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Impeachment Showdown Heating Up; Smugglers Innovate Ideas to Pass Through Border Walls; Trump's Allies on Defense; President Trump Bracing for the Impeachment Wave; U.S. Forces Still Needed by Allies; Knife Attacker Injured Four People in Hong Kong; Three Democrat Candidates Remains on Top. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 4, 2019 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. and I'm Rosemary Church.

Coming up, today begins a crucial week in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump. And a short time ago we learned what the White House plans to do.

Also, ahead.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The war here is not over yet, and Ukraine is still very much dependent on the support of the U.S.


CHURCH: CNN's Clarissa Ward on the front lines in Ukraine's ongoing battle with Russian separatists.

Plus, we are live in Hong Kong, the scene of a brutal attack. A pro- democracy politician is among those injured.

And we begin in Washington. Lawmakers have summoned at least 11 officials this week to discuss President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine. But we've learned several of them are refusing to testify. These four men were set to appear on Monday. But a source says they don't plan on showing up.

Former national security adviser John Bolton has also been asked to testify. Several witnesses interviewed so far have said Bolton raised concerns about Mr. Trump withholding military aid to Ukraine. Bolton's lawyer has said his client would not appear unless he is subpoenaed.

Well, as the impeachment inquiry heats up, we are getting a better idea of what Americans think about the issue. Three new polls show about half support impeaching President Trump and removing him from office. All three polls were conducted between October 27th and October 30th.

And despite the findings, President Trump remains defiant. He is what he told reporters when asked about those surveys.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President, according to several recent polls, more Americans want you to be impeached and removed from office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You are reading the wrong polls. You're read -- let me just tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News, Wall Street Journal, NBC, ABC, Washington Post.

TRUMP: I have the real polls. I have the real poll. The CNN polls are fake. The Fox polls have always been lousy. I tell them they ought to get themselves a new pollster. But the real polls if you look at the polls that --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty percent of Americans --

TRUMP: -- if you look at the polls that came out this morning, people don't want anything to do with impeachment. It's a phony scam. It's a hoax. And the whistleblower should be revealed because the whistleblower gave false information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing that we don't know.


CHURCH: All right. Let's get more on all of this from Jacob Parakilas. He is an associate with the foreign policy thinktank LSE Ideas. And he joins us now via Skype. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: All right. So, President Trump wants to expose the whistleblower. We heard it there because he thinks that person is making up false stories despite all the testimony we've already heard so far from the impeachment inquiry, and of course, the transcript from the now infamous July 25th Ukraine call backing up what the whistleblower has said. So how significant is it that a U.S. president wants to expose a whistleblower given what we know so far?

PARAKILAS: I think it's less significant with respect to what the whistleblower testified to than to a chilling effect affecting all federal civil servants. If the idea, if the standard becomes that if you reveal information that's politically damaging to the president, the whistleblower protections enshrined in law will no longer be respected and no longer be valid that your identity can be made public, that you can be, you can face the sort of storm of public interest and probably from what we've seen, you know, a great deal of threatening commentary and sort of legal threats.

I think that'll have a chilling effect on other federal employees who are witness in this administration and future administrations who witness any kind of illegal, potentially illegal unethical or otherwise undesirable behavior and have again enshrined in law legal protections.

If those legal protections aren't followed through, then you are going to see people deciding that it's more important for themselves and their families to stay quiet than to actually come forward with what they know.

CHURCH: Right. And in addition to this President Trump isn't happy with the White House impeachment inquiry. Witness Alexander Vindman, he is calling on -- he is calling him a never-Trumper. Does that amount to intimidation and witness tampering or a similar sort of thing is what we are seeing with the whistleblower?

PARAKILAS: Yes. It's I think all part of the same strategy too, aggressively attack and attempt to delegitimatize what the witnesses say. I don't think it changes how the context in which we should see Vindman's testimony and the scope of the testimony that we've seen so far.


We are going to see much more. The House is saying this week they are likely to release the full transcripts of the investigation, interviews that have been carried out behind closed doors so far. So, we'll have a much better sense by the end of the week with any lock up what all these witnesses actually said.

But I think, again it is part and parcel with the idea that the president is using the powers of his office, both formal and informal to try to stifle people from speaking out.

CHURCH: And we just heard President Trump rejecting all those recent polls showing a divided country with about half of America's voters calling for the president's impeachment, or certainly supporting that and his removal. He calls those polls fake. Even the one from Fox News. And he says he has his own secret polling that shows people support him and don't want him impeached. What's your response to that?

PARAKILAS: I don't think the president has earned the benefit of the doubt when he says that he has secret information. I mean, I'm still waiting for him to come up with that secret information about Barack Obama's birthplace that he promised in 2012.

I mean, I think after a certain amount of time we have to assume that the president says these things because, either because he believes there is actually some other poll that justifies his belief in the true voice of the American people or because he cynically understand that just seeing that will be taken by enough of the population as the truth that he can just muddy the waters.

But I don't think, you know, given the amount of false, misleading or out of context information the president supplied over his entire public career, I don't think he is entitled to the benefit of the doubt in saying that there is some other public polling that will be released that somehow contradicts what we know from a very large number of very reputable pollsters.

CHURCH: Jacob Parakilas, many thanks to you for sharing your analysis and perspective. We appreciate it.

Well, at the core of the U.S. impeachment inquiry is the allegation President Trump suspended military aid to Ukraine as a way to get dirt on one of his political rivals.

Just months ago, the president put nearly $400 million on hold, money meant to help Ukraine, a U.S. ally in its battle with Russian-backed separatists.

Now CNN sent Clarissa Ward to the front lines to see what the situation looks lying right now. And here's what she found.


WARD: On the front line of Ukraine's war with Russia, conditions are basic, and the enemy is near. This position just 600 yards from Russian-backed separatists. Soldiers stand guard in dirt trenches, reminiscent of the First World War.

Commander Pavel Sergey (Ph) tells us one of his men was shot dead by a sniper 10 days ago. He says Ukraine needs all the help they can get.


WARD: So, he is saying that when he heard the news that President Trump had frozen the military aid, he was unhappy because he says America is our most important, our strongest ally.

That aid was released in September. But the temporary freeze left a chill. The nearest village Shyrokyne used to be a popular seaside resort. Now there are no people left, just devastation. Even the church was hit. In war nothing is sacred.

After five long years, the world's attention has basically moved on from Ukraine. But the war here is not over yet. And Ukraine is still very much dependent on the support of the U.S.

Ukrainian marine Alexander shows us what is left of the local school. It was destroyed by Russian artillery at the start of the war. It will be 10 years before people can come back, he says. All this territory needs to be demined. But that process can't even begin until the fighting stops.

Our guide has asked us now to put on our helmets because apparently the separatists have actually been using drones to drop ordinance on some of the soldiers here. Alexander says it's time to move on. Concerned we may have been

spotted. We push further north to the mining town of Turret, once under the control of Russian-backed separatists, it was taken back by the Ukrainian army in a bitter battle in July 2014.

TERESA FILLMON, CHARITY WORKER: You can now see the flames shooting out of the top of the building.

WARD: Teresa Fillmon watched it all from her home. The Florida native runs a Christian charity called His Kids Too and has lived here for many years.

FILLMON: I mean, we were shelled for days on end. And you know, I would go to sleep and I'd literally just lay there and just say god protect me.


WARD: During the worst of the fighting she would bring home-cooked meals to Ukrainian troops on the front lines.

FILLMON: So, when you start knowing those people and putting a face, putting a name and a face together, I mean, I have friends that were killed. It's not -- I am not going to minimize this.

WARD: Were you aware of the fact that the White House had temporarily frozen military aid to Ukraine? And what was your reaction?

FILLMON: Probably frustration because as far as I'm concerned, we are in a David and Goliath situation, that we are outmanned and outgunned.

WARD: That hasn't slowed Fillmon down. Her days are a blur of activity, distributing food to the needy and displaced. Across this country more than a million people have been forced from their homes.

Like pensioner Llena Salleva (Ph). She was hit by shrapnel while picking tomatoes in her garden. She fled and has been living in this care home ever since.

"What can I do? I can never go back," she says. "It's five years since we left." Like so many year, Llena (Ph)no longer cares who wins this war.


WARD: So, you just want peace? You just want an end to the war?

Ukraine's president is trying to make that happen. But peace is best negotiated from a position of strength. And having the U.S. as an ally is key.

In the west of the country familiar from the front lines, Ukrainian forces carry out military exercises under the watchful eye of their American trainer.

MATTHEW CHAPMAN, U.S. ARMY CAPTAIN: They will be engaging targets and shooting.

WARD: Captain Matthew Chapman has been working with this unit for two months. Can I ask what your reaction was when you heard that military aid have been frozen to Ukraine?

CHAPMAN: Personally, I don't pay attention to U.S. domestic foreign policy or politics around here. We are solely focused on the mission at hand.

WARD: And it didn't create an awkward atmosphere at all with your Ukrainian fellow soldiers?

CHAPMAN: It has not even come up in conversation with our O.C.'s.

WARD: His Ukrainian counterpart agrees.

NAZAR SHPAK, UKRAINIAN ARMY LIEUTENANT: You know, I don't like to speak about politics. My mission and my main role is to protect my land, my country. That's all I want, and it's all I know for myself.

WARD: Do you believe that America is an ally Ukraine can rely on?

SHPAK: Completely yes. Completely yes.

WARD: Privately some Ukrainian soldiers admit to feeling uneasy. They fear that the White House's fickle behavior may strengthen Russia's position. But all agree that with or without America's help, they have no choice but to continue this fight.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Ukraine.


CHURCH: And a little later I will be speaking to a Russia expert who says U.S. voters are starting to see the shadow of the Kremlin looming over President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: Incredible video here from above showing just what crews are up against fighting those massive wildfires in California. This is the Maria fire north of L.A. The video shot directly over the huge flames and plumes of smoke. And in the face of danger, crews are making good headway. This fire is now 70 percent contained after burning through 38 square kilometers since it began on Thursday. That is great progress.

Well, activists say three Iraqi protesters were killed Sunday as dozens of people tried to make into the Iranian consulate in Karbala. Protesters set fires and tried to breach the building's fence and Iraqi security forces opened fire to disperse the crowd. We are told at least 60 people were wounded.

Meanwhile, Iraq's prime minister is begging anti-government protesters to return to normal life saying the unrest is costing the economy billions. Across the country angry Iraqis are demanding the government step down saying it's corrupt and there are not enough jobs or basic services.

Well, anti-government demonstrations are also sweeping through Lebanon. Thousands flooded the streets Sunday in the largest protest since the prime minister resigned. Many are now calling for the removal of President Michel Aoun. But the president still has supporters. They held a big rally and say he is the only one who can bring reform.

Well, police in Hong Kong say four people were injured Sunday by a man who went on a knife rampage. It happened outside a mall where pro- democracy protesters had gathered earlier.

Will Ripley is in Hong Kong with the details. He joins us now live. Good to see you, Will. So, what more are you learning about the attacker and his motivation?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the attack himself was seriously injured in this incident, Rosemary, which happened at a crowded shopping mall, one of a number of malls across Hong Kong that protesters targeted on Sunday going after businesses that they consider pro-Beijing including by the way this one.

This is the Xinhua News Agency bureau here in Hong Kong. And you can look, protesters actually smashed through the entire front doors here. They've been trying to kind of put up some sort of a barricade. But businesses across the city considered pro-Beijing like the Xinhua News Agency have been hit.

And as far this attacker's motivation, we don't know. We do know that that the target is a pro-democracy lawmakers. And that video that you reference shows him clearly holding onto the side of his head. A piece of his ear on the floor, apparently bitten off according to news reports.


And, in fact, police are holding a press conference right now to give us more information about the attacker, the suspected attacker about his condition. At least four people injured.

However, journalists inside that press conference, some of them have put anti-government slogans on their helmets. And now the press conference has stopped. Police officers have surrounded those journalists who were refusing to leave.

So once again, Rosemary, just yet another example of the division that is sweeping across this city.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And of course, crowds were smaller over the weekend. But there was still a significant amount of disruption. Talk to us about that and why we are seeing that.

RIPLEY: Yes. You know, on Saturday there were the larger protests. And it's safe to say that there were thousands of people out on the streets but not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or perhaps even over a million like we saw at the beginning of this movement particularly back in June. The crowds are indeed smaller.

And yet, because of those protests and then the violent confrontations that happened for hours afterwards, transportation was shut down in a number of areas both here in Hong Kong island and across Victoria Harbor on the Kowloon side.

So, it just goes to show that those who were still out demonstrating and particularly these front-liners who were continuing to hurl bricks and petrol bombs at officers who are firing back with tear gas and rubber bulltes, they're out here. They know how to disrupt the city. They know how to shut things down.

And so here on week 22, it really does seem at this stage, Rosemary, very difficult to see a resolution to this given just how far apart the two sides are. And this division inside the city between people who support Beijing and people who are against Beijing is getting more and more nasty.

That knife attack, a man getting his ear bitten off. And of course, we've seen activists beaten with metal rods. Protesters attacked by suspected gang members. And also attacks towards people who support mainland China as well. Rosemary?

CHURCH: That is a real concern for so many. Will Ripley bringing us up to date on the situation in Hong Kong. Many thanks to you.

Well a thick blanket of toxic smog is causing travel chaos in the Indian capital of New Delhi. Some flights have resumed after dozens were diverted from the city's international airport on Sunday due to poor visibility. New Delhi's chief minister says conditions are unbearable as air quality reached hazardous levels.

Well, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to relax rules on toxic waste from coal power plants. The proposals will scale back Obama-era regulations that affect the disposal of coal ash. That's a waste product which can contain mercury, arsenic and other dangerous metals.

The EPA web site says ash coal rules were created after waste spills caused widespread economic environmental damage. But the coal industry says the regulations are unaffordable and they have found a champion in President Trump.

Well, we are a year away from the U.S. presidential election in 2020. U.S. voters could choose to give Republican Donald Trump another four years in office or replace him with a Democrat.

Three new national polls are shedding light on who might end up as the Democratic nominee. All three shows former Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders at the top of the pack. Biden leads the polling with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders trailing behind.

Well, on Sunday Elizabeth Warren took aim at Democratic rivals who criticized her Medicare for all plan.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Political pundits, even people in our own party don't want to admit it. They think that running a vague campaign that nibbles around the edges is somehow safe. But if the best Democrats can offer is business as usual after Donald Trump, Democrats will lose.


CHURCH: And Warren made those comments during a townhall in Iowa.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has more now from the campaign trail.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Senator Elizabeth Warren spent much of her time in Iowa this weekend at the LNJ celebration where lots of Democrats came together and really hosting some townhalls. This is an area that right now she is topping the poll.

The latest poll shows her as the top candidate here in Iowa but really spent a lot of her time talking about her recently released plan for how to fund Medicare for all. She stayed consistent on three points. She was quick to make the pitch directly to the middle class saying, look, I am not here to raise taxes to the middle class. In fact, I will put $11 trillion right back in your pockets.


But that's something that her opponents have criticized saying look, that's not feasible, not OK. Vice President Biden saying that it is mathematic gymnastics. Now she sort of, flipped the script saying that she wants to know where her opponents are with their plans for funding their health care proposals.

And then this was interesting. Sunday morning Senator Sanders criticized her plan saying that his was more progressive and that hers could hurt job creation to which she responded saying Bernie and I have the same idea and the same goals. We just have different ways of getting there. How long she will plan to stay aligned with him. We'll have to wait and see.

In Muscatine, Iowa, I am Leyla Santiago, CNN.

CHURCH: Pete Buttigieg is among the Democrat candidates criticizing Warren's plan calling her math controversial. The South Bend, Indiana, mayor is on a bus tour crisscrossing the state of Iowa. He's been pushing Warren to release her plan of how she would pay for it. He says he hasn't had a chance to dig through all the numbers recently put out by her, but he is still voicing concerns.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the biggest issue I'm hearing from voters, even above how are we going to pay for this is am I going to lose my private plan. And that's something that I just haven't heard -- well, we have heard an answer. But I think it's the wrong answer, which is to kick people off their private plans.

So even as the economists argue over the numbers and the math, the other core concern has not been answered.


CHURCH: And if you are watching internationally, thank you so much for being with us. Iconic Hanoi is next for you. And if you are joining us from here in the United States, do stay tuned. We have more news for you just ahead.



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Washington is bracing for a big week in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Lawmakers have scheduled interviews with 11 current and former U.S. officials to discuss Mr. Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

But we've learned several of those set to appear are refusing to testify. Former national security adviser John Bolton has also been asked to appear. But Bolton's lawyer said his client would not show up unless he is subpoenaed.

Well, at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, the allegation that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to get dirt on a political rival. Ukraine is extremely dependent on that aid as it's been locked in a bloody five-year battle with Russian-backed separatists.

White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told CNN she stands by the administration's response that there was no quid pro quo between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, you feel totally confident that at the heart of this there was no quid pro?


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Here's what I feel confident about. I feel confident about the fact that Ukraine has that aid and is using it right now that it's because of this president that they have it. The last administration --


BASH: Kellyanne, you very notably won't say yes or no.

CONWAY: It doesn't --

(CROSSTALK) BASH: Quid pro quo, yes or no.

CONWAY: First of all, I just said to you I don't know whether aid was being held up. I know there were two senators, a Democrat and Republican who called over from Ukraine and inquired about the aid. But we are trying to impeach a president here now in town across this country. Why? Because nothing in this conversation so far resonates to the country.


CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about this is Mitchell Orenstein, professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So let's start by looking at just how dependent Ukraine is on support from the United States and how far president Trump is willing to go to help Kiev, do you think, given he has recently made it clear he wants Germany and France along with other E.U. Nations to do more to share the load.

ORENSTEIN: Absolutely. I think, you know, I think that's a little bit of a canard in the sense that Britain and France and Germany, the European union have done an incredible amount to support Ukraine.

But primarily economically. Primarily with economic aid, government's aid and soft powers, sort of sort of things. I believe that what president Trump was referring to was specifically military aid. And there the United States has taken up a bigger burden.

But overall, the European countries are supporting Ukraine to a much greater extent than the United States.

CHURCH: Interesting. And how important is Ukraine to the U.S. now, of course, and how much has that changed under Trump's presidency?

ORENSTEIN: Well, Ukraine is important in European affairs right now because it's at war. It's at war with Russia. It's been attacked in 2014 and has lost 13,000 people in the conflict. And I think it's super important essentially because there's been a principle that's guided European affairs which is that countries shouldn't attack one another.

And Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine was a huge violation of European security norms, something that's really sent reverberations across the European continent. And that's why Ukraine is primarily important to the U.S.

It's been very important for the United States, which, as you may remember, has fought two wars in Europe in the previous century, has been drawn into European wars to prevent conflict in Europe. And therefore, to support Ukraine in its struggle, legitimate struggle against the invasion and aggression it's had from Russia. CHURCH: Then that's certainly how the United States felt in the past.

But what about now under president Trump? He doesn't feel the same way about Ukraine, does he? He's been -- he's been talked into believing it's not of the significance that the United States has recognized it to be in the past.

ORENSTEIN: I think for Trump, it's pretty clear that everything is about Trump, right? So, the United States now has two separate foreign policies. It has the traditional foreign policy of the foreign policy establishment. That's supported both by the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress, which is to support Ukraine for the reasons that I just mentioned.


And then in addition we have the Trump foreign policy run out of the White House or maybe with some friends of President Trump, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, which is essentially about what can you do for us, what can you do for our election campaign?

And that seems to have been the top priority for Trump in Ukraine is to obtain assistance from the Ukrainian government to smear his likely political rival in the 2020 election.

CHURCH: And how do you convince the American public that they should care about what happens to Ukraine?

ORENSTEIN: It's pretty interesting that Democrat and Republican Congressmen who are both -- who get elected very frequently in, you know, every two years are very solid on support for Ukraine. And I think that, you know, it's truthfully in the United States a lot of people don't necessarily vote on foreign policy issues. It's probably pretty secondary concern for a lot of people.

But I do think it's very possible in the United States to talk to people about European security and to talk about the importance of this particular conflict.

And with regard to the -- and I think also there's a really widespread awareness of Russian intervention in the 2016 election. So, people are listening to this or understanding this or certainly learning a lot more about Ukraine. It's become a central aspect of the impeachment inquiry.

So, I do think that people are looking and listening about this topic. And they understand the sort of long-standing U.S. commitment to European security.

CHURCH: All right. Mitchell Orenstein, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.

ORENSTEIN: Absolutely. Any time. Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, one of the central figures in the impeachment inquiry has been president Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

CNN's Tom Foreman looks at the role Giuliani has played right from the start.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: Truth is the truth. The President of the United States says I didn't.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Truth is a truth? Mr. mayor, do you realize what I --



TODD: This is going to become a bad meme.

GIULIANI: Don't do this to me.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 are just repeating spin. The prosecutor --


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: 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 his 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.

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 real collusion that involved the Ukrainians.


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



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 or 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 a few hundred thousand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you concerned that Rudy Giuliani is going to 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.

CHURCH: It was Donald Trump's signature campaign promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Well, now the structure is being tested. Why Trump is shrugging off a new report saying it's being breached. Back with that in just a moment.



CHURCH: To president Trump's border wall now. And is served as a central pillar of his 2016 campaign. Now it's fueling his re-election bid, touted by the White House as impenetrable.

But according to a new Washington Post report, it's been breached on a regular basis. The Post says smugglers have been cutting holes through the new sections of the wall large enough for adults and drugs to fit through. They are using a simple and relatively inexpensive household tool known as a reciprocating saw. The president was asked about this on Saturday. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I haven't heard that. We have a very powerful wall. But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything.


CHURCH: Border agents told the Post that due to the height of the slats, it's easy to push the steel to the side and pass through. Agents say despite fixing the damaged areas, smugglers often return to the same spot since the metal and concrete have already been weakened.

So, let's talk more about this with David Kyle. He is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis and an expert on human smuggling and trafficking. Thanks for joining us.


CHURCH: So, this Post article suggests the border wall offers very little resistance and deterrence to these smugglers. So, what does that say about President Trump's biggest 2016 electoral promise and now his new commitment to build that wall?

KYLE: Well, first we have to recognize that walls do nothing by themselves. They are merely a useful barrier to slow down invaders. But of course, this isn't a real wall, and these aren't real invaders.

CHURCH: And we just heard president Trump admit himself no matter how powerful a barrier, you can cut through anything. Doesn't that suggest the wall might not be a worthy or a worthwhile investment?


KYLE: Not only does it suggest that. I think that when we go down in medieval strategy, at least we need to go all the way. The medieval fortresses around major cities in Europe required hundreds of thousands of personnel to man them, to defend them. They're only useful barriers to slow them down.

So really, we have, we don't really have a functioning wall. We have a fence that can easily be cut through. It's only creating more chaos on the border, not less.

CHURCH: Right. So, despite President Trump's efforts to strengthen this current barrier along the U.S./Mexico border, law enforcement officials involved in day to day security near that border walls say cartels that profit from human smuggling continue to find new ways to sneak through.

So, what is the answer to this? And at what point will President Trump need to admit to the U.S. public that a border wall or certainly the one that he proposes is not the answer. Can you see that day coming?

KYLE: Well, I think those are two questions. One is when will the American people realize, and I believe that many people, if not most people, realize that this is not really a wall. It's metal fencing. And it was only a matter of time that the creativity of a wide range of people would come under play for a hundred dollars you get a reciprocating saw at Home Depot and cut through it. But there are also many, many ways to go through it.

A separate question is will Trump admit it or change strategy. That's not my area. But that certainly doesn't look like that will be the case.

CHURCH: Right. So, you mentioned of course in medieval times. I mean, humans have been trying to stop each other get in crossing borders for a very, very long time.

KYLE: Yes.

CHURCH: What is the solution here in 2019 coming into 2020?

KYLE: I think that having less chaos on the border, most migrants today, which is actually putting many smugglers out of business, are not trying to evade law enforcement. They are merely trying to get over, under, through the fence, raise their hand, and then ask for asylum.

And they are trusting the American people to do the right thing. We are a nation of laws. In fact, they do have a right to claim asylum. They trust us more than they trust many of their own governments and cartels.

And instead what we are getting at the border is chaos, detention, and possibly something that we will have to be dealing with for years. But in terms of dealing with the migration crisis, we need a legal pathway or at least processing it. The wall only creates a false illusion of security on the one hand, then more chaos on the other.

CHURCH: David Kyle, we thank you so very much for joining us. I appreciate it.

KYLE: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, McDonald's has ousted its CEO Steve Easterbrook after learning he had a consensual relationship with an employee. He gave up his seat on the board of the fast food chain as well. The board says Easterbrook violated company policy and showed poor judgment. He will be replaced as CEO by the president of McDonald's USA.

Airbnb is banning party houses after a shooting on Halloween left five people dead in California. Its CEO announced the change on Twitter saying the company will redouble its effort to combat unauthorized parties.

CNN's Rick Damigella has more.

RICK DAMIGELLA, CNN PRODUCER: A Halloween house party turns deadly. Five people shot and killed at this Airbnb rental in the San Francisco area.


DAVID COOK, POLICE CHIEF, ORINDA, CALIFORNIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Orinda is a very small, very safe, very family-oriented community. It is not accustomed to violence.


DAMIGELLA: The shooting is still under investigation. But Airbnb is banning party houses at its rental properties to prevent similar incidents from taking place. The company's CEO tweeting, "we must do better and we will. This is unacceptable."

In additional tweets, Airbnb detailed a new course of action, saying it's implementing a more stringent guest screening program creating a party house rapid response team and anyone found in violation of the upgrade of policies could be removed.

Authorities say the Halloween party in Orinda, California, was advertised on social media. And more than 100 people showed up. The deadly shooting took place Thursday night in an Airbnb rental that specifically does not allow parties.


STEVE SALOMON, ORINDA CITY MANAGER: There are going to be folks that don't follow the rules. That's unfortunately the way that world works.


DAMIGELLA: I'm Rick Damigella.

CHURCH: And still to come, peculiar punctuation. Why three little dots in the transcript of Donald Trump's Ukraine call could come back to haunt the president. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: At Niagara Falls, severe weather has dislodged a boat that has not moved from its rocky perch since 1918. High winds and heavy rain have now pushed the boat closer to the falls on the Canadian side. The vessel became stuck when it dislodged from its tug boat in the final months of the First World War.

Well, who knew three little punctuation marks would become such a big deal in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump?

Jeanne Moos looks at the president's love affair with dot, dot, dot.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is forever saying that Ukrainian phone call summary was.


TRUMP: Word for word, comma for comma.


MOOS: Forget commas. Now people are connecting the --




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I wonder, right? I kept saying dot, dot, dot.




MOOS: Technically known as an ellipsis.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dot, dot, dot. Because in legal documents when you see dot, dot, dot, that means that

there is something left out.


MOOS: There was so much dot, dot, dotting on The View that co-host Meghan McCain got annoyed.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever it said Biden is it, dot, dot, dot.




MCCAIN: We got a lot.


MCXAIN: I got.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they got it too.


MOOS: But the irony. The ellipses comes back to haunt a president who was besotted by dots in his tweets.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will soon be dot, dot, dot, dot, dot.


MOOS: President Trump's tweets are so dotty, they read like Morse Code. The president might begin a tweet with a random seven dots. He shared tweets with as many as 23. Occasionally he mixes a stray comma in with them or combines his dots with a typo. No smoking gun, dot, dot, dot.

Colbert once did an obit for presidential dots where the tweets expanded to 280 characters.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Dot, dot. Adding dot, dot, dot.


MOOS: But announcing the death of Trump's dots was premature.


COLBERT: The dots are back. I missed you little guys. You are the only part of Trump's tweets that aren't lies.


MOOS: The other day the president actually tweeted nothing but dot, dot, dot, dot provoking responses like anyone speak dots? And another coded message to Putin.

Remember the time president Trump stared directly at a solar eclipse? No wonder he is seeing dots everywhere. Might as well blame all those ellipses on eclipses.



MOOS: Jeanne Moos.


COLBERT: Dot, dot, dot.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not dot, dot, dot time. It's not, not, not.


MOOS: New York.

CHURCH: That's enough to make you dotty, isn't it? Thank you so much for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. Early Start is next. Have yourselves a great day.