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Gantz And Netanyahu Locked In Tight Israeli Election; U.S. Officials Accuse Iran Of Strikes On Oil Facilities; Did Trump's Decision To Leave Iran Nuke Deal Trigger The Saudi Arabia Oil Attacks?; Putin: Ready To Provide Assistance To Saudi Arabia; Medical Team Goes Door-to-Door To Help Hurricane Victims; Saudis: Oil Output Could Return to Normal by End of Month; Contentious Impeachment- Related Hearing Yields Little; California's Governor Squares Off Against Trump; Democrats Try to Win Trump's Blue-Collar Supporters; Interview with Ronny Tong of Hong Kong Executive Council; Climber Survives Plunge into Crevasse on Mount Rainier. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 18, 2019 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- reaction on Iran, retaliation for an attack on Saudi oil production. But so far there is little support in Congress or among U.S. allies.

And battered and bruised to the Bahamas. CNN on the ground with a team of medics going door to door trying to heal a community badly wounded by Hurricane Dorian.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

For a decade, Benjamin Netanyahu has been the ultimate political survivor, but now for the second time this year, he's been reviewed by voters denying him an outright victory and leaving him few options to build a working coalition.

Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister might end up being replaced by a political newcomer. Benny Gantz leader of the centrist Blue and White Party which according to exit polls has a slight lead in the number of Knesset seats. If that lead holds, he could be invited by the president to try and form a coalition.

Gantz is calling from national unity government. But the man whose supporters call King Bibi says he will work towards building a Zionist government without influence of Arab parties. To CNN's Oren Liebermann now who's been covering the election as well as Netanyahu's campaign.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage here behind me at about 3:30 in the morning with exit polls showing an incredibly tight race between Netanyahu and his rival former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

Crucially, he said they still need to wait for all the votes to be counted even as the exit polls began slipping away from Netanyahu and toward Gantz. So in his speech here, he started by thanking his supporters, thanking the volunteers. and thanking all those who voted Likud.

Certainly wasn't a victory speech, but it also wasn't a concession speech. And suddenly he changed his language on the type of government that he wants to see. He did say he's talked to the right- wing parties, but instead of talking about a right-wing government, he said he wants to see a national unity government.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): Israel needs a strong and stable and Zionist government, a government that is committed to Israel as a national state for the Jewish people. There won't be and they can't be a government that is being supported by anti-Zionist Arabic parties that doesn't believe in Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu could campaign throughout had anti-Arab rhetoric saying the Arabs are trying to steal the election, accusing them of election fraud. He continues that saying the Arabs can't be part of a Zionist government in Israel because they are anti-Zionist.

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz spoke a short time before Netanyahu and he said, although the votes still have to be counted and are waiting on final results, it appears they have accomplished their mission. They see it now as their job to unify the government.

They're also calling for a national unity government to bring the main parties together and lead this country and what they see as a unifying path to bring all of the sectors into one.

BENNY GANTZ, LEADER, BLUE AND WHITE PARTY (through translator): I hope to create a wide unit a government, a government that is willing to return to Israel, its especial values where one people, one society. The polarization is behind us, and the work of unity and reconciliation is ahead of us.

LIEBERMANN: For Netanyahu, these elections aren't just about his political future and whether he can remain his prime minister and continue serving as the longest Prime Minister in Israel's history, they're also very much about his personal future. He has two weeks now until a preliminary hearing and three ongoing corruption cases where the attorney general has said he intends to indict him on charges of bribery and breach of trust pending that preliminary hearing that's now two weeks away.

If Netanyahu got the right-wing religious government he was hoping to have at the end of the night, he may have been able to legislate immunity from prosecution for himself. It appears the path of that government is very, very far away at this point.

Where does this go from here? Well, the results have been finalized on Friday and only on Friday. And then all of the political parties beginning meeting with Israel's president. He will see who they recommend. He will then appoint somebody to try to be the next prime minister and put together a government. And then we're into coalition negotiations which is where this all fell apart over summer leading Israel back to elections. Oren Lieberman, CNN, Tel Aviv.


VAUSE: And join me down from Jerusalem, Yohanan Plesner President of the Israel Democracy Institute, also a former member of the Knesset, a member of the Kadima Party. So Yohanan, thanks for being with us. This now seems to come down to Avigdor Lieberman, the former Defense Minister --


VAUSE: It's a pleasure. So, Avigdor Lieberman, he controls about nine seats may be in the Knesset and everyone's looking at him you know, much to be the kingmaker. He sort of spark this election by -- you know, back in April by refusing to join a coalition government at the time and he has repeated this again. He does not want to be part of a coalition which relies on the support of the religious parties for its survival.

Let's just assume Lieberman gets his way and that there is this unity government with without Netanyahu, but is not dependent upon the religious parties, instead in fact, they may not be part of the coalition at all, how much of a watershed moment would that be not just for Israeli politics but for the entire country?


PLESNER: Well, this is a watershed moment and we can now say with high degrees of certainty that neither candidate has achieved or can cobble together a coalition that is based on majority of 61 members of Knesset.

So while we know that neither candidate can form a government, we're entering a period of uncertainty because we do not know -- we may not know four days or even weeks who is going to be our next prime minister. It might be Mr. Netanyahu, it might be Mr. Gantz, and it might be a third anonymous candidate, a future leader of the Likud that the Likud might elect as a result of the fact that Blue and White is unwilling to sit with Mr. Netanyahu as a result of his corruption allegations.

VAUSE: Yes. There are a lot of options out there. And the country is in for you know, weeks I guess, or more political turmoil and uncertainty. So if you put that all together, two general elections in the space of what, five months, this ongoing horse-trading with the coalition, 2019 has been the year of the election campaign. It's ever happened before.

PLESNER: Yes. I mean, we never had a situation of two consecutive election campaigns and nevertheless, we did not -- yesterday did not demonstrate a situation of voter fatigue as has been the case say in Greece or Spain when they went for another election.

Actually, Israelis turned out in higher numbers. They rejected some of the ideas to undermine the institutions of rule of law that were surfaced in order to help Mr. Netanyahu dodging indictment. And in this respect, while we still don't know who is the winner politically, we know that Israeli democracy for sure came out as a winner.

VAUSE: You know, Netanyahu said that his reputation is being a political survivor, always able to pull a rabbit out of a hat when he needs it. And this election, much of his campaign was based on stoking fear of Israel's Arab minority population.

If you look at the exit polls, the joint list of Arab party is now the third biggest in the Knesset. It would seem -- is that an indication you could say that you know, Netanyahu's strategies particularly backfired?

PLESNER: Yes. I think -- I think you're totally right. Mr. Netanyahu initiated this additional round because he thought it will improve his lot and ultimately he did not achieve his goal. His goal was to achieve a sixth -- majority of 61 members of right-wing plus ultra-orthodox parties, and he's a quite far from it.

This means that actually voters rather than voting based on the agenda that Netanyahu tried to set voted on matters of religion and state, they rejected the alliance of Mr. Nathaniel and the ultra-orthodox parties pretty much providing the ultra-orthodox parties with monopoly power over domestic affairs.

This explains the rise of Mr. Lieberman, and this explains the rise of the -- or the increase in support for the Arab parties is actually a manifestation of the fact that Netanyahu tried to fire up his own base and by threatening against a stronger Arab political force.

And this actually backfired and the Arab participation rates group quite dramatically and upset Netanyahu's goal of achieving a majority.

VAUSE: You know, if Netanyahu had actually --

PLESNER: I know it's really complicated.

VAUSE: It is very complicated. Everything in Israel is complicated but that's why we love it. You know, if Netanyahu walked away with the decisive victory, it could have stayed on as Prime Minister even if he was indicted on corruption charges and that's looking likely the next couple weeks.

But he was just a minister or an elected member of the Knesset, under Israeli law, he would have to resign. So the next couple of weeks, building a successful coalition government and escaping those charges of corruption, are they essentially the same thing to Bibi?

PLESNER: Well, I think you're absolutely right on raising this issue because the timeline for Netanyahu's legal woes is extremely immediate. He's going to go through a hearing on his -- on the decision of the Attorney General to indict the prime minister within two weeks and a final decision is expected within two months, within the period pretty much of forming the next government.

Now, Netanyahu is counting on having a majority that will grant him immunity from prosecution. This is not going to happen. If Netanyahu is a minister and indicted, it means that he will have to resign. So no matter how we look at it, if you combine Netanyahu's political and legal situation, it seems like quite safe to assume that we're nearing a new era in Israeli politics without Mr. Netanyahu within perhaps weeks or months leading our country.


VAUSE: Yes. You know, there are a lot of elections in Israel. This one seems to be particularly important and maybe in crossroads. Yohanan, thanks so much for coming here. I know it's early there. It's just after 8:00 a.m. so thank you.

PLESNER: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: OK. Well, a Pentagon official says the U.S. has images which support the assessment that Saturday's attack on Saudi oil sites came from inside Iran. CNN has not seen the classified images but they reportedly include evidence of the weapons which were used.

Iran denies responsibility but its Houthi allies in Yemen say they're responsible and hit sites with drones. Meantime, sources tell CNN the Pentagon has been ordered to plan potential responses to Saturday's attack but they say the White House is waiting for the leaders of the kingdom to decide on their own response before the U.S. moves.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Tehran gauging reaction to the latest claims by the U.S. over the attacks in Saudi Arabia. He reports that Iran is rejecting talks now with the U.S.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iran has been consistent from the beginning that it has nothing to do with this attack on Saudi oil facilities and its foreign minister in the last few hours has taken to Twitter to reiterate that stand pointing the direction towards the Houthi rebels in Yemen that Iran says had the capability and they have claimed responsibility for these attacks saying, they launched ten drones which went through hundreds of miles of Saudi Arabian territory, through with tens of billions of dollars of air defenses to attack those Saudi oil refineries, a claim that the U.S. and Saudi officials increasingly throwing scorn upon.

Dr. Zarif says the U.S. is in denial if they think that Yemeni victims and four and a half years of the worst war crimes wouldn't do all to strike back. Perhaps it's embarrassed that hundreds of billions of dollars of arms didn't intercept Yemeni fire. But blaming Iran won't change that.

He goes on to say in reference to the Saudi Arabian aerial bombardment of Yemen which has caused or contributed to a humanitarian crisis and taken dozens of civilian lives, many human rights activists say. He goes on to say the U.S. isn't upset when its allies mercilessly

bomb babies in Yemen over four years with its arms and its military assistance but it is terribly set when the victims react the only way they can against the aggressor's oil refineries. Ending the war is the only solution.

Clearly, those critics of Iran will say they're trying to distract by pointing attention towards the ongoing crisis in Yemen. But today we've also heard from the supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said that there will be no talks with United States at any level.

He poured scorn on them -- I'm paraphrasing here, saying sometimes they have conditions, sometimes they have none. But he said Iran's mind is clear they won't be talking, the unanimous across government, he said.

So those possibly hoping that diplomacy sometimes held up by Donald Trump confusingly as a possible solution here might be welcomed by Tehran. Not now, not only in the slightest possible sliver of hope.

Khamenei said that if Donald Trump has somewhat humiliatingly apologize, withdrew his statements, and redraw the nuclear deal, then possibly they might talk. That isn't happening anytime soon and neither are talks. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN Tehran.


VAUSE: Well, there seems a little support in Congress or among allies for an attack on Iran. The U.S. Vice President Mike Pence used the words of his boss on Tuesday saying military action remains an option.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: We don't want war with anybody. But the United States is prepared. We're locked and loaded. And we're ready to defend our interests and our allies in the region.


VAUSE: David Sanger is with us now from Washington. He's a CNN Political and National Security Analyst, as well as the National Security Correspondent for the New York Times. David, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: OK, the Vice President we just heard. He was talking locked and loaded, some tough language there just like his boss has been talking publicly at least. But when it comes to Congress as well as U.S. allies and the American public, how much credibility does this administration have you know, on a question of war? You're given, you know, this daily sort of diet of lies and fabrications we've received in over last you know, almost three years. SANGER: Well, I think this may be the moment when the president ends up paying the price for some of those tweets and exaggerations and outright untruths and so forth. He's got three big challenges here. One is to convince the American public that Iran was behind this if, in fact, he believes it. Only Secretary of State Pompeo has said so.

Second, it's to try to make a case for common action which the Saudis have already indicated that they want to go do. And I'm not sure the world is ready to go risk some kind of a conflict in the Middle East for an attack that while devastating the oil production, didn't kill anybody.

And then I think the third big challenge for the president right now is to convince everyone that he actually has a bigger plan. The Europeans believe that he ended up provoking the Iranians into this kind of confrontation by leaving the 2015 Iran Deal. And so, I think that's the big challenge for him right now.


VAUSE: And on that last point, you know, assuming this attack was carried out by Tehran, it would have happened if the Trump administration had stayed part of the nuclear treaty and not apply those, you know, really tough crushing economic sanctions. And once -- it which was missed at the time, and the British Ambassador left Washington, apparently one of his communication was that Donald Trump ripped up the treaty, the nuclear treaty, withdrew from the nuclear treaty, because it was Obama's signature foreign policy achievement.

SANGER: I think that there's some truth to that. That was the statement of Kim Derrick. It was leaked out in the British press. And Mr. Derrick, of course, ended up resigning. There is a sense in this White House that if it came out of the Obama-era, it had to be a bad deal. And the President's been, of course, renegotiating NAFTA, turned it into something that wasn't a whole lot different or better. We don't know in this case, he ripped up, of course, the Paris Climate Accord. And we don't know, in this case, whether he's going to get anything out of the Iranians, that would be any better than what President Obama had.

And in fact, there's an argument to be made that the Iranians, now that they are breaking out of the agreement, may decide that, in fact, it's something worse. In other words, that the Iranians will say that they're not constrained by any of the restrictions. And you've already seen that began to happen. But the other side of that is that Iran's behavior in funding terrorism and so forth was already pretty bad after the 2015 deal was signed. And so, Trump administration officials say it's ridiculous to blame President Trump for leaving the deal.

VAUSE: Well, as always, there is a tweet for everything. Back in 2014, Donald Trump tweeted "Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won't, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth - trillion dollars!"

Now as president, he has said at least publicly, the U.S. should go to war because the Saudis are a big client for high-tech American weapons. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was an attack on Saudi Arabia. And there wasn't an attack on us. But we would certainly help them. They've been a great ally, they spend $400 billion in our country over the last number of years. $400 billion, that's a million and a half jobs. And they're not ones that unlike some countries where they want terms, they want terms and conditions, they want to say can we borrow the money at zero percent for the next 400 years. No, no, Saudi Arabia pays cash.


VAUSE: OK, so only $400 billion. But regardless what the budget is, I always thought that arm sales were considered a benefit to the Saudis in reserve allies and friendly nations. It seems the president is sort of redefining the terms of this relationship.

SANGER: Well, what struck me about that statement is that it almost makes it sound like the United States should be a mercenary force. Anybody who buys U.S. arms and whatever you think of arms programs, whether you think they're a good -- a good effort or not, they're supposed to be designed to help a country defend themselves.

And what was striking about what happened this weekend, no matter who launched the attack, is that the Saudi air defenses were so weak, they never saw this coming. And it appeared to have come from areas where they weren't looking. But the bigger question here is, how does a president decide to commit American forces? And I think it would be hard to explain that you're going to put American lives at risks in those American servicemen and women, because a country like Saudi Arabia spends a lot of money here.

VAUSE: And, you know, the point of the failure of those defense systems was not lost on the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who earlier this week made a sales pitch to the Saudis. Here he is.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We are ready to provide respective assistance to Saudi Arabia to protect their country and their people. And it would be enough for the political leadership of Saudi Arabia to make a wise government decision as the leaders of Iran did and their time by purchasing S- 300. And as Turkish President Erdogan did by purchasing the latest S- 400 Triumph air defense system from Russia. They will be able to secure any facilities in Saudi Arabia.


VAUSE: You know, Hassan, a contributed to the Atlantic make this point. Amazing. In a summit with two of Saudi Arabia's archrivals in the region, Putin says Riyadh should buy Russia air defense to protect its infrastructure against any attacks, all while the Iranian Foreign Minister and President are giggling, and they were laughing so who are they laughing at? They're laughing at the Saudi Crown Prince, they're laughing at the U.S. president, they're laughing at both?

SANGER: Well, what I found remarkable about the Putin statement was that it's almost like an Amazon ad. You know, you're advertising your air defense systems. And then, you have two good reviews, one from the Turks there and one from the Iranians, right?



SANGER: So, this may work for Putin. I mean, what he is seeking to do is use his own arms sales to go fracture the alliances in the West. So, he sold to Turkey, a NATO ally. Now, he's arguing for sales to Saudi Arabia. I don't think it'll work, but it is interesting that you are seeing the Russians be so aggressive in doing this and using their arms sales for such political purposes, just as President Trump has in those statements that you heard before.

VAUSE: David, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

SANGER: Thank you, John. Great to be with you.

VAUSE: Well, this time it could be Bermuda. A major hurricane churning in the Atlantic with the very latest on Humberto's path when we come back. Also ahead, going door-to-door in the Bahamas, living much needed medical help, and a little hope to hurricane survivors.


VAUSE: Hurricane Humberto is gaining strength as it heads towards Bermuda, it's our major hurricane. CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is following the storm for us. Here's the very latest now on the strength as well as the path, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, John, you know, this joins Dorian, of course, as our only other major hurricane so far in the Atlantic season. So, the time is certainly going to be a little rough across some of these islands that is going to begin to impact, but notice very busy pattern across the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. We've got a Imelda, we've got Humberto, of course, a major hurricane.

Beyond this, what is potentially going to be Jerry inside the next couple of days, the next tropical system in the works as well. But we'll start off with Humberto because it's sits just several hundred kilometers west of the Island of Bermuda. A large system here, a really organized quite well in the past couple of days with near 200 kilometer per hour sustained winds. The fortunate end of this particular storm is that the forecast models, at this point, have a pretty good handle on where the storm is going to end up, and we think it'll skirt just to the west of the island of Bermuda.

Unfortunately, it is such a large feature here that the impacts are going to be felt widespread, potentially seen hurricane gust, hurricane force gust on the island even though it passes over 100 kilometers to the west. But look at this, this is the next system here that has just moved ashore, Tropical Depression Imedla. And you think to yourself that this is just a tropical depression, it is not a hurricane, certainly not a major system. Well, this particular storm has the potential to bring more rainfall across portions of the state of Texas than Dorian did to anywhere across the United States.


And of course, we know the water element among the deadliest of any storm. And look at it, parks kind of partially offshore and partially overland here. So, it is tapping into quite a bit of moisture over very warm waters. Flood Watch has been prompted across the Houston Metro and potentially going to be the case across the Dallas area as well as it slowly meanders on shore. And we think as much as a half a meter of rainfall possible here. And anytime you bring up that much rainfall in an urban environment, of course, the asphalt it's not going to do a good job taking that water all at the same time when we know significant flooding going to be a major issue across portions of Texas.

And then back off shore. Here we go, next tropical system. This is the one we mentioned would be in line to become a tropical system, Tropical Storm Jerry. And that would potentially happen inside the next couple of days. Forecast models indicate a North-Northeast, that kind of a pattern the next couple of days, category 1 strength by Friday. And then beyond that, you see where this track may potentially end up, John, around the Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas would all be in the immediate path of a storm. So, certainly going to be another active pattern.

VAUSE: Wow. I mean, I can do without that. Thanks, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Yes, thanks, John.

VAUSE: Two weeks after during the Bahamas is just starting to recover. Still many in the hardest-hit areas are yet to receive medical care. CNN's Rosa Flores is on the ground with the medical team is making house calls amid total devastation.


ROSA FLORES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two weeks after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, a U.S. team of medical professionals went door to door in communities around Freeport.


FLORES: Tim Leyendecker, a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary officer who specializes in search and rescue operations is leading this volunteer mission.

LEYENDECKER: Initially, it was major injuries. You know, hurt people and something. Now, it's just like they're living in no air conditioning, it's hot, they have no fluids -- FLORES: His deputy is Dr. Patricia Harding. Word of mouth spreads

quickly that doctors are making house calls on foot. This 81-year-old man was the first patient tended to. He complained a backache and a rash infection.

It hurts, your body hurts.

So, we can't ask too many questions. We got to keep moving because for safety reasons, Tim has made it very clear to us that we have to stay very close to him.

Then Dr. Harding is asked to check a pregnant woman inside a home.


DR. PATRICIA HARDING, VOLUNTEER: It's all right. Don't --


FLORES: No, no, it's OK. It's OK.

HARDING: It's all right. It's OK, honey, you're going to be fine. We'll find a way to do an ultrasound so we can make sure that baby is OK.

FLORES: Patricia Miller breaks down. The 20-year-old says she's worried that the hustle and bustle of riding buses to evacuate and the stresses of the hurricane have hurt her baby. Our cameras stay outside the door as Dr. Harding tries to find a heartbeat. Those sounds you hear, they are coming from the portable machine Dr. Harding is using to find a heartbeat. While it's difficult to pick up the fetal heart tones, Dr. Harding, whose specialty is obstetrics says she believes Miller is about five months pregnant.

HARDING: Meanwhile, you take the vitamins, drink lots of fluids, and --


MILLER: Because it's hard -- I've had much people tell me (INAUDIBLE)

HARDING: Oh, no.

FLORES: Supplies are limited to what's packed in the back of the car. Resourcefulness is a must. See how the team used a nail on the side of a house to hang an IV bag. After a day of consultations on roadsides ...

Can you show us what they gave you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. This is for the acid reflux.

FLORES: In homes and front porches, the response from Bahamians, who thought the world was beginning to forget about their devastating new reality to the U.S. medical team was the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're important.



FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN Freeport, Bahamas.


VAUSE: Well, the immediate aftermath, the attack on Saudi's oil production, the price of crude skyrocketed. After the break, an update on how Saudi Arabia plans to ramp up production and keep the lid of the cost of filling up at the pump. Also, stonewalled, Donald Trump's former campaign manager antagonizes and angers democrats from the first official hearing on possible impeachment of the 45th president.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines for this hour.

Former military leader and political newcomer Benny Gantz could become Israel's next prime minister. Exit polls show his Blue and White centrist party with a sight lead in voting for the Knesset. The Likud Party led by the current Prime Minister Netanyahu come in close second.

At least 48 people have died after two suicide attacks in Afghanistan. In Parwan (ph) at least 26 people died when a bomber targeted an election rally. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak (INAUDIBLE). The Taliban claiming responsibility. Hours after that, an attacker blew himself up in the U.S. embassy in Kabul. 22 people were killed.

Sources tell CNN the Pentagon has been ordered to plan potential responses to the Saudi oil field attacks. But they say the White House is waiting for Saudi leader to decide their own response before Washington makes its move.

Houthi rebels in Yemen say they are responsible for Saturday's attack. Iran is denying any responsibility.

Regardless of who carried out the airstrikes, Saudi Arabia oil production will be fully back to normal by the end of the month according to two top oil officials.

CNN's John Defterios is following that part of the story from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three big players representing what Saudi Arabia is known for, and that is big oil. The new minister of energy, the new chairman of Saudi Aramco, and the chief executive officer of the company gathering for a press conference here in Jeddah after seeing their production drop by 5.7 million barrels a day over the weekend after severe attacks they say they are on the recovery trail.

And they could be at 100 percent capacity by the end of September if not slightly earlier.

AMIN NASSAR, PRESIDENT/CEO, SAUDI ARAMCO: We will be back at our production levels before the attack by the end of this month.

DEFTERIOS: If not earlier.

NASSAR: If not earlier. But by the end of the month more comfortably we will be definitely resume as before the attack.

DEFTERIOS: That talk of recovery led oil prices down $4 to $5 a barrel depending on the index after that surge of 14 percent on Monday. Saudi Aramco seems determined to pursue with the initial public offering but there was no timeline.

But there is a lot of concern about the future after the air defenses were broken over the weekend. And even the CEO was suggesting perhaps its international support even a coalition that needs to protect not only the waterways in the Middle East but also the core production of the largest exporter in the world being Aramco.

John Defterios, CNN Business -- at the Ritz-Carlton in Jeddah.


VAUSE: Just a day after a surge in oil prices, they dropped sharply Tuesday after word from the Saudis they would ramp up production. Brent Crude was down more than 60 cents, falling below $65 a barrel.

Meantime, U.S. stocks saw a last-minute rally on Wall Street. The Dow up almost 34 points as investors turn their focus from oil to the Fed which will give an update on interest rates Wednesday. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also saw modest gains.


VAUSE: There were the eyes rolls, the defensive (ph) shaking of the head, the mocking of former special counsel Robert Mueller. To top it all off there is the questioning of patriotism of Democrat lawmakers. The pugilistic Corey Lewandowski, one time Trump campaign manager, stonewalled his way through the first impeachment-related hearing in Congress.

Here's Manu Raju.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to stonewall me in my questioning.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sparred with House Democrats during his contentious impeachment hearing today. And confirmed an element of the Mueller report -- that the President urged him to intervene in an attempt to limit the investigation after initially asking for time at the hearing to read the Mueller report --

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Guys I'm just trying to find in the Mueller report where it states that.

I don't know.

RAJU: Lewandowski said the report accurately portrayed the President's 2017 directive that Lewandowski deliver a message to sessions that he unrecuse himself from the Mueller probe and then limit the investigation to only include future elections.

Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson read from the note that the Mueller report said Trump wanted Lewandowski to deliver to the then- attorney general .

REP. HANK JOHNSON (D), GEORGIA: I note that I recuse myself from certain things having to do with specific areas. But our post has been treated very unfairly. He shouldn't have a special prosecutor counsel because he hasn't done anything wrong.

Now, that is what he wanted you to deliver to Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- correct?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe that is an accurate representation.

JOHNSON: And he wanted you to deliver it to Jeff so that Jeff could say it to the people -- right?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe so.

RAJU: And Lewandowski confirmed that he wanted to meet with Sessions at a neutral place and not on the Justice Department's turf.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's right. I wanted to have a private conversation in a more relaxed atmosphere.

RAJU: The Mueller report also said that Trump warned that Cessions would be fired if he didn't meet with Lewandowski. The message was never delivered to Sessions.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: Either you were willing to break the law for politics and Mr. Trump or you are some kind of a Forrest Gump relating to corruption. So maybe let me ask you this. Did the President pick you as enforcer? He thought you would play whatever role he wanted because it was illegal? That's possibly why he chose you take this message to Sessions?

LEWANDOWSKI: That would be a question for the President -- Congressman. RAJU: But Lewandowski repeatedly defended the President.

LEWANDOWSKI: The President asked me nothing illegal.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: When the President asked you to specifically go in there and ask him to deliver a speech which was contrary to that, forget about being a lawyer, did it strike you as off in anyway? Were you concerned in any way?


RAJU: And Lewandowski fired back at Democrats.

LEWANDOWSKI: I think they hate this president more than they love their country.

RAJU: And said he was following White House orders to not answer questions about confidential conversations with the President.

LEWANDOWSKI: The White House has directed me that I not disclose the substance of any conversations with the President.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: When you refuse to answer these questions you are obstructing the work of our committee. And I will remind you that Article 3 of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress.

RAJU: The White House also taking the extraordinary step of blocking the testimony of two former White House aides, Rob Porter and (INAUDIBLE) who refused to show up despite being subpoenaed by the committee.

The GOP said Democrats were putting on the show.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R), GEORGIA: -- because they can't sell what's inside. They can't sell the product. So they just keep packaging it differently.

RAJU: Now after the hearing Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman told me that he believes that hearing added more weight to his push to impeach the President saying Article 3 of the Nixon impeachment referred to efforts to obstruct Congress. He said what Lewandowski did is essentially that -- obstructing the investigation of Congress.

But the big question is will Democrats move down the route of ultimately impeaching the President because the party is still divided, the number of Democrats in Republican-leaning districts oppose moving forward on impeachment. And the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she's not there quite yet.

Manu Raju, CNN -- Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: It might not be the best plan as President Trump travels to the West Coast to do a little fund-raising, he is lashing out at California's tough vehicle emissions standards as well as the state's homeless population.

Also how Democrats running for 2020 are planning to win all the blue collar supporters from Donald Trump.



VAUSE: The U.S. President is in California for a series of fund- raisers for his reelection campaign but before he even arrived Donald Trump was taking shots at the state which has long resisted his agenda chiding local leaders of California's homeless problem and its strict vehicle emissions standards.

But as CNN's Kyung Lah reports California's governor is ready for a fight.


GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: One thing I won't do is roll over. One thing I won't do is capitulate.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: California's governor Gavin Newsom -- unofficial leader of the Trump resistance.

NEWSOM: We are nothing less than a progressive answer to a transgressive president.

LAH: Now entering another battle with President Trump as he fundraises in Newsom's backyard this week. A source tells CNN the Trump administration will attempt to pull the state waiver letting California develop its own emissions standards.

The Trump administration wants to roll back Obama era rules. But Newsome won't bend.

NEWSOM: Yes. Well, checkmate. I mean we actually did something he didn't see coming. We negotiated with private industry and they agreed to voluntary standards that went beyond what the Trump administration was demanding.

And for Trump it was a realization, a rationalization, he doesn't get everything he wants.

LAH: This fight is familiar territory. Under Newsom's administration, California is now involved in nearly 60 lawsuits against the Trump White House, jamming the proverbial crowbar in Trump's agenda.

Governor -- are you able to succeed in wielding their power in a way that Democrats and Washington are unable to do?

NEWSOM: In some ways, that's true. Outperforming the federal government, running record surpluses as the Trump administration is running historic record deficits.

All of that as we are reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and protecting and preserving and promoting our values. That makes us a formidable -- a formidable challenge to Trump and Trumpism.

LAH: Their battles, part policy, part theater.

If you look at some of the barbs you both have shared on Twitter.

NEWSOM: There's a few.

LAH: There's a few. There's a good bit.

And it's offline, too.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How about this clown in California?

LAH: Newsom responded by tweet saying Trump is literally locking up kids like Pennywise -- the scary clown from the movie, "It".

Do you relish that fight?

NEWSOM: No, but if he calls me a clown, I'd call him Pennywise. Forgive me. Yes, that's a little bit of a side show.

The fact is interestingly we have a relationship. Interestingly, we communicate. Not in public, on the phone, in person. And he's very gracious in those calls and I hope in turn I am as well.

LAH: They have shared some gracious, public moments. They walked through a fire-ravaged California town praising each other's leadership, but remain unafraid to spar on their litany of disagreements.


NEWSOM: Look, stay out of our way. Let California continue not to survive but thrive, despite the headwinds, despite everything you are doing to try to put sand in the gears of our success.

LAH: The two men have a complex public as well as private relationship. Earlier this year Governor Newsome was preparing to sign a bill that would require anyone who wants to appear on the state's primary ballot to release his or her taxes if he or she wants to run for president here in the state of California.

Well, the governor before signing it wanted to deliver the news to Trump personally and he called him to tell him the news.

Kyung Lah, CNN -- Los Angeles.


VAUSE: As for the Democrats looking to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren is seeing her poll numbers rise after last week's presidential debate. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey still has the vice president, Joe Biden on top but Warren is now clearly in second place. Bernie sanders is third with 14 percent.

Those numbers were released as many at the Democratic contenders were campaigning in Pennsylvania. They have to win back the blue collar voters whose support was a key part of Donald Trump's successful campaign in 2016.

Here's Ryan Nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, a crop of Democratic hopefuls making their pitch to one of the most powerful labor organizations promising to empower unions.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we're going to grow the middle class in this country, it is absolutely imperative that we grow the trade union movement.

NOBLES: And accusing President Trump of offering false promises to their members.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You do a whole bunch of things. On day one if I'm President of the United States, you're going to see the end of Trump's tax cuts for the top 10 to 1 percent.

NOBLES: This, as Elizabeth Warren is making a pledge to protect abortion rights.

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's make democracy work and make grow the rule of this land in every state.

NOBLES: Warren holding a town hall in New York with members of the abortion rights group, NARAL, a day after one of her biggest rallies yet, drawing a contrast with Joe Biden's electability argument and making the case that she has what it takes to beat Donald Trump in a general election.

WARREN: We can't use a candidate we don't believe in just because we are too scared to do anything else.

And Democrats can't win if we are scared and looking backwards.

NOBLES: Afterwards, the Massachusetts senator spent roughly four hours taking 4,000 pictures with supporters. Tonight Warren will be making an appearance on late night TV with Stephen Colbert, while Cory Booker stops by "Jimmy Kimmel Live", and Kamala Harris --

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for a leader who leads with their heart.

NOBLES: -- is now the first woman to ever slow jam the news on the "Tonight" show with Jimmy Fallon.

JIMMY FALLON, TV HOST: And that is how we slow jam the news. HARRIS: Oh, yes.

FALLON: Give it up for Senator Kamala Harris.

NOBLES: And we did see one major distinction drawn here today at this forum that focused on labor union issues in Philadelphia and that was on health care. Vice President Joe Biden attacking Bernie Sanders signature Medicare for all plan saying that labor unions wouldn't have the opportunity to negotiate their health benefits under that plan.

But Sanders responded pointing to a real life example happening right now, and that's the flap between the UAW and GM. GM removing the health benefits for those striking workers. Senators arguing that under Medicare for all those workers would not have to worry about their health benefits while they continue their strike.

Ryan Nobles, CNN -- Philadelphia.


VAUSE: And please visit our Web site to find out what all the candidates are doing -- There you will find extensive coverage of the 2020 campaign. And there is so much more to come.

Hong Kong activists have traveled to Washington to ask for help from lawmakers in their struggle for basic democratic rights. The activists say they're not asking for foreign interference but simply support for democracy. Hong Kong has been rocked by weeks of clashes between protesters and police.

Here's Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong's most prominent democratic activists.


JOSHUA WONG, HONG KONG ACTIVIST: The movement is far from over because it has long moved beyond one bill or one person. Our most important demand is general structural change in Hong Kong which means free election. Our government's lack of representation lies at the heart of the matter.

As I speak, Hong Kong is standing at a critical juncture, the stakes had never been higher.


VAUSE: Joining us, Ronny Tong, a member of Hong Kong Executive Council and a senior adviser to the chief executive Carrie Lam. Mr. Tong -- thank you for joining us.


VAUSE: Hello. Why shouldn't the people of Hong Kong -- why shouldn't they have like the people of Taiwan or Australia or 167 other sovereign states be allowed to determine their own future through a democratic process. What is so wrong with that?


TONG: Well, nothing is wrong with that. In fact, it's written in the basic law that Hong Kong should have universal suffrage in relation to the election of (INAUDIBLE) as well as the legislative council. That is written in the basic law. In fact it was not written in the joint declaration but it is provided in the basic law and in fact, we have seen incremental reform in relation to democratization.

VAUSE: Like what --

TONG: Unfortunately --

VAUSE: -- what improvements --


VAUSE: -- incremental improvements, because all protesters will tell you and all the evidence points to the contrary.

TONG: Well, prior to the handover -- prior to the handover, no seats in the legislative council was elected. Now, we have over 50 percent of the seats elected.

VAUSE: Beijing chooses --

TONG: In fact there was a -- can you hear me out? I'm sorry. Can you just hear out.

Five years ago there was a proposal that the chief executive should be elected on a universal suffrage basis, but unfortunately the (INAUDIBLE) in Hong Kong insisted that they should have a system of nomination which is outside the provisions of the basic law. And as a result of that they vetoed the universal suffrage plan.

So that's where we are at the moment but, you know, I see no reason why we shouldn't try again when the conditions are right.

VAUSE: See this is what the protesters hear. And basically they hear delays, sounds like delaying tactics. You have millions -- millions of people on the streets at times demanding basic democratic rights. That's what I see.

TONG: Why do you say that?

VAUSE: When the time is right -- this is your -- this is the sort of phrases which are used by bureaucrats and by governments to stonewall, and to stall.

I mean this is the thing. You had millions of people on the streets demanding democratic rights. When will the time be right? Now, isn't it, surely?

TONG: Well, I think when the community achieved consensus, a general consensus on how we should move forward in relation to democratic movement, that would be the right time. But you know, when you see people throwing petrol bombs, committing, you know, arson; committing criminal damage. It's not the right time to talk about democratic reform is it?


TONG: And besides, if you look at the demands of the demonstrators they're asking for other things as well as, of course, democratic reform. But they misunderstand in, order to achieve democratic reform in Hong Kong we must have the trust and confidence of the various stakeholders.

And, the Beijing government is of the stakeholders, the (INAUDIBLE) government is the other stakeholders, and of course, the people in Hong Kong. When you are taking matters into your own hands, committing crimes in the street, it's very difficult to ask people to come around to the conference table to talk about democratic reform.


TONG: It's always better than confrontation.

VAUSE: Ok. Absolutely -- agreeing to that but we're almost out of the time so I want to put this to you. You know, there have been 15 weeks of protests now. There's been unrest and there has been chaos. In that 15-week period, Chief Executive Carrie Lam actually spoken to a protester.

TONG: We are trying to reach out. But you must understand --

VAUSE: But Carrie Lam -- sir. Has she actually spoken to a protester? There's been 15 weeks -- has that happened?


VAUSE: These are simple questions, sir.

TONG: No, no, wait a minute.

No sorry.

VAUSE: But I think the answer is no, right?

TONG: No, sorry. You're not fair. You're asking questions. You have to give me a chance to answer your questions. Otherwise, you can go on there yourself, you don't have to ask me. Ok.

VAUSE: You're afraid to answer the question.

TONG: You must understand that at present there are no united leaders as far as the demonstrators are concerned. We are reaching out to the, you know, different leaders of different cells, different parties and trying to get them round to a platform whereby we can exchange ideas and talk to each other. This is happening right now.

VAUSE: Ok. Mr. Tong -- thanks you so much. I appreciate you bringing up the case forward by the Hong Kong authorities but clearly, this is an issue and a movement which isn't going away, at least not in the short term. So thank you, sir for being with us.

TONG: Well, you should come down to Hong Kong and have a look for yourself.

VAUSE: I would love to.

TONG: You really should come to Hong Kong.

VAUSE: Thank you -- sir.

TONG: And check out yourself.


TONG: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you.

And we'll take a short break. Right back.

You're watching CNN.



VAUSE: A mountain climber thought the hard part was done when he reached the top of Mount Rainier in U.S. state of Washington. But then he fell nine meters through a crack in the ice.

Keith Eldridge from CNN affiliate KOMO has details.


GRAHAM PARRINGTON, MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: I was pretty happy once I realized I was unhurt and not dead.

KEITH ELDRIDGE, KOMO: Graham Parrington snapped this shot of himself after realizing he wasn't going to plunge to his death.

PARRINGTON: So for me I was just happy to be alive and now I just need to execute the plan.

ELDRIDWGE: The plan was to safely get out of the crevice dangling from a rope 30 feet down.

Parrington was part of two three-person teams all tied together. They just summited Mount Rainier and headed back down to camp. They were at the 11,000-foot level at Ingraham Flats.

When you were falling, what was going through your mind?

PARRINGTON: I'm falling in a crevasse and I can't stop myself.

CRISTOPHER POULOS, MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: Graham was chatting and in front of me. All of a sudden, poof, disappeared into the glacier.

ELDRIDGE: That's when their instincts and training kicked in.

POULOS: I spun around, dropped to the glacier and plunged my ice axe and my cramp-ons into the glacier.

PARRINGTON: And I smashed through some layers of snow that was melting and then the next you know, I'm hanging in a crevasse.

ELDRIDGE: Poulos and team mate Reed Aman finally stopped the sliding and while Poulos kept his spot, Aman peeked over the edge. Parrington was ok and fashioned a pulley system to help himself inchworm his way to the surface.

PARRINGTON: I give credit to my team for catching my fall.

POULOS: And to have him back above and to know that we were able to in some way contribute to that happening safely was a great moment.


VAUSE: Keith Eldridge from our affiliate KOMO reporting there.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. Rosemary Church takes over from me right after this.

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