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United Nations to Focus on Climate Change and Iran Tensions; Trump Peace Team Meets with Benny Gantz; Trump Arrives at United Nations to Questions About Ukraine. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 23, 2019 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump returns to the world's biggest stage, addressing the United Nations General Assembly here in New York tomorrow.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: If -- it is the president's third General Assembly. And with tensions rising between the U.S. and Iran, the stakes are, again, very high. The president will almost certainly mention Iran when he addresses the U.N., but says that he will not meet with Iran's president.

Our Nic Robertson joins us from the United Nations. I think we know the president is going to bring up Iran. The question is, what do the Saudis want to hear from the president, and will he deliver?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They believe that what President Trump says and does is absolutely critical to how Iran responds in the coming days and weeks. They believe that there's a real possibility, if President Trump doesn't remain tough on Iran diplomatically -- not militarily, but diplomatically -- then there's a real possibility, Iran will feel -- the hardliners in Iran will feel that they have the space, still, for another strike on Saudi Arabia.

Now, of course, Saudi Arabia is not publicly blaming it on the Iranians. But certainly, that is the understanding behind the scenes. They made the weapons, and there's a long chain of evidence that's being built to bring in -- that's being shown to international investigators, particularly the Europeans, the United States, part of that, to being a broader political support behind the Saudis, to essentially isolate Iran.

So watching President Trump on this is critical because if he equivocates, all that falls apart.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, he's getting some criticism even from Republicans here: Lindsey Graham, saying that the U.S. deterrent has been undermined --


SCIUTTO: -- by the lack of military response.

Nick, all the world leaders, getting together today to discuss climate change. Trump won't be there. Why?

ROBERTSON: He always believes to -- well, he always avoids getting that in the -- in the conclusions from the G7 and the G20, from all these global meetings. He eschews that, he doesn't seem to buy into it. He doesn't want to put the United States in a position of supporting the Paris climate change agreement because he believes it disadvantages the United States against other countries, who he believes are still -- are much worse carbon polluters.

You don't have President Xi from China, you don't have President Putin of Russia here either. But this is a very strongly clear message, we've heard it today. It's an apocalyptic future if this isn't tackled, we've just heard that from the secretary-general of the United Nations.

No doubt about it, climate change is on the agenda here politically --


ROBERTSON: -- it's important, it's resonating --


ROBERTSON: -- and with the young, it's resonating, too.

HARLOW: I mean, even the administration's, you know, National Bureau of Economic Research came out with a study that talks about the dramatic impact of climate change on economic growth. And Steven Mnuchin, yesterday, to Jake, said he doesn't think it's a real report, so --

SCIUTTO: Ask the U.S. Navy, too. It's on their website.


SCIUTTO: They're dealing with climate change, but this administration will not.

HARLOW: Nic Robertson, thank you.

Big few days ahead. You'll be there tomorrow.

SCIUTTO: I will indeed.


SCIUTTO: Hundreds of thousands of travelers, they're stranded around the world. This, after a major British travel company completely collapsed. Thomas Cook says it has 600,000 customers on vacation now. Look at those crows there, 150,000 from the U.K. alone. The British government, chartering planes to help get its citizens home. What a travel nightmare. HARLOW: Wow. Thomas Cook had been in business for 180 years. The

company is blaming its collapse on a series of problems, including -- this is important -- the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

SCIUTTO: That is interesting. Well, there's a lot going on today. Here's some of "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 11:30 a.m. Eastern, President Trump speaks in New York; 12:30 p.m. Eastern, Acting DHS secretary speaks with Council on Foreign Relations; 8:15 p.m. Eastern, Bernie Sanders holds rally in Clinton, Iowa



HARLOW: All right. When we come back, a heartbreaking story. An American couple's romantic vacation comes to a tragic end: what we are learning about the Louisiana man who died right after he did this to propose to his girlfriend.


HARLOW: The president of Israel is meeting today with Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, hoping to end the political deadlock after this do-over election.

He started the meeting last night with the political parties to see who they recommend to lead the country as prime minister.

SCIUTTO: CNN correspondent Oren Liebermann, he's in Jerusalem following the election. You have this remarkable dynamic here where the Arab List, the Arab parties, for the first time, recommending --


SCIUTTO: -- first time since 1992. But the trouble is, the math doesn't add up yet, does it?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it doesn't add up for anybody. Not for Benjamin Netanyahu and for Benny Gantz. Israel's president wrapped up a meeting with all of the political parties, trying to figure out a way out of this political mess. And one doesn't seem apparent, either for Benjamin Netanyahu or Benny Gantz or, frankly, for the entire country.


So he's invited both Netanyahu and Gantz tonight, to see if there's something he can work out, something he can figure out. Because, in his words, Israel doesn't want a third election and the country clearly voted for unity government. But it doesn't seem any obvious way out of this one.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration's peace team is in Jerusalem. They met, for the first time, with Benny Gantz in what they called a cordial discussion. It is their first time meeting with someone other than Netanyahu in the opposition, and perhaps it signals that the Trump administration realizes they have to look at the possibility of working with somebody other than Netanyahu.

Back to the other point you made. The Joint List, which is made up of Arab parties, throwing their weight behind Gantz is certainly significant, the first time in 27 years they've endorsed a candidate for prime minister. What happened in '92, that they chose to do so? Well, that was Yitzhak Rabin, who campaigned on a platform of peace with the Palestinians.

That they've endorsed Gantz is significant. Gantz, obviously, the head of a pro-Israel Zionist party. What was their reasoning for doing so? They say, first, they want to oust Netanyahu, but it also signals a major change. It signals that the Arab parties and Arabs in Israel are looking to have a much greater part of the civic discourse here, and be a part of the political processes that guide the country.

Netanyahu's Likud Party blasted the Arab parties, saying they are opposed to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, keeping up the same anti-Arab rhetoric that we heard throughout the campaign -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Far too often, and in previous campaigns as well.


SCIUTTO: Oren Liebermann, good to have you on the ground there.

HARLOW: All right. A man from Louisiana drowned after proposing to his girlfriend while they were vacationing in Africa.

SCIUTTO: Listen, this is such a sad story. Steven Weber, there, and Kenesha Antoine were staying in a wooden cabin with a bedroom submerged beneath the ocean off the coast of Tanzania.

Weber swam underwater, holding a handwritten note -- you could see it there, inside a Ziploc bag -- asking her to marry him, and then he took out a ring in a box. The sad news is, he never returned to the surface. Weber's sister says he was so in love and wanted to use this trip to propose.


MANDY WEBER HOFFMAN, SISTER OF STEVEN WEBER JR.: Obviously, the trip has been planned for, you know, almost a year. And they were very much looking forward to it. And we knew that he wanted to propose to her, and decided that this was the most wonderful time to do it, the trip of a lifetime, and really wanted to surprise Kenesha with this proposal.


SCIUTTO: Poor guy, poor girl, just so sad, to see those smiling faces there. The resort where they were staying says that local police are now investigating Weber's death. [10:42:28]

Well, the actor George Clooney and his business partner are fighting for what they call the looting of South Sudan. They sat down with CNN's Nima Elbagir to talk about the new campaign to fight that corruption there. A live report from London, next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- concerned about impeachment, sir?



TRUMP: I don't know what you're saying.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How seriously are you taking -- how seriously are you taking the impeachment talk --


TRUMP: Not at all seriously.


TRUMP: Perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine. Everybody knows it, it's just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again. They failed with Russia, they failed with recession, they failed with everything and now they're bringing this up.

The one who's got the problem is Biden. Because you look at what Biden did? Biden did what they would like to have me do, except for one problem. I didn't do it. What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace. The son took money from Ukraine, the son took money from China, a lot of money from China.

China would love to see -- he would -- they could think of nothing they'd rather see than Biden get in, because they will take this great deal that we're about to make, and they would really have themselves a deal (ph) for themselves.


TRUMP: Let me just tell you, let me just tell you. What Biden did was wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- did (ph) you tell the Ukrainian president about Joe Biden and his son during your phone call?

TRUMP: Well, you're going to see. Because what we are doing is, we want honesty. When we deal with the country, we want honesty. And I think with the new president, you're going to see much more honest in the Ukraine. And that's what we're looking for.

We're supporting a country. We want to make sure that country is honest, it's very important to talk about corruption. If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?

One of the reasons the new president got elected is, he was going to stop corruption. So it's very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption. Very important.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- clear this up by releasing the whistleblower reports, then (ph)?

TRUMP: Quiet.

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you going to meet with Kim Jong Un?

TRUMP: Could happen soon. Could happen soon, it could happen soon.


TRUMP: -- thank (ph) you (ph), everybody.


HARLOW: The president of the United States, taking a few questions. He is in New York, he is at the first day of the U.N. General Assembly there. And, Jim, he was again saying he did nothing wrong on his conversation with the Ukrainian president. And then, accusing Joe Biden and his son Hunter of, you know, making inappropriate moves while offering zero evidence.

SCIUTTO: To be clear, the president, repeating a claim about a possible opponent in the 2020 election, repeating claims and charges without evidence, we should make that clear. And the president, using a very lofty pulpit there, as it were, at the United Nations.

That appears to be the president's tack on this. He also said, prior to that, everybody does it, when asked about that Ukraine call. It's a Democratic witch hunt, they're doing it again.


We're going to be right back. The president, as we noted there, arriving at the U.N. there, at the General Assembly, gets under way here in New York. We'll be right back.



HARLOW: Television's biggest stars were out last night for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards.

SCIUTTO: The night gave viewers a dose of politics with Patricia Arquette calling for trans rights in a tribute to her late sister. And there was also an historic moment as Billy Porter became the first openly gay black man to win lead actor in a drama category for his role in "Pose."

HARLOW: Last night's big winner? "Game of Thrones," despite what some saw as a lackluster final season. The HBO megahit claimed the top drama prize.

Stephanie Elam joins me now. I know I'm not supposed to say this on, you know, TV: You looked amazing last night, Steph (ph). I can say that about the Emmys, right?


SCIUTTO: Of course you can say that, yes.

ELAM: I'll take it. I mean, I'm flattered. Thank you very much.

HARLOW: You got it, hon.

ELAM: Put (ph) some work into it.

There were a lot of beautiful people on the purple carpet last night, and you also saw a woman who was wearing a very beautiful purple dress, and that was Alex Borstein. And these are some of the moments from the show.

She is the actress who won supporting actress in a comedy for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." But she got up there and talked about why it was even phenomenal that she was standing there. Take a listen to what she had to say.


ALEX BORSTEIN, WINNER, EMMY FOR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: To my mother -- where are you, (INAUDIBLE) -- to my grandmother, Naji (ph), they are immigrants, they are Holocaust survivors.


My grandmother turned to a guard -- she was in line to be shot into a pit. And she said, what happens if I step out of line? And he said, I don't have the heart to shoot you but somebody will. And she stepped out of line. And for that, I am here. And for that, my children are here. So, step out of line, ladies. Step out of line.



ELAM: Huge family legacy that she shared, there on the stage with her win. Another moment, again, with something based on reality: "When They

See Us," Jharrel Jerome was one actor people kept talking about. Like, he could win this category as a lead actor for his portrayal of Korey Wise, one of the Central Park Five, now known as the Exonerated Five. He plays both the child version and the adult. Take a listen to what he said with those five men in the audience.


JHARREL JEROME, WINNER, EMMY FOR LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES: But most importantly, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five.


It's for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin, and (INAUDIBLE) Korey Wise.



ELAM: And you see that right there on the left, in the black and white jacket with the red shirt, that's Korey Wise, the man he portrayed. He had tears coming down his face, you could feel it.

Also worth noting, too, that this category, he was up against Mahershala Ali, which everyone thought he was going to win. But they were co-stars together in "Moonlight." So I'm sure it was also really exciting. You can see Mahershala was on his feet, applauding him when he won.

And as far as the big winners, yes. "Game of Thrones," winning for the drama category. And you also have "Fleabag," sneaking in there and depriving Julia Louis-Dreyfus of her win in the final run for "Veep," but a lot of momentum behind "Fleabag."

And Phoebe Waller-Bridge, people are just loving her. She's also creator of "Killing Eve" as well, so lots of love for that show, they walked away with four Emmys for that show as well.

SCIUTTO: That is a great show, by the way. Have you watched --

HARLOW: I know, you keep telling me.

SCIUTTO: -- "Fleabag"? It's an awesome show.

HARLOW: I've got to watch it, like --

ELAM: It's so good.

HARLOW: -- yesterday.

ELAM: You've got to watch it.

SCIUTTO: I give her all (ph) her (ph) streaming ideas.


HARLOW: I have a lot to watch, Steph (ph).

ELAM: The first episode.

HARLOW: Someone else can --

ELAM: -- that (INAUDIBLE) right there.

HARLOW: -- put my kids to bed and I'm just going to watch Netflix tonight.

Quickly, before you go, Steph (ph), no host. And I think what's interesting about that is, is that that allows so much of the focus to be on those impassioned speeches and those really important moments.

ELAM: Right. The whole idea, I think, is, like, let it breathe. We saw the Oscars do it earlier this year, and it worked for them. I think a lot of people are feeling like it didn't work so well for the Emmys last night.

There was an interesting bit where they have Homer Simpson come out, sort of, and then he goes away. Really funny bit with Ben Stiller and Bob Newhart, who's an American treasure. That was really, really funny.

And then Stephen Colbert along with Jimmy Kimmel, talking about how, you know who has a host? Applebee's has a host. Because both of them have hosted award shows before, they were hilarious together.

So those were some funny moments. But the Emmy commentator who was up there and giving some -- he called himself the Sherpa between commercial breaks and such, looks like a lot of people didn't enjoy him as much. And he had a rough night.

HARLOW: Rough job, tough job.

ELAM: It is a tough one.

SCIUTTO: Stephanie, not a bad assignment.


SCIUTTO: We'll take that next year.

HARLOW: Thank you. Let's switch for a day.

ELAM: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: Thanks, Steph.

So Prince Harry, his wife, Meghan, and their 5-month-old son, Archie, are on their first overseas family trip.

SCIUTTO: The duke and duchess of Sussex arrived in Cape Town, South Africa this morning. The company (ph) met with singing and dancing. Prince Harry will visit four African countries over the next 10 days,

including Angola, where you may remember his mother, the late Princess Diana, famously walked in 1997 to bring attention to the dangers of land mines. That had enormous global impact. The duchess and 5- month-old Archie are going to stay in South Africa.


HARLOW: All right, thank you so much for joining us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.