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Protesters Clash with Police in Hong Kong; White House: No War Room Set Up; Republican Lawmaker Supports Impeachment Inquiry; Corbyn: We Must Avoid "Trump-Inspired" Trade Deal; Pelosi: It's Not about Politics, It's about Patriotism; Trump Presidency Haunted by Questions of Foreign Ties. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired September 29, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Still ahead for you, unsteady ground. The fallout from the whistleblower complaint has taken Washington by storm. The U.S. president blaming one of his top aides and he may be on the chopping block.

Facing the music: the British prime minister meets with fellow Tories as lawmakers suggest Boris Johnson could be out next week.

Also ahead this hour, they say death is better. An exclusive report for you, some Libyan migrants tell CNN they would rather die than go back to their war-torn country.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Starting with breaking news this hour, take a look at these images on the streets of Hong Kong this hour. We have seen a lot happen here in the last hour. People there protesting, marching through the heart of that city.

Just moments ago, police and demonstrators squared off. We saw as police fired tear gas into the crowds before the crowds started to disperse. Let's listen in for a moment.

It seems to be much more calm than what we saw earlier. In the minutes that followed, we saw police shoot blue dye out into the crowds. They use that blue dye to help identify the protesters that were there at these events.

Let's see what's happening there. It seems people are jumping over the highway barrier there. We also saw demonstrators hurl petrol bombs that started small fires. And briefly right in the middle of the street, police forcibly subdued a protester. This is the 17th straight weekend we have seen protests in Hong Kong.

This pro-democracy movement started with many of the people there in Hong Kong who were upset about an extradition bill that would have given Mainland China more ability to extradite people from Hong Kong into Mainland China. That bill has been withdrawn.

Now people are upset. They are frustrated. They want more freedoms. They are protesting in the streets. This comes days before China's National Day, which is expected to be a flashpoint as well. CNN will continue to monitor the images for you and bring you developments as we see anything happen there.

Turning to our top story, the backlash to the U.S. president's phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart continues to grow and it may put the White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on shaky ground with his boss.

Multiple sources tell CNN the president is upset that Mulvaney failed to contain the negative reaction to the phone call after it was made public. We have also learned that the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell pushed the White House to release the rough transcript of that call, thinking it would exonerate the president. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has the latest for you.

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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.

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DIAMOND: 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.

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HOWELL: Jeremy, thank you.

Sources tell CNN, the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine plans to appear at his deposition this week on Capitol Hill. Kurt Volker stepped down on Friday from his post. That was one day after his name came to light in the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Volker helped to set up a meeting in Madrid earlier this year between a Ukrainian official and President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was trying to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. CNN has the first official reaction to volker's resignation.

Let's bring in now CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward live in Kiev.

Clarissa, what are you hearing?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, the Ukrainians have been very tight-lipped up until now. But on the news of the resignation of Volker, they are releasing some statements. We heard from former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, who called it disturbing.

And we heard from a top aide to the current president, Zelensky, who said Volker had consistently shown an enormous amount of support to Ukraine. So it is fair to say there is disappointment here about his resignation, primarily because there is a real sense from Ukrainian officials that they have been getting mixed messages from the U.S. for quite some time now.

They have been unsure to know which message they are supposed to be following. Is it the official diplomatic message coming through the traditional apparatus of the State Department or is it the messages that they have been receiving through the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani?

And whatever comes of the hearings on Thursday and everything going on with impeachment hearings against President Trump, Ukrainian officials'' primary concern is this country's well-being and the relationship with the U.S.

Ukraine is very much dependent on the U.S.' largesse, some $400 million in U.S. military aid this year alone. Ukraine cannot afford to have a bad relationship with America. And their concern right now is they are becoming a casualty in a political tug-of-war.

It does not behoove them to take one side or the other. What is in Ukraine's interest is to maintain a strong relationship with the U.S. no matter who is in charge. And right now, that is a very challenging exercise for the Ukrainian government -- George.

HOWELL: Clarissa Ward following this story live in Kiev. Thank you so much.

The U.S. House Republican congressman says he supports the formal impeachment inquiry into the U.S. president Donald Trump. We are talking about Nevada's Mark Amodei. He is the first Republican to publicly do so.

He is also making a very clear case that he supports the probe, not impeaching President Trump. Let's talk more about all of this now with Thomas Gift, a political science lecturer at University College in London, live this hour in our London bureau.

Good to have you with us.

THOMAS GIFT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: You are starting to see some Republicans speak up about this. Some say privately they might actually have strong opinions on it. We are seeing more Democrats move toward impeachment.

The question here, where do you see these efforts going?

GIFT: Well, I think that there's a reasonable likelihood that we will see impeachment in the House. But I think the odds of a conviction in the Senate are almost zero. You are seeing some cracks like Mark Amodei, expressing support for congressional oversight, looking into this whistleblower complaint.

But still he spent much of yesterday kind of walking back his statements, clarifying his statements and saying basically, you know, I support congressional oversight but that doesn't mean I'm actually endorsing an impeachment inquiry.

So I think there is a big concern among Republicans that anytime you voice opposition to Donald Trump, you will be culled from the herd and that will be the end of your life in professional politics.

I think those pressures in Washington are real. I think Republicans are feeling them. I think that is why, particularly in the Senate, you will just not have many individuals breaking with party lines.

HOWELL: As this impeachment inquiry gets under way, which party has a better favor with voters?

Public opinion is key here. Is it the Democrats, who may say, finally the evidence, this is it?

Or is it Republicans who say and they have said famously, another witch hunt?

Which works here?

GIFT: Well, I think both sides are trying to make the political argument for why they're on the right side.

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GIFT: Indeed, I think both on the Democratic side, as well as the Republican side, this is going to energize the bases. Impeachment inquiries are going to be polarizing. Inevitably that is going to happen. They are a political act. So I think what you will see is polarization on both sides of the political aisle.

I think for the Democrats, the real question is, you know, to what end when it comes to these impeachment inquiries. That's a question they will have to answer as they proceed through the next couple of weeks.

HOWELL: The public opinion, where it falls on the issue, this is what a recent Marist poll found. Slightly less than half, 49 percent of people approve of the House formal impeachment inquiry. That's almost as much as those who disapprove, within the margin of error.

And as we've seen, it all comes down to party lines; 88 percent of Democrats approve, 93 percent of Republicans don't. It is worth noting these are one-night polls. They are limited in how they represent what people are having to say, given the windows are short to get responses.

But given the numbers, as you see them there, what do you think of the political risks to Democrats moving forward with this?

GIFT: There are real political risks and political land mines the Dems will have to navigate throughout this process. I think the chance for Nancy Pelosi is to say, well, we can do this well or we can do this poorly. In order to navigate this well, I think Democrats need to do two things.

One, they need to stay on message. This really has to be about Ukraine. It can't be just about enumerating a number of complaints they have about Donald Trump broadly.

Second, they have to do this swiftly. They have to be quick about it. I think they have the momentum. But it could end quickly. It can stop on a dime. Sometimes impeachment inquiries can take on a life of their own.

If you don't get it done, you don't do it fast and you don't stay on message, the odds that the Democrats are going to win from this politically, I think, diminish significantly.

HOWELL: Thomas Gift giving us perspective on all of this. Thomas, thank you. GIFT: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: The prime minister of the United Kingdom is trying get his party behind him as he pushes ahead toward Brexit. But he may not have as long as he had hoped. We'll explain why for you.

Plus, migrants stranded at sea are offered rescue but many are rejecting it. We'll explain why that is happening. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: A cold reception for the British prime minister Boris Johnson as he pulled up to his party's annual conference on Saturday. Johnson will meet with fellow Tories in a few hours' time. And he faces a possible no confidence vote.

A senior Parliament member told the BBC there's a real chance a vote could take place next week. The opposition's goal is to remove 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 different approach toward Brexit.

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JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: We are not going to allow the people of this country to be taken over a cliff, knowing it would damage food supply and have a Donald Trump-inspired free trade. We are not going there.

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HOWELL: Corbyn himself divisive. Many MPs believe they 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 as he appears before the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. 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 stop Brexit without a deal. Already they have passed legislation to force him to seek an extension if there is no withdrawal deal. This is something Johnson absolutely doesn't want to do.

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

It would be crucial to replace Boris Johnson with someone who is prepared to seek that extension. In this case, they would put the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in as interim prime minister before going to a general election.

Some steps before that happens; not all opposition lawmakers are yet on board publicly with this strategy. But Johnson is on the defensive. But you wouldn't know it from his interview this morning on the BBC, where his message to those lawmakers considering that no confidence vote is to bring it on. Let's take a look.

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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 --

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JOHNSON: -- they looked at their shoes.

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CULLEN: So that was Boris Johnson there on the BBC. Challenging those opposition lawmakers to follow through with their threat. But because Boris Johnson himself wants to go through with this election.

Expect this week for Johnson when he speaks to the Conservative Party conference to talk a lot about U.K. domestic initiatives, such as extra funding for hospitals and extra money for police and schools. And also expecting to talk a lot about Brexit and his insistence the U.K. will leave October 31st, deal or no deal -- George.

HOWELL: Simon Cullen in London for us. Simon, thank you so much.

The Vatican is calling on all of us to remember those willing to risk everything to make a better life for themselves. Pope Francis has marked World Day for Migrants and Refugees by presiding over mass at St. Peter's Square. He's urging worshippers there to pray for migrants as well as internally displaced people and victims of trafficking. The impeachment probe of the U.S. president is dividing Americans. But one Democrat thinks he has a solution and it involves something else for the president.

All this talk of impeachment we will revisit. The last president to be impeached, Bill Clinton. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: We're monitoring these live pictures from Hong Kong this hour. 5:23 in the evening there. You see an American flag -- we have seen this with so many protesters. They have continued 17 straight weekends of these protests.

Demonstrators have been holding an unauthorized march in the city. Earlier, riot police fired water cannons, containing blue dye to help identify protesters who were there. Demonstrators threw petrol bombs and started small fires. Again, this is the 17th straight weekend that we've seen people in Hong Kong making their voices heard. It comes just days before China's national day. That is expected to be a flashpoint. We will continue to monitor what happens in Hong Kong and bring it to you live.

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HOWELL: As Congress moves ahead with the impeachment inquiry, a Democratic presidential candidate is calling for the resignation of the president. Beto O'Rourke said the U.S. is highly polarized and he believes if Mr. Trump resigned, it would help the country. Listen.

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BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The single best thing to bring the country together would be Donald Trump's resignation.

Yes, we are divided right now. And yes, impeachment is not easy. But if we were, because of a fear of division or the politics or polling of this issue, to desist in the necessary effort to hold this president accountable, we will, by extension, have destroyed any chance of this country being able to continue as a democracy.

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HOWELL: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been cautious of trying to impeach the president because of the political risk to Democrats. Now she explains why she changed her mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: But, this is again, about the oath of office. It is not about politics, it's not about partisanship. It's about patriotism for our country. And so, again, I have handled this with great care. But this is very bad news for our country because if, as it seems to be, our president engaged in something that's so far beyond what our founders had in mind.

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HOWELL: One battleground state is the state of Pennsylvania where Miguel Marquez went to ask some voters there if they have changed their minds as well.

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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 VIEW: 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.

MARQUEZ: So over the years, I have done a lot of stories here in Pennsylvania, the Midwest, those states that flipped from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. I have never heard the president's supporters in 2016 as open and as candid about why they cannot support him in 2020.

At the same time, the president's supporters have only become more resolute in their belief in him. It is going to be a long, hard, polarizing year -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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HOWELL: Miguel, thank you.

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 include the Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson has details from London.

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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.

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ROBERTSON: 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. 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.

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HOWELL: Nic, thank you.

We're watching what's happening in Hong Kong this hour. I'll ask the director to bring us the live images back up. We have seen over the last two hours many things play out. We have seen police use water cannon also with blue dye. The blue dye used to identify people at these protests.

We have seen demonstrators hurl petrol bombs that started small fires. In the middle of the streets, we saw police forcibly subdue a protester. Let's look at what's happening right now. Police certainly in their gear. That's where we are looking right now, toward the police side.

You see protesters, typically with umbrellas, keeping in mind that many are remembering, this particular weekend remembering the Umbrella Movement. Many of them thinking back to 2014. That movement, of course, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds that continued with more than 70 days of occupation on the central streets of Hong Kong.

Now we're seeing the 17th straight weekend of these protests play out in Hong Kong. Let's listen in for a moment to get a sense of what's happening on the streets.

Just a little history for viewers around the world. Again, these protests started 17 weekends ago with the pro-democracy movement. People were upset about an extradition bill pushed by chief executive Carrie Lam that would have given more ability to extradite people from Hong Kong into Mainland China.

If you're a tourist or someone in Hong Kong and Mainland China has an issue, through that bill, they would have the right to extradite people. That bill was withdrawn. What you are seeing now is the pro- democracy movement have rallied around other issues, concern about the encroachment of Mainland China into Hong Kong.

We're looking at several images. Several different cameras. We will continue following here to show you what's happening on the streets. This is police who are staged and ready. We have seen some clashes on this day alone. Protests seize up the streets, the financial districts, the shopping districts.

[05:35:00]

HOWELL: They actually disturbed the airport as well, stopping the flow of traffic at that major airport. We will continue to keep an eye on what's happening in Hong Kong and bring you these live images as we see more.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us. We'll be back with more after the break.

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HOWELL: Our team is on the ground, keeping a close eye of what's happening in Hong Kong. We want to bring you the latest. The protesters just a moment ago, a second ago, under the umbrellas. We have seen police in their gear.

Police have dispersed the crowds, squaring off with people there, firing tear gas in some instances using a water cannon colored with blue dye that helps to identify the protesters who were there on the streets.

This is a live image taking place right now at 5:36 pm in Hong Kong. As we have seen, as this continues hour after hour, we typically see police get to where they are more forceful in clearing the streets.

We already have seen them forcibly subdue a protester. Looking to the right of the screen, your left, this is coming a day before China's National Day. That is expected to be a flashpoint. The streets seem to be a bit more peaceful.

I think we will be able to bring in Will Ripley, on the streets of Hong Kong.

[05:40:00]

HOWELL: Will, I'm just trying to monitor. Tell us from your location what you're seeing and I can share with you what we have.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I believe you are probably looking at legislative council building. I'm in Huangchai (ph), which is where protesters started earlier. They started their march in Causeway Bay, moved through here, headed toward the legislative council building.

It's a familiar track. Protesters didn't even seek permission this time around so everything that happens was against the law, which is why we have seen such a quick police response.

Protesters have been hurling bricks over the barricade they erected. Thousands of protesters behind the barricade, normally a busy part of Hong Kong, one of the main thoroughfares completely shut down because of this.

Up over that flyover road, there are riot police. They are keeping their distance, shot some tear gas about 5-10 minutes ago and that caused protesters, who were up on the bridge, to move over this way and move down here.

Let's see if we can get walk through without getting hit by the bricks they are throwing. This is a familiar scene. They take what's in trash cans, they pull up bricks from the sidewalks, anything they can to build barricades and set up a front line with police.

What makes this weekend different is that this is the leadup to what is expected to be a much larger day on October 1st, the day China celebrates the 78th anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China.

It was thought this weekend would be somewhat tame as protesters prepare for what's happening on Tuesday because all marches requested were denied, permits were denied. That means anything that happens is going to be illegal.

The fact that this protest is illegal is not stopping these mostly young people out here in all black with their gas masks, goggles, umbrellas, basically ready for whatever the night will bring.

Just when you thought things were slowing down, they are now starting to kick off once again, George.

HOWELL: This weekend being a particular spark, I remember earlier, it was September 2014, the Umbrella Movement was taking place as well.

RIPLEY: I remember very vividly being here five years ago for the Umbrella Movement. I have to say this has evolved into something very different. The first time Hong Kong police used tear gas, Ivan Watson was here, just arrived from an assignment in Istanbul, a place where protests and tear gas and water cannon are a part of almost daily life.

It was shocking for people here in Hong Kong five years ago to see police use tear gas against Hong Kong citizens. Even after situations like the riots that besieged this city back in the '60s.

Yet here we are, in this new reality, where tear gas has been happening weekly. It is a regular part of life. People have gas masks. People not participating in the protests know to stay home, to expect public transportation in areas like where we are, Admiralty and anywhere where protests are going to be taking place will be shut down.

You have to wonder if this is going to keep happening, even after October 1st. If this has now become something that these young people feel is just a part of their life, something that they have to do to fight for their future, that they feel is very much in jeopardy if Mainland China does not allows things like freedom of expression, does not allow universal suffrage, doesn't allow people to select their own leaders. And that's one thing the protesters say they won't stop fighting for and China says will not be allowed.

HOWELL: Will Ripley, stand by for just a moment. I want to remind our viewers what we have seen. If we could pull up images from earlier and take the full screen. I want you to get a sense of what happened.

Earlier we saw police as they used water cannons, blue dye to spray into the crowds. We will see it here in a moment. It is used to identify protesters who have taken part in unauthorized marches through the city. We have also seen police subdue a protester in the streets.

[05:45:00]

HOWELL: This is the 17th straight weekend we have seen it. Again, these protests clog up the city. They shut down traffic. Hong Kong a major financial hub. They stop people from getting to the airport.

Protesters are determined to make their voices and the movement impactful. It seems to be a tug-of-war with protesters not giving up. The city, the police pushing back as well.

Let's bring back in Will Ripley. Will is live in the middle of it all.

Will, do you get a sense on this day as to whether protests will continue throughout the evening. As we have seen for 17 straight weekends, we have seen that, as these protests continue, that's when police really dig in and disperse the crowds.

RIPLEY: This is probably the biggest escalation I have seen here in a couple of weeks, George. About two weekends ago they were using water cannon and that's when we saw the huge fire barricade for the first time. This barricade is pretty significant. They are blocking off a road,

at a very important intersection, they're about to light it on fire. Yes. They have an accelerant there, trying to block our camera views with umbrellas.

They are lighting it on fire. So they are repeating what we saw a couple of weeks ago, trying to set up a barricade, set it ablaze. It looks like they weren't able to get it on fire. But the strategy has been to try to light these things on fire, block the police from passing through, forcing them to call the firefighters first.

So what I'm seeing right now, I wouldn't be surprised if this -- OK. They're throwing bricks. Let's get out of this area. Come over here, guys.

I wouldn't be surprised if this goes on for a while. If you look down this way towards the legislative council building, you can see there's a pretty large group of people off in the distance.

On social media, they are saying to head in this direction, head where we are now. So this could go on. If they get moved out of this spot, see these protesters here just standing by for whatever happens. If they get pushed out by police, they might very well go to another location in the city and keep up the fight throughout the night.

That is certainly the pattern we have seen time and time again.

HOWELL: Will Ripley, live on the streets of Hong Kong. You and your team be safe. We'll come back to you after the break.

This is a leaderless movement. It continues on, organized through social media, telling people where to go, when to go for different events they stage. These are unauthorized protests in many cases.

We see here a live image here at 5:47 pm there in Hong Kong, a fire presumably set by petrol bombs. Some fires have been set by petrol bombs and it would fit what we have seen the past couple weekends. We will continue to monitor this and bring you more on the other side of the break. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: A live image right now of what's happening on the streets of Hong Kong. Hong Kong police say dispersal operations will continue through that area after protesters threw petrol bombs at police, vandalized metro stations and started small fires, as you see there, posing a serious threat to safety for everyone at the scene. We have seen police respond with tear gas. We have seen police use

water cannon, with blue dye to identify people who have taken part in these protests. You're looking at a live image on the streets at 5:52 pm. We have seen the 17th straight weekend we have seen these protests.

They started after people were upset about an extradition bill imposed by the city's chief executive, that would have given Mainland China more ability to extradite people from Hong Kong. Protesters continue to push back. That bill was withdrawn. But the protests continue.

Our Will Ripley is in the middle of it all. Will is live on the streets in Hong Kong.

Will, tell us what you are seeing.

RIPLEY: George, a few minutes ago and it's largely dissipated, but there was a large plume of smoke coming from the direction of the MTR station. We believe protesters set the entrance on fire.

This protester here has two Molotov cocktails, petrol bombs they have used as their weapon of choice against riot police. Petrol bombs, along with bricks they pull up from the sidewalk as well. We know there are riot police down in this direction here. We know water cannons are approaching this area.

What the protesters have done is set up barricades here. You see another one down there to try to foil the authorities as they approach. We see the firefighters just now arriving on scene here. No fire that I can see in our immediate area.

A very large plume of smoke down the block. We wonder if perhaps they're coming from there.

Take a look over this way just to see what's happening. It is incredible how this is so fluid and how the front line continues to change. Earlier it was Causeway Bay. Protesters walked about half an hour here. The front line keeps moving; as police and fire officials move into the area, protests move to a different area.

We were in this area when it was relatively quiet. People had moved in that direction. Then a whole crowd of people came here in a very short period of time. Hong Kong island is all pretty close together. You can get to most places fairly quickly, even on foot if you have to. That's what these people are doing.

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RIPLEY: This is another interesting thing I haven't seen before. We see a lot of protesters using umbrellas to guard themselves against the tear gas. This is a young man --

Can I see your sign here?

He used a street sign.

Do you use this if they fire the tear gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

RIPLEY: Can you tell me why you're out here fighting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the government (INAUDIBLE) plus (INAUDIBLE) destroying our future. So we come out on the street and fight for our (INAUDIBLE) and fight for our freedom.

RIPLEY: A fight for their future. Thank you very much for speaking.

A fight for their future that continues. That's partially why you see -- you see more smoke rising here. That's why you see these young people weekend after weekend, risking arrest, risking injury. We have seen a lot of arrests. We have seen some people injured just today.

So you see that fire engine we saw racing by is now at the MTR station, where we saw a smaller plume a short time ago.

It just continues out here, George. All I have to say is it feels like a broken record weekend after weekend. Still the situation finds a way to escalate and intensify and keep you on our toes. And you never quite know what to expect, what's going to happen next.

Oh, look. A lot of people running down this way. So we will walk this way, George. Hundreds, maybe a thousand running very quickly from Admiralty now heading back toward Causeway Bay. So it continues here, George.

HOWELL: Will Ripley on the streets of Hong Kong, stay safe with your team. We will continue to watch this. The 17th straight weekend of protests. Many have been peaceful before. The numbers, the sheer numbers, show the size and some of these protests have turned violent.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, CNN, the world news leader.

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