Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Impeachment Inquiry; California Wildfires. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 25, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Studio Seven at CNN's World Headquarters in Atlanta. Ahead this hour, the prime minister who boasted he would get Brexit done is not getting Brexit done. Now he's the prime minister who would get Brexit delay.

A wave of global unrest reaches Latin America. Hundreds of thousands protesting from Haiti to Chile. While the demands and grievances are different, there are common threats stretching from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

And hot, dry, and windy conditions in California fueling another devastating fire season in the state's wine country and entire town forced to evacuate.

The deadline may be just days away but Brexit it seems to have some twists and turns before it's done. After Parliament rejected his Brexit deal, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson call for an early election. He plans to introduce that motion for an election on Monday.

Some lawmakers like the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn hope the European Union would have announced their decision by then on whether they will be an extension since E.U. ambassadors are meeting in the coming hours to discuss just that. But they may hold off until after Monday's vote to find out how it goes. Either way, Mr. Johnson says the country needs to move forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: The way to get this done, the way to get Brexit done is I think to be reasonable with parliament and say if they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal, they can have it, but they have to agree to a general election on December the 12th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now live in Los Angeles. Dominic, good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Hi, John. VAUSE: They seem to be quite a few fireflies flying around parliament on Wednesday. Here's Mr. Johnson explaining why he wants that early election. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: The reason for having that deadline is because otherwise, I don't think the people of this country are going to believe that parliament is really going to do it by that deadline where's there's been three and a half years failing to do it, so let's get it done, and let's come out of the E.U.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes, it has nothing to do with his personal approval numbers, which are pretty high right now. All the polling indicate the Tories would be returned, probably with an increased majority. So yes, it's got nothing to do with it, right?

THOMAS: Well, no, John. And you know, all along he's been so reasonable and compromising. And when they had their majority, they were willing to listen to everybody, right? No, it's absolutely clear. He has no control over parliament. He lost his majority. All he can do is blame them, the Supreme Court, and anyone else that's out there.

And it's clear he wants to try break that hole. But the opposition that since basically 2010 have dealt with three different Conservative Party leaders is in no hurry and is able to essentially determine whatever the timetable is here. And it's a game of poker. Each side is further and further entrenched and unwilling to ultimately compromise.

VAUSE: And just as on the side, what happens to this you know, this sort of boast that Johnson had that he's the prime minister who will get Brexit done on time, they'd be no delays?

THOMAS: Well, what he's realizing, as Theresa May did is, you know, anybody, any politician who talks about, you know, red lines, I would rather die in a ditch than doing that eventually has to read their words. And this is what he's doing.

He's realizing that governing is not quite as easy as he thought. And he's going to have to ultimately make a range of compromises and go back on his word. And if that's the only, you know, play that he has, it's going to be difficult for him to get these things done. But clearly, a general election, as far as he sees it anyway breaks the status quo.

Firefly number two, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn who under parliamentary rules gets to say yes or no to an early election. He has already said no twice. Listen to him. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: We are not resisting the chance to have an election. We want an election because we want to take our case the people of this country. But we do not want this country to be in any danger of crashing out of the E.U. without a deal because of all the damage that will do to jobs, services, and trade all over this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Corbyn doesn't want to go to the voters because it's opinion poll numbers are terrible and the chances are that Johnson will wipe the floor with him and he'll probably lose the Labour leadership.

THOMAS: Yes, 100 percent certain. That is -- that is one thing that we know is that the Labour Party will get absolutely decimated in this election and Corbyn has been part of the problem. First of all, they wanted an extension that most likely going to get some kind of extension. Then he wants no-deal off the table completely.

And you can guarantee that when the no deal is off the table completely, they'll start pushing for amendments which will be completely unacceptable to not just the Brexiteers but for the whole of the Conservative Party. This for him to go to a general election now would be just absolutely awful.

We saw a hint of this in the European elections. The Liberal Dems unambiguously for revoking article 50 and remaining, and the Conservative Party -- sorry, the Labour Party has been unwilling to have one particular position on this issue as we've gone along and are extraordinarily divided when it comes to Brexit.

[01:05:31]

VAUSE: And after dealing with all the ups and downs of Brexit, all the delays at the negotiations, all the screaming, the tears before bedtime, the president of the European Council Jean-Claude Juncker seem to be the only one that was speaking brutally honest. And he was talking about the 2016 referendum, and the campaign which was waged by the Brexiteers. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: If you in 46 years you are told day after, and if day after day you are reading your papers that the place of the British is not in Europe, but that they are there for economic and internal market reasons and all the rest it's nonsense. (BLEEP) as they are saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, that was started with bull and then the other stuff at the end. Is he just venting right now or is there more to it?

THOMAS: I think, you know, that could be an all along, you know, as far as the European Union is concerned. You know, they want you to get much more involved in the referendum and so on. David Cameron told them to stay away. The E.U. for years and years and years have been making concessions to the U.K. And I think the E.U. finds itself in this increasingly complicated

position where throughout the process, they've tried to remain united and try to let the U.K. decide. And they're beginning to realize that neutrality is not really an option. And we see it right now over this question of the vote.

You grant an extension, it would seem to satisfy the opposition. You don't grant an extension, you're capitulating to Boris Johnson. But some of the leaders like Emmanuel Macron are concerned with other things for the European Union, greater integration.

But I think that beyond that, they know that if Brexit does not absolutely happen, this whole discussion and this whole question will plague the European Union for years to come. And it may just be that they're getting to the point where they're realizing that it might just be better for Brexit to happen and to do whatever they can to assist in that particular process.

VAUSE: Yes. It sort of get to that point where it's like, thank you, but goodbye. Ask the Indians about the British. They never seem to leave I guess. Dominic, good to see you. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Well, elsewhere in the U.K., investigators are still trying to find out how 39 Chinese nationals ended up dead in the back of a refrigerated truck in London. They believe the container came from Belgium where authority said have launched a human trafficking investigation. Scott McLean has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police here in Essex now say they believe that all 39 bodies found inside that container are Chinese nationals, 31 men, eight women, all of them adults. It may be a while though before we know their identities. Police brought the truck and the container here to this dock area to remove the bodies but police say they have to complete autopsies to figure out the cause of death before they can make any positive identifications.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Belgium have begun a human trafficking investigation to try to figure out who sent that container across the English channel and when those people were loaded the inside of it. The CEO of the port in Zeebrugge, Belgium where this container came from told local media there he believes it is extremely unlikely that they were loaded into the container at the port.

That's because refrigeration containers like the one in this case, are sealed airtight and those seals typically are checked before they're loaded onto the ship. As for the 25-year-old driver of the truck from Northern Ireland who was arrested, Police say they will hold him for another 24 hours.

He has not faced any charges thus far. The maximum amount of time police can hold him before laying charges is four days. Scott McLean, CNN Tilbury, England. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: 2019 might just be remembered as the year of global rage. Around the world, mass protests are spreading in both number and frequency. And while every demonstration is unique, slowing economic growth, corruption and inequality seem to be the common threads.

In Bolivia, protesters are marching over allegations of fraud in the presidential election. The latest count shows that President Evo Morales won enough votes for a fourth term. But the opposition candidate says he won't accept this loss and has called for more demonstrations.

In Chile, new clashes erupted in the capitol. Police fired water cannons to disperse protesters denouncing living costs as well as inequality. Almost 600 people have been heard, more than 2,000 detained.

And in Lebanon, demonstrations over unemployment and corruption now into their second week. Protesters are calling for regime change but the president insists that will not happen. CNN's Ben Wedeman has more on the unrest in that region.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[01:10:02]

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Revolution, they chant. It's now a week since protests broke out across Lebanon. General strike began Monday. Banks, schools, and universities are closed, and hundreds of thousands take to the streets day after day.

Lebanon is just the latest country in the Arab world where the people have said enough to economic stagnation and corruption. So far this year, mass protests have brought down authoritarian regimes in Algeria and Sudan, and others have been shaken by unrest.

In Iraq, security forces killed almost 150 people protesting high unemployment, corruption and the lack of the most basic public services in an oil-rich country where the powerful have siphoned off billions.

For the first time in years, Egypt has seen anti-regime protests, where the poor are getting poor and the generals who run the country get richer and richer. Each country is different, but they have a lot in common says activist is Rania Masri.

RANIA MASRI, ACTIVIST: The frustration of all these peoples is the same. It's frustration against unemployment, frustration against poverty, frustration against governmental corruption, on governmental impotence. So the frustration across it is the same. And we could argue with the frustration against neoliberalism. It's a frustration against this kind of capitalism on steroids.

WEDEMAN: From Beirut, it's a pattern. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We in a very similar circumstances in terms of

the dictatorships we live under, whether it is the economic situations we have to live by, weather unemployment, all the different patterns that we have in the regions.

WEDEMAN: Nearly nine years ago, the so-called Arab Spring toppled dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and sparked the bloody war in Syria. And with the possible exception of Tunisia, it was an experiment that went terribly wrong.

But this time, what's different is the focus not on politics, but rather economics. The main driver now seems to be anger over falling standards of living coupled with the widely held belief that the ruling class elected or otherwise has been on a prolonged looting spree.

The veil is slipping. Governments and regimes that exploited divisions, that stoke fears, that enrich themselves and impoverish their populations appear to be losing their grip.

What happens Lebanon may not stay in Lebanon. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Arturo Valenzuela served as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, the first Obama administration. He's with us now from Washington. Arturo, thank you for being with us.

ARTURO VALENZUELA, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE: My pleasure.

VAUSE: There's a tendency by journalists to clump things of like together, to put them in boxes to try and find common causes. Is there one single issue which sort of is driving these protests that we're seeing across Latin America, be it the Arab Spring, for example, it was driven by this demand for democracy and end t0 these corrupt dictatorships?

VALENZUELA: No, I don't really think so. I think there's some commonalities, but I think that one makes -- needs to make a distinction between the situation in some countries rather than others. There is a common and perhaps a denominator in the sense that these are still very unequal societies with very high levels of inequality that affect, you know, the prospects for people.

But that's not necessarily what's driving, for example, the situation in Bolivia, as opposed to the situation in Chile. They're very, very different circumstances. Ecuador, perhaps or some similar sorts of things and that is the frustration of middle sectors and so on so forth. But even the Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia thing really do respond to very different phenomena.

VAUSE: Well I guess we'll get to that in a moment. But in terms of broad brushstrokes, if you like, the common threads, there does seem to be anger a corrupt system and corrupt politicians in these countries. Chile's President actually apologizes for just that. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEBASTIAN PINERA, PRESIDENT, CHILE (through translator): It is true that the various governments were not able and currently unable to recognize the magnitude of the situation, the situation of any quality of abuse which has led to a genuine and authentic expression from millions of Chileans. I acknowledge this lack of vision and I asked my compatriots for forgiveness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: I guess there's also this impact of years of a dragging economy, wages seem to have stagnated. You know, and this comes after the commodities boom of the last decade, which, you know, with that boom, and the extra income, and the money, and the resources, it brought the sense of optimism of a better future, but the future seems to have arrived and it just wasn't as advertised in many of these places.

[01:14:59]

VALENZUELA: Well, look, let's be sure to contextualize properly and that is you know, from the 1930s to the 1980s, 42 percent of all changes of government were through military coups. From 1960 roughly until the 1980s, all the countries except for three were under brutal authoritarian regimes. You know, and so the period after the Cold War has actually been a period of significant progress in the region. But that progress, of course, you know, is not necessarily uniform. And it takes a long time to consolidate democratic institutions where they were weak as in Central America and places like that.

And in a country like Chile, with very strong institutions also, the issue of the rising middle classes in many countries that find that their expectations and their -- and their hopes are actually dashed by increasing inequality, and as you pointed out, with the decline in the sense of the commodities booms and the -- and the period of expansion of the Chinese economy, etcetera, etcetera, you find that economic situation has become more difficult, particularly for a vulnerable in, you know, rising middle sector.

You know, in the past --look, absolute poverty of, you know, the -- in much of Latin America has disappeared completely. And what you have right now, of course, is a growing middle class, but it's vulnerable, and that's what we're seeing, the expression of a vulnerable middle class.

VAUSE: And you sort of touched on this earlier if these protests are sparked by, you know, something different, and often something small in Chile, a three percent increase in bus fares. In Ecuador, it was the scrapping of fuel subsidies. You know, these are not trivial matters, to be short, but you know, it's not exactly the burning issues of our time either. Yet, it's been enough to bring out hundreds of thousands of people onto the street. So, clearly, there is something else there that this is like the last straw, the final moment, they've had enough. VALENZUELA: Look, these increases were the proverbial straw that

broke the camel's back, because there have been lingering problems going on for some time. Particularly again, with the downturn in the economies. It affects countries also that are, you know, dependent very heavily on one commodity. You know, in the case of Chile, 40 percent, 50 percent of the -- of the export earnings of Chile comes through the sale of copper and the copper prices have collapsed and so on and so forth.

So, there are a series of indicators that are -- that are important here, but we can't neglect to think that there's kind of a -- by the way, in many other countries and not so much in Chile, significant corruption has been a really significant problem, as well, although Chile has not been completely immune from that. But not to the degree that you've seen corruption in Argentina or in Ecuador, and some of the other countries in the region, or nothing like the collapse of Venezuela, which of course, is a monumental issue.

VAUSE: And we'll just finish up on this because it's not just Latin America that are seeing a lot of protests on these issues of income inequality, you know, and corruption within the political system. We've seen that in Iraq, there's ongoing prodemocracy protests in Hong Kong. I mean, there's the yellow jackets in France. Is there a contagion effect, one protest begets another?

VALENZUELA: I think that these are experiences that are -- that are world ironically, is much more interrelated. You know, we didn't used to read about these things in the 19th century. It would take three months to find out that there might have been some issue someplace else in the world. So, the direct impact, I think that the instantaneous notion, social media, of course, is aggravated this sort of thing. So in some way, people are much more tuned to their -- to the situation.

And perhaps, you know, the really, really poor people would not be able to have -- and couldn't actually go out and protest. There's a famous book on "Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century" by Eric Wolf. It described places like Algeria, Vietnam, Cuba, and so on and so forth. And attributed to the -- to the -- to the real issue is the discontent of the middle peasant, as he called, not the poorest of the poor. So, this may be one of the paradoxes of, you know, a growing middle class.

VAUSE: We're out of time, Arturo, but thank you so much for your insight. You obviously have a lot of experience with it -- with the region, and we appreciate you sharing that experience and the insight with us. Thank you.

VALENZUELA: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Still to come, we'll have the latest from Northern Syria. Turkish President says military operations against the Syrian Kurds are now advancing slowly, meter by meter. Plus, Wildfires raging across California. And once again, tens of thousands of people are on the move to save the ground.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:20:00]

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Fire season is underway across California as we speak. We have seen homes and businesses damaged from the flames that continue to tear through this area. This is a photograph of a building engulfed completely by flames thanks to the forest fires ongoing across northern portions of the state. This is coming from Sonoma County. Here's a look at the fire weather risk as we head into the day on Friday. Our greatest concern Northwestern Los Angeles and into the extreme southern portions of the state including or just outside of the San Diego region.

We have combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and of course lots of vegetation adding fuel to the flames across Southern California as the Santa Ana winds continue to pick up. We're also monitoring the potential of tropical development across the western Gulf of Mexico. National Hurricane Center has a 70 percent chance of a tropical depression forming within the next 24 hours. This will definitely aid in the precipitation outlook across the eastern third of the U.S. You can see all the rainfall totals for that area. Some of that will stretch into New England as we head into early parts of next week. 18 for New York, 19 near Atlanta, wet weather for you. 11 degrees for Chicago. Look at the West Coast, temperatures in the lower 30s, plenty of sunshine and again, the winds picking up across the state of California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: More than four decades after his death, the body of General Francisco Franco is on the move. The remains of Spain's former dictator were exhumed and relocated on Thursday. Generalissimo ruled Spain for almost 40 years with iron grip on power during a civil war, as well as the Second World War. When he died in 1975, his body was interned at a grandiose mausoleum, partially built by political prisoners, jailed by his regime. The government has grown increasingly concerned the site would become a shrine to those of like mind to the fascist dictator. So, his body was taken to a cemetery near Madrid, and it was buried near his wife. Franco's family and far-right sympathizers opposed that move. They've defended his legacy, saying he saved Spain from communism.

Senior (INAUDIBLE) official tells CNN there will be an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by the Turkish-backed militia in that battle against the Syrian Kurds. And this comes, as Russia, Turkey, and Syrian forces continue to push Syrian Kurds away from the border region. The very latest now from CNN's Sam Kiley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Erdogan says that his troops will now be going meter by meter in his words to clear out the remaining elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces from the territory that they were supposed to have lead -- left under the agreement with President Donald Trump. [01:25:00]

But there is a much more important agreement which was struck in Sochi with Vladimir Putin and with the endorsement of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of Damascus, which is to get Russian military police to patrol the borders to allow Syrian government forces into secure the border areas. But more importantly, to try to get the Syrian Democratic Forces dominated by Kurdish fighters to withdraw from 32 kilometers, a band of territory right along the Syrian Turkish border that runs 32 kilometers deep into Syrian territory. The Turks want that completely demilitarized of the SDF by Saturday.

And that's going to be highly problematic, not least because many ordinary civilian Kurds are extremely fearful of the presence, not only of the Turkish forces, the forces that -- the proxy forces that the Turks are using, mostly Arabs to fight the infantry part of their battle on the ground, but they're also extremely anxious about the present -- their own governments forces which, of course, have a record of atrocious human rights abuses over many years.

So, the real issue will be, will the Kurds fully withdraw inside -- or from that 32 kilometers territory, that band of territory along the border, and prevent any further bloodshed. And if that happens, it's all got to have happened by mid-Saturday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: CNN's Sam Kiley reporting there from close to the Syrian Turkish border. We will take a short break. When we come back, these Republicans getting tough on the impeachment. The President demanded they step up and they comply, and he said thanks, but there could be more trouble ahead for the U.S. President when a top Russia advisor testifies next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:11]

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for staying with us.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The U.K. government plans to table a motion on Monday for a general election come December 12th. More likely (ph) it's hoped by then the European Union would've announced that it's extending the Brexit deadline a week (ph) away now. E.U. ambassadors are meeting in the coming hours to discuss just that but that decision could be put on hold.

In Chile (INAUDIBLE) have erupted between authorities and protesters. Police in the capital fired water cannons to disperse demonstrators who are denouncing living costs and inequality. Almost 600 people have been injured and more than 2,000 detained.

In Lebanon, demonstrations over unemployment and corruption now into their second week. Protesters flooded the streets of Beirut Thursday calling for the downfall of the government. But the president says this unrest on the streets will not lead to any kind of regime change.

Now to the impeachment inquiry of the U.S. President Donald Trump. A senior White House Russia adviser is set to testify next week. Sources say he will back up diplomat Bill Taylor's account of pressure on Ukraine to investigate the Biden in exchange for U.S. military aid. Meantime the President's allies are stepping up their efforts against impeachment as well.

CNN's Jim Acosta has all the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Reeling from bombshell testimony in the Ukraine investigation, the President's defenders latched on to a Senate Republican resolution to condemn the impeachment inquiry accusing House Democrats of denying due process to Mr. Trump.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm not here to tell you that Donald Trump has done nothing wrong. I'm not here to tell you anything other than that the way they're going about it is really dangerous for the country and we need to change course while we can in the House.

ACOSTA: The President stayed behind closed doors for much of the day, huddling with GOP senators, including some who have raised questions about his phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said he spoke with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney who acknowledged the White House has to improve its message on impeachment.

GRAHAM: I talked to Chief of State Mulvaney. I think they're working on getting a messaging team together.

ACOSTA: For now, it's Mr. Trump who's driving that message, giving a shout-out to House Republicans after they stormed at a closed-door testimony this week, tweeting "Thank you to House Republicans for being tough, smart and understanding in detail the greatest witch hunt in American history."

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He was to see it happen. He was very supportive of it as he should be.

ACOSTA: The White House is doubling down on the President's tweets aimed at his Republican critics. The never Trumper Republicans, the President tweeted, though on respirators with not many left are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our country then the do- nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum.

Nothing wrong with that according to press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

GRISHAM: The people who are against him and who have been against him and working against him since the day that he took office are just that. They deserve strong language like that.

ACOSTA: Republicans once favored closed-door inquiries when they controlled the House. Consider now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's defense of the GOP's Benghazi investigation.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our goal was fact finding. And five-minute questions by members of Congress and then rotating to the next one is not a very conducive way to quickly garner information and have a conversation in a setting where you can really engage. And so we felt like these closed-door interviews were a much more effective way to get the facts for the American people.

ACOSTA: On the Trump administration's green light to Turkey's invasion of Syria, Vice President Mike Pence met with House Republicans who have blasts the President's policy. Mr. Trump offered some advice to Kurds abandoned by U.S. Forces tweeting, "Perhaps it is time for the Kurds to start heading to the oil region."

The President's Syria policy has outrage key Christian conservatives in his base.

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: And I promise you as I'm sitting here right now, Russia is going to come against us. Turkey is going to come against us. China is going to come against us. It is like the President of the United States is modeling Neville Chamberlain.

ACOSTA: Frustrated with the impeachment inquiry the White house is taking another shot at the media instructing federal agencies to cancel their subscriptions to the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post", a move the White House says will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars even if the decision won't impact the coverage of the impeachment inquiry.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Still to come, lives and homes under threat. Wildfires raging in parts of California right now. We'll have the very latest.

[01:34:33]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: It is the last call to climb one of Australia's best known landmarks. The striking red sandstone monolith called Uluru will soon be off limits. Hundreds of tourists are lining up to beat that deadline.

One's known as Ayers Rock, it's been at the center of a decades' long dispute. For Australia's aboriginal population it's a spiritual and cultural home. The path around Uluru remains open to visitors but the hike on the rock itself is now officially prohibited as of Saturday because it is a sacred site for the indigenous people of Australia.

Firefighters in northern and southern California are battling fast- moving wildfires that have forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes. 25 million are under red flag warnings with hot to dry conditions. The danger could still increase.

CNN's Dan Simon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, raging wildfires tearing through parts of northern California. The fire scorching thousands of acres in Sonoma County. Fire crews engaged in an all-out battle through the night and well into the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where we're at is on the road.

SIMON: At times, the fire moved so quickly it burned the area of a football field every three seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The winds are just blowing embers all over the roads.

SIMON: Intense gusts reaching speeds up to 76 miles per hour whipping the flames over buildings and roads. Ash fell like snow in the night. Hundreds of homes still under a mandatory evacuation order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Geyserville (ph) is under mandatory evacuation.

SIMON: Officials spending the night evacuating residents in Geyserville 80 miles north of San Francisco.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just wondering if are going to make it this time. As of last night I didn't think it was going to be evacuating Geyserville, so this morning we're evacuating Geyserville.

SIMON: The Kincaid fire erupting the same day California's largest utility, PG&E, started another round of power cuts in the area intended to prevent its equipment from sparking fires. More than 15,000 customers of another utility in southern California also without power as wildfires begin to threaten the area.

GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: We are taking precautions, not just the utilities but the state itself.

SIMON: California's governor sounding off on the blackout that had been a continued headache for residents.

NEWSOM: I must confess it is infuriating beyond words to live in a state as innovative and extraordinarily entrepreneurial and capable as the state of California, to be living in an environment where we are seeing this kind of disruption and these kinds of blackouts.

SIMON: In response to the governor's comments, PG&E says it appreciates the feedback and noted that they take the requests and suggestions seriously and are working to implement many of them.

Meanwhile, the Old Water fire near San Bernardino already burning dozens of acres since it broke out in the early morning hours, causing residents to leave in the middle of the night under mandatory evacuations and wait for news of their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother got called from one of the neighbors saying that we're being evacuated. It was about 4:30 in the morning.

Smoke was all in the house and then started packing our bags and went outside, you can just see the flames.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Thanks to Dan Simon for that report from northern California.

[01:39:57]

VAUSE: And Derek Van Dam is with us right now.

And look, you know, we keep saying this about this fire season, you know, they just get worse and worse. Well, certainly as bad as the one before. You have to wonder how much of the state is left to burn.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, how much more can they handle, right?

VAUSE: Yes.

(CROSSTALKING)

VAN DAM: And you look at some of the wind gusts that have come out of that area near 110 kilometers per hour in some of the canyons there. And that is enough to take down trees, power lines -- that is why they do a lot of this preemptive electrical shut down to prevent any of those wires which have live currents of electricity from sparking and igniting new additional wildfires.

But look at this -- in Sill Hill, California we are talking into southern California, 113 kilometer per hour winds. That is the Santa Ana in its full effect. So why in the world do we keep talking about this every year? This time of year -- we get into the fire season. It is all thanks to high pressure that builds into the four corners parts of the western U.S.

Think about pressure gradients. Think about the difference between high and low pressure. Wind wants to move between pressure gradients, between changes in temperatures and then it just gets exacerbated by the funneling of the wind across some of these mountains and canyons.

Think about if you are walking within a busy city like Chicago, New York, Shanghai or Tokyo and you have tall building surrounding you. Well, that wind is going to thrust through a very narrow opening and you're going to feel that increase in the wind and the pressure gradient across that area.

Look at the wind forecast going forward. I mean extreme Santa Ana winds. Through this morning, they've got a difficult 12 hours. Then it relaxes a bit but then as we head into the rest of the weekend and into early parts of next week, it flares right back up -- again no pun intended. We've got a combination of terrible recipe for disaster here because we're talking about excessive winds, low relative humidity, lots of vegetation providing the fuel for the fires.

These are the two fires that we have talked about just a few moments ago in the video. You saw the Kincaid fire, the Tick fire. You can see the containment according to the latest figures from CalFire.

Now, you can even see these fires from space. Look at that plume of smoke starting to be blown right off the mountains there. 18 million people with a red flag warning in and around the greater Los Angeles area. And that is all thanks to the winds blowing offshore.

Now, I want to show you this because this is important. Look at that as we head into the end of the weekend -- Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- winds pick up again across northern California, and that is where we see another chance of critical to extreme fire weather that is going to set up as we end off the weekend and into early parts of next week -- another round of very dangerous fire threats for that area.

VAUSE: A school just sent out a message saying that their school will be open but schools from the L.A. United school district will be closed because of the fire danger.

VAN DAM: And as they should.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely.

Thanks you for that.

If you wonder how strong these winds are -- take a look at this video. It is from U.S. state of Tennessee. Tornado-force winds had tossed a jet bridge on the airport concourse Monday night. The jet bridge was damaged beyond repair but no one else was hurt.

Airport officials say this all came in gate A-27, if you are at the airport there, and it will be closed for several weeks while they get all those windows replaced and they clean up some of that debris. But pretty strong winds in pretty bad weather.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Derek Van Dam (ph).

World Sport up after the break.

[01:43:13]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:00]