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U.K. Lawmakers Approve Early General Election; Iraqi Protests; Political Vacuum Left in Lebanon; Russia Says Kurds Have Left Border; Chilean Protests; Boeing CEO Testifies on Capitol Hill. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 30, 2019 - 02:00   ET

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


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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Coming up, snap election set: British lawmakers agree to a December 12th election and what that means for Brexit.

Giving in to protesters and giving up his post, Lebanon's three-time prime minister resigns, leaving a political vacuum and a country on edge.

Plus we'll talk to the coauthor of an alarming report on rising sea levels. The new projection dramatically increases the number of cities that could be submerged by the year 2050.

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CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Campaigning is already underway in the United Kingdom after members of Parliament agreed to hold a general election on December 12th. It's not official until the House of Lords approves the measure but it's almost certain that will be done in the coming days.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is banking on winning the vote and being able to move forward from the Brexit impasse. But as Nic Robertson reports, an election is risky.

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NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the prime minister got what wanted, an election on December 12th. He is leading in the polls across the country. The bookmakers seemed to have his government perhaps being returned with a majority but that is very much in the balance.

It was an MP who stood up not long after the vote in Parliament and said quite clearly, I am aware that some MPs on the backbenches of both parties -- some of the more Jr. MPs is what she is referring to -- are a little bit uncomfortable about going for an election right now, certainly Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party, too late to decide that he was going to support this December election. He is seen as doing not so well in the polls at the moment, certainly not compared to Boris Johnson, a degree of reticence on his party to engage in the election that he is in but it is both the liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party who perhaps are going into this quite confidently.

The Scottish National Party really believe that they can cleanup and win a good handful more seats in Scotland. They have 35 right now. They would be anticipating to win more than 50. The liberal Democrats, 19 seats right now, they believe that they can make some gains. They expect to make gains against Boris Johnson's conservative party.

And, of course, for the prime minister, one of the risks is that the Brexit Party, the hardline Brexit Party may take votes from him. That would be very damaging for him and would really lay the way open for potentially another hung Parliament, where isn't a majority for any single party and that Brexit could be almost, if you will, back to square one.

The results will come in on December the 13th. It is a Friday. Undoubtedly for some, there will be some bad news that day -- Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

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CHURCH: In Iraq, tens of thousands of protesters defied curfew, chanting and waving flags as they stormed into Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Tuesday. They are furious over the reported killing of 14 demonstrators in the holy city of Karbala a day earlier.

Amnesty International says there is evidence security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters staging a sit-in and even tried to run them over with vehicles. But Karbala's governor and police deny anyone was killed.

Iraqis have protested for weeks now, angry over alleged government corruption, a lack of jobs and basic services.

And in Lebanon, protesters are celebrating what many are calling a revolution. Prime minister Saad Hariri resigned Tuesday after nearly two weeks of nationwide demonstrations over government corruption and an economy in turmoil.

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CHURCH: And while protesters are happy to see him go, they've promised to stay on the streets until all their demands are me. Even for a country that is no stranger to political crises, this growing instability is something Lebanon can ill afford. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports now from Beirut.

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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Declaring he has reached a dead end, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri submits the resignation of his national unity government to the president.

He was caught between nationwide mass protests and his partners in the government that, despite its name, was deeply divided, as is the country, made clear when hundreds of men, some chanting pro Hezbollah slogans, went on a rampage in Martyr's Square. The antigovernment protesters made an encampment in the capital.

They carried on to the square down the road from the prime minister, confronted by security forces who did not spare the rod. This melee was preceded by clashes between the protesters and local residents, angry at the tactic of road closures, aimed at bringing the country to a standstill.

But it is hurting hard-pressed Lebanese who live hand to mouth, already squeezed by an economy teetering on the brink of collapse.

"Whoever works for a daily wage, can't work, can't buy food," says Ali Hamid (ph), a driver. "I have not worked since this began."

By evening, the protesters were back in the squares; though fewer in number, they celebrated the fall of the government, a victory of, sorts but their demands for an end to official corruption in sectarian politics are far from being met.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The system that we've been protesting against is larger than just the government. I mean, it's the whole system, it is the whole organization of those in charge, now and that we need to bring down.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): And then what, is not clear.

WEDEMAN: The resignation of the government opens up a dangerous political vacuum in a country wracked by two weeks of protests and facing economic meltdown. Perilous days lie ahead -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

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CHURCH: And as we saw, their uncertainties growing in Lebanon after prime minister Saad Hariri announced he is stepping down amid those widespread antigovernment protests.

With no clear successor in place, Hariri will now likely lead a caretaker government, which will be weakened in its ability to deal with the country's economic crisis. My colleague Becky Anderson spoke exclusively to Lebanon's defense minister about these rapidly changing developments.

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ELIAS BOU SAAB, LEBANON'S DEFENSE MINISTER: The current government I am in, my predecessor was doing caretaking for nine months, so I hope this is not the situation right now. And I hope that we will move into a faster process, because as you, know the prime minister did this unexpectedly or without coordinating with the different blocs that form the majority that will be naming a new prime minister, according to the constitution, which is what will be happening next or what should happen next.

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CHURCH: Joining me now is Randa Slim. She is the director of the Middle East Institute.

Thank you so much for being with us.

RANDA SLIM, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: Good to be here.

CHURCH: So what was your response to the sudden resignation of Lebanon's prime minister and what impact will his departure likely have on the country and its people?

SLIM: On the one hand, his departure meets the number one demand of the protesters, so it gave a boost the protest movement. On the other hand, it creates some difficulties for the next step.

And the president is about to start his consultations with members of parliament to see if they can agree on a new nominee for the post. And there is a high likelihood that Mr. Hariri might be asked again to form the next cabinet.

CHURCH: That's interesting. That will not make protesters happy at all. I do want to just take a look at the current state of the country's economy, now on the brink of collapse.

If we just bring up those, numbers you see their, debt has grown to 151 percent of GDP. The budget deficit stands at 11.5 percent of GDP, the economy grew by only 0.2 percent in 2018.

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CHURCH: And Syria's conflict, of course, has hurt Lebanon's economy.

What needs to be done to try to take steps to reverse these negatives and who is equipped in Lebanon to do that?

SLIM: Look, I think the resignation also has brought Lebanon at the beginning of what I see as a contracting process of economic turmoil and security issues. So the priority, as you just pointed, out the numbers that you indicated, is to focus on economic reforms, with the help of the international community.

That might include an emergency package from the IMF to with some capital infusion in the banking sector. The banks have been closed now for 30 consecutive days. It is a precedent that has never, happened not even during the Lebanon civil war.

And that has been the crisis of confidence in the Lebanon banking sector and the more they stayed closed, the more this crisis of confidence increases. And there is a serious fear that, if the banks, when they open, there will be a run on the banks and we might see the collapse of some of the banks.

And that could deepen even more economic pools (ph) and create more difficulties for whoever is going to be the next prime minister and the next cabinet.

CHURCH: And what do you -- what are your greatest fears as you look at that situation?

Because that would not be good. We have mass anti government protesters out on the streets right across the country right now, it sounds like they will not be appeased by this in any way and there's not a glowing future for people.

SLIM: I think there's always fear of things getting out of control, of some violence. We have seen today, you know, thugs affiliated with a party led by Hariri and with Hezbollah led by Hassan Nasrallah, coming into the protests where the demonstrators have been for some time and trying to disrupt the protests and destroy the tents put there by protesters.

I think going forward, what we see is definitely that we are becoming increasingly frustrated with what is going on. It is also clear that Hezbollah wants to bring these road closures to an end and we will see now, that the leader of Hezbollah will give a speech this Friday.

I think that will help us see what they see as the tools of the confrontation ahead, as well as tools of the possible solution. He has been calling for a dialogue between the protesters and the president. The president has called for such a dialogue.

The problem is that right now, the protest remains leaderless and there are many factions in that group and the question is, will these different factions remain unified now that they are unable to keep the street mobilized, now that their number one priority, resignation of the cabinet, has been achieved.

CHURCH: We will, of course, continue to follow the story, Randi slim, thank you for joining us and sharing your analysis, appreciate it.

SLIM: Thank you.

CHURCH: Turkey says Russia has informed them that Kurdish forces have met a deadline, leaving the buffer zone near Syria's northeast border. An agreement by Ankara and Moscow gave Kurdish forces 150 hours to retreat 30 kilometers away from Turkey's border with Syria and their weapons have been moved out.

But Turkey also says it will not hesitate to take action if Kurdish fighters return.

MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER: As of today, the Russian side informed us that PKK and YPG elements left and, of course, we have to believe our Russian partners. We have been working together to stabilize Syria for many, many years

and together with Iran as well. But on the other hand, we can't trust the terrorists; therefore, as we agreed, we halt a cooperation, but in that area in the northeastern part of Syria.

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CAVUSOGLU: If we see any YPG, PKK terrorists, we will not hesitate to take action to eliminate them.

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CHURCH: We will take a short break, still to, come Chilean protesters are not backing, down thousands return to the streets of Santiago, effectively dismissing a government promise.

Plus, the Boeing CEO faces growing from U.S. lawmakers as he answers to two deadly airline crashes.

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CHURCH: Thousands of Chileans returned to the streets Tuesday, signaling the government's reform proposals were not enough. The protest began over a metro fare hike but expanded to a demand for economic equality.

Along with promised reforms, the president replaced eight cabinet ministers in a move to end the demonstrations. But no single leader for the protesters has emerged and that complicates any negotiations.

The protests have brought Chile's capital to a standstill. Businesses have been looted and clashes between demonstrators and the police have been deadly. Matt Rivers spoke with one grieving family.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Its national flag hidden by the smoke, Chile's streets are still burning, bonfires keeping it lit as thousands of Chileans have protested over economic inequality for more than a week now.

Though the large majority of marchers are peaceful, clashes between police and some protesters have at times paralyzed the city. At least 20 people have been killed since the protests began.

Alex Nunez Sandoval, a 39 year-old father of three, is one of them. His wife, Natalia, and son, Rodrigo, told us Alex loved soccer and just being a dad. They live on the outskirts of Santiago and protests sparked here, too, 10 days ago. The scarred train station, blocks from their house, tells the story.

RIVERS: As the protests raged in the area behind, Alex's family says he was not even taking part. Instead, he was sitting here on one of those benches in the park behind me, watching it all unfold.

At some, point the police came, they came down this road here and it caused a bit of a panic amongst everyone that was here. Protesters started running and Alex did, too.

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RIVERS: He started running down this road right here and his family says he only made about 20 meters or so before the police caught up with him and beat him.

RIVERS (voice-over): After the beating, he actually walked home. You can see in this photo, his face is mangled but he told his wife he just needed rest. The next day, he vomited blood and could not wake up, so they went to the hospital.

"I know that when the doctor says 'I need to speak with, you,'" she says, "it's because things are not good. Never in my mind did I think it was the serious."

He died of massive brain trauma. The police would only say there was an ongoing internal investigation into his death but Chile's undersecretary of the interior confirmed he died due to police actions.

Critics say police have engaged widely in brutality. The government says they have simply been reacting to protester violence while trying to enact economic reforms the people have called for. But still, too many in the city, people like Alex have become martyrs amidst a heavy handed government response.

"The people will not allow the police to go unpunished," she says, "we are totally united."

This woman says, "There are a lot of people in this city who were killed and no one will forget them."

A team from the U.N. will investigate the widespread claims of human rights abuses. For Natalia, she cares most about the abuse of one.

"What I want for him is justice, for all the years we lived together, for everything that he was, for my sons," she finishes, "because the police left them without a father."

Alex's funeral was on Saturday. Natalia told us she was always the one who cared more about politics than him. But the man who did not join the protest has turned into a symbol of a movement.

At the train station near his house, some new graffiti has gone up next to calls for economic reform and presidential resignations, a new line, simply, "Alex Nunez" -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Santiago, Chile.

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CHURCH: It was a day of remembrance for families in Indonesia one year after a Lion Air plane crashed, killing everyone on board. Families and friends of the victims gathered together to mourn.

They carried pictures of their loved ones and laid wreaths to remember the 189 people who died after a Boeing 737 MAX jet went down in the Java Sea. And it was a similar scene in Washington where Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testified before Congress about the mistakes which led to that crash.

Family members of those who died in Indonesia as well as the Ethiopian Airlines crash back in March sat behind Muilenburg and held up pictures of their loved ones. And although Muilenburg struggled for answers, he apologized and accepted responsibility.

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DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: And what we've learned from both accidents is that we made some mistakes, there's some things we can improve. One of them is this idea of going to a dual sensor feed instead of single, as well as limiting MCAS to a single action or activation during a flight.

Those are improvements that we've identified. We take responsibility for that. We feel responsible for our airplanes and we know that there are some fixes that we need to make. We own that and we are implementing those fixes going forward.

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CHURCH: Though he was contrite, Muilenburg faced a brutal grilling from senators.

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SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): Between the Lion Air crash and Ethiopian Air crash, it defies logic to me that some of these folks who wrote emails or sent text messages did not come to you.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Those pilots never had a chance. These loved ones never had a chance. They were in flying coffins as a result of Boeing deciding that it was going to conceal MCAS from the pilot.

SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM): Boeing's own culture is more blameworthy for installing a faulty system that resulted in too many deaths and could have caused more. This culture starts at the top.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): You've not been telling this committee the whole truth. Time and again, this is my frustration, Boeing has not told the whole truth to this committee and to the families and to the people looking at this.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): That is passive voice and disclaiming responsibility. You're the CEO, the buck stops with you.

SEN. JON TESTER (D-NT): I would walk before I would get on that 737 MAX. I would walk. There's no way. And the question becomes when issues like this happen, it costs your company huge. [02:25:00]

TESTER: And so you shouldn't be cutting corners and I see corners being cut and this committee's got to do something to stop that from happening.

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA): We cannot have a race for commercial airplanes become a race to the bottom when it comes to safety.

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CHURCH: Well, the Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded for the past eight months and the company is now feeling the pinch in its bottom line. CNN's Clare Sebastian has the details.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The MAX uses 14 percent less fuel than current 747s, that's a lot less fuel, a lot less.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the beginning, the 737 MAX was marketed as a money saver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The 737 8 can carry 12 more passengers --

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): And it worked.

But the start of this year, airlines had ordered more than 5,000 of them Boeing's fastest selling plane to date.

TRUMP: We are issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The global grounding in March in the wake of two deadly crashes turned any promise of cost efficiency on its head. Boeing's own costs, including customer compensation and higher production costs have topped $9 billion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 737s, 40 percent of their names, a third of their cash flow. They're all of Boeing, right, so it is a big number, it's a big contributor to the profitability of the company.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Since, April Boeing halted all deliveries and slowed production from 52 to 42 planes a month, finished aircraft piling up in employee parking lots. JPMorgan estimates that production slowdown shaved 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of U.S. economic growth in the second quarter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was enough to leave an imprint on the economic data. We dot think it's enough to really slow the expansion but if we were to see production slow or just hypothetically stop, that would have the potential to impact the suppliers and the employment of those suppliers.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): There are signs that's already happening. Spirit Aerosystems, which makes the plane's fuselage and relies on the 737 for 50 percent of revenue has embarked on a cost cutting program including a hiring freeze and voluntary retirements. General Electric, which makes the MAX's engine, has seen a $16 million hit to its cash flow and then there are the airlines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At any given, time one airplane might have upwards of five different crews. So you're talking 10-15 pilots. On some of those airplanes 3-4 flight attendants. So times five, right?

So you have a large crew structure that is tied to that airplane, that basically went on the beach at cost.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): American Airlines estimates it will cost them more than half a billion dollars this year. For European travel company Touy (ph), it's more than $300 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have removed the 34 MAX aircraft from service.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Southwest, the plane's biggest customer, says the cost this year is north of $400 million. Its pilots' union is also suing Boeing, claiming $100 million in lost income.

And the airline which only flies the 737, including older, models now said to be rethinking that exclusive relationship, a sign that even when the plane returns to the skies, this crisis may be of permanent damage -- Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.

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CHURCH: He is not the first witness on President Trump's Ukraine call to get a subpoena but he's the first to testify. What we are learning from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. That is ahead.

And later this, hour a team of researchers projects rising sea levels will wipe out an increasing number of cities by the year 2050. We will have the details.

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CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour. The U.K. House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly to hold a general election on December 12th. The measure now moves to the House of Lords. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes this will clear the Brexit impasse. The opposition Labour Party calls the election a once in a generation chance to transform the country.

Uncertainly is growing in Lebanon of the Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he's stepping down amid widespread anti-government protests. With no clear successor in place, Hariri will now likely lead a caretaker government which will be weakened in its ability to deal with the country's economic crisis. No end in sight to the protests in Chile. Thousands of demonstrators were back out on the streets of the capital, despite a government promise of reforms. The protest began with a metro fare hike, but grew to a demand for economic equality.

Tuesday saw another major witness testify in the U.S. impeachment inquiry. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman spoke to lawmakers for more than 10 hours. He is the first witness to testify who was actually listening to President Donald Trump's Ukraine call back in July. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more.

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SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bombshell testimony on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very, very important moment. This is a person that was there.

SERFATY: From Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, telling House investigators today he was so troubled by what was happening with Ukraine, he raised concern twice to his superiors.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We've got all kinds of opinions from several witnesses over the last few weeks, but the fundamental facts are just that, fundamental.

SERFATY: But Vindman is the first witness who was actually on the now famous July 25th phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian President, telling lawmakers today in his opening statement obtained by CNN that he was concerned by what he heard on the call.

"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine." Following the call, Vindman said he reported his concerns to the NSC's lead counsel. Earlier that same month, Vindman attended a July 10th meeting in Washington with Ukrainian and U.S. officials, telling lawmakers that "Ambassador Sondland started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the President, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short."

At a debriefing afterwards, Vindman testified today that he confronted the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland. "Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma." "I stated to Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate." Following that meeting, Vindman says he also reported his concerns then to NSC's lead counsel, as did Fiona Hill, the President's former top Russia advisor, who was also in the room. But that directly contradicts what Gordon Sondland told House investigators two weeks ago during his deposition on Capitol Hill. Sondland then telling lawmakers, quote, "If Ambassador Bolton, Dr. Hill, or others harbored any misgivings about the propriety of what we were doing, they never shared those misgivings with me, then or later." [02:35:00]

Meantime, the House committees are now trying to bring in Brian McCormack. He is at OMB now, but he just recently served as the chief of staff to Secretary Rick Perry in the Energy Department. Perry, of course, has been wrapped up into all of this and impeachment investigation, as well, as far as his conversations about Ukraine with President Trump and the Ukrainians as well. Sunlen Serfaty, CNN on Capitol Hill.

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CHURCH: Joining me now from Washington is Michael Shear. He is a CNN Political Analyst, and white house correspondent for The New York Times. Good to have you with us.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via Skype): Sure, happy to do it.

CHURCH: So, White House witness Alexander Vindman, who listened in on the President's controversial July 25th call with Ukraine's President, delivered bomb -- a bombshell Tuesday with his firsthand account of an alleged quid pro quo. How significant do you think was his testimony?

SHEAR: Well, look, I think on one level, it was -- it was among the more important ones we've gotten. Largely because he was -- he was a first of two different kinds. He was the first White House official to successfully come and testify. The White House has already blocked a bunch of other White House aide, people who worked actually in the White House, the National Security Council. So, that's significant. And then, the second is that he was the first person that the, you know, lawmakers have heard from directly who was actually listening to the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky back in July that was the genesis of this whole investigation.

So, for those reasons, I think it was important. That said, I think, you know, the actual substance of his testimony what we know of it from both his opening statement but also from the information that has sort of leaked out over the course of the last 10 hours or so, is that it was additive, not, you know, completely sending the investigators new directions. That is it sort of filled in some blanks. It added to the -- to the narrative and the storyline that Democrats have been building against the President and his aides. It didn't take investigators in a whole new directions. You know, but look, they're building a case, bit by bit, block by block. And I think that -- in that way, Vindman was important.

CHURCH: And of course, Vindman came under attack from some Fox pundits and some Fox anchors as well as some Republicans, but significantly, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans refused to take part in those attacks. What might that signal, do you think?

SHEAR: I don't -- so I -- so, first of all, I don't think one should read into it that because of that, somehow the Republican support for the President is crumbling. I think, look, there are some lines that some Republicans are not willing to cross. And when a -- when a guy walks into the capital, and he's wearing his dress uniform with medals on his -- you know, on his chest and has been a, you know, not only a Army Lieutenant Colonel and been in the army for 20 years, but also won a Purple Heart.

That background, to be the victim of a kind of a personal partisan kind of hit job, for some Republicans, that goes too far. I mean, obviously it doesn't go too far for others who participated in that -- those kinds of attacks. But, you know, so I think -- I think even in American politics today, there are some lines that some people won't cross and that's -- and this was one of them.

CHURCH: And Vindman told House investigators he was so troubled by the content of that phone call with Ukraine's President and what was happening with Ukraine that he raised those concerns twice with his superiors, saying he didn't think it was appropriate to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen referring there to Joe Biden, and he said he was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine. Why is that so important?

SHEAR: Well, I think on the substance of it, it's important because, you know, Vindman and others have suggested that they saw American policy, American support for Ukraine going off the rails, and they worried substantively that if Ukraine didn't have the support of United States that a crucial kind of bulwark against Russian aggression in Europe could be compromised, right? Like, this is the sort of substance of the foreign policy that is the reason why Ukraine matters is that you've got Russia on -- an aggressive Russia on one side, and you've got Western Europe on the other side, and in the middle is Ukraine.

And so, that's what has for years made Ukraine an important place for the United States to support. And so, I think that's what Vindman was saying, I think, you know, the question with a more political question about the phone call, one of the things that the President has said over and over again in statements on Twitter and elsewhere is that that call that he made with the President of Ukraine was perfect, right? That's what the president said.

[02:40:11]

You know, when you have Vindman saying, not -- hey, I think in retrospect that this phone call was maybe not so good. Or, you know, looking back on it, it was not so good. That's not what Vindman is saying. Vindman was saying in real time, moments after listening to the call, I was so disturbed that I joined others in reporting to my superiors, and the -- and the legal -- the lawyers at the NSC. And so, I think that just really goes to sort of undercutting the President's claim that the call was perfect.

CHURCH: Michael Shear, always good to talk with you. Thank you so much.

SHEAR: OK, thanks so much for having me.

CHURCH: Southern California has grown painfully accustomed to wildfires, but hurricane force winds could soon make a devastating situation even worse. And it's prompted an unprecedented warning. We'll have that on the other side of the break. Stay with us.

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CHURCH: In Southern California, an unprecedented warning of extreme fire danger as hurricane force winds threaten to make an already dangerous wildfire situation much worse. This video shot from a fire engine gives you a sense of just how devastating the fires are, and what crews are up against, as they work around the clock. Millions of people across the state are under threat and they are fears more fires could ignite as the winds pick up.

As for the Getty fire in Los Angeles, we have learned there's no evidence of arson. Investigators believe it was started when a tree limb fell onto power lines, sparking nearby brush. The initial flash was caught on this dash cam video.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more. And it's just extraordinary just looking at the many fires there across California and how hard it is to contain them.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so, you know, in hours like right now, Rosemary, across the region with these hurricane force winds, containment is going to be almost impossible across portions of California. And you take a look, pretty expansive area of coverage as you mentioned, tens of millions of people set to be impacted.

[02:45:04]

And of course, winds across this region continue on into the morning hours, potentially exceeding 100 kilometers per hour. We know fuel as ambient across this region -- abundant across this region, and of course, you take a look we do have extreme red flag warnings in place. And Michael Guy, our producer -- a meteorologist and I, calculated the area of coverage. And that's about 12,000 square kilometers of land that are encompassed by this extreme red flag warning that's in place across this region.

And in fact, you take the cities of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Shanghai, put them together and that would not amount to the amount of land that is covered across this region of California. So, it really speaks to how many people are said to be impacted across this region. And of course, Los Angeles Metro, very densely populated.

But you notice the areas of concern. 15 percent containment that is for the Getty Fire. The Tick Fire, nearly entirely contained. The Kincade Fire also sitting at 15 percent. But really important to note what's happening across this region of Southern California with extreme winds ever stand to be seen rapid growth with this particular fire across the region.

In fact, you look to the north and kind of already shows you what has happened there in the past couple of days. In the initial onset of the Kincade Fire, we had the growth rate roughly at a rate of about one football field -- one American football field every three seconds. That's how much land was being consumed every three seconds across Northern California.

And of course, winds now across Southern California kind of replicating what happened across Northern California a couple of days ago as the Santa Ana's begin to howl across this region.

And anytime, Rosemary, you take winds from a higher elevation, bring it across mountains and canyons, bring them down towards lower elevations, of course, they'll want a funnel and pick up speed and that is the concern right now across this region as powerful winds are forecast for at least Wednesday morning. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Well, it is very worrying. Thank you so much, Pedram, for keeping a close eye on all of that for everyone. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, alarming new research warns that some 150 million people living in coastal areas around the world could be submerged by rising sea waters in the next 30 years. That's a major increase from previous estimates.

The findings are from Climate Central and organization of scientists and journalists in the United States. And their report based on new data finds more than 70 percent of people living in vulnerable areas are in eight Asian countries. China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan.

Now, this map highlights what's projected for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam by 2050 and in Bangkok. The map on the Left shows an old projection of submerged land colored in red, and the map on the right shows the updated projection.

Ben Strauss is one of the authors of the study and joins me now from New York. Thank you so much for being with us.

BENJAMIN STRAUSS, CHIEF SCIENTIST, CLIMATE CENTRAL: Thank you for having me, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, your study shows that rising sea levels could affect three times more people by 2050 than previous studies have shown threatening to wipe out some of the world's coastal cities and impacting what about 150 million people. That is extremely alarming, what makes you so sure that your research is more reliable than earlier studies that a little bit more optimistic than that?

STRAUSS: Yes, earlier studies, unfortunately, relied on older elevation data taken based on measurements from satellites, which couldn't distinguish between buildings and the ground. So, my colleague and I did an analysis and discovered that those data said the ground was on average two meters higher than it really is. And we realized that was a huge problem for understanding coast, of vulnerability to floods, and to sea-level rise.

So, we use artificial intelligence to develop a new data set that essentially wipes out that effect from the buildings and trees and delivers a truer estimate of ground elevation. We validated it in lots of ways and unfortunately, the results indicate that yes, a great deal more people are on vulnerable land than we thought.

CHURCH: What do you think how the researchers haven't worked that out?

STRAUSS: Well, I think other researchers understood very well that the data they were using had problems, but none of them imagined they could address them. It would simply the best data available and we worked with it.

No research lab imagined that it could send a satellite into orbit and collect new data. Our insight was we didn't need to do that. We could use the data that was already there plus many other datasets together with machine learning, A.I. And basically, develop a model that was much more accurate.

(CROSSTALK)

CHURCH: All right.

STRAUSS: In the future --

[02:50:02]

CHURCH: Right. And we do have some maps from your research to show our viewers. Let's bring this one up. It's before-and-after of the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The first map shows as it is now. And then the second as it will be in 2050 or thereabouts.

And of course, the red on that map showing land covered by rising waters. That's according to your research, wiping out the whole of the city of Alexandria. The maps are devastating. What do -- what are these -- what does this city and other cities need to be doing right now to prepare for this?

STRAUSS: Yes. Well, first, I'd just like to make a little clarification. The contrast that you're looking at there, both images show projections of the future, but one is based on the old elevation data that was used for research up until now and the second is based on our new elevation data that we call, coastal dam, that presents what we think is a much more accurate picture of the threat.

So, both of those are future pictures and the updated picture is indeed devastating. It doesn't mean that the whole city would be wiped out. There is a possibility to build coastal defenses like levees or dikes. But it -- and some may already be in place in the region. We didn't have data on that.

However, it does mean that the authorities in that area have to be paying very close attention if they're going to avoid really an economic and humanitarian catastrophe. They need to start planning far in advance because it's going to be very costly and difficult to defend a whole city or a whole region.

CHURCH: And they have 30 years to do this, right? So, let's also look at pictures from your study for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

STRAUSS: Yes.

CHURCH: And again, you were saying these are updated pictures but the second one, of course, is the worst-case scenario for 2050. And then, of course, Bangladesh as well, we'll bring those pictures up.

Now, if your research is right, and we're going to see this massive land loss, why does there appear to be so very little concern from world leaders about these rising sea levels?

STRAUSS: Well, I think many leaders are concerned. But it is hard to wrap your mind around such a radically new thing. I think we basically assume that the world will keep on going the way it is and that land is land and the sea is the sea. But, in fact, we've already shifted from a world in which sea level was stable to one in which it is rising and it will continue to rise for decades and, in fact, hundreds of years.

So, the epicenter of this problem is in Asia, at the cities that you're showing, Vietnam has a huge problem, in Bangladesh has a huge problem. China has by far the most people on land that is vulnerable to regular flooding or permanent inundation by the middle of the century and beyond. It's a big problem for Asia.

It is a wake-up call for Asian leaders and others right across the globe, in fact. Ben Strauss, many thanks to you for your research and for taking us through all of it, explaining it to us. We appreciate it.

STRAUSS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Well, it has become the most famous dog on the planet after helping to take down one of the world's most wanted terrorists. But, we don't know its name or even its gender. But what we do know is it's a K9 hero.

How Americans are celebrating the mysterious part. That's next.

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CHURCH: Well, running down a tunnel after the leader of a terrorist group is not exactly for the faint-hearted, but that's exactly what one dog did in the U.S. raid against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

And as CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, that pooch is now being given a hero's treatment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump made the memorable introduction.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our K-9 as they call -- I call it a dog.

MOOS: And now it's become --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The dog.

MOOS: The dog that has other canines clapping, celebrated for chasing al-Baghdadi down a tunnel. With a terrorist blew himself up while the dog was --

GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF: Slightly wounded and fully recovering.

MOOS: Fan, say put him on the $20.00 bill. "The last thing al- Baghdadi saw," tweeted someone else. Pet owners paid homage by posting their less capable dogs. Forget catching terrorists. Elvis can't stop the squirrels from eating tomato plants.

We know the heroes breed, Belgian Malinois. But the Pentagon won't confirm his name.

MILLEY: Protecting the dog's identity.

MOOS: Hide those eyes retroactively, accessorize him with high-tech optics. Told his name was Classified. Jokers took that as his name. Forget Lassie, it's Classy for Classified.

We're dogged by dilemmas to name or not to name. Was it a good boy or a good girl?

Some inspected the photo and determined -- good girl will bite and chase cowardly terrorists for food and belly rubs. Though Newsweek reports the dog is male.

Remember the bin Laden raid movie, Zero Dark Thirty? Well, movie posters are already being reimagined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trey Parker has just purchased my life story working title, Zero Bark Thirty.

MOOS: Minutes before President Trump praised the canine --

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL: Yes, I call it a dog.

MOOS: President said of the terrorist.

TRUMP: He died like a dog.

NOAH: So, Baghdadi died like a dog, but a dog is also the hero. Some very mixed messages is about dogs in this story.

MOOS: President Trump's first wife Ivana once wrote, "Donald was not a dog fan," you think?

TRUMP: Sweating like a dog. He was choking like a dog.

MOOS: Here's a dog that definitely didn't choke. Jeanne Moos, CNN. TRUMP: I call it a dog.

JOHN OLIVER, HOST, HBO: I call them dogs, not like other people who call them furry lizards or barking cats.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: All right. We'll have more CNN NEWSROOM after this short break. Do stay with us.

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