the 50,000 young men under the age of 18 sitting in camps across Northeastern Syria vulnerable right now to ISIS recruiting. Are there any plans to counter that possible threat? What can even be done about that?

DOZIER: You know, it is a problem that I hear talked to death by officials from the U.N., to the U.S., to Iraq. They know that they have these groups of people. They don't know how to rehabilitate them. They don't have at this point the resources to do the kind of rehabilitation and reintegration that they've done in other parts of the world like Saudi Arabia. And even those programs have a question mark as to how long-term effective they are.

And it's even worse in Iraq where you have up to 150,000 people. Many of them women and children in addition to the fighting males who are in camps can't go home and the Iraqi government doesn't have the resources to rehabilitate them.

CHURCH: It is a concern all round. Many thanks to you, Kimberly Dozier, for your analysis. We always appreciate it.

DOZIER: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, President Trump's proposal to buy Greenland had people around the world perplexed and amused, but Denmark's leader didn't find it funny at all. And now Mr. Trump is pulling the plug on a planned visit to that country. We'll have that when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:40] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

A check of the headlines this hour.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is calling it quits. His government collapsed after coalition partner and far right party leader Matteo Salvini withdrew his support. Mr. Conte warned Italy could enter a spiral of financial instability. The Italian President will meet with various parties to see who can form the government.

Italy's political crisis reached fever pitch over a migrant ship which forced to wait for weeks off the island of Lampedusa. The nearly 100 migrants on board were finally allowed to disembark after an Italian court stepped in.

Medical staff say the health and hygiene conditions on the charity ship were becoming dire.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic official to be convicted of child sexual assault had lost his appeal. A three- judge panel in Melbourne rejected Pell's argument to have his conviction overturned. The 78-year-old is serving a six-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting two teenage choir boys in the mid- 1990s.

U.S. President Donald Trump is postponing a scheduled trip to Denmark after the Danish prime minister shot down his offer to buy Greenland. Mr. Trump's announcement came on Twitter less than two weeks before the visit. He thanked the prime minister for saving the U.S. a lot of expense and effort. Danish officials couldn't believe the President was serious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM KIELSEN, GREENLAND PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Greenland is not for sale in any way. I'm not saying it as a joke, Greenland is not for sale.

METTE FREDERIKSEN, DANISH PRIME MINISTER: Of course, Greenland is not for sale. I totally agree with Kim Kielsen. And by the way Greenland does not belong to Denmark so it's not a case for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Even President Trump joked about it Monday tweeting a promise not to build a Trump Tower in Greenland.

Meanwhile, President Trump is still calling the U.S. economy the best in the world but at the same time, he's looking at ways to head off a major slowdown. And a source says during a call with the National Rifle Association, Mr. Trump said universal background checks for gun purchases are off the table.

Pamela Brown has the latest from the White House

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is pushing back against recession fears.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the word "recession" is a word that's inappropriate.

BROWN: And defending the U.S. economy to reporters in the Oval Office today.

TRUMP: We're very far from a recession. In fact, if the Fed would do its job I think we would have a tremendous spurt of growth, a tremendous spurt.

BROWN: The President starting his day on Twitter sharing more than a dozen tweets from allies and supporters praising his administration's efforts on the economy. From Vice President Pence's "Our economy is thriving and Americans are winning," to RNC chairwoman, "Economic confidence is at record highs."

But even as the Trump administration helps the economy, CNN has learned behind closed doors, White House officials are mulling a payroll tax cut to offset anxiety over an economic slowdown.

TRUMP: Payroll taxes, I've been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time. Whether or not we do it now or not is -- it is not being done because of recession.

BROWN: The economy not the only issue Trump is considering. On gun control, Trump once again seeming to back down from his push just a few days ago for extended background checks.

TRUMP: We have very, very strong background checks right now. But we have sort of missing areas, and areas that don't complete the whole circle.

BROWN: After talking with lawmakers, and NRA head Wayne Lapierre in the last week, Trump today using the lobbying group's language on gun control measures.

TRUMP: A lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment, and I am also. We have to be very careful about that. You know, they call it the slippery slope. And all of a sudden everything gets taken away. We're not going to let that happen.

BROWN: Now, in addition to pressure from the NRA. The President's apparent shift on background checks comes after discussions with lawmakers over the past week and a briefing from White House officials who have been looking at various options.

[01:34:57] Now, White House officials maintain that gun control legislation isn't off the table. The true test will be once lawmakers return from summer recess.

Pamela Brown, CNN -- the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: In the crowded race for the Democratic presidential nomination Joe Biden is holding on to his front runner status. And he's doing it with a focus on beating President Trump instead of emphasizing his stand on individual issues.

Arlette Saenz has more on the Biden campaign in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Joe Biden expanding his edge on his Democratic rivals and claiming he's the best candidate to take on President Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump inherited a growing economy from the Obama-Biden administration just like he inherited everything in his life. Now, he squandered it just like he squandered everything he inherited in his life.

SAENZ: Biden's electability factor at the center of his pitch. In the first TV ad of his campaign hitting Iowa airwaves today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to beat Donald Trump. All polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. No one is more qualified.

SAENZ: His wife Jill Biden stressing a similar message in New Hampshire as she spoke to a group of teachers not necessarily committed to her husband's candidacy.

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Your candidate might be better on, I don't know health care than Joe is. But you've got to look at who's going to win this election. And maybe you have to swallow a little bit to say ok, I sort of personally like (INAUDIBLE) better. But the bottom line has to be that he has to beat Trump.

SAENZ: The electability push comes as a new CNN national poll shows the majority of Democratic voters want the candidate with the best chance of who beating President Trump. While 39 percent say it's more important for a candidate to share their views on issues.

In the overall race, the new CNN survey has Biden now with a double digit lead over his closest rival as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren battle it out for second place. Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris both coming in at 5 percent marking a 12-point dip for the California senator since June.

Warren today honing in on the issue of criminal justice releasing a plan that would repeal the 1994 crime bill, a measure Biden helped to write.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a direct criticism of a bill that has been very harmful to millions of people. We need to correct that instead.

SAENZ: Now, Joe Biden is on his sixth trip to the Hawkeye State since entering the 2020 race. And on Wednesday, he'll be addressing a labor convention that's also being attended by many of the other 2020 Democratic candidates. Later this week Biden heads to the early primary state of New Hampshire.

Arlette Saenz, CNN -- Urbandale, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: On the edge of Venezuela's rain forest lies a wealth of gold but those riches are only for a very few and come at a dangerously high price.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maduro is at the helm of a criminal enterprise. He has hijacked all the state's institutions to work in his service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Ahead, how a network of fear and profit is keeping Nicolas Maduro in power -- CNN exclusive.

[01:38:14] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: A massive wildfire has displaced more than 9,000 people on Spain's Canary Islands off the northern coast of Africa. Officials are telling more residents nearby to evacuate. The islands' president says the fire has almost doubled in size since it began over the weekend. Despite hundreds of firefighters and water-dropping planes trying to put it out, this is the second major wildfire there this month.

Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more. So what's the outlook here?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, windy conditions. That's what we are looking at the next couple of days -- Rosemary, unfortunately. And when you're looking at a fire this expansive, this impactful across an area that is home to shy of a million people, just shy of a million people reside across the Grand Canary Islands.

And look at the northwestern region, the thermal signature here as they depicted of the coverage of the fires really speak to the scale of this this particular fire.

Of course it is the heart of the summer season and tourists from areas around Britain, from Germany, very popular area to visit. And it's certainly not going to help the situation as far as the air quality in this region but look at the satellite imagery.

Last August, compared to present day and you notice the smoke there and the burn scars and the winds blowing all of the smoke downstream away from at least the most populated region of the island. But you look at Las Tomas (ph) in particular the dry season -- it is the heart of it -- the average just about 120 or so millimeters of rainfall in any given year which is shy of what areas around say the southwestern United States in the Mojave or Sonoran Desert gets so.

It is an absolute desert here across this region of the Atlantic Ocean. We do have a fire threat still in place mainly because of those gusty winds, 30 to 40 kilometers per hour with thousands of people displaced and that's certainly a lot of aircraft working on this particular fire at the moment as well.

Forecast the next couple of days will keep those temperatures into the lower and middle 20s. Winds as high as 40 plus kilometers per hour

Now not the only fire to tell you about. Take you over towards the Amazon rain forest and the state of Amazonas, one of the reasons we are watching carefully because, of course, it's an area that maybe you don't hear too often when it comes to wild fires. It is one of the wettest places on our planet and they have a state of emergency declared across this particular state. It includes the city of Manaus to the north and, you know, this was a human-induced fire.

Typically this time of year, farmers in a lot of ways doing the kind of illegally clear lands to set a ranch land for free cattle across the region and, of course, when you're talking about the dry season across the rain forest that becomes a concern. You can see here the smoke plumes across the area and you have over 74,000 fires year to date across this particular region of the Amazon. 85 percent more than this time last year.

And I want to show you an animation because the impacts here are wide reaching as well, not only in Manaus getting the smoke associated with the fires located right here on the Amazon but thousands of kilometers away even as far out into the Atlantic Ocean. The smoke plumes of recent have been impacting that region. So images coming out of that area also showing how expansive this has been for folks across Brazil as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Thanks for keeping such a close eye on that. Appreciate it -- Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yes.

CHURCH: Well, a criminal case in El Salvador against a young rape survivor has taken a stunning turn, as CNN's Rafael reports it generated outrage around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tears of joy as Evelyn Hernandez leaves court in El Salvador's capital, her supporters cheering around her. The 21-year-old is walking free after facing decades in prison.

"Thank God justice was done," she says to crowds on the courthouse steps just as a judge cleared her of all charges in a case that has drawn international attention to a country with some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.

In April of 2016 Hernandez was found unconscious on the floor of her bathroom drenched in blood. Doctors at local a emergency room found evidence she had given birth and reported it to authorities. Prosecutors at the time claimed she had induced an abortion and left her baby for dead.

[01:44:55] Hernandez said she was raped, and unaware she was pregnant until fainting in the bathroom. She was found guilty of aggravated murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. She served nearly three years before her case was retried with evidence she had a stillbirth.

While Hernandez was behind bars rights groups campaigned for her release, one documenting the stories of dozens of other women who claimed birth complications led to lengthy sentences under Salvadoran law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me, I am innocent. I am paying the price of something I did not do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was never medically examined to find out if it was an abortion or a spontaneous delivery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was unconscious when they took me and my baby to the hospital. Once there, the police officer said to me "Don't act like that. You did it."

ROMO: In El Salvador abortion or an induce miscarriage is illegal in all cases, even if a pregnancy is a result of rape, incest or when the woman's life is at risk.

Activists claim the laws criminalize women especially poor women who they say can face charges for complications because they couldn't get proper care or checkups while pregnant.

JULIANA CANO NIETO, JOINT CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL (through translator): We should take into account that women in jail for these crimes are women who are poor, women who are without resources, women who do not have the possibility of adequate legal representation.

ROMO: Activists and right groups hailed Monday's acquittal of Evelyn Hernandez, a landmark moment, a moment Hernandez used to thank her supporters and demand justice for others like her.

Rafael Romo, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Well despite some of the world's largest oil reserves Venezuela is a country on the verge of economic collapse. But in the jungles of Bolivar state, President Nicolas Maduro has found a precious resource to keep his grip on power. It's gold dug from illicit mines and shipped around the world and controlled at the point of murderous guns.

CNN's Isa Soares journeyed into this heart of darkness to shine light into the mines that maintain Maduro's regime. And we caution you, some of the images here are graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the fringes of the Amazon rainforest, a state sponsored network of violent gangs and corrupt Venezuela military hide amongst the vast land, rich minerals and seeping gold.

All this has made this area Maduro's El Dorado. And it's this that is giving him the financial lifeline.

We have come deep into Venezuela mining arc to find out how Nicolas Maduro is holding on to power and able to resist American pressure.

He has given himself direct control over this land and he's bleeding it dry. Enriching himself and buying the allegiance of the military and it all starts with the local miners.

With mouths to feed at home, risk it all operating this lawless region. We venture in 50 meters deep. It is a precarious operation. Inside the miners guide us through the various levels and galleries, passed evidence of a colonial thirst for gold.

Along the way I meet, Darwin Rojas (ph) who has been mining here for three years now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gold comes out of here from the earth.

SOARES: Back-breaking work and intense humidity --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you're working a large section of the mine, we could dig as many as 50 or 60 bags.

SOARES: -- everywhere you look speckles shimmer from above.

This might has been so productive for them because they have got 250 kilos of gold out of this mine just to give you a sense, really of why it's called the millionaire mine.

If 250 kilos which is over 550 pounds is accurate, that's well over $10 million at global market prices is all from one single dog hole.

There are dozens around us, thousands within Venezuela's mining arc. But not all that shimmers is gold and these miners know it. These rocks need to be crushed, processed, scraped and melted before you actually see the gold. This nugget here is $315 but it comes at a cost to the health of the miners as well as the environment. With mercury and other chemicals used to separate gold from grit, poisoning everything you see around us.

[01:50:01] But, this is business and these mills don't do it for free. And then there's an additional cost and even if the miners are scared to admit it.

Do you have to pay anyone else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one else.

SOARES: Right. It's like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like that. More or less like that.

F1: It's clear from what he is saying, there are other forces involved. There are the people they have to pay in order to be continuing to work in these mines but clearly they are not prepared to tell us who they are.

They have every reason to be afraid. These mines are run by a network of hooded militias called Franes (ph) who, according to a senior military and to mine (INAUDIBLE) extort, steel and silence. They do so together with complicit members of the who they drive to operate freely.

What kind of pressure, they kill people?

A local minor too scared to speak out about the gangs close to the mines, opens up once his identity is hidden.

They mutilate people. They cut them, torture them and the ones that speak are also tortured and mutilated. They kill them and throw them down this.

SOARES: One active senior military source confirms what we've heard in El Caddell, telling me the same groups use the death squads to command obedience.

(INAUDIBLE) and the military for control over this mining area.

It's a pressure tactic of blood and bullets. I asked the minor if he blames Maduro.

Um ; I think the government has the capacity to put an end to the promise if he wants to do it. But we are not going to do it because they benefit from it.

This is echoed form the top.

General Manuel Siguera was the former spy chief for the Venezuela's President until April 30th when he defected.

GEN. MANUEL CDHRISTOPHER, FIGUEROA: Maduro has knowledge of all of this, he's known very little if anything.

For years he was part of the inner circle. When the U.S. Treasury sanctioning him of accusations he ever saw of mass torture, math human rights violations and master institutions.

Now with sanctions dropped he is speaking out about the corruption at the very top and back in the U.S. Assessment that with can because of our corruption at the every top.

Back from the U.S. assessment that Maduro's family are also profiting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are companies linked to Maduro's family circle. The private gold and negotiate the extraction of the gold in the south of the country. They show one part of it through the Central Bank -- among other parks that take hours to become trade without any kind of control.

SOARES: In Caracas, we find its next work expand beyond Venezuela. In 2018, Maduro traded Venezuelan gold to Turkey, some in exchange for food which the government then used in their subsidized (INAUDIBLE) boxes.

But it didn't stop there. According to a source at the Venezuelan central bank, 26 tons of gold were taken out of the bank to the end of April. They were put into private airplanes and the destination Middle East and Africa. That's 1.6 billion dollars. Much of it skirting U.S. sanctions.

According to the source, several other shipments left Caracas this year to United Arab Emirates. Directly and also via Uganda on a Russian plane in exchange for euros.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maduro is at the helm of criminal enterprise. He has hijacked all the state's institutions to work in his service. This has allowed him to corrupt public servants and military officials and all the power structures in order to perpetuate his rule.

SOARES: This much is what we hear on the streets of (INAUDIBLE) here where gold is a standard currency. Many like this gold stela are just a cult in the system which is controlled all the way from the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we hear is that everything is completely controlled by the government. Directly or indirectly, we're all working for them.

SOARES: But with the river of gold running deep and the economy shrinking by half in a span of five years, there is little sign Maduro and his men will (INAUDIBLE) back on this blood gold.

Here, human misery goes hand in hand with environmental devastation. It's a free-for-all, a gold rush were the main winner is Maduro.

Isa Soares, CNN -- El Chagal, Bolivar State, Venezuela.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And CNN contacted both the Venezuelan government and central bank but obtained no response. The Venezuelan government has dismissed U.S. sanctions in the past saying they're an unjustified attack on the country and an attempt to get hold of its resources.

[01:55:02] We also reached out to the Turkish government but received no response. An Emirati official did tells CNN they take these matters very seriously and that the U.A.E. government is in compliance with international law but wouldn't comment on legal proceedings in another country.

We will take a short break here. Back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: The new James Bond movie in production has been called Bond 25 until now. And that is because the next film in the 007 franchise finally has a title.

There it is. "No Time To Die" stars Daniel Craig back in what may be his last turn as James Bond. He's joined by Ralph Fiennes and Rami Malik (ph). The film is set for release in April of next year.

Can't miss that.

And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. The news continues on CNN right after this. Do stick around.

[01:57:55] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END