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President Trump Impeachment Inquiry; Britons Set to Go to the Polls December 12; Iraq Protests; California Wildfires; Pakistan Train Fire; ISIS Names New Leader; CNN Exclusive Inside a Prison Holding ISIS Militants. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 1, 2019 - 02:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. From CNN center in Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen. Next here on "CNN Newsroom," the U.S. House of Representatives approves the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, but the White House has a new spin on the vote.

Wildfires in California are growing as firefighters make daring moves in their efforts to get them under control. Plus, CNN gives you an exclusive look inside an ISIS prison.

Thank you for joining us. We begin in Washington. The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee says releasing transcripts of closed door depositions could begin as early as next week. This after the full House voted on Thursday to shift the impeachment inquiry into the public realm.

That vote, 232 to 196, was largely along party lines with two Democrats joining Republicans to vote against it. Those two Democrats were enough for the White House to declare bipartisan opposition to the impeachment process. For more, here is CNN's Phil Mattingly.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): On this vote, the ays are 232, the nays are 196.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that historic drop of the gavel, the House entering a new phase of its impeachment inquiry, one exceedingly likely, aides say, to end up with the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Democrats today are holding the first official vote on the matter, a resolution to establish rules for the process. The vote is almost entirely along party lines with no Republicans supporting it and two Democrats voting against.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Today, the country just witnessed the only bipartisan vote on that floor was against.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The vote determined how the House Intelligence Committee will hold public hearings moving forward and allows Republicans to request witnesses to be called, but it does not grant them subpoena power unless Democrats agree. Republicans today are blasting their colleagues.

STEVE SCALISE: Clearly there are people that we served with that don't like the results of the 2016 election.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Calling the inquiry a sham.

SCALISE: When you look at the Soviet-style process, it shows you that they don't really want to get to the truth. They want to remove a sitting president.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Democrats, many of whom were wary of impeachment before explosive allegations related to withholding money from Ukraine for political reasons, defending the impeachment inquiry as necessary to preserve and defend the Constitution.

PELOSI: Right in the here and now, we are keeping the republic from a president who says, Article Two says I can do whatever I want. Not so.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The inquiry itself saw new testimony today from Timothy Morrison, the top advisor on the National Security Council for Russia and Europe. Morrison is the second official who was on Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president to testify so far.

According to multiple sources familiar with his testimony, Morrison said he was concerned the transcript of the call would have a negative implication if leaked and was involved and discussions over how to handle the call. Morrison corroborated much of the testimony given by William Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, about interactions they had related to President Trump's insistence on investigations into the Bidens in the 2016 election.

Morrison also testified that he was warned by then White House official Fiona Hill to avoid Rudy Giuliani's shadow Ukraine diplomatic mission, according to a source familiar with the matter. The source said Morrison was clear that he was concerned Trump asked Zelensky for a favor and that he did not think "anything illegal" was discussed in that July 25th call.

Republicans are leaving the deposition, saying Morrison's testimony may have contradicted other witnesses and helped President Trump.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Mr. Morrison's testimony is very damaging to the democrat narrative. That's why you have not seen any leaks from my Democrat colleagues today.


MATTINGLY: Democrats have been reluctant to put a firm timeline on how this is all going to play out going forward. But we do know this: There will be at least one more week of closed door depositions. After those depositions are complete, they will move into the public phase of things, at least one hearing or likely multiple hearings, with some of the witnesses likely that they've heard from up to this point behind closed doors.

After the investigation portion is complete, things will be transmitted over to Judiciary Committee where they will draft articles of impeachment. How many? Still unclear.


MATTINGLY: What they look like? Still being chewed over. Once that is done, there will likely be a vote both in committee and the full House. Then, should they pass that on the House, things will move over to the Senate for a trial.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, Washington.

ALLEN: As we mentioned, transcripts of testimony collected behind closed doors for the past weeks could soon be made public. The House Intelligence chairman says the transcripts will show that Republicans have not been shut out of the process as some of them have claimed.

Here is what Democrat Adam Schiff told our Chris Cuomo earlier.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): When you see the transcripts and we expect to begin releasing them as early as next week, you will see that the Republicans have every bit as much time to ask questions as the Democrats. We would go one hour for the majority, then one hour to the minority, then 45 minutes to majority and 45 to minority --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But they can't call witnesses.

SCHIFF: -- until everyone had their chance to answer questions. Now, in terms of calling witnesses, they are, in this resolution, allowed to propose witnesses. And if we turn down any of their requests, they can call for a vote. That is exactly the same right they had during Nixon and during Clinton.

There was never a unilateral right given to the minority party to control the process by deciding who would testify. Now, you know, this is obviously a serious issue when you consider the stunts the Republicans have been pulling, the storming of the SCIF and, you know, all the other high jinx that the president concocts with them. They show a fundamental lack of seriousness about this.

CUOMO: You think the president knew what they were doing or had a hand in what they did in storming the SCIF?

SCHIFF: Oh, without a doubt. I mean, that happen the morning after a meeting with this much of the same Tea Party members who came storming in the next day.

And by the way, about a third of those Tea Party members were already eligible to be in the room. And when they were down with a protest, they did not even stick around to hear the witness testify, they left. And I think it shows the fundamental lack of seriousness they are bringing to this.


ALLEN: CNN legal analyst and University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck joins us now from Austin. Stephen, thanks so much for coming in and talking with us.


ALLEN: All right, sure thing. First step here, the House passed a resolution to formally proceed with its impeachment inquiry of the president. How does this change or does it ramp up the impeachment process?

VLADECK: I think formally, Natalie, it doesn't make that big of a difference. I think we already headed in this direction. Today's vote, I think, formally adopts some rules so that there is no longer doubt or dispute as to what those rules are going to be.

I think really what this is a symbolic move, largely to put to bed the complaints that we had heard from Republicans about the lack of such a vote and largely to signal to the courts, in some of these cases where there is ongoing dispute over subpoenas issued from Congress, that this is not just a run of the middle (ph) oversight process, this is actually looking toward a potential impeachment vote against the president.

ALLEN: Right. Democrats have pointed out that the rules that they're looking to use here mirror those in the impeachment process for President Nixon. And Clinton, showing that Republicans and Democrats came together on these rules, does this do anything to thwart Republicans and the president who have been calling this just a partisan ploy witch hunt?

VLADECK: I don't think the today's vote is really going to change that view. I had hoped we would see a little bit more bipartisan cooperation but, of course, every Republican in the House voted against this resolution, all but two of the Democrats voted in favor.

So I think we will probably going to see, Natalie, just more accusations from the Republicans that even this process isn't adequate, this is all basically as the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has said a sham, I think Democrats are basically trying to say, you know, we are accommodating your objections, we are giving you a role in this process, we are giving you subpoena power.

And the question is going to be will that resonate with those folks out there who still have not made up their minds one way or the other about President Trump.

ALLEN: Right. Well, meantime, there was more evidence of a quid pro quo from testimony given Thursday by a top National Security Council official, Timothy Morrison. What was significant about the information he brought forward that you see?

VLADECK: To me, the significance of Mr. Morrison's testimony is that here is yet another person inside the National Security Council, you, know, in the White House, who is corroborating the concerns of the initial whistleblower that really started this ball rolling, who said, yes, we had specific concerns that this was understood as a quid pro quo, and who is basically a further force to the suggestion that the president knew what he was doing, that he knew that he was holding out this military aid in exchange for Ukrainian participation and trying to go after one of his political opponents.


VLADECK: And so now, I think it is just yet further evidence that these charges against the president are not just very serious, but that they are widely corroborated, and that really we have to get to a point where the conversation is not whether the president in fact did it, but what it should mean that he did.

ALLEN: Right, there have been several instances brought forward indicating a quid pro quo, somewhere between five and 10 at this point. So that doesn't look so good for President Trump who has been reluctant to signify the needing of a coordinated war room atmosphere to tackle these accusations, but should that be happening at this juncture?

VLADECK: Yes, I think that is the million dollar question, Natalie. When we look at this process, it seems pretty clear that the Democrats, when we get to the end of the conversation in the House, are probably going to have enough votes to adopt formal articles of impeachment.

I guess the question is whether the president is supremely confident that there won't be 20 Republican senators who break ranks and join the Democrats, that he feels this is all necessary. I think it is telling, though, that all the attacks we are hearing from Republicans in both the House and the Senate are not that the president did nothing wrong, but that this process is flawed.

And I think that is a pretty powerful suggestion, that if we can get past their process objections, if we actually get to the heart of the matter, maybe the president support is not as deep on substance as he believes it to be.

ALLEN: Right. And moving forward, what will you be looking for? The big question is will Bolton come forward with testimony?

VLADECK: Yes, John Bolton, who was the national security adviser for a time, I think, is expected to testify sometime in the next few weeks. I think he has suggested he wants a subpoena, if there is a subpoena, he will show up. I think that could be explosive.

But I think each of these additional developments, each additional witness who comes forward with further evidence, each of these court cases that are still going on, the president loses his battle to resist the subpoenas, I think it is just going to add more and more and more weight to the amount of evidence the Democrats arrest him on for impeachment.

The question is just whether there is any amount of evidence that is going to move at least 20 Republican senators to join their Democratic colleagues if and when this gets to a trial in the Senate.

ALLEN: If and when. All right, we appreciate your analysis, CNN legal analyst Stephen Vladeck for us from Austin, Texas. Thank you, Steve.

VLADECK: Thank you.

ALLEN: As Congress voted on the impeachment inquiry, President Trump went on Britain's airwaves with Brexit party leader Nigel Farage.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): And the Democrats are doing terribly. They do nothing, Democrats are. The only

thing that can do is this. In fact, they just had a vote on a procedure. I guess it is a procedural vote. They gave us absolutely no rights because they have the majority only in the House. And I did not have one negative Republican vote, which is a very unusual thing.


ALLEN: Mr. Trump also weighed in on the upcoming UK election set for December 12th. He said he would like to see Farage and Prime Minister Boris Johnson join forces.


TRUMP (voice-over): You know the president of United States has great relationships with many of the leaders, including Boris. He is a fantastic man, and I think he is the exact right guy for the times. I know that you and he will end up doing something that could be terrific, if you and he get together, unstoppable force.

And Corbyn would be so bad for your country. He would be so bad. He would take you in such a bad way. He would take you into such bad places. But your country has tremendous potential. It is a great country.


ALLEN: Thursday was supposed to be the day the UK left the European Union. Instead, Britons now face a vote with hope that a new parliament can break the Brexit deadlock.

In Iraq, violent protests over unemployment and corruption have been raging for weeks. Now the government has responded to the unrest with sweeping changes. Iraq's president says the prime minister has agreed to step down. The major announcement was made during a televised speech aimed at appeasing demonstrators. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the first time that we see an Iraqi political leader coming out like this, speaking to the people, to the protesters. But if the purpose of President Barham Salih's address was to calm down the anger on the streets or to quell these protests, it does not look like that has worked. Tens of thousands of defiant protesters poured into the streets of the capital, Baghdad, and other cities in the south on Thursday evening.


KARADSHEH: This is a population that says they have had enough. They've had enough of what they described as these empty promises by their politicians that they've heard for years now. And what we heard from the president on Thursday is that Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has agreed to resign. But it's conditional. That would only happen when they find a replacement.

They say they don't want to end up in a state -- in a situation where Iraq isn't a constitutional or a political vacuum. The other thing that the president said is that they are working on a new election law and that he is for early elections. Now, these are some of the demands that we have heard from the protesters.

Historically, looking at this, these are things that take a very long time in Iraq because it requires a consensus amongst the different political parties to agree on a new candidate for prime minister or to agree on election law. And the message from the streets has been clear. They want change, real change, and they want it now.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


ALLEN: Enormous wildfires continue to whip through California, but a change in the wind could make things a bit easier for firefighters. We have an update for you coming next.

Plus, CNN gets inside a prison where ISIS fighters are being held, cut off from the world. Our exclusive report, next.


ALLEN: Take a look at this fire truck in Southern California driving straight into a wall of flames. This is the Maria Fire that broke out just a few hours ago. It's already burned through 16 square kilometers and it spreading rapidly.

Hundreds of firefighters and other crew are on the scene trying to find the best spot to try to beat back the flames. There are now at least 14 active fires burning across the state, stoked by strong winds. Some who abandon their homes are coming back to find they have lost everything. Still, there could be some good news on the horizon. Nick Watt explains.



NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixty miles an hour gusts, homes burning in the predawn dark, the hillside fire broke out in the early hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Everything is getting engulfed in flames.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Sunrise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This right here would have been the bedroom.

WATT (voice-over): And the Valdivia family returned to nothing -- well, nothing. He is speaking with my colleague, Omar Jimenez (ph).

MATTHEW VALDIVIA, LOST HOME TO WILDFIRE: I had my kids' baby pictures and a laptop and destroyed, destroyed. My heart broke, man. I mean, we had good memories in this house.

WATT (voice-over): All week, we have seen dangerously strong winds flipping tractor-trailers on the freeway, fanning flames, spreading embers across the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The embers are blowing into neighborhoods out here.

WATT (voice-over): East of L.A., residents evacuated from a senior center through the smoke. In west L.A., the Getty Center and many multi-million dollar homes were threatened, some of them badly burned. North of the city, hurricane-force winds whipping flames, forcing 30,000 to evacuate, a close call for the Reagan Library, resting place for the former president and first lady.

And in Northern California, hundreds of structures destroyed, nearly 80,000 acres burned. This is California's new normal.

(On camera): Nearly half of this state's population has been under a red flag, high wind warning for at least part of this week. Most of those warnings will be lifted on Friday as the winds subside, still some in place around Los Angeles, so the fire danger is deemed to be increased but no longer extreme.

Nick Watt, CNN, San Bernardino.


ALLEN: Derek Van Dam is here with us now. Derek, I got to tell you, it is just one after another and now there is yet another one, Maria.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Yeah, the Maria Fire that started in Ventura County is not looking good. It has expanded rapidly. In fact, last hour, we were reporting 300 hectares burned from this. And then just now, we've got an update of over 1,600 hectares being burned, 7,500 residents have been evacuated from their homes from 1,800 separate structures. I'm going to take you there because you've got to see this video. It is quite incredible, the time lapse of the Maria Fire actually burning out of control this evening. Keep in mind it is late Thursday night on the West Coast of the United States. This is in Southern California, and you can just see how dramatic and how quickly this fire is being fuelled by the strong Santa Ana winds.

So let's, get to the specifics and talk about where this fire is located, just to give you a geographical reference. Here is Los Angeles County. Here is Ventura County. This is the area where Maria Fire is located. It has got zero percent containment, so the firefighters are having trouble getting in advance and ahead of this particular fire.

There is the latest hectare being burnt. We have had over 7,000 people evacuated already. We have three helicopters, three air personnel aircraft, and over 250 firefighters from the air to the ground fighting this fire as it continues to rapidly expand.

So, why are these fires expanding so quickly in Southern California? Well, it is all because of the dangerous recipe of strong winds, low relative humidity values, and extremely dry vegetation. You can see in the background of this picture. These are trees and in the foreground are the embers being blown by the Santa Ana winds.

Some of these embers have been known to travel one to two kilometers in advance of the original fire that the firefighters are trying to battle. So, it's quite incredible to think what this can actually do in terms of spreading and moving forward. We got live visuals coming out of, I believe, the Maria Fire.

This is in Ventura County and hopefully we will be able to bring those to you because what we are witnessing on the ground is some of the brave men and women that are trying to battle these places because it has been extremely critical for the southern portion of the state over the past 24 to 36 hours.

Fourteen large active wildfires are taking place across the state. If you look at accumulative 2019 stats for the wildfires, we are talking about over 80,000 hectares that have been burnt already, an incredible amount of acreage, thanks to the strong winds and the dry vegetation.

The silver lining here, the winds are going to relax as we head into Friday afternoon and evening, maybe giving the firefighters the upper edge. But look at the dry relative humidity values still in place. We are talking about single digit relative humidity values. That means the air is bone dry.

Would you like to see that green starting to edge into coastal areas? That means the winds will switch from offshore to more onshore as we head into the second half of the weekend. That is why we only have elevated fire risks instead of extremely critical.


VAN DAM: And just to end on this note, even though there is still the fire threat in place, there is no rainfall in this forecast and extended outlook, so the potential here for the fire season to extend is certainly in the cards.

ALLEN: Yeah. Our reporter called the new normal but we are not at the normal yet, likely.

VAN DAM: Budding normal.

ALLEN: Budding normal. All right, Derek, thank you.


ALLEN: Fire ripped through part of a train in Pakistan, killing at least 73 people. A gas canister exploded in a railway car as the train was traveling. Despite gas cylinders being banned, some passengers were making breakfast on a gas-powered stove. Officials say the death toll could rise.

Just days after the U.K. killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an operation in Syria, ISIS says it has a new leader. Not much is known about him except his name is Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. The U.S. raid ended a years-long hunt to find one of the world's most wanted terrorist. But ISIS warns the U.S. not to celebrate, claiming it has militants on the doorstep of Europe and in the center of Africa with more cells expanding.

CNN has gained exclusive access to a prison in Syria where ISIS fighters don't know Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead or really anything that is happening in the outside world. One man, a dual American citizen, explained how he yearns to return to the U.S. to face justice. Our Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This wasn't the ending, they promised, even if it begins to feel eternal. ISIS foreign fighters, as long as these bars in Syria hold, no longer a threat to the outside world and no longer aware of what's happening outside in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't get much information about what is happening.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): This man says his name is Lirim Sulejmani and is a dual American citizen. He has no idea that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed just 72 hours earlier when our cameraman visits. The guards explicitly forbid visitors from breaking the news, so we can only ask what if.

LIRIM SULEJMANI, PRISONER: If he is killed, he's killed. For a lot of people, he's already been killed, he's already dead. We don't hear from him. I don't know. For me, personally, I feel like I was betrayed, you know, so there is no Islamic state anymore. It does not exist.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): He is a common story in the sea of orange. He was just an engineer who is worried about his wife and three children in camps nearby. Their fate is still uncertain. He says facing U.S. justice would be preferable to another day here.

SULEJMANI: I feel very unsafe. I want to go back to states. One thing for sure, I don't want to be here.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Nobody here has faced a trial or been found guilty. And now, many yearn for the due process ISIS denied others in their barbaric rush for blood, leading to the nations ISIS pledged to destroy.

SULEJMANI: My message to American people, to Donald Trump, I mean, there are American citizens, they should not be abandoned, they should be brought to states, face the law. And if they committed any crime, they can be punished, not be left in some place like a slow death concentration camp.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Emaciated, weathering, leaderless ISIS here has not suddenly stopped being a threat. Imagine the rage incubating in these cells. So great, the guards fear what may happen if they learn the news of their leader's death. Anger their home countries do not, for the most part, want to import back, but that lives on after Baghdadi's death in these cells.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Irbil, Northern Iraq.


ALLEN: Vladimir Putin is now the strong man in the Middle East. Just ahead, how President Trump's foreign policy is contributing to the rise of Russian influence around the world. Also --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The face of America's white power movement is screaming young white men, but there are a very small number of women who join.

ALLEN (voice-over): How women are pulled into America's white supremacist movement, and why one woman decided to leave.




ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. President Trump's recent move to pull U.S. forces out of Northern Syria has allowed Russia to fill the void. But it isn't just in the Middle East that Moscow is gaining influence. As Fred Pleitgen reports, Russia is becoming a major global player once again.



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's cozy relations with Vladimir Putin are well documented.

TRUMP: You know what, Putin is fine, he's fine.

PLEITGEN: But while repeatedly calling Russia's interference in the 2016 election a hoax, the U.S. President is gifting Putin one foreign policy victory after the next, spanning almost the entire globe. In the Middle East, Syria is only the latest case of America stepping back and Russia stepping in. Russian forces now patrolling the northeast of that country after President Trump abandoned America's allies there, the Kurds, forcing them to allow Russia into the area.

TRUMP: We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.

PLEITGEN: Putin is now the new strongman in the region. Even traditional U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE courting the Kremlin, as Putin makes a sales pitch for Russian military equipment instead of American gear.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The leadership of Saudi Arabia just needs to make the wise decision, just like Iran did when they bought S-300, and just like Erdogan when he bought S-400. They will protect any Saudi infrastructure.

PLEITGEN: And while President Trump has shown little interest in Africa, Putin is putting on a diplomatic full-court press with the continent's leaders.

PUTIN (through translator): Russia has signed military technical cooperation agreements with more than 30 countries, where we supply a large array of weaponry and hardware.

PLEITGEN: Meanwhile in Europe, President Trump has been alienating longstanding NATO allies, calling America's commitment to their safety into question. And the President held back military aid to Ukraine, which is facing a Russian-backed insurgency, pressuring Ukraine's President to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden's son, leading to Congress's impeachment inquiry. There's no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son.

TRUMP: I'm only interested in corruption. I don't care about politics. I don't care about Biden's politics.

PLEITGEN: Even in Latin America, the same pattern, while U.S. public support for Venezuela's self-declared interim President Juan Guaido seems to have diminished, strongmen, Nicolas Maduro is still in power, as Russia's support for him remain steadfast, sending a clear message to the world of America in retreat and Vladimir Putin filling the void. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


[02:35:13] ALLEN: CNN Global Affairs Analyst David Rohde joins us now from New York to break down some of these issues in this report. David, thanks for coming on.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (via Skype): Thanks for having me.

ALLEN: Sure thing. Well, many areas of the world are seeing the United States in some way slink backwards when it comes to diplomacy and support. Let's begin in the Middle East in Syria, where President Trump made a major decision to remove troops and abandoned the Kurds. And now, just protect oil fields there. There's the question also of a reboot of ISIS. What's your take on this situation?

ROHDE: I, you know, actually spoke with a former Trump senior advisor yesterday. And you know, he said, Look, President Trump has consistently told his aides he wants to get us, you know, get United States out of Syria and generally out of the Middle East. This is his philosophy. He feels that, you know, this was endorsed by voters. And the only reason it is hasn't happened faster is because many of his aides, you know, sort of tried to talk him out of doing it. And, you know, the piece was very instructive, because I think there was a broader move for the United States from, you know, to pull out of Syria, but also, you know, many parts of the world.

ALLEN: Right. Right, and Putin is looking to be more influential in the Middle East now, now that Mr. Trump is stepping back. Putin also courting African countries to sell arms. Also, Saudi Arabia, the UAE also being courted. How could this shift this volatile region?

ROHDE: I mean, I think arm sales don't always, you know, stabilize areas and I think that, you know, it -- I don't think that, you know, an overwhelming American presence, you know, is the answer for (INAUDIBLE) the Middle East, but the mixed signals from the Trump administration, I think, sort of further confuses people. Israel is a major player, Saudi Arabia is a major player, and the U.S. says it's going to backup those countries, but I'm not sure President Trump is sort of willing to use force. Iran sort of, you know, sees that, and I think they've been pushing the United States to see if Trump will respond with force, but he doesn't. So, I guess what I'm warning is, as the U.S. pulls back, there could be confusion, and that could lead to conflict.

ALLEN: And we also know the impeachment process is all about President Trump allegedly using Ukraine for political gain when the U.S. has been working to get Ukraine's support over Russia. What is the impeachment investigation do to this situation?

ROHDE: I think, you know, it weakens President Trump. You know, his foreign policy overall has not been strong. He'll be distracted in having this long, protracted battle. And again, I just want to emphasize this amazing conversation with his former Trump advisor yesterday. You know, the President, you know, sits and will sort of talk to his aides about the benefits of more Russian and American cooperation, the benefits of more Chinese and American cooperation if he can get the trade deal he wants. And he really, you know, does not feel the same way about European allies. He doesn't feel the same way about NATO. He wants the U.S. pulling out of the world and focusing its resources at home. And it's -- I think he'll continue to follow that policy.

ALLEN: And if he does, if he more goes in a trajectory that embraces China and Russia and retracts from our longstanding NATO allies, what does that do to the world order?

ROHDE: I think it, you know, weakens, essentially, you know, the Western democracies. You know, for years, it was the United States and Europe, would aid from Japan and other nations sort of pushing for open markets, human rights, and basic democratic rights and, you know, President, you know, doesn't emphasize that as much. He's not as large a defender of human rights. And so, I think that's what's changes. And you have this, you know, you know, these authoritarian governments, you know, I think gaining prestige and influence as the U.S. withdraws. And Donald Trump is fine with that. And, you know, they'll be an election in the United States next year, and we'll see if most Americans agree with them.

ALLEN: All right. And finally, we still really don't know what is his connection. Someone say fascination with Russia and Vladimir Putin, did your conversation shed any light on that?

ROHDE: Look, I want to be fair to President Trump, you know, the Mueller investigation found no evidence of, you know, coordination with Russia. So, he might just have a genuine, you know, admiration for Vladimir Putin. He likes to be -- he likes to push back against the establishment of the experts. So, you know, he has adopted this pro-Russia stance. I think we should assume that as his genuine belief, until there's clear evidence otherwise. And so far, there -- you know, it appears to simply be his belief.


Many people say it's a mistaken belief, but again, as I keep hearing from aides, he really believes that, you know, with the U.S. withdrawing from the world, the U.S. having a better relationship with Russia will help the United States.

ALLEN: We shall see. Thanks so much CNN Global Affairs Analysts, David Rohde joining us from New York. Thanks, David.

ROHDE: Thank you.

ALLEN: A white supremacist group in America try to draw members with a different look.


SAMANTHA, LEFT ALT-RIGHT CULT: It's all very old, very antiquated ideology just packaged in khakis and loafers.


ALLEN: How one woman got into the movement and why she decided to leave, that's next.


ALLEN: A white supremacist movement in America known as the Alt-Right for Alternative Right, attracted thousands of supporters when it began to grow in 2017. Among them, a small number of women. CNN's Elle Reeve spoke with one of those women about how she was lured into the group, and why she decided to leave.


ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The face of America's white power movement is screaming young, white men. But there are a very small number of women who joined. Samantha was one of them.

SAMANTHA: This I wore to the last Alt-Right party that I ever went to.

REEVE: The 29-year-old tells new friends she spent a year in a cult, a cult of racism. After she left, she feared being exposed for what she'd done. Now, she wants to come forward on her own terms and warn others about the power of online radicalization. She welcomes us into her home. We agreed not to show its surroundings or share her last name due to safety concerns.

How important do you think that sense of alienation is attracting people?

SAMANTHA: 100 percent. I think alienation is like the number one reason that people joined. I was seeing this guy and I was going through a lot of turbulent like emotional and just personal, mental things, where my sense of self was pretty damaged.


It was just this immersion into the culture of it with someone that I so badly wanted the affection of and the approval of just -- it didn't take much. It's not as if this person was like strapping me down. Like, I was hungry to learn. I was hunger to figure this out.

REEVE: On January 1st, 2017 you became a member of Identity Evropa. Can you explain what that is?

SAMANTHA: It was a white civil rights group or a white advocacy group, I believe was the term. Identity Evropa was trying to project this image of being -- I mean, you know, clean-cut, law-abiding, nonracial slur-using, polite, kind, handing out water bottles to old ladies on the street -- just like a nice group of people.

REEVE: They didn't want to look like the skinheads?

SAMANTHA: No, absolutely not. The language that was used was always pro-white, it was never anti anything else. And so it made it really easy to ignore the parts that you don't want to see.

REEVE: Like violence? SAMANTHA: Yes, violence or just blatant racism.

REEVE: Today known as the American Identity Movement, Identity Evropa was created in 2016 as a kind of fraternity to promote white power with a more clean-cut face.

SAMANTHA: It's all very old, very antiquated ideology, just packaged in khakis and loafers.

REEVE: The alt-right is far more hostile to women than previous iterations of the white supremacist movement. It emerged from an Internet culture that cross-pollinated with men's rights and incel forums, an online subculture of men who are involuntarily celibate and blame women for it.

Samantha says there were only a handful of women in I.E. when she joined. She kept her day job as a manager at a cocktail bar. Even as she interviewed up to 20 people a week to be new members of I.E.

SAMANTHA: I wasn't the only interviewer --

REEVE: Part of her job was to screen out Jews. She was named women's coordinator, and she says she helped membership grow to about 50 women and a group of roughly 1,000 people.

Then, why did you do it so much?

SAMANTHA: Because it felt good to help. It felt good to be productive and to feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.

REEVE: Samantha's rise in the alt-right parallel to the rise of the alt-right in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not replace us! You will not replace us!

REEVE: In the spring of 2017, members of the movement were feeling emboldened.

TRUMP: I will faithfully execute --

REEVE: Donald Trump had been sworn into office. Steve Bannon was a White House aide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not replace us!

REEVE: And protests, like this one, referred to as Charlottesville 1.0 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia is our friend!

REEVE: -- which Samantha helped to coordinate, were popping up across the country. Then she started a new relationship with a rising leader within Identity Evropa and was welcomed into the movement's inner circle.

SAMANTHA: We took a weekend and went to a bunch of parties in New York.

REEVE: And what kind of parties?

SAMANTHA: Little tea parties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is the type of awful tool --

SAMANTHA: I went to a book-burning. That was pretty scandalous. It's all so surreal. Like, you're literally standing there going, I'm at a book-burning in someone's house. Like, there are -- there are families that live next door. There's probably a nice person who lives across the street and I'm burning books about Jewish people. Like it was just so -- I don't know, it just feels like it doesn't even feel like it's wrong or right, it just feels unreal.

REEVE: Did you guys present yourselves as like a white power, power couple?

SAMANTHA: Yes, kind of. I think that's how people looked at us, that we would be like the next generation of -- you know, a power couple within the white movement.

REEVE: So, in public, you were a couple, but behind the scenes?

SAMANTHA: The misery was growing exponentially like, every day. I had tried to break up with him several times. I had told him I couldn't do it anymore. I tried to do all these things, but I was so afraid.

REEVE: A meme among the Internet Nazis was white sharia. It's a racist interpretation of Islam that portrays women as subhuman.

SAMANTHA: And as a woman, you are secretary, mother, babysitter, but never an equal.

REEVE: Private messages to Samantha show that while the women might have played along in public, in private they found it disturbing. But at the same time, Samantha says they felt trapped, afraid that they'd be doxxed. That means your identity and personal information is released online.

Samantha says she and her boyfriend broke up privately, but he wouldn't move out. There were shouting matches, financial struggles. She realized the only way to leave the relationship was to also leave the movement. The reaction was more degradation.


SAMANTHA: I was told a lot that I would be really good, that I could probably hold a lot of Nazi semen and birth a lot of Nazi babies whether I liked it or not, that they would break my legs that I couldn't run away, and then I would just be killed afterwards.

REEVE: The threat scared her, but they were clarifying. In October 2017, she quit I.E. She eventually stopped making excuses and realized she'd actively promoted racism. SAMANTHA: All of that the weird propaganda that I was buying into, all of the ideology and the rhetoric -- it just immediately hit me that it was all bull --

It just all hit me how much of an idiot I was.

REEVE: The American Identity Movement tells CNN it is unaware of anyone being coerced to stay in the organization. Today, Samantha has joined a different kind of organization, one that helps people leave hate groups. She hopes coming forward with her story can make a difference.

SAMANTHA: For a lot of people, I don't think it's about the politics. I don't think anyone wakes up and says, like, I really want to make a poster about being racist. And I just think that the alt-right really knew how to play on this like, weird new form of nihilism that people are feeling.

REEVE: Samantha says she joined a fraternity based on hate because it gave her a new sense of meaning. She didn't realize how fast they could turn that hate on her.

Elle Reeve, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: If the U.S. House does impeach President Trump, he can probably blame his personal lawyer. Rudy Giuliani has been such a wild card that White House officials warned each other to stay away from him. We'll have that story next.


ALLEN: On Thursday, the impeachment inquiry in Congress heard a senior White House official tell them a very curious thing. He said he was warned by one of his White House colleagues to steer clear of Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And now, we all understand why. Here's CNN's Tom Foreman with that.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Undeniably, there are people close to the president who fear the actions of the president's attorney could become a huge liability if impeachment keeps going forward. But a liability to Donald Trump or to Rudy Giuliani himself, that's the question.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Truth isn't truth. The president of the United States says I didn't --

CHUCK TODD, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Truth isn't truth? Mr. Mayor, do you realize what I --


GIULIANI: No, no, no. TODD: This is going to become a bad meme.

GIULIANI: What -- don't do -- don't do -- don't do this to me.

FOREMAN: In the swirling storm of the Ukraine scandal as much or more than the president.

GIULIANI: Shut up, moron. Shut up.


FOREMAN: Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer is at the center.

GIULIANI: You're just repeating spin. The prosecutor -- the prosecutor --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, but you don't, right? You're not spinning anything, go ahead.

GIULIANI: I'm not spinning a damn thing.

FOREMAN: Time has put him on its front page, calling him a shadow secretary of state. Even as witnesses have told Congress it was Giuliani who set up back door communications with the Ukrainians, bypassing the State Department.

Giuliani, who Trump wanted the Ukrainians to talk to when the president requested an investigation of Democrat Joe Biden, saying in that infamous phone call, "If you could speak to him that would be great."


FOREMAN: And Giuliani who continues to claim with zero proof that Russian interference to help Republican Donald Trump was not the problem in the last election but meddling to help the Democrats was.

GIULIANI: It was actually a real collusion. It involved the Ukrainians.



GIULIANI: But the FBI did everything they could to keep this information away.

TRUMP: And he's been a great crime fighter --

FOREMAN: The president's defense of Giuliani has been at times strong at times tepid, as Giuliani's behavior has careened into the surreal. For example, this week when he attacked Democrats for their probe into Trump's actions, but simultaneously tweeted an admission that Trump did ask for a Ukrainian investigation.

Well, when he apparently butt-dialed an NBC reporter, who overheard him complaining about Biden and looking for cash.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you concerned that Rudy Giuliani could be indicted in all of this?

TRUMP: Well, I hope not.

FOREMAN: But after two of Giuliani's clients, Soviet-born American businessmen were charged with circumventing U.S. election laws, Giuliani has been showing up in the media to defend the president less often. And sources say he's been shopping for an attorney of his own.

GIULIANI: Laura, this stinks.


FOREMAN: It's impossible to imagine that Giuliani will remain out of the spotlight. Because like Trump, he clearly enjoys attention. But this kind of attention, maybe not so much. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

ALLEN: McDonald's the restaurant is apologizing after it ran an ad saying Sundae Bloody Sundae to promote a Halloween ice cream dessert. The term, Bloody Sunday also refers to the day in 1972 when British soldiers shot and killed 14 unarmed protesters in Northern Ireland. One of the bloodiest days of what were known as The Troubles.

The fast-food chain pulled the controversial ad after it was spotted in Portugal and posted on Twitter.

I'll be right back with our top story. CNN NEWSROOM continues in a moment.


ALLEN: From CNN Center in Atlanta, hello everyone. I'm Natalie Allen. Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. But the White House has a new stand on the vote.