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More Than 1,000 Killed By Deadliest Quake In Decades; E.U. Set To Decide On Ukraine's Candidacy Status; CNN Visits Ukrainian Artillery Position On Front Lines; Pressure Piles On Boris Johnson As Tories Risk Losing Two Seats; London Residents Describe Pressure Of Rising Costs. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world.
Live from Hong Kong, hello, I'm Anna Coren. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
Well, tragedy in Afghanistan, the latest on the desperate search for earthquake survivors.
Ahead of day five of the U.S. Capitol right hearing, CNN has obtained a first look at new video evidence.
Plus, a difficult day in Ukraine with more areas now under Russian control, while Western weapons may not be enough.
We begin in Afghanistan, a country reeling from the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. Official saying more than a thousand people were killed in the disaster, and that number is expected to rise.
The epicenter of the 5.9 magnitude quake was southwest of host, near the country's border with Pakistan. Most deaths happened in Paktika Province. You can see here many graves being prepared to bury the dead.
Emergency relief has been deployed from multiple agencies, but the U.N. says $15 million in aid is needed immediately for rescue and recovery efforts. That number is also likely to increase.
Well, bad weather is making digging through the rubble of homes and buildings even more difficult. The U.N. humanitarian affairs office says strong winds and monsoon rains are making it difficult for helicopters to land with supplies. Many homes are made of mud and other materials have simply been washed away.
Here's one U.N. aid official addressing the challenges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA HIEBER GIRARDET, U.N. OFFICE FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION: It is remote. And what we're going to be seeing is a lack of access. The roads are poor, even in the best of time.
And so, having a humanitarian operation put in place is going to be immediately challenged by the lack of easy access to the -- to the area, to the region. And I think that's going to be probably one of the big challenges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: For more, I'm joined by our meteorologist Derek Van Dam in Atlanta and Vedika Sud who is covering the story from New Delhi.
Vedika, let's start with you first. Tell us the latest on the death toll.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Anna, I want to start with a video coming in from the Paktika Province that you refer to right at the top. This I think encapsulates the struggle, the pain, the grief and the loss of the locals in the Paktika region, which has been worst hit by this earthquake.
Anna, you've been to Afghanistan earlier, you know of the already existing humanitarian and economic crisis. We also know that almost 50 percent of Afghanistan's population is in need of food.
And then, comes this quake where over a thousand people are dead. And according to aid agencies, that number could be going up very soon. And here's why.
Now, according to the U.N. Office, the Gayan region in the Paktika Province has been worst hit where 70 percent of the housing has been damaged. Aid agencies officials and locals in the area have been telling us that there is a likelihood that there are a lot of people still under the rubble of these homes. And that is why the casualty figures can go up.
The weather was not helping the situation yesterday, because there was rains there, there were floods because of which choppers like you mentioned could not land.
So, while aid agencies are trying their level best to get to these remote areas, it's proving to be difficult. What makes it even worse Anna, is the fact that these are remote villages in the mountain areas because of which the health facilities remain very basic at this point in time.
Also responders are reaching to these areas Anna, but like I said, the casualty figure will be going up. You see rubble all around. You see people who've been absolutely shocked by this earthquake, there have been aftershocks that has led to even further panic in the area.
Telecommunication has been impacted because of which again, we don't really know about the real figures in the area yet, Anna.
COREN: It's absolutely devastating for a country that has just been going through so much pain for so long. Vedika Sud, we really appreciate the update. Thank you. [00:05:02]
COREN: Now, let's go to Derek Van Dam in Atlanta. Derek, explain to us why this earthquake in particular was so devastating.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, well it was -- the accommodation of it's striking in the middle of the night when everybody was sleeping but also the recent heavy rainfalls up to 50 millimeters within the past seven days across eastern sections of Afghanistan, that likely softened the building material there, making it easier for some of these buildings to just literally crumble when we had this very shallow earthquake take place.
I want to analyze this picture coming from the ground near the epicenter. And I want you to see in the foreground. This particular building made of clay, very rudimentary objects dirt. This completely toppled with the shaking, but behind it likely a newer building, probably reinforced with wood, allowing for a bit of flexibility as the buildings shook.
Of course, the older buildings not withstanding this 5.9 magnitude earthquake, but it's not the strength of the earthquake that was the deciding factor here, it was actually the depth. It was only 10 kilometers deep.
So, let's put this into perspective for us. If it was 200 kilometers deep, that epicenter would have just kind of basically rumbled the surface of the earth.
But the fact that it was so shallow in nature, it literally rattled and tore apart some of those loosely structured buildings that occurred.
We have had aftershocks take place at 4.5, we should expect those to continue, you can see the average number of aftershocks after a magnitude 5.9.
And the good news out of this is that we don't have any significant weather events coming through the area within the next several days.
In fact, the latest rainfall map showing very little precipitation across this particular region. So, perhaps that will at least help with the search and rescue operations that are ongoing.
But when we look particularly at the wind forecast trying to get helicopters into this very remote section of eastern Afghanistan, it will continue to be difficult because winds are forecast here to gusts to anywhere from 20 to 30 kilometers per hour going forward, Anna.
COREN: Derek, we really appreciate the explanation. Thank you so much.
Joining me now from Kabul, Neil Turner, he's the Afghanistan Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council. Neil, thank you for joining us. What are you hearing from the teams on the ground about the situation in these devastated provinces? NEIL TURNER, AFGHANISTAN COUNTRY DIRECTOR, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL: Well, the situation is really dire. This is misery upon misery for the Afghan people. We have now over a thousand deaths, we have over 2,000 households immediately affected by collapse, that these triggers are very, very likely to rise. And we're looking at a situation where we have tens of thousands of people in need of immediate assistance.
COREN: The death rates as we've just been hearing is so high because at the time of the earthquake, it was early morning, people were asleep in their homes in these mud clay dwellings. We've seen the videos of grave after grave after grave. What is the priority right now for humanitarian groups like yours?
TURNER: So, the priority is to get access. And we've already conducted assessments in Khost province, the neighboring province of Paktika and we're looking at bringing in immediate shelter assistance there. That happened yesterday.
And today, there's a big effort from all the aid agencies in particular to make sure that we get the assessments done. And we've already started moving supplies towards the area in relation to tents, blankets, household items, hygiene kits, and everything that we think is going to be immediately necessary to assist the population.
In the medium term, it's not only people's lives which have been lost, it's also their livelihoods which have been lost. And we need to gear up to look at how we -- how people reestablish their businesses, their farms, and everything else.
There will also be water and sanitation needs. It's a huge undertaking, and it needs international assistance and it needs collaboration and cooperation with all the agencies on the ground at the moment.
COREN: Now we know that this is a mountainous area. Are teams having difficulties accessing these areas?
We've already conducted assessments in Khost Province. It is a difficult situation, the terrain is difficult. There has been some rain. But our teams have managed to access the areas so far.
Paktika there have been some initial assistance. The search and rescue operation is going on by the Taliban authorities. There have been some agencies which have been able to distribute medical supplies. But we need to run this up as quickly as possible, notwithstanding the difficulties facing the area.
COREN: Since the Taliban took over last August, the country has been in economic free fall. The Taliban, they know how to fight. They are struggling to govern. How would you describe the Taliban's disaster relief response to this earthquake?
TURNER: Well, what they've done is they've given humanitarian agencies full access to the area, and were responding as quickly as we can. On a wider note, I think the difficulties of Afghanistan, the
humanitarian situation is underpinned by an economic crisis. And we when we look at responding to this particular humanitarian crisis, we have to look beyond that to assisting the Afghan people to get their economy up and running.
COREN: Now, what's your appeal to other aid organizations? And perhaps, viewers watching this broadcast right now? How can they help?
TURNER: Well, we need to have additional assistance. The humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are well known. There are over 24 million people at risk of severe food insecurity. We have had an appeal, which was in March, which was funded about half. We really need to make sure that that appeal is fully funded. And that was only the existing humanitarian needs that we had identified at the beginning of this year.
Now, obviously, with this earthquake, there's a need for more, and we need to make sure that the Afghanistan situation is fully funded, and the misery of the Afghan people is brought to an end, and that we are able to assist not only this crisis, but in the in the wider humanitarian needs.
COREN: International community has pulled out of the country. They did that last year. Let's hope that they step up and help these people so desperately in need.
Neil Turner, many thanks for your time.
TURNER: Thank you.
COREN: For more on how you can help aid groups in areas hit by the quake go to CNN.com/Impact.
European Union leaders begin a summit in Brussels in the coming hours to decide if Ukraine should get a green light to start the process of joining the group.
The meeting will determine if Ukraine will have a candidate status, but full membership would still be years away.
A senior E.U. officials as all current members are expected to get behind Ukraine's candidacy. But on the eve of the summit, President Zelenskyy was embarking on some last minute lobbying of European leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): From the very morning, I continued the telephone marathon for a positive decision on the candidacy for Ukraine.
Tomorrow, I will continue this marathon. We must provide maximum support to our state. We expect a key European decision tomorrow night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: The E.U. summit comes as Ukraine faces an uphill battle on the front lines. Ukrainian officials say they still control 45 percent of the Donetsk region where grueling battles are underway. But Russian forces keep on pushing for more in the east.
That is the scene in a city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region where grinding streak battles have been going on for weeks.
As Salma Abdelaziz reports from Kyiv, Russians are making slow but steady progress in eastern Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: This is shaping up to be one of the worst weeks for the Ukrainian military since the fall of Mariupol. Russian forces making that steady inch by inch advance in some of the key territories on some of the critical front lines using that superior military force to simply pummel Ukrainian defenders, all across nearly a thousand kilometers of active fighting.
Let me just break down what's happening all along that major line starting with the North in the Sumy region there. Ukrainian officials saying that Russian forces are using cross border attacks, using kamikaze drones to take out APCs, take out tanks.
And then in Kharkiv, intensified shelling on residential areas has left several people killed and wounded, including recently an 8-year- old child.
Then, of course, to the Donbas where the fight for the region of Luhansk is really heating up there. Severodonetsk of course being the major flashpoint.
It's sister city Lysychansk, there Ukrainian officials tell -- say that Russian forces are trying to encircle that city, that Ukrainian forces are already succumbing to the Russian firepower, the sheer strength of that Russian firepower and that Russian forces have been able to occupy several villages in areas to the south setting up really important firing positions there.
ABDELAZIZ: Russian forces also backed by the air. They're using multiple launch rocket systems, really lobbying everything they have and then in Severodonetsk itself, Ukrainian defenders making something of a last stand in a chemical plant, the Azot chemical plant where there are also civilians sheltering.
And across Severodonetsk, there is more than 7,000 estimated residents trapped, pinned down in that fighting are running out of food, running out of water, with little medical access.
And then, further south to Mykolaiv, a very important stronghold for Ukrainian forces in the south of the country there. Ukrainian officials saying that city was struck by seven missiles. And really, this is Russia's strategy, there is no strategy at all, is
simply to overwhelm with their superior military force to try to overwhelm Ukrainian forces all along that line trying to force a surrender.
There's one other thing to note here, Russia is claiming that it's taking out howitzers that U.S. provided and provided by European allies. That is extremely important because the howitzers are long range weapons, they could -- they have a range of up to 25 miles, 40 kilometers. Very important in an artillery war for Ukrainian forces to be able to hit back at those artillery positions at a distance.
So, if indeed Russia is taking out these howitzers, precious few of them that the Ukrainian forces have, that would be a major loss.
Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Kyiv.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Well, the number of howitzers now on the front lines are relatively few compared to the vast number of Russian guns they're facing as we just heard from Salma.
Ukrainian troops describe their defensive line as a meat grinder and say they need hundreds more howitzers to blunt the Russian advance.
We get more now from CNN's Ben Wedeman on Eastern Ukraine's front lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New round soon to be loaded into the breach. These Ukrainian troops wait for the order.
They're preparing to fire this gun Ukraine has received more than hundred M777 howitzers. But we've seen steadily the Russians are gaining more and more ground. This helps but it may not be enough.
With sophisticated U.S. made in supplied 155 millimeter howitzers like this, Ukraine hopes to counter Russia's massive superiority in firepower.
That superiority has allowed Russian forces to push forward, subjecting cities like Severodonetsk and Lysychansk to intense bombardment.
This drone footage shows Russian tanks entering the town of Toshkivka just outside Severodonetsk.
Outnumbered and outgunned in the East, Ukraine has warned Russian forces may soon intensify their attack.
This artillery is firing rounds with a range of around 20 kilometers or 12-1/2 miles. The target we're told Russian armored personnel carriers. Thanks to the Americans, I think we can win this war says Bukdhan (PH). The only problem is we need more barrels, more artillery and more ammunition or in plain English: We need your help.
His comrade Gratz (PH) put the number to it. We need at least 500 of these guns, he says.
This has become an artillery war and victory in this war will come from the barrel of a gun.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, eastern Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Still to come, Britain's inflation rate hits a new high. We'll hear from some of those feeling the pressure of rising costs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump was shameful for America and Boris is shameful for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Voters expressed their feelings about the British Prime Minister ahead of by-elections in the U.K., those details ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEIR STARMER, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Thousands of families have had their holiday flights canceled. It takes forever to renew your driving license or passport and now we've got the biggest rail strike in 30 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: The British opposition leader there as he clashed in Parliament with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the country's biggest rail strike in decades.
Now, a second strike is set for Thursday, as talks failed to reach an agreement in around over pay. Well, that means millions could face another day of travel disruptions.
And Boris Johnson is facing further pressure as his conservative party is at risk of losing two parliamentary seats in by-elections. The polls open in less than two hours from now.
CNN's Bianca Nobilo explains what's at stake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A world away from Westminster, Boris Johnson's political future hangs in the balance, determined by two small elections triggered by sex scandals. But the real issue may be whether his election winning personality is now a liability.
The first, in Wakefield, a cathedral city in northern England was called to replace a member of parliament from Johnson's conservative party who was convicted for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
The second, Tiverton and Honiton, will see voters heading to polls in the bucolic farmlands of southwest England. There's a history of battles here. This time it's political.
NOBILO (on camera): The bi-election is happening here, because local conservative M.P. Neil Parish was caught watching pornography in parliament, not once but twice. But he said he was looking for tractors.
If Boris Johnson loses one or both of these elections, it will show that he's no longer in the driving seat. His position as prime minister even less tenable and his own M.P.s will be looking for ways to hasten his political demise.
NOBILO (voice over): And now, the prime minister's unpopularity is their problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This M.P. of ours going in that way, and the one in Wakefield going the same way over a sort of sleezy matched. You kind of get the feeling that it's drip, drip from the top. I mean he's shallow. He's self-serving. He's a serial liar. Masses of his own M.P.s are disgusted with him.
CHESSIE FLACK, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT ACTIVIST: Boris Johnson needs to look at the party that he is leading. And that is coming from the top. If he's -- if it's OK for him to lie, then it's all right for that to filter down to his M.P.s as well.
NOBILO: But the damage these voters say goes deeper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump was shameful for America and Boris is shameful for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I couldn't agree more. I've always been very proud of being British, and I'm starting to feel less proud of actually the country I come from.
NOBILO: Johnson, once a glittering election winner, Brexit deliverer, star of the show, now airbrushed out of his own party's political campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- I think the prime minister is a complete liability for the conservative party. He just can't get it right. And, unfortunately, he just can't see it. RICHARD FOORD, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE: There's a really good understanding here among the sort of astute voters in our community that we can send a message on behalf of all those people who don't have the opportunity to vote on Thursday.
NOBILO: That message could be that Boris Johnson's once winning political formula has become toxic.
Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Well, the rising cost of living will be one focus as voters head to the polls. Last month, Britain's inflation rate hit 9.1 percent, its highest rate in 40 years. Officials say Britain is using all its tools to fight inflation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Firstly, the Bank of England will act forcefully to combat inflation.
Secondly, the government will be responsible with borrowing and debt, so we don't make the situation worse and drive up people's mortgage rates any more than they're going to go up.
And lastly, we're improving the productivity of our economy, improving the supplies of energy we have and moving people off welfare into work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: CNN's Clare Sebastian visited a food market in London where customers and vendors alike are feeling the pressure of rising prices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Here at this East London food market where people are on their lunch breaks, it's not immediately obvious that the U.K. is facing 40-year highs in inflation and a cost of living crisis. But inflation is here.
Food prices were the biggest contributing factor to the latest rise in inflation. Add to that the cost of energy, motor fuels are up around 33 percent in the past 12 months. And you have a situation where pretty much everyone here is feeling the pressure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the food shops especially are just so ridiculous. You can't get anything for (INAUDIBLE) it just adds up too much. But yes, unfortunately, money doesn't go so far.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have also been busy trying to fix my mortgage because we're facing significantly rising mortgage rates as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The oil has gone up. The vegetable oil and the price of the chickens going up basically. But we've not passed it down yet because we can keep it to the absolute minimum until we can.
SEBASTIAN: Well, that business may not be passing on the costs to its customers. But data shows more and more businesses are.
Add to that, the fact that we've already seen disruption this week from rail strikes, these latest inflation numbers could lead unions to increase their demands for more pay rises in line with inflation.
And then, you have another worry, the U.K. economy is actually shrinking. It shrank in both April and March data shows. If inflation keeps rising and the economy keeps shrinking, the risk of recession keeps going up. And that means a whole new set of challenges for the businesses hoping to make a living off people's lunch breaks.
Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Hong Kong.
Just ahead, the U.S. Justice Department issues new subpoenas related to Donald Trump's scheme to overturn the 2020 election.
COREN: New details on our top story this hour. More than a thousand people are dead after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Residents and rescue crews are desperately searching through the rubble for survivors and local officials say they expect the death toll to rise. At least 1,500 people are injured.
And Afghanistan's defense ministry says medics and helicopters are helping to transport them to nearby hospitals, but rescue operations are being hampered by heavy monsoon rains.
Here's more from a UNICEF spokesperson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM MORT, CHIEF OF COMMUNICATION, UNICEF AFGHANISTAN: And the teams are there, trying to uncover the rubble, to see, you know, who is trapped. We're hearing of hundreds of people killed. It's impossible to verify how many at the moment. Because some communities are not accessible.
There's a lot of rain here in Afghanistan at the moment. So we've had landslides. And there's a lot of mud. And of course, because these areas that are affected are so rural and remote, there's no sophisticated equipment there to support the -- the response effort. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: We will continue to follow this story and bring you more updates in the coming hours.
Well, now to Washington, where sources tell CNN the U.S. Justice Department is issuing new subpoenas. They're related to the scheme by Donald Trump and his some of his advisers to put forward a slate of fake electors in the 2020 presidential race.
They include the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and officials from Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, the House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol right will hold its fifth public hearing in the day ahead. Members plan to focus on Trump's pressure on the Justice Department to back his false claim that the election was stolen.
Then the chairman says the panel will take a break until mid-July to evaluate new evidence. One of the things they're looking at is a British filmmaker's footage, documenting the final weeks of the Trump presidency. "Unprecedented" will be released this summer by Discovery Plus, which is owned by the same company as CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP/FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: My father, he's very honest. And he is who he is.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: He believes everything that he's doing is right.
D. TRUMP: I think I treat people well, unless they don't treat me well, in which case you go to war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we talk for minute about January the 6th?
D. TRUMP: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Joining me now is CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig. He's also a former federal and state prosecutor. Elie, great to have you with us.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks, Anna.
COREN: What are we expecting to hear at the Thursday hearings?
HONIG: Tomorrow is going to focus on Donald Trump's effort to weaponize the United States Department of Justice. Trump really tried to undertake a whole of government effort here, to give some credence to his lies about election fraud. He tried to pressure the vice president. He tried to pressure state
legislators. He tried to pressure state and local election officials. And now tomorrow, we'll learn about how he tried to use prosecutors to further that goal.
What they did at the white House was they sent over really wild theories about election fraud and tried to get DOJ to investigate. DOJ did. They found nothing. And then Trump apparently asked DOJ to just say they had found fraud anyway, and again DOJ refused, because DOJ really stood its ground as a bastion of independence.
COREN: Elie, we're also expecting to see footage from a documentary filmmaker who was with Trump before and after the riots. Could this be the evidence that proves to be the smoking gun?
HONIG: I'm reluctant to ever call any one piece of evidence a smoking gun. To me, it's always about the totality of the evidence. But this evidence could be quite powerful, because it's video evidence.
You can always -- a defense lawyer can always attack a witness, can say the witness is not reliable or is biased or is not credible. But videotape is videotape. And so if you have incriminating statements made by somebody on videotape, particularly in an unguarded moment of candor, that can be absolutely devastating evidence.
It does look like the committee has some expectations for this footage, because they have postponed some of next week's hearings, because they say they want to make sure they can go through this and other new evidence.
COREN: Elie, the Justice Department has expanded its January 6th investigation, issuing fresh subpoenas in multiple states, widening the probe on how political activists supporting Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Biden's victory. What does this indicate to you?
HONIG: Well, it tells me that DOJ is expanding its investigation. To some extent, it suggests that DOJ is following the committee's lead here. Because the day before these subpoenas were issued, that's when the committee gave us the detailed presentation about the evidence that they had found about this scheme to submit fraudulent electors to the National Archives.
Basically, you had groups of people in seven contested swing states that had all gone for Joe Biden, claiming, We are actually the proper electors, and we're here for Donald Trump.
So that could be criminal. That could be part of a larger conspiracy. It also is a crime to submit false documents to the United States government. So this tells me the DOJ is now digging into that aspect of the case, as well.
COREN: So in the last 24 hours, there' s been an uptick in the number of violent threats made against committee lawmakers. They are expected to receive security detail.
But it really speaks to the threats, the harassment and vile accusations that we heard Rusty Bowers, Brad Raffensperger, and Ruby Freeman had to endure.
COREN: This is really a sad state of affairs.
HONIG: It is, and it's a vicious cycle, too, Anna. Because what happens is people who are courageous enough to speak up to testify often receive threats about whatever it was they're testifying about. And then when they come forward and testify, they receive a whole new round of threats. So it's really a vicious cycle.
It's alarming, because a lot of times, these threats, far too often recently, have escalated. We just saw a potential assassination attempt on one of the justices of the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. They caught a man who was armed and admitted that he was trying to harm the justice.
We've seen judges, federal and state judges, targeted. And it's really an incredibly disturbing trend, fueled I think, by disinformation. And it's something that I hope to heaven we can -- we can tamp down, but this -- the recent trends are not good.
COREN: Elie, I want to read something to you, written by Tom Nichols from "The Atlantic" magazine. He talks about how Trump and his supporters were attacking civic life, which is, you know, I guess what we are just talking about. but he says, "Democracy is a meaningless word to Trump and his supporters. They want what they want and will hurt anyone who gets in their way."
HONIG: Yes, well, I guess --
COREN: Would you say that's a -- that's a fair reflection of what we are seeing?
HONIG: I think it's fair reflection of Donald Trump, I'm not sure I would paint all of his supporters in that way. There's people who support Donald Trump that don't necessarily go to such extremes.
But yes, I think one lesson that's come out of these committee hearings is that so much of our democracy depends not so much on the written rules, but just on the willingness and the morality of people to play by those rules. So much of our system depends on norms, on unwritten principles.
And if you have somebody who is completely willing to trash those, and to do whatever is required to meet the ultimate end goal, then that does threaten our system.
So we're seeing this conflict here between that sort of amorality on the one hand, and people who are fighting to maintain our institutions on the other hand. We'll see that tomorrow in the presentation about the Justice Department. COREN: Elie Honig, always great to get your perspective. Thank you so
HONIG: Thanks, Anna.
COREN: You can see the entire hearing, plus in-depth analysis, right here on CNN, starting at 2 on Thursday afternoon in Washington. That's 7 in the evening in London. And on Friday, 2 a.m. here in Hong Kong.
Still to come on NEWSROOM, Prince Charles visibly affected as he lays a wreath at a memorial to hundreds of thousands of victims of the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994. A report from our royal correspondent after the break.
COREN: Britain's Prince Charles is in Rwanda for a Commonwealth leaders' summit this week, and he took some time Wednesday to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis who were killed by extremist Hutus during the brutal genocide in 1994.
CNN's Max Foster is in the capital of Kigali with the story.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Blood-stained shorts belonging to just one victim of the massacre at Nyarubuye church. Also found here, tools like machetes, used so bluntly by the perpetrators.
Before they attacked, they threw grenades, and the holes created by the shrapnel still pepper the roof.
In the basement, the skulls of anonymous Tutsi men, suspended above the coffin of a woman from the same ethnic group, who lost her life in an act of barbarous sexual violence.
And even now, more bodies are being discovered and brought here, as the attackers identify other murder sites as part of the reconciliation process that began in 1999.
FOSTER: Around 10,000 people were killed in this church across two days, and they're buried here behind it, along with around 35,000 other victims of genocide.
FOSTER (voice-over): A quarter of a million more are buried here at the genocide memorial in the capital, Kigali. They include Freddy's family.
FREDDY MUTANGUHA, DIRECTOR, KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL: They (ph) came and attacked my house. And they killed my -- my family, my parents and four sisters.
FOSTER: Did you see that?
MUTANGUHA: Yes, of course. I heard -- I was hiding, but I can hear their voices, actually, until they finished.
FOSTER: And you were the only survivor?
MUTANGUHA: I survived with my sister, but I lost four sisters, as well.
FOSTER (voice-over): It is Freddy's mission to keep the memories of his family and hundreds of thousands of other victims alive. He now runs this memorial site.
He was keen to welcome Prince Charles to learn more about what happened here and help counter a growing online threat from genocide deniers. Freddy compares it to the Holocaust denial.
MUTANGUHA: More than a million of Tutsi lost their lives because of this kind of ideology. If this ideology is given a place, and the ideology is the ideology of genocide, who promotes the ideology of genocide are given platforms, and this comes back. We're going to lose people. We're going to lose lives.
And I don't want this to happen in Rwanda, and I don't want this to happen anywhere around the world.
FOSTER (voice-over): It's a familiar theme. As memories of tragedy fade, anonymous conspiracy theorists crawl into rewrite history and prevent much-needed reconciliation, healing and peace.
FOSTER: In a statement after this first day of their tour to Rwanda, Prince Charles and Camilla said they were struck about how important it is to never forget the horrors of the past, and how deeply moved meeting people who have found ways of living with and even forgiving the most appalling crimes.
Max Foster, CNN, Kigali, Rwanda.
COREN: Thank you so much for watching. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. I'll be back in about 15 minutes' time with more news.
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