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Whistleblower: Trump's Ukraine Call an Abuse of Power; U.S. to Provide More Military Support to Saudi Arabia; U.K. Prime Minister Called Out for Language in Parliament; Prince Harry to Honor Diana's Legacy in Angola; Taliban Threaten Saturday's Presidential Vote; Fans Celebrate 50th Anniversary of 'Abbey Road'. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

[00:00:23]

Coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM, cover-up allegations what White House get after Donald Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president. That's coming under fire.

Also, Iran issues a challenge to those who say it was behind the attack on Saudi oil facilities. We'll take you live to Tehran for that.

And Prince Harry retraces his mother's footsteps through the minefields of Angola.

Thank you again for joining us. We begin in Washington. Donald Trump has been in many tight spots in his career, but the one now engulfing the Trump White House may be his toughest yet.

Mr. Trump has reacted in typical fashion, not disputing the facts, except with four-letter words like "fake," "hoax," and "scam." Instead, he's verbally attacked the messenger, hinting at a grim fate for those who spilled the beans about his phone call with Ukraine's president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to know, who is the person who gave the whistleblower -- who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information, because that's close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days, when we were smart, with spies and treason? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Congressional Democrats were horrified by the president's comment, denouncing it as witness tampering. For more on this unfolding scandal, here's CNN'S Jessica Schneider in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Allegations of a White House cover-up as details of a whistleblower's complaint are revealed.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. It's a great honor.

SCHNEIDER: Among the key allegations: not only did President Trump seek Ukraine's help and interference in his 2020 reelection campaign, but the White House subsequently took steps to keep it quiet.

The seven-page now-declassified complaint says after the president's July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, in which Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden and his son, the whistleblower learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to lock down all records of the phone call. White House officials told me they were directed by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in with such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization and distribution to cabinet-level officials.

Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. The whistleblower saying that move "underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired on the call, because of their belief that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain."

And the whistleblower also disclosing, officials said, this was not the first time that a presidential transcript was placed into a separate electronic system.

JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think the whistleblower did the right thing. I think he followed the law every step of the way.

SCHNEIDER: The acting director of national intelligence under fire for not sharing the August 12 complaint with Congress within seven days, a move Democrats say was mandated by law.

Maguire, who called the situation unprecedented, consulted with the White House counsel and the Justice Department first, concerned Mr. Trump's call with the Ukrainian president was covered by executive privilege.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Why you chose to go to a department led by a man, Bill Barr, who himself is implicated in the complaint, and believes that he exists to serve the interests of the president, not the office itself, mind you.

MAGUIRE: We consulted with the White House counsel's office and were advised that much of the information in the complaint was, in fact, subject to executive privilege, a privilege that I do not have the authority to waive.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans lashed out at Democrats who questioned Maguire's integrity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've accused you of breaking the law.

MAGUIRE: I am not political. I am not partisan.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans are also trying to question the credibility of the whistleblower.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): On page one, the complaint reads, quote, "I was not a direct witness to most of the events described." This seems like a very important line to look into.

SCHNEIDER: Maguire explained he does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and no one within the White House or the Justice Department have asked him to disclose the identity.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Did the president of the United States ask you to find out the identity of the whistleblower?

MAGUIRE: I can tell you emphatically, no.

[00:05:03]

SCHNEIDER: But one Republican did call out the president for his phone call with Ukraine's president.

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): I want to say, to the president, this is not OK. It is -- that conversation is not OK, and I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Meanwhile, there are growing questions about how the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Bill Barr, who of course, was mentioned in that July 25 phone call, how the DOJ handled the whistleblower's complaint, and the DOJ's decision not to open a full-blown criminal investigation into potential campaign finance violations stemming from that phone call.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Well, let's talk more about these developments and bring in political analyst Michael Genovese. He's president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. And CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell. Good to see you both.

Of course, much to break down here. Josh Campbell, the author of "Crossfire Hurricane," about the -- the Trump administration. Josh, first up. The president lashed out angrily after this hearing. He worked to discredit the whistleblower, although the former director of national intelligence claimed -- James Clapper said on our air earlier it was the most compelling whistleblower report he has ever read. What do you think of it?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, it's definitely compelling and striking in the sense of the level of detail. This is, essentially, a White House whistleblower saying that there was a cover-up inside the White House, following an effort by the president to seek -- attempt to seek help from a foreign government to assist him in a foreign election.

And what's striking is that two months ago, nearly to the date, Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified in front of Congress and closed the books on his investigation into alleged election interference with the Russians. And here we are, nearly two months later, talking about the same White House dealing with another foreign government, trying to seek foreign assistance.

It is damning and what has been, you know -- as we continue to get new information what's been so striking is the level of detail that's coming up, not only about the cover-up but this level of obstruction, even inside the U.S. Justice Department. Not getting this was whistle -- report to Congress initially, as it was supposed to be. It seems as though it's taking this great pressure to dislodge anything to get to the Congress, which is so troubling, because they are the only body that can actually hold this president accountable.

ALLEN: Right. And this whistleblower report is now declassified. It's on the cover of newspapers. All Americans can read it. I want to ask you, Michael, what you make of Mr. Trump's response to all of this. He's angry. He went on the defensive. And he still indicates he did nothing wrong, vis-a-vis his phone call with Ukraine.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, one of the problems for President Trump is that he's lost control of the narrative, and that is now out of his hands. He's now having to react. Instead of being the one who's doing the punching, he's being punched. He doesn't like that position, and he's rattled and he's really off his game.

But his response to what I'm calling Ukraine-gate -- I think I coined that phrase -- has been uncharacteristic of President Trump. If you saw him in the last two days, he's been hesitant; he's not been forceful. It seems like he's almost on Valium, he's just so clearly depressed and -- and angry.

ALLEN: But he's always said, because he knew the Democrats would come to this somehow, some way, and they did because of this whistleblower.

To you, Josh. We also know the White House apparently knew these calls to Ukraine were wrong. They were unsettling. And they tried to hide the information. How does this look for the White House?

CAMPBELL: Yes, it looks terrible, especially in light of new information that we're getting.

Now what only -- what transpired, we know that there was this transcript that was released by the White House, documenting this call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine.

Reading that rough transcript for ourselves with damaging, in and of itself. Now we're learning that the White House took steps, according to this whistleblower, to take that information and put it into a highly-classified system that's reserved for the highest classification of information that's protected, that's relegated to a small group of people.

And the allegation here is that they knew that it was damning, because they knew that the president was allegedly trying to to accept foreign interference. But they wanted to hide that and shield it, and moved it into the secure system, which we wouldn't know about but for this whistleblower coming forward.

The thing that is yet to be seen is what will happen to this whistleblower. We already have seen the president engage in the same kind of campaign of attack that he did going after Robert Mueller and the FBI during the Russia investigation. I think that they are going to try to destroy this person.

But at the end of the day, I think it's important for your viewers to understand this is someone who didn't come out and leak information. He went through the proper protocols to report suspected wrongdoing involving the U.S. president.

ALLEN: Well, Michael, it took two years for Watergate to bring down President Nixon, but this is a fast-moving issue here before President Trump. There is a report, a transcript.

Do you expect a long, protracted investigation here? And will the U.S. public have an appetite for that? And how important is public opinion in this procedure, this process?

[00:10:14]

GENOVESE: Well, first of all, Watergate was drip, drip, drip. It was slow; it took time. We had a chance to really absorb everything, think it through, process it.

This has been boom, boom, boom. It's happened quick; it's happened fast. And it as -- it left a lot of people in the White House shell- shocked.

And so the next battle, since we have this incredible narrative, we have a story, we have a lead to follow, so the next question is will the public be interested? Will they follow? Or are they war-weary over the battles of Washington D.C.?

You know, the hyper-partisanship that we've seen for the last several administrations has really, I think, turned a lot of people off the politics. And it may very well be that they simply say these are just two warring tribes, and let's just not even -- let's just not even pay attention to them having their little in-flight.

The problem is, this is about some essential things. It's about the corruption of the United States national security system for the personal gain of one person, the president of the United States. We need to pay attention to that. Abraham Lincoln once said, power doesn't corrupt, it reveals. What does this reveal about President Trump, and what does it reveal about us? ALLEN: Right. So Josh, last question to you. As a former FBI

investigator, what else in this document do you want to hear about, and what do you think will be compelling to the American people?

CAMPBELL: Well, something that was so interesting in this document, and there are many important points, but what I want to know is what were the recollections of the additional witnesses that this one whistleblower talks about?

He says that there were others that were privy to this information, some of which may have heard some of this alleged criminality firsthand. We can bet that members of Congress will be seeking to subpoena those people, to get them before Congress, to interview them.

What's different from this investigation, when we compare it to the last one involving Russia and the President Trump campaign, is this one doesn't necessarily involve the FBI and the Justice Department from a criminal investigation standpoint. And that's why that took so long, nearly two years. I think, I suspect that we're going to see this move very rapidly, with Congress now underway with their impeachment inquiry. We can expect that they will be hauling witnesses up. And that would be the key question that I have. What do these -- what do these people know? When did they know it? And, you know, do they have information that the American people deserve to hear?

ALLEN: We thank you both for your insights. We'll certainly be talking with you again as this story unfolds. Josh Campbell, Michael Genovese, thanks so much for joining us.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

ALLEN: For the second time in less than one week, the U.S. has announced more military support for Saudi Arabia. This is in response to the attacks on those Saudi oil facilities earlier this month.

The Pentagon says it will boost the kingdom's air defense with a Patriot missile battery, radar systems, and about 200 support personnel.

Both Washington and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia blames Iran for the strikes. Iran again denies it was behind this attack and is challenging its accusers to prove it. At a news conference in New York, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said those making accusations must back up their claims with evidence. He also reiterated that Iran is going to resume talks with the U.S. if sanctions are lifted.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us live from Tehran.

Fred, we certainly have heard that stance from Rouhani before, and he is sticking to it.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he certainly is sticking to it. He offered a few more details. It was quite interesting news conference pretty long it's an hour-long he, took questions from many news outlets, even some controversial questions as well.

But of course, you're absolutely right. Everything centered around whether or not there was any sort of chance for talks to resume. And some of the things that he was asked by reporters is whether or not he'd be willing to talk to the Trump administration while he was still in New York, whether or not Iran might be willing to do that, even if not all sanctions are lifted. And he certainly did stick by his guns, as you say, saying, look, the U.S. needs to come back to the nuclear agreement, and then we can talk about other things.

Now, of course, one of the interesting things that the Iranians have been saying is they've been telling the U.S., look, if you want more out of this nuclear agreement than what we've already given, than what was negotiated in the original nuclear agreement, then you're going to have to really be willing to give up more, as well.

That's one of the things that the Iranians have been floating, really, we know around the U.N. G.A. this year and also before that, as well, where they're saying maybe some sort of agreement could be reached where there was a permanent freeze on sanctions by the United States, also ratified by Congress, as well.

And in return, the Iranians would allow, permanently, inspections into their nuclear program. That's something that they say they'd be willing to look at. However, with that caveat, as you've put it, that the U.S. would do what it says it needs to do, as well.

[00:15:06]

So certainly, the Iranian president very calm there in his news conference, very much willing to listened to all those questions, but very much also sticking by his guns, and saying that, certainly, there would be no talks between the U.S. and Iran, as long as the U.S. does not come back to the nuclear agreement, as he says, full implementation.

One of the interesting things that I saw is where the Iranian president was saying that there are preconditions for talks right now. As you know, President Trump keeps saying that he's willing to talk without preconditions, Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes, I want to ask you one more thing, Fred, about this, as far as the nuclear deal. What can you tell us about Rouhani confirming that the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, report that Iran has started using advanced models to centrifuges to enrich uranium?

PLEITGEN: Yes. Very important point. That's certainly something where the IAEA report came out, and they said that Iran was now using these advanced centrifuge. And Hassan Rouhani basically said, look, that's nothing new. There's nothing new about that. The Iranians are saying that this is something that they have said before. This is something that they've announced before, and the Iranians have been saying, that step-by-step, they're going to reduce their commitments to the nuclear agreement, if as they say, other parties don't remain committed to the nuclear agreement.

They're saying, look, the Europeans are saying a lot about giving us credit lines. Europeans are saying a lot about buying things from Iran, but simply right now, that isn't happening. And as long as that doesn't happen, the Iranians are going to continuously reduce their own commitments to the nuclear agreements.

And the Iranians have said that this is part of what they call this third stage of reducing those commitments. They say they can go further than that, but Hassan Rouhani also said that, if some sort of agreement is really -- is reached between the Europeans, the Iranians and possibly the Americans, as well, then everything the Iranians are doing right now can be reversed.

And they can obviously shut off those centrifuges, and possibly, who knows, maybe destroy them, as well, if that's something that would be required.

But they're saying right now the Iranians are moving ahead. They say they are still in compliance with the nuclear agreement. But they also say that step-by-step, they're going to scale that compliance back, and these advanced centrifuges certainly are part of that, as well -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. We'll wait and see the U.S. response to these developments and his comments there. Fred Pleitgen for us, inside Tehran. Fred, thank you.

The United States will admit up to 18,000 refugees in the upcoming fiscal year. That is an all-time low for the nation. Every year, the U.S. sets a cap for how many refugees it will allow into the country. The number has fluctuated according to world events.

But the Trump administration has been chipping away at the refugee gap since 2016, when it was 85,000. It was lowered to 54,000 in 2017; 45,000 in 2018; 30,000, 2019; and now just 18,000 in 2020.

Well, sorry seems to be the hardest word for Boris Johnson. The British prime minister facing calls from a furious Parliament to apologize for controversial language.

Plus, Princess Diana advocated for clearing land mines in Angola. And now decades later, Prince Harry is following in his mother's footsteps.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:20:52]

ALLEN: Welcome back.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is defending his words after being denounced in Parliament for inflammatory rhetoric. Speaking to the BBC, he responded to the criticism he received for repeatedly calling legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit The Surrender Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Fair enough, to call The Surrender Act what it is. I think it's absolutely reasonable. But you're also right, Peter, that we do need to bring people together and get this thing done. Tempers need to come down, and people need to come together, because it's only by getting Brexit done that you're actually -- lanced the boil, as it were, of the current anxiety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- last night?

JOHNSON: Well, I must respectfully differ about what was said. There are two separate things.

First is, obviously, it's totally intolerable for MPs, particularly female MPs, to be on the receiving end of abuse and threats.

But then there's a separate question, which is what is it OK to say in the Parliament, in a metaphorical way, to describe a certain bill. And The Surrender Act is a bill that actually makes it impossible for the government of this country to decide how long it must remain in the E.U.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: For all his explaining, Boris Johnson has not spoken the one word that Parliament wants to hear.

CNN's Melissa Bell has that for us in London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a very rowdy first session back in the British Parliament on Wednesday, there were calls this Thursday for an apology from the British prime minister.

Lots of criticism this Thursday morning, more broadly, about his tone, and about the narrative that's been coming from the government benches, of a situation of the Parliament versus the people, as the country heads towards that October 31st deadline for Brexit.

One Labour MP in particular, after the prime minister got back to the dispatch box yesterday, referred to the murder of Joe Cox, the Labour MP who was killed three years ago during the Brexit referendum campaign by a man with mental health issues and right-wing views, this is what the Labour MP had to say.

PAULA SHERRIFF, BRITISH LABOUR M.P.: -- dangerous or inflammatory language for legislation that we do not like. And we stand here, Mr. Speaker, under the shield of our departed friend, with many of us in this place, subject to that death threats and abuse every single day.

And let me tell the prime minister that they often quote his words, Surrender Act, betrayal, traitor. And I, for one, am sick of it. We must moderate our language. It has to come from the prime minister first. So I would be interested in hearing his opinion. He should be absolutely ashamed of himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, here.

JOHNSON: I think Mister Speaker -- I have to tell you, Mister Speaker, I -- I have to say, Mister Speaker, I've never heard such humbug in all my life.

BELL (on camera): That reply from Boris Johnson proving particularly controversial. Calls for an apology from within the House of Commons this Thursday but also from the continent, with a number of officials within the European Union saying that they're watching with growing alarm the sort of language that is coming from the government, language that many feel can often turn into real violence and cause real danger and concern.

For the time being, no hint of an apology or any sort of repentance from Boris Johnson, as M.P.'s and the government look ahead to how this question of Brexit will now be resolved between the Parliament on one hand and the government on the other.

Melissa Bell, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Now we turn to Prince Harry and his historic trip, retracing his mother's steps through a minefield in Angola. It was one of the next stop on his ten-day African tour.

Princess Diana, you may recall, made the removal of land mines a primary focus of her humanitarian work. She visited Angola just a few months before her death and never got to see the full outcome of that work. But Harry will, as our royal correspondent, Max Foster, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice-over): Twenty-two years after Princess Diana's visit they're still finding and destroying land mines in Angola.

Victoria has no memory of the princess. She doesn't even remember the brutal 27-year civil war. But it's up to her to remove its lethal remnants. She's one of the best at it, chosen to meet Prince Harry.

The pace is painstaking. They clear just 40 square meters, per de- miner, per day. Next to a village where children cross tracks that hundreds of mines were once laid to protect, a generation that didn't live through the country's dark past, but whose lives are still shaped by it.

Manuel and his cousins were picking mangoes when they picked up a metal object. He and his cousin lost their legs. Their other cousin was killed in the blast.

ERMELINDA RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER OF MINE VICTIM (through translator): The war ended a long time ago. a lot of people passed by that spot and never found it. It had to be on the day when the children were there.

FOSTER: More than 1,000 minefields remain across the country, a constant threat to an innocent population.

VALDEMAR FERNANDES, HALO ANGOLA OPERATIONS MANAGER: We don't produce ammunitions and mines in Angola. All these kind of items came from abroad, in other countries. I mean, western countries.

FOSTER: There's plenty of progress here, too. The minefield where Princess Diana walked is now a busy street.

And throughout Angola, Fernandes's organization, HALO Trust, has cleared close to 100,000 mines, in large part, he says, thanks to Princess Diana.

FERNANDES: She made the donors to be aware that the international community is also part of this problem.

FOSTER: At the hospital visited by a princess, and now by a prince, the head surgeon is surprised by how very unroyal it all seemed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think that rarely will a child follow the mother's steps, but if he is following his mother's steps, he will also show humility, because he will also feel in his heart the suffering of the victims who are here.

FOSTER: Humility he hopes will once again lead to action, so that his country can finally declare itself land mine free.

Max Foster, CNN, Huambo, Angola.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: And Max will continue to follow Prince Harry's trip across Africa.

Well, Harry's cousin, Princess Beatrice, is engaged. Buckingham Palace says the princess and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi are getting married in 2020.

The property tycoon proposed earlier this month during a trip in Italy. Beatrice is the oldest child of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Well, the talk of impeachment is growing louder in the U.S. Congress, Democrats now laser focused on President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president and what was behind it. We'll have more about that ahead here.

Also, the Taliban threatening suicide bombings and rocket attacks as the people of Afghanistan prepare to vote in a presidential election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:31:01] ALLEN: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top news this hour.

Iran has again denied it was behind the attack on Saudi oil facilities. Both Washington and Riyadh claim Tehran did it, and just days ago, so did France, Germany and the U.K., but Iran is saying prove it.

The United States has responded by sending a Patriot missile battery and additional support to Saudi Arabia.

Democratic leaders in Congress have accused U.S. President Donald Trump of witness tampering after Mr. Trump suggested it was treason to tell a whistle blower the details of his phone conversation with Ukraine's leader.

Meantime, the acting head of U.S. intelligence, Joseph Maguire, told Congress Thursday the whistleblower acted in good faith and within the law. The whistleblower's complaint alleges the president asked Ukraine's president to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden. The whistleblower claims the White House tried to cover it up.

Investigating the whistleblower's allegations is now the top priority as the impeachment inquiry picks up steam on Capitol Hill. For more about it, here's CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Pelosi laying out some important markers for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry in the wake of this whistleblower complaint, Pelosi making it very clear that this complaint is going to be the new focus of the impeachment inquiry, that it will be likely led by the House Intelligence Committee.

She says the other five committees already doing investigations of President Trump, they will continue to do so, but this under Intel is a new focus.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is the focus of the moment, because this is the charge. All of the other work that relates to abuse of power, ignoring subpoenas of government -- of Congress, abuse -- contempt of Congress by him, those things will be considered later.

SERFATY: And as Democrats up here on Capitol Hill use this new information to push forward in their impeachment inquiry, we have seen Republicans, President Trump's allies up here on Capitol Hill, come to his defense.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What in this case rises to impeachment? This is a president of the United States that had a conversation with a leader in another country.

SERFATY: And there are very, very few examples of Republicans being at all critical. Congressman Mike Turner, in the hearing on Thursday, he said the conversation between President Trump and the Ukrainian president is not OK, and two Senate Republicans called these allegations troubling, but that is the farthest that Republicans have gone.

Across the board, we've seen most Republicans really deflect questions or say that they have not read this whistleblower complaint, even though it has been public since Thursday morning, and of course, many of them had access to it Wednesday evening.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Sunlen Serfaty there on Capitol Hill.

Well, on Saturday, Afghanistan holds its presidential election, and the Taliban warned it will be a bloody one. Nearly 80,000 troops have been deployed across the country to face the Taliban threat of suicide bombings and rocket attacks.

Every Afghan election in the past decade has been marked by violence, and the tension is higher than ever after Taliban peace talks with the U.S. fell apart earlier this month.

Journalist Jennifer Glasse is in Kabul for us.

And, Jennifer, you know, people go out in Afghanistan and they vote, but they're always under threat. And what is that like for this election?

JENNIFER GLASSE, JOURNALIST: Well, this election has been bloody from the very start. The campaign that started two months ago started off with a huge Taliban attack here in Kabul that killed 20 people. That attack on the vice-presidential candidate, President Ghani's vice presidential running mate. Twenty people were killed in that attack. Amrullah Saleh, the target of that attack, was injured, but he has gone on to run through this campaign.

[00:35:09]

We've seen a number of other Taliban attacks.

Here in Kabul, Natalie, we've seen, definitely, the signs of heavy security. From Thursday night, they banned all trucks coming into the city. The schools are closed. Some of them are polling stations here.

And as you said, thousands and thousands of troops and police are on high alert. We've seen checkpoints pop up around the city, very much a limited traffic movement and people movement ahead of those elections on Saturday.

We also saw, as the Afghan government ramped up security precautions, the Taliban launching a fresh threat against those elections, calling on its fighters to use all means at their disposal to prevent the elections from going forward, and telling Afghans to stay away from the polling places.

But many Afghans that I have spoken to are defiant, they say, look, we know about the Taliban threats. We live under these threats every day. We're going to vote, because that's the only way to bring about change here.

ALLEN: And good on them, and we so hope that they will stay safe, because, as you mention, there's much security in place. We will wait and see. Jennifer Glasse for us there. Thank you so much, Jennifer.

Next here, there is nothing pedestrian about the zebra crossing. Why Beatles fans are flocking to London's Abbey Road.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:38:40]

ALLEN: All right. Right there, the superstars for the halftime of the Super Bowl have been announced. For the first time ever, the headliners will be a pair of Latina artists. Pop stars Jennifer Lopez and Shakira say they are sharing the big stage in Miami in 2020.

It will mark the 100th anniversary of the National Football League and for the first time the two have performed together.

Shakira says she's excited and honored to perform with J. Lo and to represent Latinas worldwide.

Notably, the show will take place on February 2, which happens to be Shakira's birthday. What a day for her.

Well, fans are coming together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' final album, "Abbey Road."

CNN's Neil Curry has our story from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN LENNON, MEMBER OF THE BEATLES: I get very involved, you know. One, two, a-one, two, three, four.

NEIL CURRY, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (voice-over): Released in 1969 to mixed reviews but now widely regarded as a classic, the critics then didn't realize that "Abbey Road" was the last time the Beatles would come together in the studio to record an album.

GILES MARTIN, SON OF GEORGE MARTIN: They still respected and loved each other, but they wrote songs separately.

GEORGE HARRISON, MEMBER OF THE BEATLES (singing): Here comes the sun.

MARTIN: George became much more of a strong songwriter for "Abbey Road," with "Here Comes the Sun."

[00:40:00]

CURRY: Giles Martin has previously remixed the "Sergeant Pepper" and "White Albums" and spent months listening to tapes of the "Abbey Road" recording sessions produced by his late father, George Martin, who became known as the fifth Beatle after working on all the band's original albums.

MARTIN: The Beatles experts that know way more than me -- I'm pretty useless -- claim that the Beatles didn't think it was their last album. My dad always said that he felt that it was.

HARRISON: You've got to be faster, Ringo.

RINGO STARR, MEMBER OF THE BEATLES: OK, George.

MARTIN: I feel they knew things were changing. The band knew things were changing. They were becoming more individual. You know, creative people want to create; they want to do different things. And I think they all wanted to do different things.

CURRY: He admits it's often proved to be an emotional experience.

MARTIN: Sometimes it's hard dealing with listening to your father's voice on a tape machine. It's great for me to hear how much he meant to them and how much, you know, they mean to him.

CURRY: New technology allows Martin to enhance the listening experience for fans without trampling on a famous musical legacy. His work received a thumbs up from Paul, Ringo, and the windows of John and George.

MARTIN: Paul and Ringo, and indeed, Yoko and Olivia, they -- they don't employ me to be safe. They don't want that. The biggest thrill I get is their reaction, and pinning Paul or Ringo down and get them to listen to the album.

They'll listen to "Come Together" and separately, you know, they'll say, I remember this day. We were really good on this take. And if I can bring them closer to that day they recorded it on, that's an achievement well done.

We live in a world with Spotify, and Amazon, and Google and whoever and there's a global jukebox that kids can listen to all the music in the world. And for them, the Beatles, Duran Duran, Ed Sheeran, you know, whoever it is, are all on the same playlists. And there's no reason why the Beatles shouldn't be as relevant as everyone else.

CURRY: Beyond the music, the album cover itself has become iconic. Featuring the band on a zebra crossing outside the "Abbey Road" recording studios, it's been copied, mimicked, lampooned and recreated countless times.

And fans of the Fab Four still flock to the site to capture their own memento.

Neil Curry, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Well, it turns out the best place to watch a space shuttle launch may be from space itself. Astronaut Christina Cook, who's on the International Space Station,

captured this incredible shot of the Soyuz 61 spacecraft on its ascent, tweeting, "What it looks like from the space station when your best friend" -- astronaut Jessica Meir -- achieves her lifelong dream of going into space."

NASA says the Soyuz crew made it safely aboard the space station. How about that one?

All right, I'll be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM at the top of the hour. See you in 15. WORLD SPORT is next.

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ALLEN: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. We appreciate it. I'm Natalie Allen.

Coming up next here on CNN NEWSROOM, cover-up allegations. What White House officials did after Donald Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president, that is coming under fire.

Also, Iran issues a challenge to those who say it was behind the attack on Saudi oil facilities. We'll have a live report from Tehran on that.

And Prince Harry.

END