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Three More Transcripts Released on Trump Ukraine Policy; Gaza Militants Fire Rockets toward Israel; Morales Leaves, Hong Kong Protests; Bolivia in Chaos; Catastrophic Fires in Two Australia States. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 12, 2019 - 02:00   ET

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


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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta with your next 90 minutes of CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get started.

Coming up, a critical week in Washington worked were just a day away from the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. The White House and lawmakers are bracing for the fallout.

Israel carries out a high-profile assassination in Gaza, killing a commander of the militant group who they say was planning imminent terror attacks.

We're live from Hong Kong. A city on edge one day after the worst violence since the pro democracy movement began.

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CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

With the public hearings in the U.S. impeachment inquiry coming on Wednesday, new transcripts of testimony have been released. They describe a Ukraine policy which confused and alarmed career diplomats and security officials.

CNN's Lauren Fox reports on new details about how military aid was held up and how the president's personal attorney was directing foreign policy.

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LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some of the most stunning details coming from Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and worked on issues related to Ukraine and Russia and she painted a picture of officials who were confused about what was going on with the withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

She learned about this in July and then, in August, she had a meeting with Kurt Volker, who told her he was working with the Ukrainians to get them to announce investigations that the president had sought.

That is a significant detail because for weeks what we knew was that Volker had testified there was no connection between the military aid had the announcement of the investigations.

A significant detail by Laura Cooper. We also have the testimony from Catherine Croft and another official, Christopher Anderson, who testified he was warned by John Bolton about Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, who is intimately involved in Ukrainian foreign policy.

New details we're getting just days ahead of this public testimony on Capitol Hill, which Democrats have been preparing for for weeks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Michael Shear joins me now from Washington. He is a CNN political analyst and a White House correspondent for The New York Times.

Good to have you with us.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. Always happy to do it.

CHURCH: So, hundreds of pages of new impeachment witness testimony were released Monday. What was the common thread running through what those career officials revealed? And what role did we learn about a previous hold on Ukraine military aid, apparently done to avoid angering Russia?

SHEAR: Right. So, I think the bigger picture, the answer to your first question is that I think the all three of these witnesses added more detail to the narrative that we already know. Which is, that the president and the people around him, in particular, Rudy Giuliani.

And some of the other officials who were working with Giuliani had pressured and had attempted to pressure Ukraine's government in order to, you know, help the president politically and they did that by holding back military aid and by holding back the promise of a White House meeting.

And so, the witnesses that we learned of their testimony today didn't have any sort of shocking new revelations about that but added more detail, things about when the aid was held back, why it was held back, some of the concerns that were expressed about that. So that's the sort of big picture.

The second question you asked about the earlier hold there was referenced by one of the officials, a Pentagon official to an earlier effort by the administration to hold back some military aid for Ukraine back at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018 where a similar hold was put for about two weeks and that their aid didn't flow. It was javelin missiles that Ukraine had wanted.

And so, the question I guess that is left sort of tantalizingly from this information is, was this yet another instance and a much earlier instance than we knew about before where the administration was using aid to Ukraine to essentially, you know, pressure.

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SHEAR: And to do the bidding of Russia which of course didn't want Ukraine to get that kind of weapons.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, as you pointed out, the testimony so far

from these various witnesses seems to establish that a quid pro quo did in fact exist. And now Republicans are admitting that's probably the case, but they say it's not impeachable.

The president isn't happy with that approach because he still insists, he did nothing wrong. Who's right here? The Democrats, the Republicans or the president and where does this take us?

SHEAR: Well, I think, you know, who's -- it's really hard to say who's right in the kind of ultimate sense, that will be a judgment that will be made after the impeachment process is finished, ultimately, by the American people in the election.

I think what you can say is that there's lots of evidence. There's a mountain of evidence suggesting that that kind of shakedown took place in which the president and his aides were trying to pressure Ukraine.

The Republicans are sort of casting about for what their best defense is. You know, they've had sort of been all over the map. Some of them have, as you say, have suggested, well, look, he did something wrong but it wasn't impeachable. Others have tried to actually defend him on the merits.

The president of course really wants people to simply join him in the kind of absolute rhetoric that he's been offering, which is to say, I did nothing wrong. The call was perfect. Nothing here to see, just move along. It's all a hoax. It's a scam. The problem is for some of these Republicans is I think they see the same evidence that the rest of us see and it makes them worry.

CHURCH: Right. And how much closer are we to establishing the roles played by the president in all this, as well as his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, I think, you know, one of the big arguments that the Republicans are preparing to make on Wednesday when these public hearings begin and I talk to a bunch of Republicans over the course of the last several days.

One of the arguments they're preparing to make is, well, if there were things that happened that were inappropriate, the one thing that you don't have is a direct connection, people directly testifying about what Donald Trump did or said in those events.

Now, of course, we do have the telephone call that he made with President Zelensky, we have the transcript of that but their point is that a lot of the testimony of the people that are going to be testifying is second or thirdhand. Its people saying well, I heard someone told me that the president wanted this to be done.

And I don't know that that's going to be a really successful approach but that's definitely the approach you're going to hear a lot in the next several days. They're simply going to say this is all secondhand information and you can't impeach the president without having the direct knowledge.

CHURCH: We are all watching to see what comes next. Michael Shear, many thanks to you for breaking this all down for us. I appreciate it.

SHEAR: Certainly.

CHURCH: A quick programming reminder. Tune into CNN for extensive live coverage throughout the day on Wednesday as the House impeachment hearings get underway. Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent will go before live cameras and testify publicly.

That's Wednesday 10:00 am in New York and 3:00 pm London time.

We continue tracking developments in Gaza where the Israeli military has still killed a senior leader in the Islamic Jihad. This was the scene in Gaza City after the strike on Bahaa Abu al-Atta. Israel says he was responsible for rocket fire and was plotting immediate attacks on Israelis.

The move threatens to ignite tensions along the Israel-Gaza border and Syrian state media has also blamed Israel for an attack in Damascus. And they say the son of a different Islamic Jihad leader was killed and for more Oren Liebermann joins us now on the phone and is near the Israel-Gaza border.

Oren, what are you learning about the killing of this senior Islamic Jihad member in Gaza?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the first targeted killings Israel has carried out in Gaza for years. As you pointed out Israel carried out the strike at about 5:00 this morning and shortly after that, rocket fire from Gaza began and continue this mornings.

All of the schools in central and southern Israel, including Tel Aviv have been shut down for the day because of security measures.

Why now?

Why carry out the strike now against Bahaa Abu al-Atta?

Israel says he was responsible for carrying out rocket fire that we've seen for the past few months, responsible for planning and carrying out attacks and planning attacks to be carried out in the immediate future.

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LIEBERMANN: Not only Islamic Jihad but Hamas and other factions in Gaza have promised to retaliate with rocket fire from Gaza and also in the statements from Gaza, the funeral for Bahaa Abu al-Atta, that's happening now and then there will be a period where we could see another major escalation.

It could very well spiral into the first war in some five and a half years on the border, perhaps as intense as I've seen since I've been here -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: That's the big concern; what could that mean before the region, do you think?

LIEBERMANN: It's a difficult question. It all depends on how this moves from here. And it's important to remember that it's a different scenario now. Israel has reached cease-fire understandings with Hamas and says it's possible.

But Islamic Jihad is against those and is going to work against those with force, including firing of rockets. Right now this is on the escalation and the trajectory on the Gaza border and we'll keeping an eye out for that.

Israel has not commented on reports coming from Damascus that another senior Islamic Jihad leader was targeted but not killed. Reports say it was his son that was killed. That's Israel moving against Islamic Jihad not only in Gaza but elsewhere in one strike this morning.

And we'll see how it develops on the Israel-Gaza border and what will have be the inevitable Israeli response.

CHURCH: Many thanks to Oren Liebermann, joining us there from Gaza. And we appreciate that update.

Protesters are back on the streets of Hong Kong. But right now, things appear calm, especially compared to 24 hours ago. Monday saw two of the most violent episodes we've seen in months of these pro democracy protests, including a police officer shooting a protester with a live round and a man set on fire after confronting protesters.

Hong Kong chief executive spoke hours ago and said selfish rioters were trying to paralyze the city by disrupting transportation. On Monday, she said the violence had exceeded protesters' demands for democracy, calling them enemies of the people.

Let's turn to CNN Paula Hancocks in Hong Kong and joins us now.

What is happening on the streets of Hong Kong right now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, as you say, it's a different pictures of what we saw on Monday. And there's a number of protesters on the streets. And there was a standoff at one of the universities; that is still going on and there were a couple of locations with tear gas fired.

This area is really in the center part of Hong Kong. It's part of the high-class shopping district. You see some of the black-clad individuals with the face masks, defying the face mask ban, and seeing them digging up some bricks from pavements and are throwing them across the road.

They've been leaving nails as well to try to make sure that if the police do come to push them away that they're at the very least slowed down. They also poured some flammable liquids on the ground at some of these barricades.

There's appears to be some kind of disagreement between them as to what they should do next. This time around they usually face off with the police and then there are altercations with petrol bombs and tear gas.

But this time the place have left and at this point they will be close by and monitoring this very closely but many people have left because there isn't this kind of altercation. They have disrupted this area of central in Hong Kong, stopped buses. And during the lunch, when we believe they were targeting the people.

And there were some business people who were joining in as well -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Paula Hancocks joining us there live from Hong Kong. We've been looking at live pictures there on the other side. We will keep an eye on this and we're monitoring the situation. Many thanks.

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CHURCH: Former Bolivian president Evo Morales is on his way to asylum in Mexico. He led Bolivia for nearly 14 years but was forced to step down after weeks of protests over election fraud. His departure leaves the country in chaos with no current leader and vandalism on the streets.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, Bolivia's defense minister stepped down, one of many key officials to leave since Morales resigned. And the second vice president of Bolivia's senate is calling for lawmakers to meet on Tuesday to discuss the next steps. Patrick Oppmann takes a look at what led to this ouster.

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EVO MORALES, FORMER BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are resigning. I am resigning.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With these words, Evo Morales' nearly 14 years as president of Bolivia came to a close. He declared himself the winner of Bolivia's presidential election last month. And now blamed pressure from weeks of protests and accusations of fraud for his decision.

MORALES (through translator): So that my brothers and sisters, leaders of the movement towards socialism, won't be harassed, persecuted, threatened.

I'm very sorry for this civilian coup.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Morales' announcement came just hours after the Organization of American States published a report concluding that there were irregularities in the presidential elections held on October 20th.

The report cites failure in the chain of custody of the ballots, alternation and forgery of electoral material, redirection of data to unauthorized servers and manipulation of information. These elements, the OAS said, impacted the official count.

Opposition leaders openly accused Morales of orchestrating election fraud to secure an outright victory in the first round of voting over former president Carlos Mesa. Morales has denied the accusations. Mesa, meanwhile, called it a historic lesson.

The allegations of fraud began when electoral authorities stopped the quick count of ballots on Election Night without any explanation. Preliminary results indicated a potential runoff between Morales and Mesa. But when the counting resumed, Morales' lead had jumped.

The electoral tribunal's explanations did not satisfy the public. The situation quickly escalated. Hundreds of protestors took to the streets, asking for new elections. Electoral centers were set ablaze and intense clashes between opposition and pro-government supporters were seen all over the country. At least three people have died and hundreds were injured.

From the beginning, the armed forces said they would not confront the protestors, a promise ratified Saturday by the head of the armed forces, who then told Morales he needed to resign.

WILLIAMS KALIMAN, BOLIVIAN MILITARY CHIEF (through translator): We will guarantee the union among fellow citizens, so we ratify that we will never confront the people.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Support for Morales was waning. On Saturday, some police units walked out en masse, demanding Morales step down.

And more uncertainty lies ahead. Following the president's resignation, others who would be next in line, including the vice president and the leaders of both chambers of congress, also resigned -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Mexico City.

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CHURCH: We'll take a short break, still to come, 3,000 firefighters are on the ground in eastern Australia as New South Wales and Queensland face the harshest fire threat possible and the weather is not helping. We'll have the very latest next.

Plus an, historic moment in India-Pakistan relations as the two countries are allowing Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a holy shrine for the first time in more than 70 years. All of the details for you on the other side of the break, do stay with us.

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CHURCH: In Australia, New South Wales and Queensland are facing catastrophic fire danger and Sydney is at especially high risk. It's the first time the city has seen such a high threat level since the fire warning system was put in place back in 2009.

At least 71 bush fires are burning in New South Wales and the smoke is so intense, you can see it from space and it has drifted all the way to New Zealand. Three people have been killed and more than 100 homes have been lost over the past week.

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CHURCH: Records have fallen during China's Singles' Day of online shopping bonanzas. Sales of the e-commerce giant Alibaba topped $38 billion, slipping past last year's tally of nearly $31 billion. Singles' Day racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday put together.

It started out as an informal anti-Valentine's Day holiday for single people in China and now it is the world's biggest shopping event.

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CHURCH: Now to our "Innovate Africa" series and a new water treatment solution that's safer and lowers cost for service providers in the gas industry. CNN spoke with the head of a company leading the way for this effort.

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ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How advanced is the technology in the oil and gas space becoming and are you finding other so many new innovations that you're able to offer the clients out?

NOSIZWE NOKWE-MACAM, FRIBURGE OIL AND GAS (voice-over): It's moving pretty fast. A lot of people think there's technology that you can be in Brisbane and you're modeling something that's every part of the rig you're building. That's being modeled and used. Through technology, we're able to actually see or we can do inspections here in Brisbane or Rwanda and send that to Houston. Somebody in Houston can model what we're talking about here.

GIOKOS (voice-over): What are you able to offer that other companies that have been in the game for longer can't?

NOKWE-MACAM (voice-over): We're partnered with a Norwegian company which has very innovative technology for the treatment of waste.

GIOKOS (voice-over): What do you do with the waste normally? NOKWE-MACAM (voice-over): Normally what they do, you take the water, clean it up, put it on to another vessel and take it to shore.

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NOKWE-MACAM (voice-over): -- cleaned it up again --

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NOKWE-MACAM (voice-over): This technology that we have, cleans the water there on the rig, and it is clean to such an extent it's able to be put back into the ocean. So you're cutting the cost having to ship it to shore which does the treatment.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Are you doing something different in water treatment?

NOKWE-MACAM (voice-over): With our partners, yes. We do something that's innovative which is different from what has been done in the past. But as technology grows, you might have the first step but a lot of people are going to catch onto it. It's now become the norm. It's becoming the norm globally.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Can we be a lot more innovative in the way that we look at this industry and how we see other African countries engaging with the space?

NOKWE-MACAM (voice-over): We think this is the time for all of these oil and gas countries to start right at the beginning and to do something totally different.

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CHURCH: Will take a short break here still, to come. A key backer of the Syrian White Helmets rescue group has been found dead in Turkey. What we're learning about the death of James le Mesurier ahead.

Publics the bizarre case of a Napoleon reenactor charged with murder in Russia, what police found in his backpack. We'll be back with that in a moment.

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CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Rosemary Church. Time to check the main stories we've been following this hour. Three more transcripts of closed-door testimony in the U.S. Impeachment Inquiry were released Monday, two days ahead of public hearings. Senior Pentagon Official Laura Cooper testified the U.S. envoy to Ukraine, told her he was trying to lift the hold on military aid by having Ukraine publicly announced an investigation into President Trump's political rival.

Israel has killed a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. This was the scene in Gaza City after the death of Bahaa Abu al-Ata. Islamic Jihad says his wife was also killed.

Meanwhile, Syrian state media blames Israel for an attack in Damascus. They say the son of a different Islamic Jihad leader was killed.

Evo Morales is on his way to Mexico after he was granted asylum there. The former Bolivian president was forced to resign amid protests and allegations of election fraud. Morales' departure leaves behind a power vacuum and no immediate successor to take over the reins of the government.

For more protests underway in Hong Kong after a day of extreme violence. We're looking at live pictures here. A police officer shot a demonstrator, Monday, and a man who confronted protesters was set on fire. The city's Chief Executive has slammed what she calls, rioters and enemies of the people.

One of the leading backers of Syria's White Helmet rescue group has been found dead in Turkey. James Le Mesurier was a former British Army officer and a vocal supporter of the White Helmets, an all- volunteer group that helps the civilian victims of Syria's Civil War. CNN's Scott McLean has more.

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SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A man who helped save so many lives in the Middle East was found dead on Tuesday in Istanbul. The body of James Le Mesurier, the high-profile backer of serious White Helmets, was found lying on the pavement in front of his home. He had apparently fallen from a balcony.

FIRAT BULUT, WITNESS: We came to work at around 9:00 a.m. in the morning, and we heard from our friends that noises were heard from here.

MCLEAN: Turkish Police are investigating Le Mesurier's wife, told a friend who spoke to CNN, that he had fallen from their balcony while she was sleeping, and that their balcony was not high off the ground. Le Mesurier was the 48-year-old former British Army Officer and founder of the non-profit, Mayday Rescue, which helped fund and train the Syria's Civil Defense, commonly known as the White Helmets.

The network of volunteers featured in a 2016 Netflix documentary showing their heroic and dangerous work, digging survivors out from rubble amid airstrikes in Syria.

Mayday Rescue called Le Mesurier a great leader, a visionary, and that "James dedicated his life to helping civilians respond to emergencies in conflicts and natural disasters."

In 2015, he told CNN about the void filled by the White Helmets in Syria.

JAMES LE MESURIER, CO-FOUNDER OF WHITE HELMETS: There is nobody that you can call. You can't pick up a phone and call the fire service. You can't call a local police department. They don't exist. MCLEAN: In his native U.K., he was honored by the Queen in 2016. But

in the Syrian conflict, Russia has tried to discredit the White Helmets as terrorists. Just last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry suggested without proof that Le Mesurier himself had active ties to Britain's Foreign Intelligence Service, as well as terror groups.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): He laid off many conflicts around the world, including in the Balkans in the Middle East. Given the role of the West in undermining stability in these regions, it's not difficult to assume what the British intelligence officer did there.

MCLEAN: The White Helmets said the death came as a shock, and said that it is Le Mesurier's humanitarian efforts that Syrians will always remember. Scott McLean, CNN, London.

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CHURCH: The United Arab Emirates is hosting experts and industry leaders for one of the world's largest energy conferences. CNN Business Emerging Markets Editor John Defterios is live this hour in Abu Dhabi, with a look on what's on the agenda. Good to see you, John. So, what's expected to come out of this International Energy Conference?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, Rosemary, this is the home of big oil and gas. For sure, we get about 140,000 people passing through the doors over a four-day window here. And I think it's the best place to gauge demand for 2020. I think that is a primary concern, about 10 years into the economic cycle. But what I found fascinating this year, categorically, when I spoke to the major oil and gas CEOs in the industrial groups, they said, we need a resolution to the U.S.-China trade war because this has this cloud of uncertainty. I hear the CEOs of Siemens and the Italian energy giant ENI.

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JOE KAESER, CEO, SIEMENS: I think the single biggest issue we have is still the ongoing trade war between China and the United States. Everybody is looking, because it's the number one and the number two in the world are in disarray, people wait and wonder what the hell is going on. So, that could actually, you know, kick off quite a big rally because people have not been investing. They're all (INAUDIBLE) on the sideline till the dust was settling. So, I'm actually little optimistic that this could actually, in the second half of 2020, could actually be quite (INAUDIBLE)

CLAUDIO DESCALZI, CEO, ENI: The volatility in there, the man is more important for the first time on the volatility of the (INAUDIBLE), because the war is tariff. So, that is -- there is between the U.S., China, and now, Europe, create, you know, uncertainty in the development investment and that is reducing them to none.

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DEFTERIOS: It's pretty strong messages, Rosemary, coming in. Keep in mind that we had the attacks on the Saudi facilities two months ago. So, we're not saying, they're overly concerned about the Strait of Hormuz, I think that's calm down, but they're definitely worried about U.S. and China trade tensions, and trying to get a deal done by the spring.

The other kind of headline here is Saudi Aramco proceeding with its IPO, which could be the largest-ever coming out of Riyadh and trading in December. And also, Iran, declaring they perhaps found another 53 billion barrels of crude. Many say this is a regional rivalry with Iran trying to go over 200 billion barrels of reserves and trying to steal some attention away from Aramco, as they proceed for this IPO. Kind of tricky politics, but again, grabbing headlines here at this oil and gas conference. Back to you.

CHURCH: All right. John Defterios joining us live there from Abu Dhabi, many thanks.

Well, after 70 years, a road has been opened between India and Pakistan, to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of the religion's holy sites without a visa. The Peace Corridor, as it's been called, is the latest attempt to improve cultural ties between the two countries. CNN's Sophia Saifi has the details.

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SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: It's the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. And we're currently standing in Pakistan, and the Punjab province at Kartarpur, Sahib, the Gurdwara, which is one of the holiest and most sacred places of the Sikh religion.

Now, this -- gurdwara or temple is, you know, has been at the very border of India and Pakistan. Two nuclear states which have been in loggerheads for the past 70 years, and because of that, many Sikh pilgrims were unable to come from India to Pakistan or vice versa. We've been told -- we've been speaking to pilgrims over here who've come from India through this corridor that's been set up by both the Indian and Pakistani governments, allowing pilgrims to come both ways with very -- with a lot of convenience, without much difficulty from India and Pakistan and vice versa.

Now, the Indian pilgrims that we've spoken to said that this is a great thing for relations between the two countries. They've said that it is something that will benefit their religion, and the fact that, you know, a lot of them during partition were unable to come back 70 years ago, and this is almost a homecoming for them, coming back to what is one of the most sacred places in their religion. There has been a lot of conflict between India and Pakistan over the issue of Kashmir, but it seems that because of this peace corridor that's been opened to much fanfare at the very eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, it appears that it's going to be something that's going to leave a very positive impact on the relationship between the common people of India and Pakistan. Sophia Saifi, Kartarpur Sahib, Pakistan.

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CHURCH: When police in Saint Petersburg, Russia pulled a freezing man from a river over the weekend, little did they know the case would grab the nation's attention. In his backpack, the severed arms of a young woman, the romantic partner and former student of the prominent history professor. CNN's Matthew Chance has more.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've learned some absolutely horrific details about how this 63-year-old university academic, Oleg Sokolov, allegedly shot and killed his 24-year-old lover, one of his history students. Then, as he confessed in court, dismembered her body with a saw in his apartment, just a short distance from here. Police say he then tried to dump her cut-up remains in this, the Moika River, which runs through the center of Saint Petersburg.

Now, Professor Sokolov is a distinguished expert on Napoleon and is renowned for his re-enactments of Napoleon war-era battles, a passion he seems to have enjoyed with this alleged victim, Anastasia Yeshchenko, who was 39 years his junior. The two lived together, and today, the court heard the couple had argued before Anastasia was shot dead. It's that relationship that's now coming under scrutiny. It doesn't appear to have raised any alarm bells at the prestigious Saint Petersburg State University where the couple met. But CNN has learned that previous allegations against Professor Sokolov, in which he's said to have abused another female student with him he was having an affair also when without any action taken against him. The whole issue is drawing the spotlight onto the way in which Russia deals with domestic violence cases. It sweeps them under the carpet, doesn't pay them enough attention, often, as in this case, with fatal consequences.

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CHURCH: And Sokolov has been sent to a pretrial detention center in Saint Petersburg for the next two months. Many thanks to Matthew Chance for that report.

Well, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is speaking out about her time in the Trump administration that Nikki Haley is getting a lot of pushback on the secrets she's revealing.

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[02:45:27]

CHURCH: Hello, everyone. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. We want to welcome our viewers joining us from here in the United States. So, an update on our top story this hour. The U.S. impeachment inquiry is heading into a critical phase with televised public hearings just a day away. The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor will appear first. He has testified he was concerned the military aid to Ukraine was hold-up for political reasons.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent is expected to describe his alarm at Rudy Giuliani's involvement in foreign policy. The ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is expected to echo those concerns when she testifies on Friday.

In newly released transcripts, Pentagon official Laura Cooper described the confusion and legal questions raised by the delay of military aid. And Catherine Croft, a former deputy to the U.S. envoy to Ukraine, said Mick Mulvaney held up the delivery of missiles to Ukraine out of concern for how Russia would react.

For more dramatic evidence of the chaos within the Trump administration laid out in a new book by the president's former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. CNN's Brian Todd has the details.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An explosive new account of top White House officials working against the president from within. In her new book, With All Due Respect, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley claims that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former chief of staff John Kelly, undermined and ignored President Trump, and tried to recruit her to help them subvert the president.

NIKKI HALEY, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Good afternoon.

TODD: That's according to excerpts of Haley's book published by The Washington Post. "Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren't being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country."

But Nikki Haley, says she rejected their overtures.

HALEY: To undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing, and it goes against the Constitution, and it goes against what the American people want. And it was -- it was offensive.

TODD: But there are now two new books with jarring accounts of top White House officials who have resisted the president. According to The Post, the new book, A Warning, by an anonymous Trump administration official, says senior White House officials considered resigning on mass last year in a "midnight self-massacre" to warn the public about Trump's behavior.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats --

TODD: But anonymous says, those officials backed off the idea, fearing it would destabilize the government even further. Trump biographers say the two books collectively paint a stark portrait of how those closest to him perceive the president.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN COMMENTATOR: They see a president going out on the hustings and riling people up against each other. Sewing nothing but division in domestic affairs, and wonder how much the country can take. So, the people who contemplated a sort of Saturday night massacre inflicted on themselves were desperate.

TODD: Trump's biographers say the two books also illustrate how the president likes to project the image of someone who surrounds himself with those who can speak truth to power, while the reality is very different.

MARC FISHER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: He likes the idea of being perceived as someone who listens to all comers. But, in fact, when people do push back hard, especially when they're at all public about it, he rebels against that and discards those people. He's done that for half a century in his business and now in politics as well.

TODD: Now, biographers are keeping a close eye on how Donald Trump responds going forward to the two new books. They believe the accounts of resistance to him within his own ranks will feed what they characterize as the president's paranoia.

FISHER: The more embarrassing it seems to the president, the more he will double down as he always does. And insist that none of this is true and become more suspicious of those around him.

D'ANTONIO: I think that nobody is safe. So, if Vice President Pence thinks that he is safe because he's been a yes-man all along, he should think again.

TODD: Trump and the White House responded to the Anonymous book by calling it nothing but lies and calling the author a coward. Trump responded to Nikki Haley's book by endorsing it and encouraging people to buy it.

So far, Rex Tillerson has not responded at all to Nikki Haley's accounts. John Kelly declined to comment in detail, but he told The Washington Post that if providing the president with the best staffing advice, so that he could make the most informed decisions was working against Trump, then Kelly said, he's guilty as charged.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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[02:50:12]

CHURCH: And since Brian filed his report, we have received a statement from the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, responding to Haley's claims. And he says in part, "At no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the president. Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in a position to know what I may or may not have said to the president." All right. So, here's a look at some of the other stories we are following this hour. Israel has killed a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. This was the scene in Gaza City after the death of Baha Abu al-Ata. Islamic Jihad, says his wife was also killed.

Meanwhile, Syrian state media blames Israel for an attack in Damascus. They say the son of a different Islamic Jihad leader was killed.

Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former U.S. president will undergo surgery in Atlanta in the coming hours to relieve pressure on his brain.

The 95-year-old is said to be resting comfortably with his wife Rosalynn by his side. Carter was in hospital twice last month after falling in his home and has previously survived brain and liver cancer.

Evo Morales is on his way to Mexico after he was granted asylum there. The former Bolivian president was forced to resign amid protests and allegations of election fraud. Morales' departure leaves behind a power vacuum with no immediate successor to take over the reins of the government.

In Australia, New South Wales and Queensland are facing catastrophic fire danger. It's the first time Sydney has seen such a high threat level since warning system was put in place back in 2009. At least, 71 bush fires are burning in New South Wales.

Well, the arctic blast hitting much of the U.S. is so cold as many as 300 records could be broken. And it's already affecting travel with more than 1,300 flights canceled at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

So, let's get the latest now from our meteorologist, we go to Pedram Javaheri. What are you seeing, Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Rosemary. This is something you would see typically in the heart of winter. And beginning of February maybe is when you'd see temperatures this cold across a broad-reaching area of the United States.

But we're talking for about 70 percent of the U.S. population. So, about 240 million people will see temperatures that are in sub- freezing within the next few hours. And, of course, that continues for, at least, a couple of days.

But a front beginning to push right across this region with it windy conditions and an air mass that is arctic in origin. So, you put it together and we're talking about single-digit temperatures widespread here.

And as far as the portions of the Appalachians even far enough south, a cold air in place there to produce some snow showers within the next several hours. So, snow showers possible into the southern tier of the U.S. But, of course, across the Midwest into New England. Get up into the higher elevations and as much as eight to 10 inches possible as well. So, an early shot of wintry weather just a few weeks outside of the autumn season getting underway. But you notice on Monday, Rosemary, kind of reference well over a thousand flights across the U.S. canceled some 5,800 flights were delayed. The vast majority of these flights across the Midwest and in and around the Chicago metroplex.

But notice Chicago's afternoon high, again, that, that would be considered cold in February. A high of only 19 degrees in store. Minneapolis same score and notice Atlanta runs at about 20 degrees below average with a high of 46. You'll notice where the front is and where it isn't. Charleston climbs up to 74 degrees in advance of the colder air arriving.

But an incredible setup when you take a look at this because upwards of 350 record temperatures could be set across the U.S. when it comes to this early blast the winter. In fact, that through the early morning hours, Chicago expected to dip to just seven for the lows there on Tuesday.

And, of course, the (INAUDIBLE) expected into portions of the Midwest. We do have winter weather advisories, a cold to hare threat in place with some of the freeze warnings that are in place along the Gulf Coast. Easily the coldest air of the season, but that about a six month period here. We'll get multiple shots of it with another one coming in, we think sometime late this week in early this weekend.

So, the trend for Chicago looks as such 19 degrees drops down to seven. But notice a very rapid climb. The climb low takes us up to just about the freezing mark. And still seven days from right now, we're still about 10 degrees below average. So, it kind of shows you this incredible trend for this time of year as temp dipped well below average and look to remain there for, at least, the foreseeable future, Rosemary

CHURCH: Oh, don't like the look of those temperatures one bit. Pedram, thanks so much for taking us through that. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Yes.

[02:55:00]

CHURCH: Well, Apple is under fire for alleged gender discrimination. A prominent tech entrepreneur claims the company's new credit card service offers women a lower credit limit than men. And now, the New York Department of Financial Services is investigating.

CNN's Clare Sebastian has the details.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these allegations come barely three months after Apple and Goldman Sachs partnered on a new credit card. One that was marketed as easy, simple, and transparent.

So, here is how it all started. It started last Thursday with this tweet from a tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson. He says, "The Apple card is such expletive sexist program. My wife and I filed joint tax returns, live in a community-property state, and have married for a long time. Yet, Apple's black-box algorithm," he says, "thinks I deserve 20-times the credit limit she does." He says, "No appeals works."

So, this became a viral tweet. It sparked a storm on Twitter, and into that storm wade Apple's own co-founder Steve Wozniak. He said, "The same thing happened to me. I got 10-times the credit limit," those of his wife. He says, "We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get a human for a correction though. It's big tech in 2019."

So, Apple directed all of our questions to Goldman Sachs. They are the card issuer. Goldman Sachs said that they look at an individual's income and an individual's creditworthiness. They said, based on these factors, it is possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions. In all cases, they say, we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender.

So, here at CNN, we did our own experiment. Two of our producers, one male one female, similar high credit scores but she earns more. In two minutes, they both got a decision. Her -- they were exactly the same. Credit limit of $9,000.

The question is how did the algorithm arrive at that decision? And should she have gotten a higher amount? Obviously, a very small group, but this just exemplifies the point. There are going to be more and more questions as more and more companies automate more and more of these decisions as to how these algorithms are written, and what they say about the social values and norms of our society.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter and I will be back with more news in just a moment. Don't go anywhere. You're watching CNN.

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