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CNN NEWSROOM

New CNN Poll: Warren Surging, Biden Slipping; Saudi Diplomat: Trump Pressed Ukraine to Investigate Biden's Son; "Act of War" If Attack Launched from Iran; North Korean Defector Found Dead with Her Son; Israel's President to Begin Talks with All Political Parties; Police, Demonstrators Clash in 16th Week of Hong Kong Protests; Trump's Homeless Solution May Cause More Problems; U.N. Mobilizes Young Activists at New York Summit; UNGA to Address Overheating World. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired September 22, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, the race for the Democratic Party nomination tightens as a new poll shows Elizabeth Warren slightly ahead in Iowa.

Also the whistleblower mystery: Joe Biden reacts, slamming President Trump and calling allegations against his family a smear campaign.

Also Israel's political stalemate: the president holds talks with top political leaders today. We'll go live to Jerusalem for the latest on that.

From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: Thanks again for joining us.

There is a new leader in the race for the Democratic nomination in the critical early voting state of Iowa. A brand-new CNN/"The Des Moines Register" poll shows Elizabeth Warren has surged there, right past Joe Biden; 22 percent of Iowa caucusgoers say they back Senator Warren, while 20 percent back former Vice President Biden.

Keep in mind the 2 points between them is within the 4-point margin of error, meaning it's anyone's race right now.

Voters got to hear from the candidates firsthand Saturday at an event called the Iowa Steak Fry. Jessica Dean is in Des Moines with that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seventeen candidates, 10,500 steaks here at the Iowa Steak Fry. Voters here very engaged, here to listen to all of the candidates and really see who might fit with them.

They were here to listen to everyone, even in the midst of some pretty heavy rain here at the end. We have new CNN/"The Des Moines Register" polling, showing a tightening race here in Iowa with Elizabeth Warren at 22 percent and Joe Biden at 20 percent.

When you factor in the margin of error, they are essentially in a dead heat. But we do see the tightening race right there at the top. We also heard from Senator Cory Booker today. He was making a plea to his supporters. He needs $1.7 million before September 30th to really find a viable path forward in this race.

So he was really calling out to his supporters saying if they want to continue to have him in this race, he needs that money to continue forward. We will see what the rest of the month brings for Senator Booker.

Back here in Iowa, again, people really engaged as that polling also beared (sic) out. They are looking for someone that aligns with their values. But more than anything, they are looking for someone who they believe can defeat Donald Trump in 2020 -- Jessica Dean, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: As he campaigns in Iowa, Joe Biden is defending his family and demanding an investigation into U.S. president Donald Trump. He is seething after reports the president tried to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Biden's son, Hunter. Here was the former vice president on Saturday.

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JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here's what I know. I know Trump deserves to be investigated. He is violating every basic norm of a president.

You should be asking him the question, why is he on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader, if that's what happened?

That appears what happened. You should be looking at Trump. Trump is doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum and he is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me. Everybody looked at this and everybody that looked at it said there's nothing there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: The Trump team has suggested Biden used his position as vice president to shield his son from an investigation involving a Ukrainian energy company. But to be clear, there is no evidence of that and the allegations have been discredited.

Those reports that the White House tried to press Ukraine on the Bidens stemmed from a whistleblower complaint in the U.S. The inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community deemed it credible and urgent. But the president tried to dismiss it as a partisan witch hunt. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House.

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JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donald Trump is striking out at this whistleblower complaint that he's now facing. And the president is turning to a very familiar playbook, the, same one that he used when he was faced with the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

That investigation, the president referred to as the Russia witch hunt. Now as the president faces this whistleblower complaint, he's calling it the Ukraine witch hunt, insisting that it is being fueled by the media, being fueled by Democrats

And he's also going after the credibility of the complainants even though the president says he doesn't know the identity of that complainant. He's insisting this is a political hack job, calling the whistleblower "a partisan," even though he has no evidence to back that claim up.

[05:05:00]

DIAMOND: That also flies in the face of the fact that the intelligence community's inspector general, who was appointed by the president, confirmed by the Senate, has given credibility to these allegations by disagreeing directly with the acting Director of National Intelligence's decision not to share that complaint with Congress.

Writing in a letter to congressional leaders that he does feel that this complaint matches that urgent notification threshold. This issue is sure not to go away this week and the acting Director of National Intelligence is set to testify on Capitol Hill later this week.

The president himself will be meeting with the Ukrainian president on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly -- at the White House, Jeremy Diamond, CNN.

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ALLEN: Ukraine's foreign minister tried to defend the call with Mr. Trump Saturday but he stopped short of saying it didn't involve the Bidens. Here's some of what he told local media.

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VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Our president has a right to talk to another president the way this conversation remains confidential. If someone believes that our president is being put under pressure they have to prove it.

I know what the conversation was about and I think that there was no pressure. There was sock (ph) conversations are different. Leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist.

This conversation was long, friendly and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: For more, CNN's Matthew Chance joins me live from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

Matthew, what have we gleaned from these comments by Ukraine?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these were comments made to a local media organization by the foreign minister, as you said. Actually, I'm standing at the presidential administration compound in the center of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

For the past several days, we have been trying to get some official comment from anyone close to the president, from the president himself, President Zelensky. They are being absolutely tightlipped about it. They're still hammering out their strategy I think about how they are they are going to handle this, the extent to which the foreign minister was speaking on behalf of the presidential office.

But I can tell you this, which is they are absolutely mortified in this building behind me at the idea that Ukraine has once again been dragged into the toxic environment of U.S. politics because the United States, for Ukraine, remember, is the single most important strategic ally that the country has.

Kiev depends on Washington not just for diplomatic support in its ongoing battle with the Russians over Russian-backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea but also for military aid, for financial aid and for other areas of assistance.

And so they absolutely do not want to say anything that's going to jeopardize their relationship with President Trump, the incumbent U.S. president. But they are equally mindful of the fact that there is an election in 2020 in the U.S. and they have to preserve a relationship moving forward in the years ahead with whatever administration takes over whether it's President Trump or possibly Joe Biden, which is a possibility.

So it has left them kind of paralyzed and walking a tightrope about how they should handle this latest controversy.

ALLEN: Yes.

About that paralysis that you mentioned, what does that mean perhaps for the Ukrainian president still set to meet with President Trump at the U.N. next week?

Do you expect that will happen?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, it is still meant to be happening. You have to remember that since his inauguration in May, the President Zelensky here in Kiev has been lobbying hard to get a face-to-face meeting with President Trump. It's been on and off a number of times.

They finally got some face time with the U.S. president on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next week. But you know, it is going to be overshadowed at the moment by this scandal. And that's something that the Ukrainians are I think probably very upset about.

ALLEN: All right. Thank you so much, CNN's Matthew Chance following the story from Kiev. We appreciate it.

Let's talk more about it now with Amy Pope. She joins me from London. She is an associate fellow at Chatham House and former deputy Homeland Security adviser at the White House.

Amy, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

First up here, what do you make of the measured responses we heard from Ukraine to local news?

But our Matthew Chance saying it is impossible to get official comments from Ukraine at this time.

What kind of situation could you imagine Ukraine is in with this?

AMY POPE, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, I don't really think it is fair to be putting the Ukrainian president or their government into this position, frankly, especially because there are transcripts of their conversations. There are people who heard and witnessed the conversations.

[05:10:00]

POPE: There are answers to this that don't involve them. They are in a no-win situation. They can't put themselves into the U.S. domestic politics. That doesn't end well for them. They do in fact, rely on support from the United States.

And as we know, Russia has been an aggressor in Ukraine in the past and they have not taken their eyes off of Ukraine. So Ukraine needs to leave this within the United States and I think walk the line they have been walking.

ALLEN: Well, while in the U.S., questions continue to swirl around whether a sitting president, Mr. Trump, asked a foreign government, Ukraine, to investigate a presidential candidate.

If proven, what could it mean to Mr. Trump?

Biden says it appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power. Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail brought up impeachment again.

POPE: It is very damaging if this is true. This is once again President Trump putting his own personal political interests ahead of national security interests.

We all know why Ukraine is of importance strategically to the United States. And so to put them into a compromised position by not giving them the aid, if they don't go and investigate another political candidate, that's incredibly dangerous and reckless in terms of national security issues.

But it also demonstrates that the president is willing to push the envelope. The campaign finance laws that are at issue here are of concern, in addition to our national security. And this president has not demonstrated that he understands and appreciates the law.

ALLEN: Well, let's stay on the campaign trail. The Democratic candidates have been in Iowa, the first test in the nation. Elizabeth Warren has come out on top in our latest poll, Biden hanging in at second.

What seems to be resonating with Warren with her message, do you think?

POPE: It's hard to tell. This is a question of whether this is the populism we have seen already playing out in the United States. What we have seen is that President Trump came, built his campaign around populism.

But in real life, his populism was more for the plutocrats, for the most wealthy than it was for the people. So now you see Elizabeth Warren bringing a variation of that message to the campaign. And we'll see how it resonates. But it's early days, this is one state. There are still 12, 13 months to go. So it's hard to extrapolate too much from it at this point.

ALLEN: That's true. Historically, Mr. Biden has not done that well in Iowa in his previous campaigns. But he does seem to get more focused when he talks about President Trump. Case in point, this weekend he said he would beat him like a drum in the election.

But do you think at all Mr. Trump's allegations against Biden and his son with the Ukraine situation could hurt Biden?

POPE: Well, there's absolutely no evidence for it. So that's what's interesting here. You have the president, who could very quickly clear up allegations about his own wrongdoing by releasing transcripts, by allowing people to testify before the relevant committees of Congress.

But instead of taking the most straightforward route to ending this problem, he tries to shift blame onto his own counterparts in the election.

So I think this is once again a situation where you have the president of the United States failing to do the right thing on behalf of the American people and on behalf of our national security to advance his own political interests.

ALLEN: We appreciate your insights, Chatham House associate fellow Amy Pope. Thank you, Amy.

POPE: Thank you. ALLEN: Iran insists it did not attack Saudi oil facilities last week. But Saudi Arabia is holding them responsible and suggests it could amount to an act of war. We'll talk more about this developing story in a moment.

Plus, the fight for a better life ends in tragedy. Hundreds demand answers and changes after a North Korean defector dies in the South with her young son.

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ALLEN: Saudi Arabia is intensifying its rhetoric against Iran after blaming the country for the attack on its oil facilities. Riyadh now says it would consider the strikes an act of war if an international investigation finds they were launched from Iranian soil.

Tehran denies any involvement. But the Saudi minister of state of foreign affairs isn't buying that. He tells CNN Iran has become more aggressive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: The United States is sending a few hundred troops here, missile batteries.

Is that really enough to guarantee 100 percent protection for your vulnerable sites?

AL-JUBEIR: The United States and Saudi Arabia are close allies when it comes to the defense relationship and I believe the United States sending equipment now and the details of this are really with our ministry of defense.

But I believe that this situation will be assessed on a continual basis and adjustments made when needed.

ROBERTSON: Iran seems to detect that Saudi Arabia is in a weak position. The foreign minister there, Javad Zarif, said in effect that Saudi Arabia was willing to fight Iran down to the last U.S. soldier. That implies he thinks you can't stand up to them.

(CROSSTALK)

AL-JUBEIR: No, it confirms that he said many outrageous and outlandish things and frankly laughable things. We and the United States have been allies for eight years and we have fought many wars together. We have spilled blood, your blood and our blood together. Saudi Arabia always carries its weight, so the United States are not reckless when it comes to wars.

With war as a last resort, it's the Iranians who are reckless in engaging in such behavior.

ROBERTSON: Javad Zarif says that Iran isn't responsible for the attack, that he is willing to talk to Saudi Arabia.

What do you say to him?

AL-JUBEIR: He and other Iranian officials have said a lot of things that are frankly not correct, if not outright lies. So to say that they're not responsible for this or didn't do it is outrageous.

ROBERTSON: But if they're saying that then potentially they could do this again.

What happens then?

AL-JUBEIR: With regards to what they're saying, either Mr. Zarif is not telling the truth or he is not aware of what his government is doing.

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ROBERTSON: What do you think?

Do you think that they are split?

AL-JUBEIR: We know that there is a part of the Iranian government that projects an image of wanting to talk to the world. But they don't seem to have influence and there's another part that wants to expand the revolution and take over the region.

And they don't want to talk. So it's like two faces of the same coin.

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ROBERTSON: From your assessment, who is winning at the moment in Iran?

AL-JUBEIR: I can't establish this for a fact but what we've seen is that Iran's aggressive behavior has increased not decreased. Iran said to the region and to the world energy supplies have increased, not decreased.

ROBERTSON: But the hardliners are on the --

(CROSSTALK)

AL-JUBEIR: It appears so.

ROBERTSON: So what do you want Iran to do now?

And if their politicians are in New York this week to represent the country, what can they do?

AL-JUBEIR: We want Iran to behave like a normal nation. We want Iran to stop being a revolution and be a nation state and we want Iran to stop interfering in the affairs of other countries and supporting terrorist groups and we want them to stop providing ballistic missiles to terrorist groups.

And we want them to make sure that they are never in a position to acquire a nuclear weapon. We want to be good neighbors. We want to have good relations with Iran.

[05:20:00]

AL-JUBEIR: We want to trade with them.

But we can't do this if all we get from them is death and destruction. For 40 years we have tried to extend our hand in friendship to the Iranians and all we got was death and destruction.

ROBERTSON: And right now, their top politicians, President Rouhani, the foreign minister, Zarif, are going to be in New York.

What value are the conversations they have if they don't represent the country?

AL-JUBEIR: I think that the Iranians need to hear a united and a firm message from the international community that this behavior is not acceptable and this behavior must stop.

ROBERTSON: They've heard that message before, they've heard that very loudly.

AL-JUBEIR: They need to hear it more and there needs to be action --

(CROSSTALK)

AL-JUBEIR: -- appeasement with Iran does not work. For example, trying to set up a parallel financial payment system is appeasement. Trying to give them a line of credit is appeasement. It just emboldens them. The Iranians have to know that there will be consequences to their actions.

ROBERTSON: But their message has been behavior and changes toward Iran, like the United States pulling out of the JCPOA, the joint nuclear deal, to try to get a better deal and to try to get control of the missiles, to try to push the timeline on all those horizons.

HAs that blown up and backfired because what we've seen is, from your assessment, the hardliners are on the rise and more aggressive behavior. And you're suffering for it.

AL-JUBEIR: Iran is feeling the pressure of the sanctions, no doubt.

ROBERTSON: Are you feeling the heat of that pressure?

This attack on your country, if you are right, that Iran did this, you are feeling the heat of that pressure?

AL-JUBEIR: Yes, but we do not engage in appeasement. We will do whatever it takes to protect our country and our citizens and our residents and our facilities. And we will work with our allies in order to ensure that this happens. ROBERTSON: Are we on the threshold of a military response, do you believe?

AL-JUBEIR: We do not want war. The U.S. doesn't want war. But it's really up to the Iranians. If they continue along this path, then they risk the possibility of military action but nobody wants war. Everyone wants to resolve this peacefully. And the end result has to be an end to Iran's aggressive policies.

ROBERTSON: I don't see the difference at the moment, if you don't mind me saying, of Iran producing these weapons and then waiting for an investigation to find out where they were fired from because surely it all amounts to the same thing, that you're going to come to the same point.

Eventually, are you playing for time by saying that we're investigating right now when you perhaps have a very strong inclination?

AL-JUBEIR: We hold Iran responsible because the missiles and the drones that were fired are not only against Abqaiq and Khurais but also from Yemen were Iranian built and Iranian delivered missiles.

So we hold them responsible.

(CROSSTALK)

AL-JUBEIR: To launch an attack from your territory, if that is the case, puts us in a different category.

ROBERTSON: What's the different category?

AL-JUBEIR: This would considered be an act of war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Meantime, Iran is pushing back against U.S. pressure after Washington said it would send more troops to Saudi Arabia to help defend it. At a ceremony in Tehran, marking the start of Iran's war with Iraq, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani warned foreign troops in the Gulf can destabilize the region.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We announce to the world that the presence of foreign forces can be problematic and dangerous for the region. For international waterways, for maritime security, for oil and energy security. But our path and our way is creating unity in coordination with the region's countries.

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ALLEN: Mr. Rouhani is set to take part in the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York. He said Iran would inform the assembly of a plan to secure the Gulf with the help of other nations. Well, right now we will take you to Hong Kong. You're looking at crowds of pro-democracy protesters, dragging a Chinese flag on the floor of a shopping mall, possibly spraying paint on it, dragging it around some more, stomping on it.

This happened earlier as hundreds of protesters crowded in the center of a shopping mall, causing disruptions for stores they claim are pro- Beijing. Police have apparently cleared out the mall and most of the crowds.

Although some masked demonstrators are still there. This is the scene right now inside the entrance to a public transportation station. Vandals have been overturning trash cans and ripping down signs. Sticky notes formed a swastika on the floor. We will continue to bring you developments on CNN as we follow this there in Hong Kong.

A mother risked everything to escape the poverty of North Korea, dreaming of a better life in South Korea. But earlier this year, she and her young son were found dead. Reportedly, they starved to death. Paula Hancocks has our story.

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PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are believed to have starved to death in a land of plenty, a North Korean defector mother and her 6-year-old son are remembered by hundreds who never met them.

Eventually violence erupted. Han Sung-ok fled the brutality of North Korea in 2007. Years later, she left her husband, looking for sanctuary with her son in Seoul but they never found it. In July, police found the body of Han and her son in their home with no food in the house.

The responding officer said he suspected starvation. Kim Yong-hwa helped Han come to South Korea from China. Last year she called him to ask for his help in securing monthly financial support from the government.

KIM YONG-HWA, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (through translator): She went to the welfare office but was denied help because she didn't have her divorce papers.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Han told Kim her ex-husband would never help her get the papers. He says she then hung and that was the last time he heard from her. Kim says after hearing the news, he thought of his decision to rescue her.

KIM (through translator): Why did I bring her here from her farm?

Even in rural China, you don't die of starvation.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Kim Jong-a (ph) didn't know Han but she knew her story because it could just have easily been her story. She fled the North. She was sold to a Chinese farmer, eventually escaping to the South to raise her son alone.

"When I decided to look for a job," she says, "I couldn't go to job interviews with a child on my back. The welfare office told me that if I sent my child to day care, the welfare support would be cut off the same day."

Kim says the government also underestimates the deep-set trauma many defectors arrive with. The welfare office told CNN that there's no record of Han seeking welfare support, though they do have a record of her visit last year.

The unification ministry has apologized for the deaths earlier in September and admits there are blind spots in the defector welfare system, which they are working on. For this mother and child, it's too late -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Next here, we take you live to Jerusalem, as the question remains, who gets to decide who forms Israel's next government following an election.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our headlines this hour.

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ALLEN: The president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, has a lot on his plate. In the coming hours, he is set to launch talks with all the political parties elected to Israel's parliament to try and form a government. Our Sam Kiley is standing by in Jerusalem for us.

That might be easier said than done there, Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot easier, Natalie. This is just the very first beginnings at 5 o'clock today, Mr. Rivlin, the Israeli president, will first see Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the interim prime minister, if you would like.

He has been in that role in this cycle of politics since he failed to form a coalition back in April. Now we have had another round of elections. The elections are showing with almost every vote counted that neither the Likud Party led by Mr. Netanyahu nor Blue and White led by Benny Gantz can put together a majority bloc.

We have got Gantz is on 57 seats. That is the target figure, 61. And Netanyahu at 58. Key in all of this will be the choices of Avigdor Lieberman, who only has eight seats. He is ideologically probably closer to Mr. Netanyahu. But his instincts would probably tend toward the center left of Mr. Gantz.

In either case, what Mr. Rivlin will be doing is trying to figure out who is most likely to put together a functioning government. It is not automatically the man who is leading the leading party, if you would like.

Key to Mr. Gantz's future also will be the predominantly Arab Joint List. They have 13 seats. And it's very problematic for them to incorporate or to be incorporated in a formal coalition because that could drive away Mr. Lieberman.

So lots of fine-tuning and horse trading and poor Mr. Rivlin will have to listen to this and go through the arithmetic and figure out whether or not Israel can finally get a government to function.

ALLEN: Right, it is complicated. It doesn't seem like there is a solution in sight.

How is this going over with the Israeli people?

KILEY: The Israelis are very used to this. There is a degree of frustration. But not the level I have to say that outsiders might have attributed to the Israelis.

For example, in the second round of elections this year, one might have imagined a bit of election fatigue. But the turnout was up by 1.5 percent, particularly in the Arab sector.

Israeli Arabs make up 20 percent of the population here. They may well have been galvanized -- and a lot of them said they were -- by what was described frankly as a racist approach taken by Mr. Netanyahu.

[05:35:00]

KILEY: Raising the specter of a large Arab turnout, much as he did back in April of this year. That may have meant the extra turnout came in part from the Arab community.

But there is still a great deal of interest, a great deal of the agonizing over this and the agonizing process people went into when they were about to cast their votes. This could be the election that starts to define the next 50 years of Israel's future.

It really is boiling down particularly from Mr. Lieberman's perspective as a fight between a secular Zionist democratic future on the one hand, he would argue, and the other, one that continues to be dominated, in his view, by a right-wing bloc that relies very heavily on some ultra conservative, ultra religious elements.

So that is one of the schisms in this very vibrant democracy.

ALLEN: Very interesting. Glad you're here to explain it and not me. Sam Kiley for us. Sam, thank you very much. All right. The homeless problem in California continues to grow with no end in sight.

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DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It means it can happen to anybody.

SHAWN PLEASANTS, HOMELESS LOS ANGELES RESIDENT: It can happen to anybody. It's not someone else's problem. It's a problem we all could face.

ALLEN: We will tell you about President Trump's plan to clear out the homeless and why those affected by it are not all on board.

Also ahead here, the kids are all right. How young people around the world are demanding action on climate change and going head to head with world leaders.

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[05:40:00]

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ALLEN: For the third time this hour, we are taking back live to Hong Kong. This again another protest, the 16th straight weekend of these in Hong Kong. This is the scene inside the entrance to a public transportation station connected to a mall.

Police have apparently cleared out most of the crowds. This happened just recently although some masked demonstrators are still there. Vandals, as you can see, have been overturning trash cans and ripping down signs. Sticky notes on the floor formed a swastika. You will see that in just a moment as the camera pans, I believe to the left.

Earlier, some demonstrators trampled a Chinese flag. Other protests are happening in train stations and streets across the city. Stay with CNN as we continue to bring you developments in the hours ahead.

Well, the homeless crisis in the state of California has President Trump reportedly calling for a roundup of homeless living in tent cities and placing them in a federal building for shelter. But not everyone on the streets is willing to go along with that plan. Our Dan Simon talked with some people who live on the streets.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): Ever since he was a young boy in Texas, Shawn Pleasants had promise. A valedictorian in high school, he got into Harvard but chose Yale, majoring in economics. Wall Street beckoned, then came his own business.

PLEASANTS: My own -- all of my decisions and choices, good and the bad. SIMON (voice-over): Today, he is homeless, living on the streets of Los Angeles.

SIMON: It means it could happen to anybody?

PLEASANTS: It could happen to anybody. No one -- it's not someone else's problem. It's a problem we all could face.

SIMON (voice-over): Amid squabbles with his cofounders, the income dried up. And then he lost his rock: his mother and the problems got worse.

He is one of 60,000 homeless in the county of Los Angeles.

PLEASANTS: You'll find musicians, you'll find -- you know, there's the photographer over there. The problem is with the cost of housing.

SIMON (voice-over): They all live in a small tent city in L.A.'s Koreatown neighborhood, dwarfed by gentrification that has taken over the area.

A quarter of the nation's homeless now live in California, from L.A.'s Skid Row to the streets of San Francisco. Drug needles litter the sidewalks and crews are routinely dispatched to clean up human waste, mere blocks away from some of the biggest tech companies in the world.

TRUMP: What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country --

SIMON (voice-over): President Trump may be on the verge of a major crackdown. According to "The Washington Post," he is considering a directive to have the tents swept up, with the homeless moved to an unused government building. Critics point out that such an action would not only be illegal, but counterproductive.

MIKE DICKERSON, KTOWN FOR ALL: The idea that we're going to force people into a facility that's probably located in a very remote area, is not a solution.

SIMON (voice-over): Mike Dickerson cofounded a homeless advocacy group. He says a better solution for Trump would be figuring out how to build more affordable housing and providing better services, whether it's mental health or connecting people to jobs.

DICKERSON: Often, it is not framed as an issue of compassion, of trying to get people housed, but more as an issue of, we need to get these tents off the street.

SIMON: How would it strike you if all this stuff was just kind of removed, you folks were taken to some other place?

PLEASANTS: Then I would leave that other place immediately.

SIMON (voice-over): Shawn, 52 years old and married to another homeless man, doesn't want to be confined by the rules of a shelter.

SIMON: You just stretch your body?

PLEASANTS: Exactly.

SIMON: This is where you sleep?

SIMON (voice-over): He has both a laptop and a cell phone. He's been occupying this space in Koreatown for six years and has been homeless for a decade. He admits to being a regular meth user.

But spending just a few hours with Shawn, he still possesses that intellectual curiosity that took him to the Ivy League.

PLEASANTS: I would prefer to be somewhere where I can still go to the library when I want to and go there and do the things I need to do.

SIMON (voice-over): But then there's the reality of life on the streets.

PLEASANTS: Every time you sleep, that's when you lose. That's when people come and take your things. I'm a heavy sleeper, I lose a lot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: A sad story. Dan Simon our reporter there.

In June, Mr. Trump signed an executive order which created a new council to explore ways to make housing cheaper by changing laws and regulations.

Next here, an overheating Earth. Activists all fired up to do something about it from all corners of this Earth. But the leader of the free world, President Trump, he is skipping the next climate summit. We take a closer look at the situation next.

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ALLEN: The climate crisis will be at the top of the agenda when the U.N. General Assembly's new session kicks off Monday. They have already heard from a panel of youth, who are urging world leaders to find solutions for the overheating Earth. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg described what they have been doing.

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GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Yesterday, millions of people across the globe marched and demanded real climate action, especially young people. We showed that we are united and that we young people are unstoppable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Some 60 countries are expected to make new commitments at a high-level summit on climate change. But the leader of the world's biggest economy won't be there. U.S. president Trump is skipping the climate gathering to lead his own session on religious persecution.

Again, as we just heard from Greta there, this is a day after the massive climate change protests we saw around the world, led by young people who have the most to lose if the world keeps heating up, the children. Our Bill Weir has more about it.

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BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: With crowds big enough to choke world capitals...

THUNBERG: We need to do this now.

WEIR (voice-over): -- and more intimate protests in countless places in between, millions rallied for Mother Nature and against the human nature that's making her sick. It will go down as the biggest one-day environmental protest in history. Leading the way, the smallest among them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so amazed about how many youth came out. It is so empowering.

THUNBERG: This is the biggest climate strike ever in history. And we will not just stand aside and watch. We are united behind the science and we will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse.

WEIR (voice-over): It was about a year ago when Swedish teen Greta Thunberg turned her depression over the climate crisis into action, striking from school and shaming every grownup who would listen.

It was lonely at first but not anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeing her has really empowered me and made me know what I had to do to fight the climate crisis.

THUNBERG: I am from Sweden.

WEIR (voice-over): The teen activists were on Capitol Hill this week, at times arguing with Republican Congress men.

JAMIE MARGOLIN, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: That is shameful and that is cowardly. And there is no excuse to not take action.

WEIR: It only fired you up more. It feels like it fueled more of this.

MARGOLIN: It did fuel up more of this. And I saw after the testimony I got so much amazing responses on social media. And more people turned out to the strike because of it. They were telling me, I saw your testimonial and I'm going to strike. So it is amazing to be able to turn a situation of frustration into one of hope and action.

WEIR (voice-over): But the day drew more than just children.

WILLIAM REILLY, FORMER EPA HEAD: This is Jolene (ph) and this is Katarina (ph).

WEIR: Nice to meet you all.

(CROSSTALK)

WEIR (voice-over): William Reilly was the head of the EPA under the first President Bush, worked for Nixon when public support for the environment was bipartisan. But he worries those days are gone.

REILLY: The prospect that it's already too late to avoid 2 percent to 3 percent centigrade increase is undeniable. I think that's going to happen.

WEIR (voice-over): There's no debating it was big. But when it comes to changing laws and human habits, was it big enough?

The young organizers would say it is way too early to tell.

THUNBERG: We're not just some young people skipping school or some adults who are not going to work. We are a wave of change.

WEIR (voice-over): They vow that this is just the beginning -- Bill Weir, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: It was powerful. And her words are powerful. Let's talk more about it with Dr. Michal Nachmany. She's with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, joining me from London.

Good morning, Michal. I want to ask you first up, the movement we saw on Friday, all of these young people and some adults taking to the streets, millions worldwide.

The question is, is it enough to make change, this galvanizing moment?

MICHAL NACHMANY, GRANTHAM RESEARCH INSTITUTE ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Good morning. I agree with Greta and her amazing colleagues and everyone around the world, who is saying it is probably too early to know.

What we do see is over the nine months since the climate strikes have begun, we have seen this growing and rising to the top of world agendas. If the U.N. secretary-general in the summit starting tomorrow will not allow on the podium countries that are opening new coal-fired power plants, then this is a change. If 87 of the world's largest companies sign today to a commitment to

reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050, including along all of their value chains, we are seeing progress.

If investors who are holding about half of the world's publicly traded wealth are committing to investing along a 1.5 degree trajectory, we are seeing change.

ALLEN: So you expect that to happen?

NACHMANY: Those are things that have already happened.

ALLEN: OK.

NACHMANY: These are things that have already happened. Today these companies have announced.

ALLEN: Great.

NACHMANY: The investors signed the investor agenda. This has already happened. The fact that we are speaking about this at the top of every news hour is making a difference.

ALLEN: I hope so. China, U.S., Europe, they're the leading smog polluters. The U.S. president is skipping the summit. He skipped the climate meeting at the G7. He is also working to block California from cleaning up its air.

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ALLEN: It seems to be President Trump versus clean air in the state of California. He has rolled back all kinds of environmental protections.

Is his reluctance to act, though, a threat to stave off this climate change?

Can the world go it without President Trump?

NACHMANY: I think it's pretty remarkable now that when we think about how leaders are working against their own citizens and working against what is obviously one of the greatest threat -- or fighting the greatest threats society has ever faced, it is pretty remarkable.

I think there are great powers at play that leave some hope here. There is an economic tipping point right now because renewable energy is becoming cheaper all over the world.

And if Trump is continuing to rely on his friends in the fossil fuel industry, who he is subsidizing at an outrageous level, I would say, I think it is no shorter than outrage, this is on the way to ending because it doesn't make economic sense anymore to do this.

And I think greater forces around the world are understanding this is hopefully only a matter of time until this is reversed. ALLEN: We hope so. We so appreciate your expertise on this. We will definitely talk with you again hopefully after the U.N. summit. Dr. Michal Nachmany, thank you so much for joining us.

NACHMANY: Gladly.

ALLEN: We want to take you back to Hong Kong. This is a live video. Just want to make sure. Moments ago. The 16th straight weekend in a row of protests. This is the latest example of the violence we have seen. Fires started in the street, strewn with trash cans and other barricades.

People at a shopping mall were seen smashing displays, overturning trash cans and ripping down signs. Even sticky notes formed a swastika on the floor as they continue to fight for democracy. Also some demonstrators trampled a Chinese flag.

As you can see right here, they take their furor to the streets. Many people showing they are not going to let up to put the pressure on Hong Kong for change. We'll continue to follow it.

For U.S. viewers, "NEW DAY" is next. And I'll have the headlines for everyone else.

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