Return to Transcripts main page


Why Was Trump Blocking Ukraine Aid?; Judge Orders Release Of Mueller Report Grand Jury Information; U.S. Suspends Most Commercial Flights To Cuba; Mysterious Deaths Of 39 Chinese Nationals Leave Many Questions; Feds Subpoena Brother Of Giuliani Associate; California Fighting Nine Major Wildfires; Rep. Elijah Cummings Laid To Rest; The Louvre Marks 500 Years Since Leonardo da Vinci's Death. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 26, 2019 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, Republicans attempt to thwart the impeachment inquiry into the U.S. president. It hits a snag as a federal judge supports the probe.

From Baghdad to Beirut and beyond, protests flare up as discontent continues in major cities around the world.

And wildfires raging across California may leave 2 million people in the dark as the governor vows to hold the power company accountable.


NEWTON: A federal judge in Washington has ruled the impeachment inquiry in Congress is valid. The judge then ordered the U.S. Justice Department to give Congress portions of the Mueller report that had been redacted, arguing it was in the public interest.

Just days after he called the impeachment process "a lynching," protesters rallied outside a historical black college in South Carolina where President Trump spoke. He told the audience he, too, had been treated unfairly by the justice system.


TRUMP: We'll never let up on our reference to be sure that our justice system is fair for every single American and I have my own experience, you know that. You see what's going on with the witch hunt.


NEWTON: Central to that impeachment probe is the president's role in delaying U.S. aid to Ukraine. We're learning more about what happened before and after that aid was released. CNN's Alex Marquardt reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Multiple sources telling CNN that after the funds for Ukraine had been frozen all summer long, it was suddenly on September 11th that the president finally relented.

The abrupt move triggered by a phone call with Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman, who pressured the president to release the aid because a fiscal deadline was looming.

This was a day after national security adviser John Bolton was pushed out and two days after U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told the president that concerns were being raised that his actions amounted to a quid pro quo.

TRUMP: There was no quid pro quo at all.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Bolton has so far remained mysteriously silent. That may soon change. Lawyers for Bolton, according to sources involved, are in talks with the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry about Bolton being deposed.

TRUMP: He made some very big mistakes.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Sources tell CNN that a former top deputy of Bolton's testified that Bolton called the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani "a hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up."

REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA): It corroborates a lot of the relevant information that we had previously about Mayor Giuliani freelancing.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The inquiry is also expected to be ratcheted up next week with the testimony of Tim Morrison, the White House's senior official for Ukraine, who was on the infamous July 25th call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, in which Trump asked for a favor.

Morrison, who was the first person on that call to testify, is expected to confirm key elements of the testimony of the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who said on Tuesday that Morrison told him that President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he was opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If you have somebody directly saying, I was on the call, this is what happened, that's direct evidence that really causes problems politically and obviously legally.

MARQUARDT: The pressure to release the money to Ukraine wasn't only from Senator Rob Portman. There was also a deadline; by the end of September, the funds had to be given to Ukraine or they would get nothing at all.

So lawmakers from both parties were urging the president to send the aid, as was Vice President Mike Pence, so finally on that call, the president agreed but not before grumbling that the U.S. was getting a bad deal -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: Natasha Lindstaedt joins us now. Natasha a professor of government at the University of Essex in England.

Good to see you. The old impeachment inquiry, the process continues. Some may ask to what end.

For American voters, it is a very familiar scene, isn't it?

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Yes, it is a familiar scene but we've had a couple impeachment processes in the past with Nixon and with Clinton.


LINDSTAEDT: All of these are very, very different and in this one we're seeing, again, it is incredibly polarized.

We have Republicans who are railing against the process. They're not necessarily defending Trump's actions but they continue to say that the process is illegitimate. There's even been a document, a resolution signed by 50 out of 53 Republican senators led by Lindsey Graham to declare that this process has been unfair.

What we're seeing is that federal judges are stepping in, like this recent case, and they're making it very clear that the impeachment process has been legitimate.

NEWTON: You know, there's a lot at stake here. From the judge's ruling, it was 75 pages. You know, she made it clear, look, it was the -- in part the obstruction in the White House that made it clear that this information had to be released.

I know there are many different branches of government right now struggling to make sure that the legitimacy is maintained.

But do you think Donald Trump really is winning over Republican voters that he counts on?

Because when you look at the polls, Natasha, nothing has changed as this impeachment inquiry has started when it comes to his all important base.

LINDSTAEDT: That's been the fascinating thing about Trump. His base, as you mentioned, has not moved. It's stayed about 40 percent. He has tremendous popularity within the Republican Party.

But I think this speaks to what I just mentioned, the fact that the country is so incredibly polarized that the Republicans would rather defend Trump at any cost rather than defend the democratic processes that are taking place. We have seen the polls haven't moved at all. No matter what he does,

we haven't seen a shift in the Republican Party. What's more dangerous for Trump as we look ahead is that independents are moving against him. Of course, all of the Democrats or we could say almost 90 percent of the Democrats are in favor of the impeachment process and inquiry.

But you're seeing more and more independents. That's why when we look at national polls, national polls are moving towards accepting the impeachment process and not just the process but also removing the president.

You're also seeing some polls in key states in the Midwest that are in favor of the impeachment process and removing the president.

NEWTON: Sometimes it's in those key states, the electoral college will elect another president. That's where the impeachment will play out.

I want to mention one other thing here though.

Do you worry that a lot of this is going to come down in this process down to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court that now Donald Trump has a lot of influence over?

There are five conservatives there now on the bench and that will further erode the trust that Americans have in their institutions.

LINDSTAEDT: That's one of the concerns that Democrats have, that the --


NEWTON: Sorry, we're having trouble with Natasha's line there but we thank her for that analysis.

As we were just saying, a lot at stake in this impeachment process. And Donald Trump trying to hang on to those very faithful Republican voters. They have stuck with him so far.

The Trump administration is taking new steps in the meantime to try and pressure Cuba over its repression of its people and its foreign policy. Starting December 10th, it is suspending flights to nine Cuban cities, not including Havana. As Patrick Oppmann reports, it will likely affect Cuban Americans the most.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very soon travelers coming from the United States to Cuba will only have one option for flights, that is to come to Havana. The U.S. government and the Trump administration announced on Friday they are canceling every other destination the U.S. carriers fly to.

The Cuban government say are trying to harm the Cuban economy. They're trying force the Cuban government to give up its support for a socialist ally Venezuela, what the U.S. calls a dictatorship. They say the Cuban support for the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela has been key to that regime's survival.

Already the Cuban government has already fired back, saying they will not change any of their policies and that these cancellations of these routes, which airlines spent years trying to set up and quite a bit of money, is both cruel to Cubans trying to come home, trying to come to other destinations.

Many of these places are very far from the capital city of Havana. People will have to fly here and presumably take Cuban airlines or drive for hours and hours if they want to visit their families. But the U.S. government, the Trump administration said too many people were coming here as tourists, which remains a banned activity.


OPPMANN: They are trying to crack down on this and on the flow of U.S. dollars to the Cuban government. American Airlines did spend years and a lot of money and it was only during the Obama administration when U.S.-Cuba relations began to open up that they established these routes.

Now it will have not only an impact on the Cuban government, on Cubans but also on the U.S. carriers that will only have one destination that they're allowed to fly to in Cuba -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


NEWTON: Now in many parts of the world we're seeing a rise in mass demonstrations and civil unrest. From Latin America to Asia, protesters are condemning alleged corruption, inequality and economic hardship.

The unrest in Iraq is among the most violent; protesters on Friday clashed with security forces in the latest round of anti-government rallies. At least 42 people were killed and 2,000 were injured.

And unrest is also escalating in Chile. Demonstrations over living conditions have now claimed the lives of at least 19 people. CNN's Matt Rivers has more on the protest there.

But first, Nick Paton Walsh reports on the violence in Iraq.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another deadly Friday on the streets of Iraq, particularly Baghdad. People frankly furiously taking in protest to the basic unlivable nature of so much of life for normal Iraqis, a lack of basic services, intense corruption and a government that seemed willing to offer words but not actual concrete change at this stage.

Again today we saw protests gathering in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square and other towns across the country but it was in Baghdad where they stormed towards the green zone, tear gas fired at them, some protesters managing to dismantle some of the fortifications that contain the Iraqi parliament and embassies.

There are walls to many Iraqis, symbolizing the gulf between those of privilege and money and the rest of Iraq, struggling with power, water services, that haven't improved over the decades, through wars and through sanctions.

Reminiscent these protests of what we saw earlier this month, where nearly 100 people were killed and possibly as many as 5,000 injured, often facing security services, frankly, who simply don't have the non-lethal kind of tools for crowd control when dealing with an angry protesting group.

The prime minister has said in a speech, he wants to offer a government reshuffle next week. He has promised to cut by half some of the key salaries of government officials. After the last protests, he had called the protesters' demands righteous. But it hasn't been enough to prevent them from coming back on the streets.

What's troubling today is how fast the death toll appears to be rising and how many have been injured. It's unclear whether these casualties will cause more to come out on the streets tomorrow. The protests are to some degree leaderless, which makes negotiated solutions harder and the possibility of spontaneous volatile moments much higher.

But still much anger again and bloodshed on the streets of Iraq, not just Baghdad this day -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Irbil, Northern Iraq.



MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets yet again here in the capital of Chile in Santiago. The protests which sometimes have turned violent have stretched over a week.

The demands are the same with the overarching theme being that they are frustrated with the economic inequality. It has boiled over into different pockets of violence throughout the protests.

We saw it ourselves firsthand today where it was a peaceful part of the protests and all of a sudden a protester threw a brick at a police officer. They responded with force, with tear gas, with rubber bullets.

We know hundreds have been injured on both sides, police and protesters, over the past week. That is a trend that is likely to continue. The majority of protests today were peaceful and the momentum is clearly here. We can expect that these protests are going to continue for a while here in Chile -- Matt Rivers, CNN, in Santiago, Chile.


NEWTON: That was the view from Iraq and Chile. We're also following the turmoil as you see it there in Lebanon. Anti-government protesters in Beirut have crashed with Hezbollah on

the streets. The leader of the political and paramilitary party warned that all of the unrest there could lead to civil war.

Demonstrations in Bolivia have also been on the streets, but they've been more peaceful. The outrage was still visible, though. Hundreds were out in full force Friday, alleging election fraud after the president claimed to win another term in office.

More developments in the investigation of the 39 people found dead in a truck in southeastern England.


NEWTON: And England have never beaten New Zealand at any Rugby World Cup. They get their chance to get one back from the All Blacks in less than an hour. We're live in Japan next.




NEWTON: A young woman who texted her mother to say she couldn't breathe is feared to be one of a number of Vietnamese among the 39 migrants found dead in a truck container. British police now say the nationality of the victims found near London has yet to be determined. Now they've also made new arrests as CNN's Scott McLean tells us.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 39 people, this cargo ship was a ticket to a new life but on Wednesday morning those 31 men and 8 women were found dead in a trailer outside London. Police had said they believed the victims were Chinese. Now they're not entirely sure, saying their nationalities are a developing picture.

Vietnamese officials are offering their help to try to identify victims after fears that some of the dead may be their own.

It was a text message from a young Vietnamese woman sent to her family that raised concern.


MCLEAN (voice-over): "I'm sorry, Mom, my path to abroad doesn't succeed. Mom, I love you so much," she texted. "I'm dying because I can't breathe."

Her family fears she is among the victims.

PIPPA MILLS, DEPUTY CHIEF CONSTABLE, ESSEX POLICE: I would like to speak directly to anyone who thinks their loved ones may be in the trailer. I know you may be worried about speaking to the police. And I would like to assure you that we just want to be able to give the victims' families answers about what has happened.

MCLEAN (voice-over): On Friday, police announced they had arrested three more people, all suspected of conspiring to traffic people and manslaughter. The 25-year-old driver identified by a local councilor as Mo Robinson is also still in custody, suspected of murder.

No one answered at his parents' house in Laurelville, a small hamlet an hour southwest of Belfast.

Shocked and perhaps frustrated by the global attention the community is getting, not everyone appreciated our visit.

MCLEAN: You live here, yes?


MCLEAN: Would we be able to talk to you about --


PAUL BERRY, COUNCILOR: It's a very tight knit community. Nothing like this ever before has come upon the village of Laurelville and hopefully nothing ever will again. We have a driver who is innocent until proven guilty. We have a driver who's been questioned about it.

Whether the godfather or godfathers somewhere, we will need find exactly who's up in the chain to get the person at the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we've been trying.

MCLEAN: This is the property of GTR, the company whose trailer the bodies were found inside of. No one here wants to talk to us on camera. But they say they are cooperating with the police investigation. Key to this case may well be the GPS tracking systems they have installed on all of their containers.

MCLEAN (voice-over): A lawyer representing the rental company told us that GPS tracking device was on the entire time and that data has been turned over to police -- Scott McLean, CNN, Laurelville, Northern Ireland.


NEWTON: You heard Scott mention that Vietnamese family, waiting for word on whether or not a loved one was in that truck. That was after they received that text message. David Culver picks up the story live from Beijing.

So much confusion over the story. It is heartwrenching as well to hear that text. There is this that perhaps some of the victims were also Chinese nationals.

What more are we learning?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The reality is there is no official confirmation here as to the identities. We're hearing officials from the U.K. and China warning they don't want to rush to judgment as to the identities.

They're asking they hold off as the investigation continues. Chinese officials pushing forward, saying that they want answers from the U.K. You mentioned this is heartbreaking. What's absolutely devastating is hearing from the family of that young woman, the 26-year old, who Scott mentioned in his piece.

Her name is Pham Ti Cha Mi and she is from Vietnam. She's from a north central town; CNN had a crew that went there, spoke with the family. The mom and dad, they have these devastated looks on their faces. They look exhausted, they look worn.

In their hand they hold a cell phone with that last text message they received from their daughter. They're not hearing from officials that was their daughter among the victims aboard that container but they're putting it altogether.

If they look at that timing of the text, for them, it's too coincidental that it came in around the same time that container was being shipped from Belgium to the U.K.

They're right now wanting them answers, too. This cost them a lot of money. And while it takes a back seat to the loss of a life, there's no question of that. But this is reality for them. They make roughly $400 a month there. This cost them some $40,000.

So not only did they lose a loved one but they lost much of their livelihood trying to get her to where she wanted to be. Right now, there's a lot of confusion for this family. They obviously want answers. They want their daughter's remains and body to be sent back to Vietnam ultimately.

They don't know if they'll get those answers anytime soon, Paula.

NEWTON: So much of what you're describing, chilling for any family, obviously hoping it's all some misunderstanding.

In Beijing, how open has the Chinese government been?

Whether or not there were Chinese nationals involved or not, are they making an effort to censor the story at all?

CULVER: Well, yesterday, I can tell you that they did have a briefing with the ministry of foreign affairs. They addressed this. They've pointed out quite clearly there are too many unknowns. They have officials from the embassy in the U.K. at the scene. They're working with U.K. officials to try to help with the identity of the victims.

They're pushing this as to not rushing to judgment.


CULVER: That's what they're really stressing here. They're hoping that's received not only by us in the media but also by families who believe their loved ones may be on board. They're trying to get as much confirmation as possible. They say they'll be forthright once they get that information and get it confirmed.

NEWTON: So important that this investigation is methodical. That is what will help us learn more about it so it can be prevented. Human trafficking a huge problem around the world. Thank you so much for bringing us that story. Appreciate it.

After five weeks and dozens of games, four titans of rugby are all set for the World Cup semifinals in Japan. New Zealand's All Blacks are facing England in less than an hour. England really want this. CNN's Christina MacFarlane is in Yokohama, Japan.

You know better than anyone what they're up against. I know you've been talking to them about how they feel their chances are, the All Blacks.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Paula. New Zealand coach Steve Hansen telling me that he's very aware of the threat that England poses in this World Cup.

Both coaches talking about the pressure that they're under here. It is immense. We're talking about two of the biggest teams in world rugby with so much history. This is a rivalry that stretches back to 1905. On paper don't look quite so good for England. They played New Zealand three times in the World Cup and were defeated every time.

New Zealand have never lost a World Cup game in 12 years. But England have been resurgent and have been hunting down the All Blacks. The last time these two teams squared up, England lost by just a single point.

If they can go through in this first semifinal, it will go some way to making up for that embarrassing exit at their home World Cup. As for New Zealand, they have the chance once again of cementing themselves as not just the greatest rugby team that ever lived but one of the greatest sports teams in history. They'll have won an unprecedented three Rugby World Cup titles in a row. We're so excited here. That game kicking off in just under an hour.

NEWTON: We were looking at live shots of fans. I love the enthusiasm and unfortunately Japan is out of it at this point. The next match of the other semi, everyone on tenterhooks as well.

MACFARLANE: Yes, South Africa playing Wales tomorrow. A lot of Japanese fans until here, turning up in All Blacks shirts. As you say, that second semifinal is being billed as a revenge match for Wales. Four years ago the Springboks actually knocked Wales out of the 2014 World Cup in the quarterfinals.

Like in that game, Wales are suffering with some injury problems ahead of the semifinal. They lost a star player, Liam Williams. While South Africa have their own injury concerns, they have so much more strength and depth and experience, of course. This is their fifth World Cup semi-final. They will be wary of the threat that Wales poses because since the 2015 World Cup, they have defeated the Springboks four times. So this could be more evenly matched than we think. Either way, I've got my banner ready and we are ready to rock it outside Yokohama Stadium.

NEWTON: Absolutely nonpartisan there. I love it, Christina. Well done. I appreciate that update. We will continue to get your updates here as this match continues and we watch those enthusiastic fans, Christina.

Now we're going to file this under the oops department. The president's personal attorney accidentally calls a reporter without knowing it. We'll tell you what he said.





NEWTON: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. Here are the headlines at this hour.


NEWTON: The impeachment inquiry in Congress has been ruled valid. They're required to give Congress parts of the Mueller report that have been redacted, arguing it was in the public interest. They are sorting through dozens of bank accounts connected to two associates of Rudy Giuliani. Sources say the agents used explosives to open a safe.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. We get the latest from CNN's Evan Perez.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the brother of one of Rudy Giuliani's associates who are facing campaign finance charges. The subpoena to Steven Fruman is one indication of the escalating investigation since the arrest two weeks ago of his brother, Igor Fruman, and another associate, Lev Parnas.

Investigators have doled out multiple subpoenas and conducted several property searches. In one case they blew the door off of a safe to get contents. Federal prosecutors told a judge this week that they are sifting through data of more than 50 bank accounts. In addition, they have put together a separate team of prosecutors as they take a look at indications obtained from search warrants and subpoenas.


PEREZ: This is so they can examine sensitive materials that could be the subject of attorney-client privilege because of ties to Giuliani, who's also President Trump's personal attorney.

It's not clear why prosecutors are interested in Steven Fruman or what specifically agents sought from the safe. Prosecutors are also investigating Giuliani's Ukrainian business dealings as part of the broader investigation -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: Rudy Giuliani is having a rough couple of weeks here. NBC reports he accidentally called one of their correspondents without realizing it and, yes, left voicemails, in which he talked about large sums of money with another person. Listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Tomorrow I've got to get you to get on Bahrain. You got a call?


GIULIANI: Got to call Robert again tomorrow.

Is Robert around?


GIULIANI: The problem is, we need some money. We need a few hundred thousand.


NEWTON: OK. Giuliani said those calls had nothing to do with Ukraine and were about another overseas project he was involved with, all, he says, is perfectly legal.

Now Kim Jong-un visited two North Korean resorts this week but, as Brian Todd reports, he's there to do much more than rest and relax.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Luckily, for those working there, the water temperature might have been perfect. The layout, suitable for guests. The sauna eggs, a local delicacy, ready to serve.

Kim Jong-un gushed about the condition of the Yangdok County hot spring resort. After checking out the hot tubs, gardens, pathways and villas, the supreme leader, according to his news agency, called the resort "peculiar and absolutely perfect," a contrast to his visit earlier this week to the decrepit Mt. Kumgang, in such disrepair that Kim compared to it a refugee camp.

The North Korean leader is on a resort kick, visiting two of them within the span of just a couple of days.

JEAN LEE, THE WILSON CENTER: He's thinking, perhaps when I build this up, I can bring in the South Koreans. When the relationship improves, I can bring in the Chinese. He's also thinking about the potential to make some money and some foreign currency. Perhaps he thought they would be further along on that diplomacy than they are now.

TODD (voice-over): Investment in his resorts could come as a result of a nuclear weapons deal with the U.S. President Trump has repeatedly talked up North Korea's potential as an economic tiger, seeing it with the eye of a resort magnate.

TRUMP: They have great beaches. You see that whenever they're exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, boy, look at that beach. Wouldn't that make a great condo?

TODD (voice-over): He's referring to Wonsan, the Kim family summer playground, where they have a sprawling complex of vacation villas, which Kim sometimes converts to observation posts for missile launches and military drills.

Analysts say the dictator has long been obsessed with resorts and amusement parks. He constructed a ski resort for his elites. He's inspected the facilities, gone on the rides and has been their most strident critic, even to the point of having to be restrained by his wife, Ri Sol-ju.

ANNA FIFIELD, AUTHOR: Something went wrong at an amusement park that he visited and he was about to lose his cool, apparently, and she was able to talk to him.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say Kim has a vision for North Korea, which goes beyond nuclear weapons and the paranoia of a secretive military state. He also needs these places of leisure to pacify the elites in his inner circle.

LEE: He is like the king and he does rely on the court and the support of the court to remain in power. He knows that he's got to keep them happy and give them a semblance of that life at home if he wants to maintain their support and their loyalty.

TODD (voice-over): But while Kim aggressively promotes tourism, the U.N. has reported this week that nearly half his population is undernourished, that 30,000 children are at increased risk of death.

Will North Korea ever become the socialist/tourist paradise he envisions under his leadership?

LEE: He calls it the socialist fairyland, this vision of a country where the people are well-fed and well-housed. But most of it, I would say, is propaganda. Realistically -- and the people know this -- it is only going to be available and accessible to the political elites.

TODD: Analysts say while Kim Jong-un does want to see that tourist boom in North Korea, there is a limit to what the supreme leader will tolerate. They say that, with outside investment in tourism, comes information from the outside world, information that Kim would definitely see as a threat to his hold on power -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: The weather conditions are proving to be a challenge in the

fight against wildfires in California. What firefighters are up against as they race to try and contain those flames.





NEWTON: Firefighters in California are struggling to contain two major wildfires. One is near Los Angeles and the other is north in San Francisco. The governor said the state's largest utility company had something to do with the last one. Take a listen.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Years and years of greed, years and years of mismanagement particularly with the largest investor on utility in the state of California, PG&E.

That greed has precipitated in a lack of intentionality and focus on hardening their grid, undergrounding their transmission lines. They simply did not do their job. It took us decades to get here but we will get out of this mess.


NEWTON: OK. Meantime, the CEO of the utility company says it's too soon to tell what caused that fire. They plan to cut electricity to as many as 850,000 customers to prevent new fires that could be caused by those downed power lines.



NEWTON: U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings is being remembered as a champion of kindness and justice. He died this week at the age of 68. He was the son of sharecroppers and a civil rights activist.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he oversaw many of the investigations into the Trump administration. Hundreds of people gathered for his funeral in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday. Powerful politicians, including two former presidents, attending.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Character, his can-do spirit made him a guiding light in the Congress. He pushed back against the abuse of power. He was unwavering in his defense of our democracy. He had little tolerance for those who put party ahead of country or partisanship above truth.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others.


PELOSI: He made a seat at the table for children who needed an education, for even new members of Congress, so that he could mentor them, for all who wanted to be part of the American dream. Elijah himself personally lived the American dream and he wanted everyone else to have that opportunity.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He believed that you should treat people the way you wanted to be treated and he believed if everybody accepted his broad, unvarying, inclusive definition of one America, where we respect our differences and think what we have in common matters more and we all live under the same set of rules and we all believe that under those rules those of us who have more than we need should do more to help those who don't have enough, that everything would work out OK.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "Three hundred years from now," he would say, "people will look back at this moment and they will ask the question, 'What did you do?'"

And hearing him we would be reminded that it falls upon each of us to give voice to the voiceless and comfort to the sick and opportunity to those not born to it and to preserve and nurture our democracy. Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart.






NEWTON: It's been 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci died. He was an engineer, and astronomer, an inventor and an extraordinary artist. Now The Louvre museum in Paris is marking the occasion with an unprecedented exhibit of his work.

The display has set off a spark between France and England over bragging rights.


NEWTON (voice-over): Ten years in the making, The Louvre's Leonardo da Vinci exhibition features more than 160 works, including many items on loan from all over Europe and the United States.

The Italian master spent his last years as court artist to France's King Francis I. That helps explain The Louvre's permanent collection of five of da Vinci's surviving works and its decision to spend so much time and resources on this exhibition. VINCENT DELIEUVIN, LEONARDO CURATOR: The Louvre had to do something that on 2019 because Leonardo da Vinci decided to come in France in 1516 and it's in France that he died 500 years ago.

NEWTON (voice-over): The Louvre's decision to organize this exhibition has led to some Franco-Italian tensions. Italy's far-right politician and a former deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, is among those who has pointedly noted that da Vinci was Italian, not French.


NEWTON (voice-over): And there was a public debate in Italy about sending works of art on loan to The Louvre. That hasn't dampened the enthusiasm surrounding this event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leonardo is supposed to be the biggest, best exhibition on Leonardo that's taken place in an awfully long time.

NEWTON (voice-over): According to The Louvre, a genius of the scale of da Vinci transcends nationality.

DELIEUVIN: He only spent his last year in France and that's why we are today the institution owning the most of his paintings but Leonardo da Vinci also is thought of as an Italian but he became a universal genius.

NEWTON (voice-over): This is a remarkable collection of Leonardo da Vinci's on display all in one place.

DELIEUVIN: We have the first experience of Leonardo da Vinci unfinished, the St. Jerome, coming from the Vatican and we have also his most beautiful drawings. First "The Vitruvian Man," this is coming from Venice but also another wonderful drawing, maybe the most beautiful drawing of Leonardo da Vinci, "Head of a Woman," coming from Torino in Italy.

NEWTON (voice-over): Da Vinci's most famous work, the "Mona Lisa," is reportedly viewed by 30,000 people at The Louvre each and every day. It isn't part of the special exhibition as the organizers say it would risk overcrowding the space. The ticket holders for the exhibition are free to take their place in line and jostle with the crowds.


NEWTON: Now the exhibit also contains work from other artists, all related to da Vinci's work. Now it closes February 24th. As I said, you can bet it's going to be crowded.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. Natalie Allen picks it up from me right after the break.