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Impeachment Inquiry Intensifies; Impeachment Inquiry Necessary Says Majority of America; Trump Defended by Allies, Whistleblower Being Discredited; Boris Johnson's Fate with Brexit; Protesters in Hong Kong Cancel March on China's National Day; China's 70 Years of Communism; Saudi Crown Prince Takes Responsibility of Journalist's Murder. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 30, 2019 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Impeachment inquiry, a crucial week ahead in Washington D.C. Democrats ready to kick off hearings into possible violations by the president of the United States, but White House is fighting back.

The president accusing a Democrat of treason and fraud and a senior White House adviser dismissing the process as a political ploy. Also ahead this hour, answering questions about Khashoggi, the murder of this journalist. The Saudi crown prince responds to these accusations that he ordered the killing of a journalist inside a consulate.

We are live from CNN headquarters in Atlanta. And we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. The "CNN Newsroom" starts now.

2:00 a.m. on the U.S. east coast and around the world, good day to you. Starting with the president facing an impeachment inquiry, Donald Trump is tweeting up a storm, attacking his opponents, firing up his supporters and trying to discredit the whistleblower at the heart of this Ukraine scandal.

The president is calling the whistleblower his accuser and says that he wants to meet him. Mr. Trump is also trying to depict himself as the victim of espionage and warns there will be "big consequences." Some view that as a threat and there are fears someone might try to out the whistleblower.

His attorneys wrote in a letter to the acting National Intelligence director. It says in part, there are "serious concerns we have regarding our clients personal safety. We appreciate your office's support thus far to activate appropriate resources to ensure their safety."

Despite those concerns, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee says the whistleblower is planning to testify. Adam Schiff also finds himself back in the president's crosshairs. Mr. Trump tweeted that he wants Schiff questioned for fraud and treason.

The president has criticized Schiff for straying from what was the rough transcript of the call to Ukraine's president and it said that he read that in a committee interjecting what Schiff himself described as parity. But the congressman is pushing ahead. He told "60 Minutes" on CBS he is looking to subpoena documents from the president's personal attorney. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS HOST: Will you call Rudy Giuliani?

REP. ADAM SCHFF (D-CA): We're going to need evidence from Rudy Giuliani and it's our intention as soon as first thing next week to subpoena him for documents and there may very well come a time where we want to hear from him directly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: In the meantime, Mr. Trump supporters are digging in, defending the president. CNN Sarah Westwood has more now for you from the White House.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Allies of President Trump were out in full force on Sunday defending Trump and questioning the motives of the whistleblower as Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says his committee has reached a tentative agreement with the whistleblower for him or her to come in and deliver testimony.

And attorneys for the whistleblower also confirmed on twitter on Sunday that they have been in talks with lawmakers from both parties in the House and the Senate to make that testimony happen. The top aide to President Trump, Stephen Miller on Sunday continued to attack the whistleblower is partisan and accuse that person of undermining Trump's administration. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: The president is the whistleblower here. The president of the United States is the whistleblower. And this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a Democratically elected government.

The behavior of this individual is close to a spy. I don't know who the individuals is, all I know is, at some point Chris, we have to focus on the real scandal which is three years of deep state sabotage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney on Sunday gave conflicting answers about whether he would be willing to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. Giuliani is at the center of the Ukraine controversy.

He is mentioned several times in the whistleblower's complaint. And President Trump brought up Giuliani during that now infamous July phone call with the Ukrainian President Zelensky.

Now, despite telling CNN on Friday that he would be willing to testify before Congress if President Trump gave him the all clear, Giuliani did muddy the waters a little bit when he was asked again on Sunday. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I wouldn't cooperate with Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be removed. If they remove Adam Schiff, if they put a neutral person who hasn't prejudged the case, if they put someone in the Democrat who hasn't -- it's just an opinion yet.

[02:05:00]

If I had a judge in a case and he already announced I'm going to impeach, if he already went ahead and did a whole false episode, wouldn't I move to refuse that judge.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: So that's your answer? You're not going to cooperate.

GIULIANI: I didn't say that. I said I will consider it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you wouldn't do it.

GIULIANI: I said --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you will not cooperate with Adam Schiff.

GIULIANI: I said I will consider it. I have to be guided by my client, frankly. I'm a lawyer. It's his privilege, not mine. If he decides that he wants me to testify, of course I will testify.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: The House Democrats are ramping up pressure on the Trump administration to hand over documents and provide testimony related to the Ukrainian controversy on Friday, issuing that subpoena for Secretary of State Mike Pompea and giving him a deadline only up until October 4th, that's Friday, to provide documents that they have sought since September 9th.

They also want depositions from top State Department officials including from former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Now, Volker is slated to appear before three different congressional committees this week so the pressure on the White House to provide those documents that House Democrats have been seeking will be intense particularly this week. Sarah Westwood, CNN, the White House.

HOWELL: Let's put it in perspective now with Natasha Lindstaedt. Natasha, a professor of government at the University of Essex, joining this hour from Colchester, England. Good to have you with us.

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: Natasha, looking ahead at what is promising to be a pivotal week, the impeachment inquiry will get underway and we now know that the whistleblower will likely testify. Given what we know so far about the situation, what is the impact of hearing from the very person who ignited the story?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think that there's going to be more details that will come out that will solidify for the Democrats what exactly took place. But I think that the Democrats already feel that they have plenty of information.

They feel that Trump leveraged, you know, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in order for his own political gain and he admitted it even on the rough transcripts.

And so I think what they are hoping to find out from the whistleblower is a little bit more about who is involved, when did everything take place, and just how deep this actually went. I think they already know that Trump obviously directed this to take place. But they want to know how extensive this goes.

HOWELL: All right, so you speak to the evidence there. Let's say that's point one. Point two certainly will be public opinion critical in this. And if this latest poll is any indication, it seems that Americans are open to this process.

Take a look, 55 percent of voters approve of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, 45 percent disapprove, but those numbers still fall on a division that is clear in America -- on a knife's edge there. The question here, is there a threat of overreach for Democrats here?

LINDSTAEDT: No, I don't think so because this is very different than pushing for impeachment over the Mueller probe because it does involve a national security issue. And as the poll revealed, you know, you have 55 percent that are in favor of pursuing the process.

And almost all Democrats, it's up to 90 percent of Democrats are in favor of this. So, for Democrats, they do have to do what their constituents want. Now of course on the flip side, you have almost 80 percent of Republicans that are not in favor of the impeachment process.

But when the process takes place and as more information comes out, it's likely that the independents and the independents at the moment are 49 percent are in favor of the impeachment inquiry, might shift their public -- might shift their opinion.

And they feel that maybe more information needs to come out. Maybe it's too soon to tell yet, but it's not likely to bring about information that will look good for Trump.

HOWELL: Let's also talk about the pressure on Republicans, those who might say one thing privately but then fall right in line publicly. Is this crisis enough to push members of the president's own party to reconsider when they are forced to be on the record?

LINDSTAEDT: That is a great question. I mean, if they decide to support Trump through this process, what they are doing essentially is saying, if a Democratic president did something similar then that is essentially okay, that they want to erode at our Democratic norms and processes in order to support Trump, in order to go with Trump. And that is really a lot there.

I mean, this is different than the Mueller probe where Mueller was not super clear about whether or not a crime had taken place. He said that there was obstruction of justice, but he didn't say that there was collusion and he left it to Congress, and there are a lot of what ifs and there is a lot of interpretation.

[02:09:58]

Here we have evidence of Trump saying can you do me a favor? Can I use taxpayer dollars essentially to get you to investigate a political opponent and undermine the credibility of our elections? If this happened to a Democrat, how would Republicans feel about this?

And I think that is something they have to ask themselves. And I see what's likely is we're going to have a couple that will defect, but what we've seen with Trump, he has just been like teflon. He has been able to retain the support of his Republican allies no matter what.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt with perspective for us. Natasha, thank you so much.

LINSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: One of Mr. Trump's supporters is defending the controversial call with the Ukraine's president. It's Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan. He had a lot to say about the scandal on CNN's "State of the Union." He made false claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, but Jordan was challenged by my colleague, Jake Tapper, who fact-checked him straight up. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The president is calling for Ukraine to investigate his rivals.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Jake, you're missing the fundamental point here.

TAPPER: I'm not missing anything.

JORDAN: Democrats -- if you want to impede -- if this is their argument, Rudy Giuliani talked to a Ukrainian. Rudy Giuliani, the private lawyer of the president, so we're going to impeach this president. Give me a break.

TAPPER: I'm not saying whether --

JORDAN: I thin the American people are going, really? TAPPER: I'm not taking the decision --

JORDAN: In light of what this president has been able to do leading our country, in light of the economic growth, what he's done with our Supreme Court justice, what he's done with the embassy in Jerusalem, a host of things. You really think the American -- wait a minute, so Rudy Giuliani, the president's private lawyer had a conversation with a Ukrainian and you're going to impeach.

TAPPER: I think that you came here and leveled a bunch of accusations and allegations about --

JORDAN: I did not leave (ph), I stated the facts.

TAPPER: -- about Hunter Biden.

JORDAN: I didn't level. I just said the facts. Didn't you pay $50,000 a month?

TAPPER: He was paid by a foreign company, yes. He was paid by Burisma. But Joe Biden was trying to get a prosecutor who was not pursuing corruption fired and it was important --

JORDAN: It's amazing the gymnastics you guys will go through to defend what -- do you really think the vice president --

TAPPER: Sorry, it's not gymnastics. It's facts and I would think somebody who's been accused of things in the last year and two would be more sensitive about throwing out wild allegations against people.

JORDAN: I am not throwing out wild -- I'm throwing out the facts.

TAPPER: The prosecutor was not pursuing corruption that's why the entire west wanted him fired including anti-corruption activists in Ukraine. I don't understand what you don't get about that.

TAPPER: I get that. I'm just talking about this specific case, that there's been reporting on and the facts of that specific case are what he was paid per month, $50,000, like I said. That's more than some of the folks I get the privilege of representing in the fourth district Ohio get paid in a year.

He is getting a $50,000 a month, the vice president's son. He got hired for what --

TAPPER: The president's daughter right now is having all sorts of copyrights granted in foreign countries. That doesn't alarm you. The president's sons --

JORDAN: Come on.

TAPPER: -- are doing all sorts of business all over the world. That doesn't alarm you.

TAPPER: Come on. JORDAN: What's come on? Either there is a principle -- either there's a principle that people should not benefit from your connections or there isn't.

JORDAN: The previous administration's FBI went after this president on July 31st --

TAPPER: They did a crappy job then because they didn't even acknowledge there was an investigation --

JORDAN: No, they went after --

TAPPER: -- until after the election.

JORDAN: They spied on two Americans associated with President Trump's campaign. They put Peter Strzok in charge of that. The guy who said Trump should lose 100 million to zero. They allowed Jim Comey leak documents to get a special (inaudible).

TAPPER: Sir.

JORDAN: They used a dossier to go get a warrant to spy --

TAPPER: OK, now we are back to the dossier and Peter Strzok.

JORDAN: No. I'm just saying that's what happened to President Trump and now none of that worked. None of that worked.

TAPPER: I understand you want to change the subject, but the president was pushing the president of Ukraine to investigate a political rival. I cannot believe that that is OK with you. I cannot believe it is okay with you. If this is a principle --

JORDAN: It's not okay because he didn't -- but he didn't do that.

TAPPER: It's in the transcript. We all read it.

JORDAN: I read the transcript.

TAPPER: He says that the Bidens need to be investigated.

JORDAN: You got to read it in context. That's what you guys do. You guys don't read things in context. The context is that that comes up when Zelensky's talking about all investigations, open and candid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Jake Tapper there with Congressman Jim Jordan who is a member of the House Oversight Committee, that is the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker is expected to appear before that committee this week.

Still ahead here on "CNN Newsroom," the prime minister of the United Kingdom is not backing down. We'll have more on Boris Johnson's drive to meet the Brexit deadline even as the opposition threatens a no- confidence vote.

Plus, nearly one year after Jamal Khashoggi's killing, what the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, is saying about the journalist's murder. Stay with us.

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[02:15:00]

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HOWELL: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." Britain's prime minister could face a no-confidence vote this week. But Boris Johnson remains defiant. He is vowing to get Brexit done by October 31st. Opposition lawmakers are trying to unite behind an interim administration in order to prevent a no deal Brexit. In the meantime, Mr. Johnson's party is holding its conference in Manchester. Our Nina dos Santos has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (Inaudible) of the conservative party in Manchester got underway with pledges to get Brexit done so that the party and the country can focus on other domestic issues like for instance spending on public services including the NHS, the health system and also infrastructure.

In fact, the first big policy unveil came from the health secretary pledging to open 40 new hospitals. This is a mirror imaging of the kind of strategy that we saw in the 2016 E.U. referendum during which the current prime minister, Boris Johnson, stood in front of a bus essentially saying save money from Brussels and spend it on the health system.

But there was also a conservative party conference that got underway at a time when logistically it's going to be difficult for MPs to get back and forth from one part of the country to the next. This because parliament, after the failed attempt to (inaudible) it, is now still in session.

And the conservative party has not managed to obtain pause or recess to have this party conference, that means that ministers are going to have to shuffle back and forth between Manchester in the north and London in the south, which is three hours away one city from the other.

[02:20:05]

But back in Westminster, there are suggestions that the opposition parties are attempting to call a no confidence vote in the government, but that is looking tenuous at the moment because they can't necessarily agree on who could become the subsequent caretaker prime minister. All of this as Brexit goes down to the wire on October 31st.

And from a personal side, Boris Johnson is also facing questions about his relationship with a U.S. internet entrepreneur, one who he was close to at the time when he was mayor of London. A Sunday Times investigation alleges that Jennifer Arcuri had potentially benefited from her proximity to the London mayor. Boris Johnson has dismissed these claims and said that everything was entirely above board. Nina dos Santos, CNN, in Manchester.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Nina, thank you. Now to Hong Kong where protest organizer are canceling a march planned for Tuesday after police rejected their permit application. The Civil Human Rights Front has organized some of the largest rallies to date this year. They pick Tuesday to march because it's China's national day, the 70th anniversary of that country's communist government.

Lack of police permission does not always keep the crowds away as we have seen in their months-long fight to push for greater democracy. Hong Kong officials in the meantime are bracing for possible violence like we have seen over the weekend.

Protesters threw gasoline bombs and bricks at police and blocked off the streets with fire and barricades. This is the seventh straight weekend that we've seen these protests. Officers responded with tear gas and water cannons.

China's national day is a landmark anniversary for the country and it is a celebration of decades of nearly unchecked growth. Seventy years ago, the country was a remarkably different place that it is now. Our David Culver takes a look at China's rapid rise and whether it is still on its way up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If practice makes perfect, then preparation for China's national day will make for a seamless ceremony. For weeks, students, soldiers and residents meticulously rehearsing their choreograph steps of military might and nationalistic pride, reflecting China's meteoric rise.

But was a struggling nation, China today is the world's second largest economy and growing. October 1st marks 70 years since the founding of communist China. On that day, all eyes will be looking here, Tiananmen Square. It is this symbolic center of the People's Republic join folks from all over the country to its capital, Beijing.

Photographer Gao Yuan has been capturing the changes here through his lens.

GAO YUAN, PHOTOGRAPKHER: We've gone from solving the basic problem of having enough food to eat and clothes to wear to today people having money to travel for fun.

CULVER (voice-over): China today is the world's leading manufacturer and exporter. It boasts the world's largest standing army. And if global success was not enough, they have become the first nation to ever land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. (on-camera): All of this happening under a single communist party,

led today by President Xi Jinping, a leader who has become increasingly powerful as his country has become wealthier. But China's many advancement have come at a cost with pollution and air quality issues, widespread development is also taking a toll on the environment.

The ongoing trade war, slowing China's economy. These mounting concerns now driving away many of its elites. Yang Zi has called Beijing home for the past 20 years. She works long hours as a sales director. It's afforded her a life of leisure and middle class luxury. But at 40 years-old, she's burnt out and now wants out.

(on camera): When the average person looks at you, they would see somebody who seemingly has everything, beautiful home, a car, access to technology. Why leave?

YANG ZI, BUSINESSWOMAN: Materially, I'm very content, but this is not what I am pursuing for my life. Everyone in China is busy and everyone is under pressure. Not just me. I'm an example of the majority of the middle class.

CULVER: She worries about health care, education, food safety, and fears social morality here in China has eroded beyond repair.

ZI: Everyone rushes about for work and it's all about money and self- interests. This is not how I want to end up. I want a higher degree of happiness and a better quality of life.

CULVER: She's already bought a place in Italy, planning to leave behind her rapidly changing homeland. Change that's led to the anniversary ahead, an elaborate show for both China and the world. Watching, you will likely ask yourself is it all a fancy facade destined to crumble or a precursor to China becoming the new world leader. David Culver, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: David on the story. Thank you, David.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia says the full -- takes the full responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

[02:25:04]

But Mohammed Bin Salman denies ordering the killing. Khashoggi, a "Washington Post" columnist critical of the Saudi government. He disappeared nearly a year ago, last seen going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Khashoggi never came out of that consulate. He was allegedly murdered by the Saudi government agents there. Here's what the crown prince told CBS' "60 Minutes."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORAH O'DONNELL, JOURNALIST, 60 MINUTES: What does that mean that you take responsibility? MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, SAUDI CROWN PRINCE (via translation): When a

crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials working for the Saudi government, as a leader, I must take responsibility. This was a mistake and I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future.

O'DONNELL: The world wants the answer to this question. How did you not know about this operation?

SALMAN (via translation): Something that I should know what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily? It's impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second highest person in the Saudi government.

There isn't clear information or evidence that someone close to me did something to that effect. There are charges and they are being investigated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: A brutal murder, Khashoggi's killers allegedly used a bone saw to dismember him. During the interview, the Crown Prince was told the CIA had medium to high confidence that he personally ordered Khashoggi's murder. He countered the quote, "If there is any such information that charges me, I hope it is brought forward publicly.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke was quick to weigh in on the Saudi Crown Prince's interview. He tweeted this. "He did it and our president sided with MBS over our own intelligence officers neither of them deserve to lead their countries."

Still ahead, he is not only the presidential hopeful weighing in on the Trump Ukraine controversy. We'll catch up with Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar on the trail as they take their thoughts on impeachment inquiry to the public.

Plus, what Ukrainian officials are saying about the U.S. impeachment inquiry and the likely reaction from the Kremlin today. Standby.

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[02:30:00]

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: To our viewers from the West Coast to the East Coast on CNN USA and to those watching around the world on CNN International, welcome back to NEWSROOM, I'm George house, with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

Nearly one year after Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells "60 Minutes" he takes full responsibility for the murder, but he denies ordering the killing itself. Khashoggi was allegedly murdered by the Saudi government agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Preliminary results from Austria's snap election show former chancellor Sebastian Kurz will retake power. His Conservative People's Party won 38 percent of the vote. Now, he must decide whether to form another coalition with the far-right or to turn to the left. His government collapsed back in May at the corrupt -- after a corruption scandal.

The U.S. President Donald Trump says that he wants the Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee questioned for fraud and treason for exaggerating his account of the President's July phone call with the leader of Ukraine. President Trump's attack on Adam Schiff comes as Democrats move forward with an impeachment inquiry. The President also says that he wants to meet with the whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine scandal.

Mr. Trump's allies are staunchly defending him and say that there's nothing in the Ukraine call that rises to the level of impeachment. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagrees. She spoke also to CNN's -- to CBS's "60 Minutes". Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (INAUDIBLE) and remains to be seen, because it's not just what happens in the call. It's part of the sequencing of events, as well. You withdraw a couple hundred million dollars' worth of assistance to a country. And then, a couple of days later say, by the way, can you help me with my campaign? In other words, there's a sequencing there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And the impeachment inquiry could turn into a diplomatic nightmare for Ukraine. And that may be why officials there aren't saying very much, at least publicly. CNN's Matthew Chance has more now from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Ukrainian government is being incredibly tightlipped about the U.S. political crisis that it's been sucked into. However, there is a deep concern here about the impact that crisis could have on Ukraine, which is dependent on U.S. support. One top aide to the Ukrainian President has now spoken out on national television in a bid to distance his country from the increasingly bitter and divisive battle. Take a listen.

ANDRIY YERMAK, AIDE TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY (through translator): These are the internal affairs of the United States. We see in the USA, our friends, our strategic partner. What happens there is their internal political kitchen. We will not take part in this in any way. Our friendship and our support is bilateral. It is there, it is very powerful, and I am sure that we'll continue to be so.

CHANCE: Well, Ukraine is fighting a war in its East against Russian- backed rebels and waging a diplomatic campaign to regain control of the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. There are concerns that cross party support for Ukraine may be strained in the parties and political fight underway in America. President Trump's temporary suspension of military aid to the country has also been disconcerting, with one former foreign minister here commenting that the Kremlin in Moscow will be watching this Ukrainian crisis unfold with glee. Matthew Chance, CNN Kiev.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Matthew, thank you.

As the fallout continues from President Trump's call with Ukraine, there is one point Mr. Trump made in the call that his own former Homeland Security Advisor says is completely debunked. It's the false conspiracy theory that a computer server tied to the 2016 election is somehow in Ukraine.

[02:35:03]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BOSSERT, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked. You know, I don't want to be glib about this matter, but last year, retired former Senator Judd Gregg wrote a piece in the Hill magazine, saying, the three ways or the five ways to impeach oneself. And the third way was to hire Rudy Giuliani. And at this point, I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing. And repeating that debunked theory to the President. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again. And for clarity here, George, let me just, again, repeat that it has no validity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Even the whistleblower was confused by the President's reference to the server. Our Brian Todd has more on that part of the story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's one of the more bizarre comments made by President Trump in his phone call with Ukraine's President, the suggestion that somehow a computer server tied to the 2016 election is now mysteriously in Ukraine. According to the rough transcript of the July call, Trump says he'd like his Ukrainian counterpart to, quote, do us a favor and alludes to the Mueller investigation, before saying, "I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike, I guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server, they say Ukraine has it. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people. And I would like you to get to the bottom of it." The only problem, experts say there's no evidence of any of this.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL & STATE PROSECUTOR: This is really a deep state conspiracy theory. It's not supported by the fact. TODD: The server Trump refers to appears to be the Democratic

National Committee server, which federal indictments filed by Robert Mueller say was hacked by the Russians during their 2016 election interference campaign. As part of the Kremlin's effort to help get Trump elected, CrowdStrike, which the President mentions is the cyber security firm hired by the Democratic Committee to investigate the Russian hacks. Trump in more than 20 interviews, tweets and other public comments has harped on the debunked idea that the DNC server somehow contains unrevealed evidence and might be in mysterious hands.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where is the server? I want to know where is the server. And what is the server saying?

TODD: Trump regularly points out that the FBI never had access to the original DNC servers. That's in part because of the FBI's practice of working with copies. But the DNC says none of its original servers were ever missing. The DNC and CrowdStrike say they ultimately gave the FBI copies of the DNC servers once they determined there was a Russian hack. Something then-FBI Director James Comey didn't object to.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: Best practice always get access to the machines themselves, but this, my folks tell me, was a appropriate substitute.

TODD: So, why would the President think someone in Ukraine has a DNC server? We got no response from the White House. CrowdStrike did previously do work for the Ukrainian government, but that was totally unrelated to the DNC or the 2016 presidential election. And Trump once mistakenly asserted that CrowdStrike was owned and run by a Ukrainian, a comment apparently driven by online conspiracy theories. Analysts say Trump is either just repeating these false online myths or is trying to misdirect and muddy the waters.

HONIG: I think he is looking continually for a counter narrative to the Mueller report, constantly trying to shift the blame.

TODD: Then, there's the matter of Trump telling the Ukrainian President that he wanted Attorney General Bill Barr to contact the Ukrainians to get to the bottom of the server question. Legal analysts say it would be inappropriate for the Attorney General to become involved in any of that. A Justice Department spokeswoman tells CNN, the President didn't ask Barr to contact the Ukrainians on that or any other matter. And that Barr never communicated with Ukrainians on his own. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Brian, thanks. The U.S. President's call with Ukraine's leader may have given democrats the ammunition they were looking for to try to impeach Mr. Trump, but Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is standing by Mr. Trump, after playing golf with the President on Saturday. Graham told CBS's "Face The Nation" that the whistleblower complaint is political.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is a phone call between two

Presidents, one just getting reelected -- just got elected. Congratulations. We're very generous to the Ukraine. Other countries like Germany should do more. And oh, by the way, I've heard that this past few that fired, maybe he was a good guy and they fired him because he was looking at Joe Biden's son. Could you look into that? Congratulations. That to me, is not a quid pro quo and the entire whistleblower complaint is based on hearsay, and we're not going to impeach the president based on hearsay, as long as I'm around. This is a sham. There's a political smell to this that's far different than Mueller.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: U.S. -- democrat -- Democratic presidential candidates are weighing in on the Trump impeachment inquiry. CNN's Dan Merica has more on that.

[02:40:04]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN MERICA, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Democratic presidential candidates continue to debate the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump with two particular candidates, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar, debating that topic and taking questions from union voters here in Detroit.

Amy Klobuchar was very blunt about the topic, saying that the current state of affairs around Trump was -- could be compared to the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon. Take a listen to what she said.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To me, this reminds me of Watergate, we just don't have file cabinets anymore. In Watergate, they dispatch people to break in and get information, and in the course of it, broke the law. And then, there was a cover up. In this case, the fact that this President is asking for dirt from a foreign leader for an ongoing political race, which endangers the security of our country. It, to me, is the same thing.

MERICA: Now, Warren, who has been more aggressive on the topic in the last few months, defended the fact that she has already come to the decision that President Trump should be impeached, even if she may be asked to take that vote in the Senate should the House vote to impeach the president. Here's what she said when asked about that topic.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am glad for the House to do the investigation, but looks pretty clear to me what's going on. He wants to mount a defense, I'm certainly willing to listen to it. But that's the evidence that's in front of us right now.

MERICA: All of this comes as a newly-released poll shows cracks in Elizabeth Warren's rise, especially in the critical state of South Carolina. Now, this poll shows that not only does Vice President Joe Biden have a 21 percent lead in the state, but the issues with Warren are more dire when you get to black voters, where she is the first choice of only four percent of black voters in South Carolina, compared to 45 percent for Biden. That's a big issue for Warren, especially in a state where 60 percent of the electorate is expected to be African-American. Dan America, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Still ahead, the Me Too Movement. It's aimed at empowering women to speak out. However, a recent court case in France would have an opposite effect. We'll have more on that story for you. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:45:17]

HOWELL: In Paris, a ruling by a court last week could have serious implications for the Me Too movement in that country. The movement's founder in France has been fined thousands of euros for defaming a man she's accused of sexual harassment.

Now, critics fear the decision might stop women from speaking out. CNN Saskya Vandoorne has this for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN FIELD PRODUCER: She was one of Times people of the year. Called a silence breaker for founding France's Me Too movement. But now, Sandra Muller, who paved the way for many women to speak out is being not only silenced but fined 15,000 euros for defaming a man who admitted making salacious remarks to her.

SANDRA MULLER, FOUNDER, ME TOO MOVEMENT: The message is very clear is don't move, don't speak. We don't want to hear your voice.

VANDOORNE: Muller started the BalancedTonPorc -- squeal on your pig hashtag in 2017 by recounting her experiences years before with television producer Eric Brion on Twitter. She tweeted that Brion told her at a party, "You have big breasts. You are my type of woman. I will make you orgasm all night."

Brion recognized Muller's version of events, and said it was a one-off mistake, but it did not constitute sexual harassment.

ERIC BRION, FORMER EXECUTIVE, FRANCE TELEVISIONS: I tried to seduce her. Yes, my words were really bad. I know that, I admit that. And when I went back home after sleeping, I send her a message to her to apologize. But I never harassed her.

VANDOORNE: The court in Paris agreed with Brion. Ruling that Muller lack a sufficient factual basis to accuse him of sexual harassment. Nevertheless, Brion said the tweets ruined his life.

BRION: My trial was the social networks. In a -- in two, three, four days I was condemned. I was a bad guy. I was a guy who made sexual harassment at work. VANDOORNE: Muller says she took to Twitter instead of going to the police. Seven years after the event, she feared they wouldn't take her seriously.

MULLER: It was prevent the other woman. It's hey, be careful of this man.

VANDOORNE: The verdict was met with anger by feminists such as Marie Laguerre, who was punched outside a Paris cafe after calling out, her pig, in real-time.

MARIE LAGUERRE, ASSAULT VICTIM: I think it's going to have a bad consequences on women who already have a hard time speaking out. We know that it's hard to press charges. Sometimes, we don't have the strength to do it, sometimes we're not well received, and sometimes the only thing that you have left is speaking out. And apparently, we cannot even do that anymore.

VANDOORNE: Sexual harassment and assault complaints in France rose 30 percent in the month after the squeal on your pig hashtag was launched, according to France's interior ministry.

But the ruling in Sandra Muller's case ignited a debate on naming and shaming men for what some consider flirting. In fact, many people here say that the trial tested the boundaries between sexual harassment, freedom of expression, and the heavy pickup approach.

Muller believes it's a cultural problem.

MULLER: I think in France, it's much more like Latin lover of country, it's a country of love, you know, it's a country of seduction, is the country of la, la, la, patriarchal country, you know. And they don't want to be disturbed in their position -- men, many are men, woman -- a woman.

VANDOORNE: Muller says she will appeal the decision. Meanwhile, she fears it may prevent other women from coming forward. Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Saskya, thank you very much. We'll be right back after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:52:45]

HOWELL: Amateur storm chasers captured video of a rare tornado in the state of California. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHASTA FIELDS, GIRLFRIEND OF TOM NOLAN: Babe, go! Go! Watch out!

TOM NOLAN, AMATEUR STORM CHASER: Drive! Drive! (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: At the scene near Davis, California that is near the capital of California, Sacramento. That area had been experiencing unusual weather over the weekend. The tornado created a lot of excitement. Thankfully, no damage there.

Let's bring in our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, in the International Weather Center. Pedram, some really strange weather storms there.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Fascinating stuff, right, yes. You know we don't see that too often. Statistically, it's about 10 per year. We see tornadoes across California and typically as you said, they're very small.

But, the perspective in the last couple of days, you look at the severe weather count upwards of 80 severe weather reports. Two of which related to tornadoes, one of them right there in Davis.

First time in Yolo County. That's the area in Davis there. That since March 2014 that we had a tornado touched down across the region.

So, certainly, exciting here especially when you see it kind of go over a field and not impact anyone and do not cause any significant damage, but again, 10 per year. And when we break down California's tornado history since 1951, I counted about 430 reports of tornadoes. It is among the lowest in the country.

And then you kind of compare that to what happens -- say, in the state of Oklahoma that number is closer to 4,000. By the way, only five of them have been greater than EF2 scale.

So, very little damage typically with California tornadoes. But you cannot compare that with the near 4,000 coming out of the state of Oklahoma kind of breaks down the vast differences.

But, here is what's happening right now across the western U.S. massive trough in place, big storm systems still pumping, bit of snow there across portions of the Northern Rockies.

In fact, we've had near historic snowfall in the last couple of days across the northern tier of Montana were upwards of two feet. Look at East Glacier Park, they are picking up 20-plus inches of snowfall in the last several days.

You look at the snow depth, almost looks like something you would see maybe in the month of December, January here with two-plus feet across portions again of the Northern Rockies, and that is in stark contrast to what's happening right here across portions of the eastern half of the United States, where not only is it hot, it is historically hot across this region where temperatures have risen to upwards of 95 to even 100 degrees as we pushed into the month of October in the next 24 hours.

[02:55:02] In fact, nearly 200 records possible over the next couple of days. Some of these readings again climbing up into the middle 90s. So, pretty hot temps here. Atlanta, 95 degrees, running 20-plus degrees in some areas above what is average for this time of year, George.

So, this sort of a pattern, this sort of a setup. We expect to continue for, at least, a couple of more days before we see a dramatic cooling trend. In fact, look at this. New York City, clams up to near 90 degrees.

And then, just like that, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, fall comes back with a vengeance chopping down into the 60s as we run into this weekend. George.

HOWELL: Is fall coming to Atlanta anytime soon, Pedram?

JAVAHERI: Well, sooner around the same time late this week, I know, the middle 90s are a little too much in October as we go into the next couple days, but later this week.

HOWELL: All right, Pedram, thank you so much.

And thank you all for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. Let's do it again, another hour of news right after the break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:06]

HOWELL: Playing defense, the White House and its allies are all in full force. Defending the president from the whistleblower fallout, a former presidential aide cause the situation, quote, disturbing.