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CNN NEWSROOM

Justin Trudeau Apologizes For Third Example Of Him Wearing Blackface; Iran: U.S. Or Saudi Strike Would Trigger All-out War; Teams From 20 Countries Gather In Japan; Two Million Tickets Sold, 500,000 Tourists Attending; Climate Crisis Sparks Worldwide Protests; Whistle Blower Complaint; Iran: U.S. or Saudi Strike Would Trigger All-Out War; Chilling Ad Shows Why Going Back to School Scares U.S. Kids; Flash Flood Emergency; Gloria Steinem in Push to End Korean War; Political Consequences of Russia and North Korea's Clash at Sea. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: First it was brownface, then came the black faces, and now another. But is Canada's Prime Minister's Justine Trudeau two-faced when it comes to his commitment to diversity and the rights of minorities? Also this hour --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What would be the consequence of an American or a Saudi military strike on Iran now?

JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER, IRAN: An all-out war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: A CNN exclusive, Javad Zarif says Iran will not blink in defense of its sovereignty, a clear challenge to the United States and Saudi Arabia as they consider a response to a devastating airstrike on the kingdom's biggest oil facility.

And a global day of protest. Those who did the least to cause climate crisis but will bear the biggest burden now demanding the world's adults grow up and face reality.

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.

The Canadian Prime Minister is apologizing again after a third incident surfaced of him wearing racist makeup. He says he can't remember whether there are more similar photos out there which are yet to surface. And Mr. Trudeau first apologized on Wednesday after CNN affiliate Time posted this photo of him wearing brown face in 2001 at a school party. This latest scandal is shaking up his image as a champion for social

justice as he fights for his political future in a tight reelection campaign. We begin our coverage with Paula Newton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At issue now is more than one picture or video of Justin Trudeau in dark face, brown face, dark face. As the prime minister said himself, it was racist makeup.

So there is the incident that was first uncovered which was him as a teacher at 29 years old in an Aladdin costume presumably, and then a picture of him in high school impersonating Harry Belafonte, and then another very disturbing video that shows him really being joking around and it's clear that he is in blackface.

The Prime Minister offered several apologies but also disturbing was the fact that he said he didn't know if there were more instance. Take a listen.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: People who live with the kind of discrimination that far too many people do because of the color of their skin, or their history, or their origins, or their language, or their religion face on a regular basis, and I didn't see that from the layers of privilege that I have. And for that, I am deeply sorry.

NEWTON: Now, he spoke of privilege there. That privilege included being the son of a Canadian prime minister as well. And community leaders want Canadians who go to the polls October 21st to try not to count this as winning and losing in politics and what it'll mean as a campaign, but to really see it that the systemic racism that people go through each and every day and they're hoping that out of this terrible incident that at least Canadians and others will realize that that systemic racism exists and isn't going anywhere for the time being. Paula Newton, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: To British Columbia and Canada now and Global Affairs Analyst Michael Bociurkiw. He's also the former Spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Michael, thank you for joining.

MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you. Good to be with you.

VAUSE: The big problem for Trudeau if he was with this scandal behind him is that he cannot definitively say if there are more images of him out there, you know, in this racist makeup, this blackface. Here he is explaining you know, the problem he's facing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUDEAU: I am weary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered. And I think the question is how can you not remember that. The fact is I didn't understand how hurtful this is to people who live with discrimination every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, so to that last point, among the subjects he taught was drama which seems to suggest you know, he should have at least had some awareness of the history of blackface in Canada which is just as racist, just as offensive as it is in the United States.

BOCIURKIW: Absolutely. I mean, he was a drama teacher. And especially that video it shows him being kind of foolish and playful but you know. I must say, John, it's not every day that you wake up as a Canadian and you see images flashed on the world of your Prime Minister dressed up in such an offensive type of way.

As I wrote in my CNN Op-Ed piece today is that had you asked me yesterday what kind of chances the Liberals had in the October 21st election, I would say that you probably were headed for a minority government.

But after today, even though this isn't that big of a deal in vote- rich Quebec, I'd say in this neck-and-neck race because of what happened, because of the gravity, it could very well be headed for the opposition benches. It's a huge fault in popularity and grace from where he was a few years ago.

[01:05:12]

VAUSE: It really is -- it really is his worst nightmare in so many different ways. And even before the scandal sort of broke, the opposition had been running these campaigns ads against him of you know, accusing Trudeau of being less than authentic. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions are now being raised about his competence and judgment. In response, he's again lashing out in threatening lawsuits against his critics. Justin Trudeau, he's not who you thought he was. He's not as advertised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And this controversy just seemed to play into all that perfectly. You know, essentially you know, he says he's a public champion for diversity and acceptance when he's in front of the cameras, but behind closed doors he's out there wearing blackface.

BOCIURKIW: Yes. That indicates it's a very toxic campaigning. And you know, John, I have to point out that it's actually I think the Trudeau Liberal war room that started these kinds of attack ads. What they've actually done is collected of treasure trove of very damaging social media posts of opponents.

And day after day after day especially targeting the Conservatives, their main opponents saying that this guy is racist and this guy is homophobic and is actually resulted in candidates resigning. Now, had what happened to Trudeau overnight happened to a regular candidate including from the Liberal Party, I think that candidate would have very well been packing their bags today because it seems that Trudeau still has this untouchability about him, but for other candidates, this would have been extremely, extremely grave.

VAUSE: Well, you know, conservative commentators around the world, Christmas came a little early this week. Australia's Herald Sun newspaper, the conservative columnist Andrew Bolt wrote this. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a clown prince of woke. This sanctimonious preacher declared racist don't get to define who we are as a country, yet now admits he himself was racist for posing in blackface. How we laugh to see the woke revolution now eating its own.

Over at the Fox News Channel here in the United States, there was also unbridled joy. Here he is. This is Tucker Carlson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Like your brother-in-law with the ponytail, Trudeau brags about being a feminist, used the wrong word at his presence and he'll launch into a self-righteous lecture. Justin Trudeau may be the most sanctimonious head of state on planet earth, so of course, he was leading a secret life as a racist. That's why he's so sanctimonious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Let's assume for a moment Trudeau actually does survive this and maybe he's returned with a minority government. You know, regardless, he returns I guess as a prime minister significantly weakened, he's also significantly weekend on the world stage as well?

BOCIURKIW: Oh absolutely. We've been the subject of a lot of ridicule today I think. And especially Trudeau, you know, John, I think what happened earlier on is that the Trudeau machine if you will got very high on a lot of that international coverage that you pointed to cover of Vanity Fair or that that sort of thing. So they paid a lot of attention to his image being properly molded overseas but not as much here.

The big, big question that happened here is especially what happened in the United States earlier this year with the Virginia governor and his dark face allegation is if you saw what's happening if you saw where trends are going, why didn't you come up with this earlier? Why didn't you inoculate yourself, come out with these revelations and say this happened a few years ago and it should have happened and I'm sorry. Instead, he kept it to himself.

And this is why a lot of Canadians are asking themselves who is this man, can we trust him, and what else is actually hiding behind that facade.

VAUSE: Yes. This is not over yet, not by a long shot. Michael, thanks for being with us. We really appreciate it. BOCIURKIW: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has a stark warning for both the United States and Saudi Arabia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: What would be the consequence of an American or Saudi military strike on Iran now?

ZARIF: An all-out war.

WALSH: You make a very serious statement there, sir.

ZARIF: Well, I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I'm making a very serious statement that we don't want war but we won't blink to defend our territory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh sat down for exclusive interview with Zarif who has repeatedly insisted that Iran had nothing to do with the attack which reduced the kingdom's oil output at least initially by half. The U.S. was quick to blame Iran for the airstrikes, and Foreign Minister Zarif had a lot to say about President Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH: The things that the United States has accused Iran of so far would frankly they're called an act of war. They've said that you're fired missiles from the sovereign territory and the sovereign territory of another state.

ZARIF: That's a lie.

WALSH: Understood. They've accused you that none the same. These would normally one might expect result in some kind of military retaliation. Do you believe Donald Trump is gun-shy?

[01:10:02]

ZARIF: No, I believe that he has been the subject of an attempt many times to drag the United States into a war and he has refused. In spite of the fact that I disagree with many of its policies, I think this is a prudent decision. But it doesn't mean that somebody is gun shy in order to avoid starting a war based on a lie.

WALSH: As you've said yourself, the risk potentially is all-out war if this escalated. So under what circumstances -- President Trump has said that he might negotiate, he vacillates on conditions, but under what circumstances would you or the government of Iran be willing to start negotiations?

ZARIF: Well, we did not leave the negotiating table. There is a negotiating table. That is there. The United States is welcome to come back to that -- to that negotiation. WALSH: What would they do to get back to that table?

ZARIF: Well, they have to respect their signature.

WALSH: So they have to go back into the nuclear deal to begin negotiating.

ZARIF: Because leaving that nuclear deal was not a lawful act. Because that deal is not a deal between Iran and President Obama, it's not a deal between Iran and the United States, it's a Security Council resolution.

WALSH: And the immediate days ahead where you yourself say there is a risk of all-out war, what are you willing to do in terms of negotiation? What does the United States have to do to get to talk to Iran?

ZARIF: We are willing to talk to our neighbors.

WALSH: Your neighbors.

ZARIF: Yes.

WALSH: Which means Iraq, Afghanistan --

ZARIF: Saudi Arabia, Emirates.

WALSH: But not to the United States directly.

ZARIF: We don't see any reason.

WALSH: OK. Apart from the fact that they have declared an act of war by you.

ZARIF: Whereas it wasn't an act of war against the United States, and it was as I said an agitation for war because it's based on a lie.

WALSH: If they drop some sanctions, would that encourage you to speak?

ZARIF: No.

WALSH: So even if all sanctions are lifted tomorrow, there will be no negotiations.

ZARIF: If they -- if they lift the sanctions that they re-imposed illegally, then that's a different situation.

WALSH: You would then talk?

ZARIF: Then we would consider it.

WALSH: Would you do it? Because they will be going a very long mile to lift --

ZARIF: If they -- if they drop all the sanctions that they have imposed, then it's a different story.

WALSH: Donald Trump threatened yesterday substantially -- what he said, he would impose substantial new sanctions against Iran. What is left in Iran for the United States to target? You personally have been sanctioned. What is left in Iran to be hit?

ZARIF: I don't know what. They've done whatever they could. And they haven't been able to bring us to our knees.

WALSH: So it's an empty threat?

ZARIF: I don't know. I mean, I don't want to use that terminology. No, they can hurt Iranian people. They have been hurting Iranian people. They're lying if they tell you that food and medicine is not restricted.

WALSH: You are supposed to be going to New York imminently for the United Nations General Assembly. Have you received visas and do you think you should travel?

ZARIF: Well, I think I have a right as the foreign minister of Iran. That is not my personal right but Iran has a right to be represented at the United Nations during the General Assembly at whatever level it wants to.

The United States has imposed restrictions on our staff in New York which are inhuman. They cannot even send their kids to school. They just denied waivers for our staff members to send their kids to school in New York. These are acts of childish animosity.

Now they haven't issued visas for the advance team of our president. That makes it very difficult for him to go.

WALSH: Too late?

ZARIF: Well, I'm not saying too late but it's very near to being too late.

WALSH: Do you see any merit in going?

ZARIF: Well, I mean, I see no merit in going to the United States but this is not the United States, this is the United Nations. And I see a lot of merit to be there because we believe in multilateral diplomacy. We believe in multilateralism. We believe that this -- in this day and age, you cannot resolve your problems unilaterally even if you are the United States.

WALSH: There is sort of still a sort of vague hope it seems in some American official minds that if you were in New York, there might be a quiet side-line meeting, some secret channel might be open that may be the beginning of diplomacy --

ZARIF: You don't need secret channels.

WALSH: You can rule out any discussions on the sidelines with any American officials if you were in New York. ZARIF: Yes.

WALSH: Have there been any secret talks with the Trump administration since Donald Trump took office?

ZARIF: No.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: And since that interview, Iran confirms the U.S. has granted visas for foreign minister Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani allowing them to attend the U.N. General Assembly next week in New York.

Well, just a few hours away now from the first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the excitement in Tokyo is palpable. CNN "WORLD SPORT" Anchor Alex Thomas is live this hour in Tokyo. Alex, in Japan, they've been part of Rugby World Cup since the beginning of late 1980s. Have they improved in the last three decades?

[01:15:06]

ALEX THOMAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, John, it's really exciting here now. We've got -- we're still more than four or five hours away from kickoff in the opening game. And already behind me, you can see the red and white stripes jerseys of the Japan kids that the fans are wearing, as they've walked in, the gates are open. It really feels real now on this opening day after years of planning. Japan, a safe option in terms of the organization getting the stadiums ready, the transport the infrastructure. They've got Olympic games coming up next year, obviously. But we weren't sure about the X factor, a first Rugby World Cup in Asia, could they generate the right atmosphere? Obviously, that is helped if the host team is playing well, as we saw with Russia at the men's FIFA World Cup last year, Russia doing unexpectedly well. That really helped generate a good atmosphere.

And if we take a look at Japan's history at this rugby World Cup, they're one of only two tier 2 nations that's those countries below the traditional rugby powerhouses to have played in every world -- Rugby World Cup. It dates back to 1987. It's played every four years. Didn't get their first win until the '91 tournament against Zimbabwe. And then suffered a record loss against New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, conceding 145 points.

They won three matches, though, at the last Rugby World Cup in England in 2015, showing how their then-coach Eddie Jones, who's now in charge of England had really progress the team in this country. And in fact, they're the first ever team to won three pool matches and not getting through to the knockout rounds. Their biggest scalping a victory over South Africa no less two-time former World Champions back in 2015. So, really high hopes they can get out of Pool A and get into those quarterfinals. That would really help. And, you know, it's been a really promising start from what I've seen walking around Tokyo to what is going to be a groundbreaking Rugby World Cup.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) THOMAS: Rain or shine, Japan sees plenty of international visitors,

especially here at Tokyo's renowned Shibuya crossing. But the Rugby World Cup will be the biggest global sporting event on these shores since the FIFA World Cup 17 years ago. Every continent on the planet will be represented as 20 nations bid for glory with 48 matches in 44 days across 12 cities.

Fears that the Rugby World Cup may be overshadowed by next year's Tokyo Olympics appear to have been misplaced. Teams have been enthusiastically greeted, millions of tickets have been sold, and more than half a million overseas spectators are expected, too.

This is the first Asian Rugby World Cup, so a successful tournament is crucial to growing the schools across the region. Not just here in Japan where Rugby is trying to gain ground, but more popular sports like baseball, Sumo, and soccer.

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off here at the Tokyo Stadium. And just over six weeks later, we'll have a champion. Only four countries have lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy before with New Zealand's famous All Blacks going for a third successive victory. Yes, those defending champions, John, will be the bookmakers' favorites yet again heading into this tournament. But most experts say it's the most open Rugby World Cup for years. Any of the top six in the world rankings potentially could win it. This tournament now I think being the first ever held in Asia will be judged on its atmosphere. Take a look at this bit of social media video, Japanese school kids who learn the Haka doing it to the New Zealand All Blacks.

So much passion there. They've also learned some of these school kids the national anthems of different countries. They're here to welcome the 20 nations competing who come from every continent on the planet. That'll be fun to see how it pans out over the next six and a bit weeks, John.

VAUSE: That is the coolest thing I've seen in a very long time. Those guys are great. It was a great Haka. Thanks, Alex.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, young people are on strike, thousands of events big and small, planned around the world as they send a message to the grownups that meant to be in power.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:20:00]

VAUSE: It seems to be and especially cruel twist of fate that those who caused the worst of the climate crisis, the polluters, deniers, and crass opportunists will not be around in 2040, to see the U.N. warnings come true, that a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius would cause devastating wildfires and deadly heat waves to sweep across the planet. They won't be around for the rising sea levels, nor will they know about the famine or the spread of insect-borne disease, or see millions of families displaced from their homes. And that scenario is considered optimistic because right now the stated goal of the Paris Climate accord is to keep global temperature increases below two degrees Celsius.

And after the U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from that agreement, any chance of keeping global warming below two degrees might have gone with him. And for the record, U.N. describes a two- degree increase as a climate catastrophe. If the current trend continues, barring a major scientific breakthrough by the end of the century. The world's temperature is set to increase by more than four degrees. So, to make it perfectly clear, two degrees is a climate catastrophe. Four degrees is a catastrophe on steroids. And those who did not cause this disaster, but will inherit it nonetheless, will be protesting around the world on Friday, children, teenagers and young adults who have an unfair burden and a legitimate grievance all making a simple demand for adults to act like adults.

Bill McKibben literally wrote the book on global warming, at least the very first book. He is considered one of the world's leading writers on the environment and climate change, he's with us now from Greenville in North Carolina. Bill, yet this is the thing about climate change, right? Just how unfair it is. It's not just how children and grandchildren will live through the worst of the disaster caused by their parents or grandparents. But the world's poorest nations will be the hardest hit, those with the least will pay the highest price, and the wealthy nations of the human race will be impacted the least, and they're the ones with the means to do the most.

BILL MCKIBBEN, FOUNDER, 350.ORG: The iron law of climate change is the less you did to cause it, the sooner and harder you get hit. That said, you know, every place around the world is starting to feel the effects. Today in Houston and in parts of Texas, there are people who are going to have a hard time joining this climate strike, because the center of the fossil fuel industry is dealing with one of the most massive rainfalls in its history. There are whole cities that are just completely underwater.

VAUSE: I was reading this very interesting story, The Washington Post, and here is the headline, "The dominant theological issue: environmentalist Bill McKibben wants your pastor at the global climate strike." This could be an entirely separate discussion, but you know, it comes down to this principle of love thy neighbor, don't drown them.

MCKIBBEN: Just absolutely right. And that's why today is so remarkable. This is the biggest day of climate action in the planet's history. Young people have been on climate strike for a year and now for the first time, they've asked adults to join them. So, pastors are marching, tech companies are emptying out. The early pictures from places like Sydney are empty off (AUDIO GAP) this is planet is fed up with the fact that our leaders are so beholden to the fossil fuel industry that they will not act. That's why people are out in the streets today.

[01:25:28]

VAUSE: And this protest has the potential to be, you know, that moment when the next generation claims their future. Could it also mean a day of reckoning is drawing close for those responsible for a decade or decades of inaction? You know, those who are on the payroll of the oil companies and you know, deliberately misled the public?

MCKIBBEN: We're beginning to see that happening. You know, the fossil fuel divestment campaign that so many of these young people have helped with, has led now to $11 trillion worth of endowments and portfolios pulling out of the fossil fuel industry. They're getting sued left and right, they're the tobacco industry of our time, except that where, you know, Philip Morris killed people one smoker at a time. The excellence of the world takeout entire planet.

VAUSE: Yes. You know, there hasn't been a lot of criticism of this protests with the climate strike. But well, that has been things that echo part of an opinion piece, which was in the New York Post, which argues that the kids are so being used as political props. Here's part of what was written, "It's hard to ignore that in this call for action, there is no, well, action. They're literally doing what they're urging politicians to stop doing, talking. We could have had an army of teenagers cleaning up parks or beaches instead of striking and making signs. Teens could have led the way by not using cars or plastic utensils for the day."

I'm all for clean beaches and clean parks, but at this point, that does nothing to, you know, mitigate global warming and what is needed is societal change. And that comes about when there is a mass protest.

MCKIBBEN: That's what history teaches us. The only way to stand up to people with immense amounts of money is with immense amounts of people.

VAUSE: Yes. OK, believe there will be a big day coming up on Friday. Good to see you.

MCKIBBEN: Indeed.

VAUSE: I've lost count. There are close to 5,000 events planned for 140 countries. There has been a significant turnout already in Australia, more 100,000 taking part in demonstrations in just Melbourne. And a day of action also underway this hour in Hong Kong. CNN's Will Ripley joins us now live from Hong Kong. So, Will, set the stage for us, what's happening?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John, if you can hear me, I think you just talked to us. So, we're with a -- we're with a relatively small group of climate protesters here compared to the much larger crowds that we're seeing in places like Australia, where tens if not hundreds of thousands of people are out right now, beginning what is promising to be a day of massive protests around the world. But to be frank with you, climate change is an issue that tends to draw any crowds here in Hong Kong. Certainly, nothing like the crowds that we've seen from the anti-government, pro-democracy movement that has taken over this city and crippled this city at times over the last 15 or so weeks. But the group who is out here, these dozens of people have the same messages, those scores of much larger crowds in Australia and those that are gathering across the South Pacific at this hour.

The climate change is an emergency that world leaders need to deal with right now. Particularly the area of energy, where in Hong Kong, less than one percent of the energy comes from renewable sources. These people say Hong Kong needs to get on board because everybody is affected by climate change. In fact, even here, John, just last year, we were hit with one of the strongest typhoons ever on record. And these protesters say that kind of extreme weather is going to affect life for everyone if something is not done and not done quickly.

VAUSE: OK, Will Ripley there with the protesters. Small but loud we can say and the day is still young. Will, thank you. We'll take a short break. When we come back, back to school ads usually sell kids all the excitement of starting a fresh new year full of new clothes and school supplies, but this ad is not like all the others. Up next, the important message and this public service announcement.

Also, we'll have an update on the controversial whistleblower's campaign -- complaint, rather, against the Trump administration. Here reporting on the country which was involved that's just a head.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:31:37]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for staying with us, everybody.

I'm John Vause. An update now on our top news.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he does not know how many times he may have worn blackface in the past. He apologized again on Thursday after a video clip showing a third instance of him in racist makeup. Trudeau says he shouldn't have done it and his layers of privilege gave him a blind spot on the issue.

Rallies and protests underway around the globe to draw attention to the dangers of climate change. It's organized by young people, the students to send a message to the politicians as well as the audits in power, saying business as usual is no longer an option.

And in an exclusive CNN interview with Iran's foreign minister is vowing all out war if the U.S. or Saudi Arabia launches a military strike on Iran. The U.S. blames Iran for Saturday's airstrike which wiped out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production. Iran continues to deny any involvement.

The "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" are reporting a whistle blower's complaint to a U.S. intelligence community watchdog deals at least in part with Ukraine. The story has taken a number of twists and turns over the past few days.

At first a source told CNN the whistle blower was concerned about communications between President Trump and a foreign leader, Now an official brief on the matter says the whistleblower did not have direct knowledge of the communications.

Congress wants the details but the White House and the Justice continue to stonewall.

Here's CNN's Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President is digging in his heels as the White House is blocking the release of a whistle blower complaint to Congress apparently about a conversation Mr. Trump had with a foreign leader that raise red flags with an administration official.

President Trump insists insist there's nothing to see here tweeting, "Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country. Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially heavily-populated call, I would only do what is right anyway an only do good for the U.S.A."

Even though the President says he didn't do anything wrong the administration is refusing to hand the complaint over to Congress frustrating Democrats.

SENATOR GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN: You need to have people who can come forward. Their story can be heard. They need to be protected. And if you're dealing with something of urgent concern, that needs to come to Congress.

ACOSTA: At a briefing with House lawmakers, the intelligence community's inspector general who indicated the whistle blower is male, said he disagreed with the administration's decision to withhold the information, citing a Justice Department opinion that the complaint falls outside the jurisdiction of the Director of National Intelligence and citing privileges asserted by the White House.

Democrats are worried that, if the matter ends up in court, the compliant will never be made public.

SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: They may feel that hey, we can delay. We can fight this out in the courts for a year. We can fight it out beyond the election in November of next year.

ACOSTA: The Democratic accusations of a cover-up come as the President is weighing whether to retaliate against Iran over an alleged strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility. Iran's foreign minister told CNN his country will wage war if the U.S. decides to take military action.

JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful. It will have a lot of casualties, but we won't blink to defend our territory.

ACOSTA: After describing the attack on Saudi Arabia as an act of war, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed he's trying to find a diplomatic solution. [01:35:03]

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was here in -- after diplomacy while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war to fight to the last American.

We are here to build a coalition aimed at choosing peace and a peaceful resolution, that's my mission set, what President Trump certainly wants me to work achieve.

ACOSTA: The President is engaged in stonewalling on another front filing a lawsuit to block prosecutors in New York from obtaining his tax returns.

As for the whistle blower complaint that's being kept from Congress, a senior administration official tells CNN as these leaks from his calls have angered Mr. Trump, top officials in the West Wing have begun to limit the number of people listening in on the conversations so as to tighten the circle of people in the know on what the President's discussing with foreign leaders on these calls. That means there may be only a small number of people who are familiar with the details in that whistleblower complaint.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: As Jim Acosta mentioned, the President's lawsuit to keep New York prosecutors from reaching his tax returns. Meanwhile a federal judge is looking at California's efforts to see Mr. Trump's returns as well. He's issued a temporary injunction against a new law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on a primary ballot. He's expected to make a final ruling by the end of this month.

A new public service ad shows why going back to school after the summer break in the United States can be terrifying for some kids. A warning -- it's disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, my mom got me the perfect bag for back to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These helpful binders help me stay organized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These head phones are just what I need for studying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These new sneakers are just what I need for the new year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This jacket is a real must-have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My parents got me the (INAUDIBLE) that I wanted. It's pretty cool. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This scissors really come in handy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These colored pencil is too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The are socks, they can be a real life saver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I use my cell phone to stay in touch with my mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: It's hard to watch.

The ad is from the group Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit which was formed after the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut which left 26 people dead -- almost all of them first and second graders. The organization was started by their families.

The gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing AR-15 rifles for consumers. The company says there are too many of the high-powered semiautomatic rifles already on the market. They'll keep making other guns including pistols and revolvers, (INAUDIBLE) but will produce AR- 15s for military and law enforcement only. The AR-15 and similar guns have been the focus of gun control advocates after they have been used in several mass shootings in the U.S. -- almost every mass shooting actually, including Las Vegas and Dayton, Ohio.

Torrential rain flooding streets and (INAUDIBLE). South Texas gets hit with widespread flooding. How the state is responding to this emergency, when we come back.

[01:38:24]

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VAUSE: A flash flood emergency has been issued for parts of south Texas. Evacuations have been ordered and rescues are underway in areas drenched by tropical depression Imelda. More than a meter of rain fell in one part alone.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is there

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, a deluge in Texas. Forecasters warning that what's left over from tropical depression Imelda is causing dangerous flash flooding.

Rain is inundating parts of southeast Texas with over two feet of water in half a day. Some areas have seen 35 inches since Tuesday.

The National Guard is being sent in to help evacuate people from their homes. Conditions on highways are treacherous leaving some drivers stuck in their cars. Houston's mayor is advising, if you are safe where you are stay there. SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON MAYOR: You could leave a safe place and you

get out on the road and you are putting yourself in a much more unsafe situation. So stay put.

LAVANDERA: But residents who had to evacuate say the quick rising water took them by surprise.

It was just rising and rising, and it's been like this for hours. So we just had to go.

LAVANDERA: Towns northeast of Houston are seeing the most serious flooding. In Beaumont, police say they've received hundreds of calls for rescues. Animals are also being flooded out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have another one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LAVANDERA: These ranches risked their lives to save their horses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the view from my second floor room at my hotel in Beaumont, Texas.

LAVANDERA: People staying in area hotels were wading through furniture in the lobby, as water streams in through the front door.

In nearby Vidor, Texas the first floor of this apartment complex was washed out. One resident filmed his neighbors trudging through the water to safer ground on the second floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have some people who are elderly and disabled that are still being rescued.

LAVANDERA: Many are comparing the sudden flooding from this storm to deadly Hurricane Harvey in 2017 which caused catastrophic damage to the same region of the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so much worse than Harvey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Our thanks to Ed Lavandera for that report from Texas.

Let's get the very latest now from Derek Van Dam.

So Derek -- what are we looking at here as far as, you know, Texas and the turning (ph) of the depression as well as some problems in Mexico, too, I believe?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we are tracking several storms across the planet at the moment but the most immediate storm, of course, being the remnants of Imelda that's bringing the devastating flooding to the southeast Texas region. You saw the video there from Ed's video just a moment ag. It's incredible. But I want to take you kind of an aerial photo or video of downtown Houston. This is called Buffalo Bayou. I was actually located here two years ago during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the scenes that are unveiling themselves here over the past 24 hours look eerily similar to what they experienced a couple of years ago -- not good.

You can imagine the insurance premiums are going to skyrocket after this week, right.

Well, why the season flood? There's a reason for this. Because you're looking at a satellite image from 30 years ago, I want you to see, the urban sprawl that's happened across the metro region of Houston. It has grown 650 percent.

There's actually just been an enormous amount of population growth. And what comes with population, well, concrete and pavement unfortunately to make the roadways available, and all the properties. But that doesn't allow for water to absorb into the ground. So what happens? We flood, especially when the city is so close to sea level.

And we have rainfall totals like this -- over 1,000 millimeters since the beginning of the week. Well, any location will flood but you put it into Houston, you are going to have a serious problem. That's why we have flooding scenes ongoing across the region.

[01:45:06]

VAN DAM: Now, there is some good news. The bulk of the heavier rainfall moving away from Houston. There's still flood warnings in place for Houston Metro, into Galveston, all the way to the southwestern portions of Louisiana. That will continue for the next 12 to 24 hours.

The bulk of the heaviest rainfall though for the next day or so will be located to the north and east, right around the border of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Rainfall totals there could be 150 to 200 millimeters. They haven't seen the significant rains that the southeast Texas coast has received lately but we'll try to shift those heavy rain bands a little bit out of the region there to give a bit of relief to the Houston and Galveston region.

Now, we're focusing our attention on the other side of North America. This is Mexico and we're tracking tropical storm Lorena, a hundred kilometers sustained winds. Cabo San Lucas in the path of what will likely be a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall by this time tomorrow.

You can see it moving across the region with the projected path. Let me take you there, show you what it looks like across portions of southwestern Mexico. They're dealing with flooding as well and with so much of a tourist industry across the area this is not the scene if want to see it playing out across Mexico. They too are dealing with tropical activity just like in the Gulf of Mexico -- John.

VAUSE: Derek -- thanks so much. Appreciate the update.

VAN DAM: Ok.

VAUSE: To Bermuda now, the lights are slowly coming back on after Hurricane Humberto slammed into the island on Wednesday. Leaving more than 28,000 homes and businesses without electricity, that's more than 8 percent of the island. Despite the intensity of the storm and the widespread destruction caused by winds that came in at nearly 200 kilometers an hour -- no deaths have been reported.

Still to come, Kim Jong-un was courting Russia's Vladimir Putin. But now a fishing dispute in Sea of Japan could put a little dampener on their relationship.

And Gloria Steinem on a mission of peace again. We'll hear from her when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Back in 2015, 30 high-profile women from around the world gathered on the 38th parallel which divides North and South Korea. And they made history by crossing the two mile wide demilitarized zone demanding an end to the Korean War.

At the time they were criticized for being naive or inadvertently playing into the hands of either the North or the South. But keep in mind the highly militarized crossing is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth.

Political activist Gloria Steinem was among those who made history that day and she is with us now. She has returned to South Korea, part of a peace form, "Let's DMZ". And she's with us from Seoul.

Miss Steinem, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

GLORIA STEINEM, ACTIVIST: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ok. 2015 seems like a lifetime ago but it was only three years after your protest we saw the latest with North and South Korea making their own crossing over the DMZ, and they declared very publicly an end to all war on the peninsula.

It was an incredible moment. And has there everybody -- a lot of attention, or at least not as much attention as it should have. But it was a moment, do you think in some ways sort of you're crossing paved the way for that.

STEINEM: Well, I don't know whether it paves the way but I know that we never could have imagined that the chiefs of states would be shaking hands just three years later.

[01:49:51]

STEINEM: Our crossing was quite controversial if you remember but we were trying to say with our own physical selves, that this was crossable, that families had been divided for decades and decades. That the war was punishing millions of people. And I hope, I hope that we created a slightly different feeling that allowed chiefs of state to come together.

VAUSE: And also what seems to sort of be under the radar at the moment, is that since that meeting between, you know, Moon and Kim, talks have continued at an inter-governmental level. And this might be just the way these two sides end this war, you know, we should have officially ended (INAUDIBLE).

STEINEM: Yes. I think that we have discovered that to use an image, peace is like a tree. It does not grow from the top-down. It grows from the bottom up. So we are trying to express, as are millions of others and especially here in Korea both North and South, that the war has been artificial and unnecessary as a militarized event for a very, very long time.

And I'm hoping that our own U.S. Congress will declare an end to this war and a bill has been introduced as of three months ago.

VAUSE: What's interesting is that South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that nuclear talks between President Trump and Kim Jong-un could start again at the end of the month.

There hasn't been a lot to show for those talks since they restarted back in 2018. I'm just wondering how you see it? Is it worth -- those talks taking place in and of themselves? Or are they spinning their wheels and should they, you know, have gotten -- have mark it set down for achievements along the way?

STEINEM: You know, it's not for me to say what is going on in their heads. but I think I don't have a lot of faith in the role of Trump, who was not a democratically elected leader. And I think, he's not very well-versed in this conflict.

So we are hoping that by our popular bottom-up kinds of democratic peace movements that we can create an atmosphere in which even if he does not act, Congress will act.

VAUSE: You say many times that when you get into these peace negotiations when women are involved and, you know, the evidence bears this out, a deal is more likely, and that deal is more likely to last. I guess there are no women involved in the negotiations at the highest level between Washington and Pyongyang.

But there are a lot of women in congress and a record number in fact. So do you -- how crucial do you think their role in, you know, what the U.S. should be doing next when it comes to, you know, a peace deal for the Korea Peninsula?

STEINEM: Well, I think it is crucial because we have seen in terms of studies whether it's in Ireland, or Liberia, or in any other places that women have been the first to move for peace, and that the involvement of women has made it more likely to achieve an agreement and the agreement has been more durable.

It isn't that we are smarter or better than male human beings, but I think we don't have our masculinity to prove, if you know what I mean. So we are more likely to be able to talk to each other, to compromise, to have a kind of different, less hierarchical idea of leadership and, of course, women bear the greater punishment for violence of all kinds which is why now for the first time, that we know of on earth, they're actually fewer females than males because of all the violence against women.

VAUSE: One point about women in these negotiations, they often listen to each other a lot better than men, too. That's important.

Gloria -- it was great listening to you. Thank you so much for being with us.

STEINEM: Thank you so much. Thank you.

VAUSE: A rare confrontation on the high seas between Russia and North Korea after North Korean fishermen were accused of poaching in Russia's economic zone. This incident could have major political fall out.

Brian Todd has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What you're seeing is rare footage of a real life warning shot. A tense confrontation at sea, not between the U.S. and an enemy, but between two of America's biggest adversaries.

The footage is from a Russian security vessel approaching what the Russians say is one of 13 North Korean fishing boats they stopped. Russia's security service, the FSB says the North Koreans were caught poaching in Russia's fishing zone off its east coast.

Vladimir Putin's government is now holding the fishermen accusing them of attacking and wounding four Russians.

[01:54:56]

DEAN CHENG, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think what makes this potentially unprecedented is there haven't been many reports of North Koreans wounding Russian coast guards.

TODD: The Russians say they've taken more than 160 North Korean crew members into custody. Analysts say the confrontation has likely angered Vladimir Putin who just a few months ago hosted Kim Jong-un at a summit in Vladivostok. The two cold-war allies pledging their affection for one another.

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): I came to Russia with the warm feelings of our people.

TODD: There was even talk between the two leaders of Putin becoming an intermediary between Kim and President Trump. But now experts say the incident at sea could be a big set back for the young dictator in Pyongyang. CHENG: Losing Putin would force North Korea really to rely only on China an that's a situation that at the end of the day makes North Korea really even more isolated.

TODD: The confrontation with the Russians also reveals the desperate plight of North Korean fisherman. U.N. sanctions over Kim's nuclear program prohibit the regime from selling seafood to other countries so experts say Kim's government pressures fishermen to sell their catch on the black market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're having to rendezvous with foreign vessels in intel waters and essentially sell their catches on the high seas so it can be relabeled as Japanese or Chinese or Singaporean fish.

TODD: That means going further and further out to sea in rickety poorly equipped boats.

In recent years, some fishing boats, so-called ghost ships, suspected to be North Korean vessels have washed up on Japanese shores with only human skeletons on board.

North Korean fishermen are more than willing to risk starvation and death analysts say, because of the almost unattainable quotas they're given by Kim's regime.

How much pressure would these fishermen have been under to produce more and more and more.

ROBERT KING, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO NORTH KOREA: The pressure is incredible in terms of that. They're sent out, if they're not. If they don't catch what they're supposed if they're behind. If they lose control of the boat, they will be punished.

TODD: Analysts say if North Korean fishermen grow more desperate we can expect more confrontations like this on the high seas. They say that might especially occur early next year during the competitive crab fishing season. The North Koreans are not allowed to reap that harvest because of sanctions.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWROOM.

I'm John Vause. Please stay with us.

Natalie Allen takes over for me right after a short break.

You're watching CNN.

[01:57:21]

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