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Sondland Changed His Tune; Iran Violates Nuclear Deal; Environment Experts Release Another Report on Climate Emergency; Family Brutally Murdered Along the Southern Border. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 6, 2019 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again. And welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Coming up on CNN Newsroom, turning on the president. A Trump ally reverses his testimony in the impeachment inquiry, now admitting there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

Iran is taking another step away from its commitments to the 2018 nuclear deal but suggests it may be willing to reverse the move on certain conditions.

And later, six children and three women from the same family ambushed and killed in Mexico. We are getting updates on the investigation and the survivors.

And we begin with the clearest indication yet that the Trump administration withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Joe Biden and his son and the 2016 U.S. election. It comes in newly released testimony in the House impeachment inquiry.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has the details.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Gordon Sondland is trying to walk back some of his congressional testimony. The ambassador to the European Union releasing a three-page addendum to the nearly 400-page transcript of his 10 hours long interview with House impeachment investigators in mid-October, saying, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, an aide to Ukraine's president, where I said resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we have been discussing for many weeks.

Sondland now confirming his involvement in laying out a quid pro quo scenario to Ukrainian officials, something he did not previously acknowledge during his testimony on October 17th when he told investigators he did not know why military aid was being held up, saying, "I could never get a straight answer out of anyone."

The transcript released today reveals Sondland told lawmakers that Rudy Giuliani's efforts to get Ukraine to launch an investigation into the Bidens kept getting more insidious, and then suggested Giuliani's scheme may have even been illegal. "I'm not a lawyer, but I assume so," and added, "I don't know the law exactly, it doesn't sound good."


REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): That's illegal. You cannot solicit a foreign power to investigate American political parties or your American political opponent.


SCHNEIDER: Sondland also testified that Giuliani's interference was well known around the State Department and that officials were fully aware. Disclosing he discussed Giuliani with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sondland said Pompeo rolled his eyes and said, yes, it's something we have to deal with it.

Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker's testimony is also now public, with the transcript relaying more detail about a May 23rd White House meeting where the president directed his aides to talk to Rudy Giuliani about Ukraine.

The president dismissed recommendations he meet with the Ukrainian president, saying, "They are all correct, they are all terrible people," Volker recalled. "I don't want to spend any time with that."

Volker also said he became aware of the hold on military aid July 18th, one week before the Trump-Zelensky call, but nobody ever gave a reason why.

And now, with this new testimony from Gordon Sondland, it only adds to Democrats evidence that the president would only release military aid for Ukraine if Ukraine announced investigations into the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, more transcripts are expected to be released in the coming days when even more details will come out, that's all before public hearings on Capitol Hill which could start as soon as next week.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: And the White House is trying to put a positive spin on the newly released transcripts. Take a listen to Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've got to say, the transcript that were released today show exactly what the president has been saying all along, and that is that he did nothing wrong in that there was no quid pro quo.

These transcripts are actually, they're good for the president. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well, the witness transcription undoing much to persuade Republican senators who would serve as jurors in an impeachment trial. One of the president's staunchest allies, Senator Lindsey graham, took a shot at House Democrat Adam Schiff and declared he won't even consider the evidence.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I have written the whole process off. I'm written him off. I think this is a bunch of B.S. The phone call, I had made up my own mind, is fine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan on reading these transcripts that were released?



CHURCH: So, let's get more on this from Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Thank you so much for joining us.


CHURCH: So, why do you think a key witness top U.S. diplomat, Gordon Sondland changed his testimony to impeachment investigators, now admitting there was a quid pro quo linked to Ukraine's military aid?

SABATO: Well, his explanation of course is that his memory was refreshed by the testimony of others which he has just now read, as the transcripts are being released and no doubt on this lawyers advice because you can always get a perjury charge if you're not careful in these circumstances, but it's very significant because he is close to Trump. He gave a million dollars to Trump after the election to the inaugural festivities.

CHURCH: And so, given what we've all learned so far from all of this testimony, is there sufficient evidence at this juncture to prove the president abused his power?

SABATO: I think there has been for a couple of weeks, maybe longer, evidence to prove that the president tried a quid pro quo with Ukraine, holding up American aid in exchange for an investigation of one of his rivals, maybe his chief rival in 2020. That's an abuse of power. It seems to me, in anybody's definition. Whether it's enough to impeach him and convict him, that's up to the members of Congress.

CHURCH: So why aren't Republicans saying anything about this?

SABATO: Because they are deathly afraid of a single tweet from this president directed at them because it might result in a primary challenge and the end of their political careers. It really is that simple.

CHURCH: And former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker didn't go as far as Sondland in his testimony, saying he saw no evidence of a link between military aid and a meeting at the White House, but both Volker and Sondland saw a problem with Rudy Giuliani's role in all of this. What does that tell you?

SABATO: I think most people in the Trump orbit have realized, possibly with Trump's exception, that Rudy Giuliani is as heavy as an iron anchor and they want to make sure it is not put around their necks.

CHURCH: And the White House of course says this proves nothing. How far will that defense go for them, do you think?

SABATO: That defense falls flat immediately for anyone who can think independently or has any personal integrity and independence. Look, politicians will say anything that will get them out of a jam, but if there are any people left who haven't already committed either pro or con on Trump and they take a look at this evidence, it is obvious what Trump did, and it is obvious that what he did was wrong.

Whether it's ever admitted, and certainly getting 20 Republicans in the Senate to vote to oust him after or if he is impeached in the House, that's a bridge too far. It's not going to happen, but that doesn't mean that this impeachment process was wrong to undertake. It was right to undertake.

CHURCH: And finally, Larry, you have been monitoring elections for the Virginia legislature where Democrats have now taken total control, and it appears they are very well-positioned for the governor race -- the governor's race in Kentucky. What lessons are coming out of this and what messages are being sent to President Trump for the 2020 race?

SABATO: Virginia has become a blue state, a Democratic state, so I don't think the Republicans are in shock that they lost both Houses of the state legislature. They are not counting on Virginia in 2020.

Now, Kentucky will automatically vote for President Trump in 2020. It's not even going to be close, but it is quite a rebuke to President Trump who spent election eve in Kentucky urging his voters, he got 62 and a half percent of the vote in 2016, to vote for Matt Bevin, to save Matt Bevin. Now, Bevin is an unpopular governor, yes, but this is also an embarrassment for President Trump.

CHURCH: But how will he -- what will be his narrative, do you think on this?

SABATO: Well, if he is like he normally is, he will blame everyone else but himself.

CHURCH: All right, Larry Sabato, many thanks to you for running down all of those questions, all of the different areas we covered these days. I appreciate it. SABATO: Thank you, Rosie.

CHURCH: A controversial pro-Beijing a lawmaker was stabbed while campaigning in Hong Kong. The Chinese newspaper, the Global Times released video of Junius Ho being attacked, and we must warn you it's graphic and before we show it, we do want to tell you that Ho is OK.


Now in the video, a man dressed in blue, that's a color associated with supporting Hong Kong police, hands Ho a bouquet of flowers, he then reaches into his bag for what appears to be a knife. The attacker has been arrested for assault and personal injury.

Well, Iran is taking steps to further flout the nuclear deal it had signed in 2015. President Hassan Rouhani says Tehran will begin injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at its Fordow plant. And this move has world leaders worried.

CNN's Nic Robertson tells us why.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The United States State Department has already criticized this move by Iran, the British foreign secretary has criticized it as well, the French have criticized it.

And what Iran has done here is taken what is now the fourth step in a series of steps that it's telegraphed, that it has told everyone that it's going to do that breaks the terms of the JCPOA, the joint international nuclear deal that Iran signed up to in 2015 that the United States pulled out of in 2018.

What Iran has done is now increase the number of centrifuges that it has enriching uranium. It has put gas into another just over 1,000 centrifuges at a mountain hideaway nuclear facility.

Now, under the terms of the deal, it was allowed to operate just around 5,000 of this type of IR-1 simple centrifuge. So, this has increased the number and therefore the speed and amount of low enriched uranium that it can produce, but this is a series -- one in a series of steps.

Since the summit, they have increased their storage, the amount of low enriched uranium that they are storing, the limit allowed under the terms of the deal was 300 kilograms. They have gone about that limit, the limit of low enriched uranium at specified 3.67 percent enriched. They have gone above that. They've said they have now gone to 4.5 percent enriched, and they have also put online some research and development nuclear facilities that again breaks the terms of the deal.

Now, Iran has indicated that it can bring itself back into compliance if the United States reduces the sanctions on Iran, and if the Europeans do more, they say to meet the terms of the nuclear deal.

So, Iran telegraphs these moves but what they amount to in the end is a shortening the pathway to make a nuclear weapon. Now, the low enriched uranium is way shorter than 90 percent enriched uranium that would be required to make a nuclear weapon.

However, the whole point of the deal and the terms of the deal were carefully agreed and carefully constructed to limit the pathway, limit the amount of time it would take to make a nuclear weapon. So, Iran is incrementally shortening that time. Thus, raising tensions over this most contentious issue.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

CHURCH: We'll take a short break, but still to come, new details on who was behind the brutal killing of three women and six children in Mexico.



CHURCH: A horrifying attack near the U.S.-Mexico border saw three women and six children killed. The victims, all dual citizens were members of a Mormon community living in Mexico.

Mexican officials say the ambush could be a case of mistaken identity, but family members believe it was a targeted attacked by a cartel, and a U.S. official says evidence points to that.

Matt Rivers has our report.


LEAH STADDON, RELATIVE OF AMBUSHED VICTIMS: I think a lot of us are just speechless. It's horrific.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Family members in shock after a horrendous attack by suspected criminal groups left nine people dead, including three women and four small children and two babies. It happened Monday while they were traveling in a caravan through northern Mexico just south of the border, headed to pick up family for an upcoming wedding.


STADDON: I just can't believe that this is actually happened to our family, it just seems like a bad dream.


RIVERS: Family members tell CNN the group was driving between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua in a caravan for safety reasons when they were attacked by an armed group which sprayed the car with bullets and set at least one on fire.

Mexican government officials say it's unclear whether the attack was targeted or a case of mistaken identity, with the shooters mistaking the families as rival groups.

Kendra Lee Miller is the bride of that upcoming wedding. She tells CNN her sister-in-law Ranita (Ph) Miller is among the victims.


KENDRA LEE MILLER, RELATIVE OF VICTIMS: Nita was one of the most vibrant, happy souls that I have ever met. She was just had so much spark in life in her.


RIVERS: Kendra says Ranita (Ph) was driving one of the vehicles with four of her seven children to Tucson, Arizona to go shopping for the wedding. Forty-three-year-old Donna Lankford and her two children were in another vehicle and 29-year- old Christina Johnson and her seven- month old son were in the third vehicle. Seven children overall were injured in the attack and are now hospitalized.


KENNETH MILLER, SR., RELATIVE OF VICTIMS: None of my grandchildren made it out. They're burnt to a crisp. And my daughter-in-law, and they are about as innocent as they come and I'm not saying it because she's gone, but she was a good mother to those children, they are as innocent as the day as long.


RIVERS: The victims are all members of a Mormon community in northern Mexico not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

And U.S. President Donald Trump weighing in on all of us on Twitter saying in part that now would be the time for Mexico to wage all-out war on the drug cartels, offering U.S. assistance should Mexico want to wage that fight.

But the Mexican president responded saying he spoke to President Trump during the day on Tuesday, that he appreciated the offer of assistance but that this was Mexico's fight to win, Mexico's fight to seek justice for these victims, that it was Mexico's responsibility, but there are people questioning here in Mexico whether the Mexican president is capable of carrying out that responsibility.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.

CHURCH: And the family of the victims is demanding justice. They believe one of the cartels in the region is behind that attack. A relative told CNN's Anderson Cooper that they attacked just to start a turf war.


K. MILLER: We have had confirmation that this was orchestrated as a provocation for the cartel over here in Sonora where we live and our family was picked to be the ones to stir up travel and to start a war. It was an attack on innocent civilians on purpose, trying to basically start a war.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And you are saying that the motive was to start a war between whom?

K. MILLER: The Sonora and Chihuahua cartels that have been having court battles for quite a while now.


CHURCH: A short time ago in Beijing, the leaders of China and France reaffirmed their support for the Paris climate accords. French President Emmanuel Macron is in China where he and President Xi Jinping just signed a pact aimed at cutting climate warming gases.

It comes a day after the Trump administration officially began the year long process of leaving the Paris agreement.


Well, a warmer planet could threaten life and cause untold suffering. That's according to thousands of scientists from around the world.

They say they declared clearly and unequivocally that planet earth is facing a climate emergency, an immense increase of scale and endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.

The group says governments are failing to get a grip on the crisis. Some of the key issues include replacing fossil fuels, eating less meat and saving more trees. A study released in the scientific journal bio science is based on 40 years of data.

And one of the co-authors of that report, Thomas Newsome, a lecturer at Sydney University, spoke to me just a short time ago via Skype.


THOMAS NEWSOME, CO-AUTHOR, WARNING OF A CLIMATE EMERGENCY: I think our paper paints a very clear picture that should be understandable to the general public. It is a very short report. It is clear and concise, and we provide easy to understand graphical indicators that really point to a bleak picture that climate change has arrived, is accelerating at a faster pace than was anticipated. And we are already starting to see some of the impacts of climate change, such as increasing in the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events.


CHURCH: And in India, the country's top court says authorities in New Delhi have violated the citizens right to life by failing to limit air pollution. Officials have declared a public health emergency.

New Delhi's air quality has been slightly upgraded to very poor, that's from severe. So, let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri to get an update on the situation there. I mean, India says it's slightly improved, but that just takes it to very poor, doesn't it?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. You know, it's still multiple times dirtier than what is considered fit to breathe. Then, you know, Rosemary, you look past into the last several years the month of November, December, January, historically as dirty as they come across these portions of India.

In Delhi in particular, last November 29 of the 30 days were considered either unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous. Of course, it kind of shows you we had no days at that point that we're sitting in the good category, so really an incredible pattern when you see this sort of an event take place.

And at this point sitting at 172 air quality index, it is in the unhealthy category, and that is a short-lived sort of an event there when you take a look at what is happening what is played out here.

And of course, we know back on the 15th of October, we began to see some satellite indication that hays was beginning to develop, it is not uncommon as farmers that is about the time of year they begin kind of burning some of the crops.

But industry of course traveling across this region millions of vehicles as well, and right here on the foothills of the Himalayas, you kind of see that milky depiction on satellite imagery, that's where all of these pollutants essentially become more stagnant and become prevalent over a several week period.

And the forest color imagery kind of shows you what's happened here in the last 24 hours as the air quality has improved, just a hair because the winds have shifted and brought all those pollutants farther downstream. They don't just dissipate, they end up somewhere else, whether it's over the oceans, getting absorbed into oceans or over other land masses, and at this point it's across eastern and southern India will receive pollutant levels at their highest.

But we expect this to get right back up again over the next several days. The pattern becomes stagnant, the winds once again shift. Rosemary, you'll notice Thursday, Friday, and potentially next Monday beyond index value. So certainly, we said it every single day, something needs to be done and it's not going to happen by itself because this is a pattern that plays out and it honestly gets worse every single year as oppose to kind of tapering off at one level.

CHURCH: It certainly does. Pedram, many thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation there. I appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: Next on CNN Newsroom, how President Trump's new mantra in the impeachment inquiry is starting to wear on his supporters. Back with that in a moment.



CHURCH: As the Ukraine controversy continues to hound President Trump, his campaign is fighting back, turning Trump supporters into human billboards wearing read the transcript t-shirts.

Here is Jeanne Moos.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The human backdrop behind President Trump.




MOOS: Booed and chanted and kissed even translated President Trump's words to gestures.


TRUMP: These people are crazy.


MOOS: But all anyone noticed was what was on the t-shirts they were wearing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read the transcript.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, read the transcript.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read the transcript, except that we can't.


MOOS: Because it's not a transcript, it's a summary of President Trump's call with the president of Ukraine. Nevertheless, to convince people.


TRUMP: It was perfect.


MOOS: Read the transcript has become the president's mantra.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: My father put the transcript out. Read it.


MOOS: The t-shirt that said read the transcript evoke responses like, read the Mueller report, alternative t-shirt slogans such as, I would like you to do us a favor, though, were suggested.

There were plenty of doubters asking whether all those human props wearing read the transcript actually read the transcript. Someone tweeted, "So I guess I need a shirt that has the actual transcript on it, because these (muted) apparently only reach t-shirts and hats."

But Trump supporters love the read the transcript apparel, classic Trump trolling.


TRUMP: The do-nothing Democrats, the hell out of office soon.


MOOS: President Trump has said he might read the transcript allowed as a fireside chat on live TV, which lit a fire under Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart.


JONATHAN CAPEHART, WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: I would like you to do us a favor, though. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, so if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot.


MOOS: Now selling for 30 bucks on the Trump campaign web site, read the transcript t-shirts. Or maybe you prefer, I read the transcript, impeach Trump now. I'll give you this one if you give me that one, does not count as a quid pro quo?

Jeanne Moos, CNN.


TRUMP: You know what they say?


MOOS: New York.


TRUMP: No, you know what they say?


CHURCH: Pick a t-shirt, right? Thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Business Traveler is up next. But first, I'll be back with the check of the headlines. You're watching CNN. Stick around.