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Trump Slams Impeachment Inquiry; Ukraine Faces Impact of U.S. Political Scandal; All but 12 House Dems Support Impeachment Inquiry; Protesters Clash with Police in Hong Kong; Europe's Migrant Crisis; Pelosi: It's Not about Politics, It's about Patriotism; Trump Presidency Haunted by Questions of Foreign Ties; Corbyn: We Must Avoid "Trump-Inspired" Trade Deal; Buttigieg Campaign Venue Loses Power during Event. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 29, 2019 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Impeachment inquiry fallout: why the White House chief of staff may be feeling the heat.

The impact in Ukraine: CNN has a live report for you from Kiev.

Also ahead this hour, what voters think. Hear how they're reacting in one battleground state.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: It is 4:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast. Thanks for being with us this day.

The U.S. president Donald Trump, his phone call with Ukraine's leader. The storm clouds of questions around what he said and how it was handled appear to be taking a toll on senior White House staff, specifically Mick Mulvaney. Sources tell CNN he's on shaky ground for not containing the backlash after details of the call were made public.

The White House denies he's in trouble.

Also we have learned Senate leader Mitch McConnell pushed the White House to release the rough transcript of the call thinking that it would exonerate the president. And sources tell CNN former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, plans to appear at his deposition on Thursday before three House committees. Volker resigned his post on Friday.

As for President Trump, he spent Saturday lashing out in Twitter attacks at the impeachment investigation. Our Jeremy Diamond reports from the White House. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With Democrats moving quickly toward impeachment, president Donald Trump on Saturday after a day of golf going on the counter offensive.

In a series of tweets, the president insists that he should not be impeached because of the good job he says he is doing for the country.

He also writes this, "The conversation with the new and very good Ukraine president, who told the fake news at the United Nations that he was not pressured by me in any way, shape or form, should by and of itself bring an end to the new and most recent witch hunt. Others ended in ashes."

This is, of course, a familiar refrain we have heard the president not only in the matter of this whistleblower complaint but also as it related previously to the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

But the president, for his part, is still directing some of his ire at his White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, is what we are learning from multiple sources on Saturday, that the president is directing his ire at Mulvaney, not because of the decision to release the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president but rather because of the lack of a strategy to handle the fallout of that complaint.

The White House has indeed been caught quite flat-footed by the pace and speed at which House Democrats have moved towards impeachment. Now the White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied this report in a statement, saying, "This story is manufactured palace intrigue. The fact is, President Trump and this administration have done nothing wrong. Why would we need to implement a strategy to explain the contents of a document we willingly released?"

Now White House officials insist there is no war room being set up at the White House even as Democrats move quickly with their impeachment inquiry, already three Democratic chairs of congressional committees in the House have subpoenaed the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, demanding documents and more information about the United States' foreign policy toward Ukraine.

That of course, as all of these questions have been swirling about whether the president has been outsourcing U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine to his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Jeremy, thank you.

As we mentioned, sources tell CNN the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine plans to appear at his deposition this week on Capitol Hill. Kurt Volker stepped down Friday from his post. This was one day after his name came out in a whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry. Volker helped to set up a meeting in Madrid earlier this year between

Ukrainian official and President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was trying to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son.

Let's get the perspective from Ukraine. Our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward in Kiev.

Look, this career diplomat seems to have been respected there in Ukraine. Tell us more about the impact of his resignation.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. We are hearing some statements from the former Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, who described volker's resignation as disturbing.


WARD: And from a current top aide to the president, Zelensky, saying Volker had been a consistent source of support to this country throughout his tenure in that position. This aide, Andriy Yermak, is also the man who is implicated, who met with Giuliani through Volker in Madrid some time ago. So other than these statements about the resignation of Volker, we are not hearing very much at all, George, from Ukrainian politicians or the government because there is a real sense of unease that Ukraine has been put into an impossible situation, that it is in the middle of a political tug-of-war in the United States, which is its greatest benefactor.

Ukraine is hugely dependent on the largesse of the U.S. Some $400 million U.S. being given in military aid this year alone, more than $1.4 billion being given since 2015. So Ukraine cannot afford to pick a side in this fight.

And the sense is more and more that the government here is coming under some pressure to do that or at least articulate exactly what happened during the course of the interactions both as mentioned in the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky but also between a number of officials and the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

But as I said before, George, people here are very reluctant to talk openly about what exactly transpired and when and why. They do feel that this is a political minefield for Ukraine and that there is very little to benefit in this for them.

HOWELL: That name Volker certainly being talked about there in Ukraine. And this week in Washington, this will certainly be front and center. Volker will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Where do you believe questions may lead with this?

WARD: Well, I mean, of course, it depends which country you're sitting in. But here in Ukraine, George, I think people will be watching very carefully to see how he categorizes the nature of the meeting that he set out particularly between Andriy Yermak and Giuliani.

I think they'll also be looking to get some clarity because the reality is, for Ukrainian officials, there was a lot of confusion throughout this entire period because they seemed to be getting mixed messages from the U.S.

We're getting one message from the State Department, from diplomats who traditionally convey the policy and message of the U.S. And then they're getting another message entirely from the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

And I think there was confusion as to which message they were supposed to be adhering to or subscribing to. And they will definitely be looking for more clarity on that -- George.

HOWELL: Clarissa Ward live in Kiev. Clarissa, thank you very much.

Let's put it in perspective with Jacob Parakilas, an associate at LSEID -- a foreign policy think tank at the London School of Economics and political science.

Jacob, good to have you with us.


HOWELL: I want to give our viewers a heads-up. We are keeping an eye on what's happening, Jake, in Hong Kong. Our viewers can see this on the side. Keep in mind, we have seen many, many weeks of these protests. We will bring you more of this as we go on.

But Jacob, back to what we are following here with President Trump and what's happening there at the White House, a source is telling CNN that the president's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, may be on the bubble; at the very least, on shaky ground. The White House denies it.

Considering that very position, it's been a revolving door at the Trump White House.

What does the impact look like, given this current crisis?

PARAKILAS: Well, I think in a situation like this, that is rapidly evolving and has a number of significant strands and where there is really significant legal and political danger, it's important for the White House to have somebody quarterbacking the response, to have a unified message.

I think one of the things the White House clearly didn't appreciate before releasing the memorandum, which described the call, was how incriminating it would be seen by some Democrats and House Democrats. I think they expected that to be put to bed.

Having somebody play through these scenarios, red-teaming a bit, coordinating so there is a single message, making sure that consistencies that can be pried apart in an inquiry are limited is really important. And if the chief of staff, the most obvious person to manage that kind

of response, is worried for their own job, I think it makes it more difficult for the White House to have a single overarching narrative to keep things in order and to respond as clearly and as strongly as possible.


HOWELL: Looking ahead at this impeachment inquiry gets underway this week, there is a great deal of focus on public opinion, where either party can sway voters to their side of the issue, especially given impeachment is a political process, not a legal process.

So do Dems make the pitch easier, convincing people this is the final straw?

Or do Republicans win by saying, famously, another witch hunt?

Which works better for voters?

PARAKILAS: Well, I think we have to be a little bit humble here because we don't actually have very good data on impeachments. There have only been three procedures in American history, one of which ended before an actual impeachment vote with the resignation of Nixon, the other two of which, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, both ended in acquittals in the Senate.

So you have never had a president removed. You also only have one of these procedures that took place in the last 30 years. That's Clinton's. And the relationship between the president and the public, the relationship between the president and Congress was quite different, even from 1998 to today.

So we really, really don't know how this is going to play out. I think that's the most important thing to say up front. We have seen some movement, even in the last week, with what public polls have been released, showing a movement in the direction of support for impeachment.

But as a number of analysts have been quick to point out, that could be Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, who broadly support the party, were on the fence about impeachment but seeing especially the more moderate Democrats, those with national security backgrounds, coming out all very quickly and saying, OK, we changed our minds. We need to go forward with this now. This is an ongoing threat to national security.

That just could be consolidation, in which case we are back to square one with a polarized electorate, where Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents largely support and Republicans and independents largely don't.

I think it's too early to say exactly what the impact is going to be. There are warning signs from Republicans but it's not necessarily (INAUDIBLE) for the Democrats, either. HOWELL: You mentioned polls, Jacob. Let's take a look at a poll. One of the latest polls, the numbers conducted by Maris for NPR and PBS Newshour, keep in mind such polls are limited in how representative they are since they have a short window to get response.

But this shows slightly less than half, 49 percent approve of the House formally beginning an impeachment inquiry. That's almost the same as disapproving of it, within the margin of error. As we've seen, it all comes down to party lines: 88 percent of Democrats support the impeachment inquiry, 93 percent of Republicans don't.

Given the numbers that we see, what do you believe the political risk is here to Democrats as they move forward?

PARAKILAS: I think the risk for Democrats is that, first of all, if impeachment proceeds and it results in an acquittal in the Senate, it's probably the most likely outcome at the moment. We have to express we don't know where this goes. We are in uncharted territory here.

I think the risk for Democrats is that they polarize Republicans who are on the fence, those who maybe don't really like the president but see this as an attack on the Republican Party or conservative governance.

By the same tone, there is a huge risk for Republicans in that we don't know what will come out. The Democrats are clearly moving quickly to subpoena more files. We haven't seen, for example, the transcript of calls we learned just in the last couple of days were made between Trump and Putin and members of the Saudi royal family, which were placed in this classified system maintained by National Security Council, which is not supposed to be for transcripts like that.

So there is clearly more to come out. And that might result in a cascade. As you saw with Nixon. And Nixon's impeachment inquiry was not publicly popular when it started. As it gained steam and the smoking tape came out, and other revelations happened, you did see a change of public opinion.

That's not necessarily to say that's what we are going to see here. Again, the relationship between the president and Congress is different. Polarization is greater. All kinds of things are true today that weren't true in 1974. But it's not a one-sided risk, everyone is facing the unknown here.

HOWELL: Jacob Parakilas, awake with us this hour, early here stateside but there in the British capital. Good to have you with us. Thank you.

Also, reminding our viewers, looking at what's happening in Hong Kong. We are keeping an eye on this. Many, many weekends we have seen these protests. Police on one side and protesters on the other with umbrellas. We will bring you the results of what happens there as we continue to monitor. [04:15:00]

HOWELL: Also ahead, U.S. House Democrats may be eager to impeach President Trump but what do American voters think, especially in the swing states that make so much of a difference? We'll take a look at that.

Also tragedy at sea. Thousands of migrants dying on the Mediterranean.

Why are some reluctant to accept help?

We'll show you the reason why as CNN NEWSROOM continues worldwide.





HOWELL: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM and we're watching what's happening right now on the streets of Hong Kong. Protesters there facing off with police at 4:19 in the afternoon there.

You see the protesters there under the umbrellas. Police there on the other side in what seems to be -- taking a close look there along with you -- tear gas or smoke. I can't make that -- that is tear gas. We have seen this many, many weekends now.

This is the 17th straight weekend we have seen this. Earlier, protesters marched from Causeway Bay, one of the city's busiest shopping districts there. Protest leaders did not ask for approval ahead of time.


HOWELL: So this march was officially unauthorized. Again, live images right now from Hong Kong. The 17th straight weekend we have seen protests like this. Some of those protests have turned violent. We'll continue to keep an eye on this for you.

A scene of despair now to tell you about on the Mediterranean. Libyan migrants crammed into small boats, trying desperately to reach the shores of Europe. Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman and Gabriel Chaim bring us this exclusive look at the dangers that migrants face in their journeys and the life of hell that many live left in limbo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sailors with the Libyan Coast Guard throw a lifeline to a boat full of migrants, who throw it back into the water.

"We don't want it," this man shouts.

Since the beginning of 2014, more than 33,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, according to the International Organization for Migration, yet these people do not want to be rescued, because rescue means returning to Libya.

Eventually one of the sailors jumps overboard and swims to the boat and attaches the rope. Reluctantly, the migrants climb onto the Coast Guard ship.

"Death is better," says one of the women. There is little love between rescuers and rescued.

"You are all cursing Libya, you animals," shouted a sailor; 28 people were on the rickety boat, 22 from Somalia, five from Bangladesh, one from Yemen, fleeing the conflict, chaos and poverty that is the new world disorder.

Omda Somad (ph) from Somalia explains why he tried to make this dangerous crossing.

OMDA SOMAD (PH), SOMALI REFUGEE: The reason that I entered the sea is that our situation which is going on in our country. Our country is the worst.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The European Union has paid the Libyan government in Tripoli more than $250 million to stop the world's tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free from arriving on its blessed shores.

The E.U. money funds the Libyan Coast Guard and indirectly supports detention centers for those caught trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Nearly 6,000 people are stuck in centers like Tripoli's Triq al-Sika detention center. Eventually they might be sent back to their home countries -- or what is left of them.

Human rights organizations have criticized the conditions at these detention centers but the E.U., riven by differences between member states, has not changed its policy regarding migrants in Libya, despite its glaring shortcomings.

The migrants may leave Libya someday but the trauma they experienced on their journey will stay, particularly with many of the women, for the rest of their lives.

Eighteen-year-old Dinit (ph) from Eritrea says traffickers sexually assaulted her.

"They beat us with a belt," she recalls, "then they raped us, then they fed us, then they raped us."

She is now pregnant, soon to give birth in a detention center with little in the way of medical attention.

Laki (ph), also 18 years, old is from Somalia. She says smugglers raped her repeatedly and she subsequently gave birth. "Praise God who blessed me with this baby. I can't throw it away, the

baby is a part of my body. But please," she begs, "take me from here."

Of the eight women freelance cameraman Gabriel Chaim interviewed at the center, seven said they were raped.

Nearby, on the outskirts of Tripoli, the war between Libya's competing factions rages on. The West was eager to help bring down the regime of Moammar Gadhafi but since then has turned its back on Libya.

The country has become an arena for local and regional rivalries. The madness here tolerated by the world as long as the madness stays here -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


HOWELL: Thank you for sharing with the world that report. And now to talk more about what's happening, let's bring in Federico Soda.


He's with the International Organization for Migration, with that group, the director of the coordination office for the Mediterranean.

Thank you for being with us.

FEDERICO SODA, IOM: Good morning.

HOWELL: That report really sticks with you. You know, I think for people around the world who don't think about what's happening there, who really don't know, it lays bare the conundrum that continues to play out, with dire consequences for people caught in the middle of it.

From your view, is there a sense that something's got to give here?

SODA: Well, you know, you're right. This story is jarring. We've been in this situation for a number of years now. One of the risks, one of the issues, of course, is that a lot of the detention centers that Ben mentioned are in the proximity of Tripoli. There is -- Tripoli and the surrounding area is extremely dangerous for everyone.

But especially for migrants and people without proper legal status. There's really no control or security sufficient to guarantee any kind of degree of protection or safety. Three months ago one of the detention centers was bombed; 53 people were killed, 53 migrants; 130 were injured.

On 19th September, just a few days ago, one of the migrants that was rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard was brought back to shore, subsequently hit by a bullet and died actually in the care of doctors a few hours later.

So it's understandable that people who have made it to shore and gone on boats as flimsy as they are and as unlikely as they are to make the crossing without assistance, don't want to go back.

The centers are overcrowded. They do not have really any kind of sanitary conditions. There have been situations of food shortages. And while this affects a relatively small number of migrants in Libya, because we estimate there are about 650,000 migrants in Libya presently and only approximately 5,000 in detention, the conditions and the situation for those 5,000 are absolutely appalling and unthinkable for, I suspect, the vast majority of your viewers.

HOWELL: I want to ask you about that. We have a very short amount of time. I want to warn you about that. Look, security is clearly an issue. For the E.U. and its policy towards migrants, is there any new political will to reconsider, reimagine, rethink the strategy here?

SODA: Look, the time is now to find that space, to find that kind of agreement. Because we are at all-time lows in terms of the number of people arriving to Europe. So really it should not be at all threatening that less than 10,000 people have arrived to Italian and Maltese shores this year.

And sharing that responsibility of assisting these people and dealing with them with a common policy ought to be very manageable for a bloc as strong and as rich as the European Union.

We have some positive signals right now. There have been some positive developments in the last couple of weeks involving Italy, Malta, Libya, Germany and France, trying to push together a new plan for this responsibility sharing.

And we have to remain optimistic on the European side that common sense will prevail. And we have to continue to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance in Libya.

HOWELL: There's a lot of politics around this certainly, with governments trying to figure out strategies, situations. But at the end of the day, these are people. And you have to look at what these people are dealing with and ask yourself, what would you do?

So this continues to play out. Federico Soda, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

SODA: Thank you.

HOWELL: Turning our attention to what's happening in Hong Kong, live images, we've seen tear gas in the streets. We will continue to monitor this for you.

Also people who voted for the president in 2016, some move to impeach him.

Do American voters support that move?

That story next.

Plus, we don't know what President Trump told the Saudis after the murder of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But sources say the White House ordered to keep it under wraps. Stay with us.





HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live. I'm George Howell. Headlines we're following for you this hour.


HOWELL: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been cautious of trying to impeach the president because of the potential political risk to Democrats. Now she explains the 180 on that. Listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: But this is, again, about the oath of office. It's not about politics. It's not about partisanship. It is about patriotism for our country.

And so, again, I have handled this with great care that this is -- this is very bad news for our country because if it is, as it seems to be, our president engaged in something that is so far beyond what our founders had in mind.


HOWELL: Nancy Pelosi there in my hometown, speaking to "The Texas Tribune" about it. A recent poll backs up her words. It found 49 percent of voters now favor impeachment proceedings. CNN's Miguel Marquez spoke with some voters in the very important state of Pennsylvania.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Quakertown borough, PA, voted for the president and today some of his supporters aren't so sure.

TODD CHARADA, TRUMP VOTER: I think he has crossed the line but that is the way he is.

MARQUEZ: Todd Charada voted for Obama twice. He liked Bernie Sanders in 2016. And then voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

So you reluctantly voted for the president and 2020 is an open question here?

CHARADA: Only because I didn't see another -- a better opportunity there.

MARQUEZ: A chef at Quakertown's Karlton Cafe, he says, with impeachment, Democrats may be going a step too far.

Do you feel like it is overreaching right now?

CHARADA: I think so. I think they are. I think that -- they want him out, I'm pretty sure.

MARQUEZ: Third generation shoe store owner, Ralph Morey, became a Democrat in 2008 so he could vote for Barack Obama in the primary. He voted for Obama again in 2012, in 2016 he voted for Donald Trump. In 2020 he says no way.

What is it about the president --

RALPH MOREY, FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: The way he manages himself. And then that reflects on what our country is all about. And our country is better than what the way we're being perceived as.

MARQUEZ: But he thinks that impeachment will further divide an already hyperpartisan country.

MOREY: I think that it is ugly now. And I think we should focus on not being ugly.

MARQUEZ: Hardcore Trump supporter Rocky Bixel says that Democrats will only harm themselves in going after the president.

ROCKY BIXEL, TRUMP SUPPORTER: In this town, there is a lot of people that are turned because they say it is just stupid.

MARQUEZ: Quakertown is part of Bucks County, a Philly suburb. It narrowly supported Clinton in 2016. In New Hope, a Democratic stronghold, many voters here say impeachment, about time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does show people that the president can't do these things and just get away with it.

ANNELI MARTIN, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: I think that Democrats need to show some spine. I think that it is a good way of showing power and what is right and doing everything by law.


HOWELL: That was Miguel Marquez, reporting for us in Pennsylvania.

President Trump's contact with Ukraine isn't his only call that's fueling controversy. Sources say the White House tried to limit access to calls with other foreign leaders. They included Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson has this story from London.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: With these details that President Trump kept secret his calls with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, are perhaps going to cause some concern and tensions between -- in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and President Trump.

Of course it's been a strong and very close relationship. But these calls that we now understand, of which there was no transcript kept and unlike previous calls or calls with other leaders where there would be a number of White House officials listening in on that call, the only other official, secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and at that time of course national security adviser John Bolton, were in on those calls.

Now Saudi officials do have concerns about President Trump. And they are specifically focused more around Iran. But also the very fact that President Trump does tend to change his mind. They like President Trump. He's very tough on Iran. But they don't know if there is some moment in the near future, going to suddenly enter into negotiations with Iran. And this would cause some deep concerns.

So they are worried about the relationship in that context. Very likely from the Saudis and they haven't said anything yet, we're going to hear them say that this is an internal matter for the United States.

We don't know the contents of those calls. It could look positive for the crown prince and the king. Or it could detract from the relationship. And President Trump at that time, around the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, was under incredible pressure to put pressure on the crown prince to find out his responsibility in that killing, something that the crown prince and the government of Saudi Arabia has denied.

But President Trump has at that time said, look, it's important to keep a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.


ROBERTSON: We have sent them a lot of weapons. If they don't buy them from us, they will buy them from China or Russia.

Do these calls give us an indication into that?

We don't even know if these calls will ever make the light of day. But when it does seem for those leaders who have perhaps less open relationships with President Trump than others, this closeness of the relationship, if there are more calls like this, it just draws attention to those calls.

And ultimately if they are put in the public domain, then this can have a backlash on the Saudi kingdom. But at the moment, that's not where we're at. We don't know what are in those calls. But of course it points a spotlight in that direction to find out why they were under such a close hold -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


HOWELL: Nic, thank you.

Also in the United Kingdom, the British prime minister tried to get his party behind him as he pushes ahead toward Brexit October 31st. Halloween, Brexit Day. But he may not have as long as he had hoped. We'll explain why.




HOWELL: A live look again at what's happening on the streets of Hong Kong. And you see the water there. That is in fact, blue dye. During the break we saw police spraying that blue dye. Take a look there, you see a fire. Not sure who set the fire. The protests are playing out, the 17th weekend we have seen this. The blue dye is what the police use to identify people who have been at these protests.

Police use water cannons along with the blue dye outside the legislative complex. A small group of protesters vandalized a subway station as these clashes continue. We will continue to watch what's happening there and bring you more as developments occur.


HOWELL: A cold reception for the British prime minister as he pulled up to his party's annual conference on Saturday. Take a look at what happened here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boris, a liar, a thief, a charlatan. You are not fit --

HOWELL (voice-over): -- thief, a charlatan is what people are saying there. The cold reception for Boris Johnson as he pulled up to his party's annual conference. Boris Johnson will meet with fellow Tories in just a few hours as he faces a possible vote of no confidence.

A senior Parliament member tells the BBC there is a real chance a vote could come next week. The opposition's goal is to remove Mr. Johnson from office and secure a Brexit date extension. If that happens, he could be replaced for a time by his political archenemy, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who wants a very different approach for Brexit.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: We are not going to allow the people of this country to be taken over a cliff edge, knowing full well it would damage medicine supplies, damage the food supply, damage jobs and lead us straight into the arms of a Donald Trump-inspired free trade deal with the United States. We are simply not going there.


HOWELL: Corbyn is considered a divisive leader himself. Some MPs though believe they may have to rally behind him if they want an extension. Let's get more now with Simon Cullen, joining us live in our London bureau. Great to have you with us. So the week ahead may be pivotal for the

prime minister. Tell us more about what's expected.

SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it will be a crucial few days for the British prime minister Boris Johnson. He is under pressure from his own Conservative Party. He is facing intense criticism over his Brexit strategy from some elements of his party and also over his choice of parliamentary language.

He is facing a coordinated campaign from some opposition lawmakers to remove him from the top job. Already they have passed legislation to force him to seek an extension to that October 31 deadline if there is no withdrawal deal.

Now they are talking about potentially removing him from his prime ministerial job through a motion of no confidence. Some suggesting that could happen as early as this week.

Keep in mind there are a few steps to go before this could take place. Not all opposition lawmakers are yet publicly on board for this. But the thinking behind it is and the reason is these opposition lawmakers are talking to each other about this is they see it as a crucial step to ensuring that Brexit does not happen without a deal on October the 31st.

So they would replace Johnson with an interim prime minister, in this case Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and then have a general election. So Johnson is under pressure. But you wouldn't know it from his interview this morning on the BBC where he went on the attack. He basically said to those lawmakers, bring it on. Let's take a look.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We have twice asked the leader of the opposition to see if he would fulfill his constitutional function and actually try to deprive me of office and form a government. He seems to be curiously reluctant to do so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it may be time to do it now.

JOHNSON: And if it does, then let's see. In fact, you may have seen, the other night, I asked MPs on I think not just the Labour Party but all parties to see whether --


JOHNSON: -- they looked at their shoes. (CROSSTALK)


CULLEN: So that was Boris Johnson there on the BBC. So he will be speaking to the Conservative Party conference this week, expecting to talk a lot about his U.K. domestic policies. That is extra investment in hospitals, schools and police. And, of course, expecting to talk a lot about Brexit at his insistence that the U.K. will be leaving October the 31st, deal or no deal -- George.

HOWELL: Simon Cullen with the reporting. Simon, thank you.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, the power of whistleblowers and how they have played a very important role in history. Stay with us.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

HOWELL: Following the 17th straight weekend of protesters in Hong Kong, Take a look at the scene there at 4:15 in the afternoon. You see police there firing off what appears to be tear gas canisters against protesters, who seem to be on the run. We have seen some protesters with the umbrellas, staged on the other side of police.

And this seems to be the most active we've seen in the past hour, keeping an eye on what this camera has to show us. We've seen many weeks of these protests, police firing off tear gas to disperse these crowds.

Listen in and see what happens here.

All right, we'll keep an eye on this, again, the 17th straight weekend we've seen these protests in Hong Kong. We'll bring you any more developments as we see them here live.

Stay with us for a moment. We're watching this camera as it continues on.

One thing that we know, many of the protesters are still upset about the extradition bill. That bill has been withdrawn but the protest movement has grown around other issues, issues around the pro- democracy movement, people who are concerned about China and its encroachment into Hong Kong.

People feel that there may be too much power that's coming into play, as we see -- yes, I'm trying to see what's happening right there. But again, protesters upset about China's encroachment into Hong Kong.

Let's take a look at this image here, a new image that we're watching together, this on a highway. And you see police on one side, keeping in mind Hong Kong is a very busy city, right?

One of the most important major cities in the world. These protests, again, 17 straight weekends. They do seize up traffic. They do stop movement in Hong Kong. We have seen protesters even cause disruption at the airport, one of the most important airports in the world.

Looking live at 4:52 pm in Hong Kong, protesters in the streets. These protesters are determined to make their voices heard. Many weekends we see several movements, we see protesters with the pro- democracy movement. We have also seen people who are there to support the police.

Also people who come out to support Mainland China. So there are many different angles to this story. Right now, we are seeing one of them play out, police on the streets and protesters, who seem to be dispersing at this hour. We'll continue to watch this and bring you developments as we see more.

"The Washington Post" reports that President Trump's administration is ramping up its investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's emails. As many as 130 current and former senior officials have been contacted by the State Department.

They were told emails they sent to Clinton's private email account years ago have been retroactively classified and now are potential security violations. This report comes days after the Trump-Ukraine controversy came to light.

Current and former U.S. officials told "The Post" the investigation was an extraordinary crackdown by the Trump administration. Others insisted that the probe is standard, it's protocol. They say it is not politically motivated.

Austrians are now voting in a snap election after scandal tore through that country's governing coalition. The conservative chancellor there is hoping to win back his seat. His government lost a no confidence vote after his vice chancellor was shown in a video, filmed secretly two years ago, appearing to offer state contracts to a woman falsely claiming to be a niece of a Russian oligarch.

If Kurz returns, he will have to decide whether to form another coalition with his former vice chancellor's far right party or turn to the Left.

A campaign event for a U.S. presidential hopeful turned dark on Saturday -- literally. Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg was plunged into darkness after the venue went in sparks in Nevada and lost electricity. The South Bend mayor took the power outage in stride. Here's what he said to say.



PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, IND., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Justices won't be able to retire like they used to and ...

This is how we used to do politics. You just have to --



(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: Pete Buttigieg there, just taking it in stride, despite the lights going out on him.

SpaceX says that it has developed the rocket ship that is going to carry people and cargo to the moon, Mars and far beyond. It's called Starship and it is a reusable spacecraft capable of making interplanetary trips. In a speech on Saturday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that he wants to make space travel just like air travel.

Musk says the company could test the new ship within the next two months and he also wants to put people on board as early as next year.

Thank you for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We're watching these live images in Hong Kong for you. Stay with us.