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Isa Soares Tonight

Drones Strike Moscow For The Second Time In Days; France Preparing To Evacuate Its Citizens from Niger; Four West African Countries Vow To Support Niger Militarily If Attacked; Aid Group Working To Release American Nurse And Child From Haiti; Okinawa Evacuates 600,000 In Advance Of Typhoon Khanun; Climate Change Threatens Syrian Agricultural Production; Trump Burning Through Funds For Legal Fees; China's New Generative AI Rules. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 01, 2023 - 14:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to you all, I'm Richard Quest in for Isa Soares. Tonight, Moscow is under fire, drones are

striking the city for the second time in days. We'll take a look at Ukraine's response. France is preparing to fly its citizens out of Niger as

last week's coup divide the international community.

In this hour, I will speak to the U.S. Department of State, that will happen in about five, ten minutes from now. Also President Trump and Joe

Biden -- President Biden, are neck-and-neck in the polls. We'll look at whether a third indictment for the former president could shift the race.

Ukrainian presidential adviser is warning that Moscow should expect more drone attacks, saying Russia is getting used to full-fledged war. For the

second time in three days, a drone hit this high-rise building in the heart of Moscow's business district. It houses some government offices including

the Ministry of Economic Development.

Russia is calling it a terrorist attack. It says measures are being taken, but gave no details. Now, joined by our former CNN Moscow Bureau chief Jill

Dougherty, currently Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Washington. If you look at the response of Moscow, do they seem rattled,

annoyed, irritated or worried?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think maybe a combination of all of that, Richard. But certainly, if you look at the

bombings that Russia carried out after that attack over the weekend, I think there is fury in Moscow. And I think there is concern, because after

all, what Putin is trying to do with the Russian people, and especially, you know, the well off, the rich people, the elite who live in Moscow, is

to say everything is normal.

The war is going, you know, according to plan, et cetera. And this is pretty frightening, I would think, for people in Moscow who -- and don't

forget, Richard, as I'm sure you're well aware, you know, that is the symbol of Putin's -- you know, let's say capitalism. Putin's style of

capitalism. Those high rises are really kind of skyscrapers, and that's what's been hit.

QUEST: So how much more does -- do the Ukrainians have to do in a sense, to escalate that? I mean, yes, these are serious attacks that could create

injuries and deaths. But they're relative pinpricks in comparison to the full-scale war taking place over in Ukraine.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, I think it depends on what they're trying to do with this. I mean, obviously, we have the propaganda value, which we just talked

about. There's also, I think, the military value and you pointed out that air defenses in Moscow were able to knock them down, electronic warfare, et

cetera. But the fact that they were able to go back, the Ukrainians, apparently, to that very same building just a couple of days later, I think

is significant.

The fact that they were able to target something in Moscow from -- we don't know exactly the distance, but that's militarily significant. And then, do

they want to carry out destruction in Moscow? That's not really clear. You know, it's one or two drones. But it's now happening more frequently. So, I

think a lot of that depends on what -- you know, what is the endgame here? They obviously -- the Ukrainians obviously would like --

QUEST: Right --

DOUGHERTY: To have Moscow -- for what's been happening. But I don't know precisely what their purpose is.

QUEST: Sure, because the ultimate thing, of course, is that attacks in Russia, domestic Russia, if you will, escalate the Putin's administration

claim of being attacked at home. And therefore, escalates, and I'm dancing around the nuclear question here, because you know, it's one thing to say

let's attack Crimea and Donetsk and those places that are not accepted, generally, outside of Russia as being part of Russia. But attacking

directly within does leave credence to higher escalation of warfare.

DOUGHERTY: Yes, and then, of course, what does Russia do?

QUEST: Yes --

DOUGHERTY: And you know, Putin has always said that if the homeland, you know, Russia is attacked, then they have the right to defend themselves,

and obviously, with nuclear weapons.


But I think you have to define, OK, what kind of nuclear weapons? We've got tactical, you know, the short range, which could be used by Russia in

Ukraine, if, I think, they decided -- Putin decided, that there is a real threat. It is entirely possible that he would. Now, do experts believe that

he would start a nuclear war with strategic, you know, the giant missiles that would hit the United States, et cetera.

A lot of people say no, and I would tend to think that, that's probably correct. The tactical, you know, we're in a new territory now where Ukraine

is finding it easier to hit the Russian homeland, and that is a game- changer, anywhere you look at it.

QUEST: Jill Dougherty joining us this evening, thank you. A tiny village in Ukraine is symbolizing the enormous challenge that the government troops

are facing in their ongoing counteroffensive. Even when they do manage to recapture territory from Russia, the fight is far from over. They have to

defend and then hold their ground. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has visited the southern frontlines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The fight so fierce and victory so bitter, there is little left of Staromaiorske to

defend it from, no cover for troops, no structures, just a dust of a tiny fore-road village, the first gains of Ukraine's renewed full-throttle

counteroffensive. So small, but symbolic, Russia even claimed, Monday, with constant shelling, it had pushed Ukraine out of it again.


WALSH: Something these men, fresh back from that fight, would scoff at. Krevas(ph), his call sign, fought all the ten days of the assault until the

Russians finally fled.


Here he is as shells rain around in the initial advance.



WALSH: "When you assault under enemy shelling", he says, "you have nowhere to hide." That's the hardest part. They've since tried to assault again

twice with small groups, and he fought for here too, Neskuchne, the town before it, where the Russians hit 200 troops in the basement, not even

leaving for the toilet, so Ukraine attacked with a small force.

He takes us to where the Russians made their final stand, the school hall in its corridors. "There is no love", says the wall. They seem to relish

that nothing they brought and left no clues as to why they fought. One of the hard things for Ukrainians to understand is quite why the Russians are

fighting so hard for here, Neskuchne, and more recent victory of Staromaiorske down the road.

Is it that these are their last lines of defense? Well, no. They think there's far more fighting to be done. "I hope that when we get through the

last line of defense", he says, "then they start to run. For now, they still feel there is something behind them. Yes, we feel support, but we are

very tired." There is so much more ahead to come. Ukraine may have put in its reserves now to the fight, but they face the same Russian brutality.


"Their tactics haven't changed", he says. "They put the storms e-convicts in front with no communications or information. They stand until the death,

I don't understand their motivation or what they're fighting for." Riva(ph) carries a new Russian AK-12 as a trophy as he describes the gas they used

on him.


"There was chaotic shooting", he says, "to find out where we were. Then, the gas, you don't feel it. It moves slow along the ground. I was packing

my rucksack when I felt burning on my throat and nose." One mine sapper, call sign, Volt(ph), is busy telling me how the Russians have started

booby-trapping mines, putting a grenade under an anti-tank mine when he is interrupted.

Almost endless, the noise of outgoing fire, they are moving, but just not sure how much longer for. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Neskuchne, Ukraine.


QUEST: The political crisis in Niger is deepening as France now is evacuating its citizens from the capital.


And the effects are being felt well beyond the West African nation's borders. The international community are now taking transportations,

trading threat of intervention sanctions and even war. France, Italy and Spain, as I say are now taking their citizens, getting their citizens from

the country. And so, what have you got?

On the one side, there is the democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum reinstated. That includes the West African bloc, the ECOWAS, the EU,

the United States, and the United Kingdom. The military Junta called the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, has found support in

Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea.

Yevgeny Prigozhin; head of the Wagner Mercenary Group has welcomed the coup and said that he can help. And the Kremlin has held back on fully-fledged

support, only urging the restoration of the rule of law. Two sides to this story to cover today, Larry Madowo is in Nairobi, Jim Bittermann is in


I'm going to start with you, Jim, on the announcement that the French are evacuating their citizens from the capital, I'm guessing not only for their

own safety in terms of -- but also, they're just so -- I mean, the last thing they would want would be any of their diplomats or troops or citizens

taken hostage.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Richard. I mean, I think what they saw was that riot that took place

on Sunday when protesters attacked the French Embassy, and that was the beginning of things. And then they -- we've been told that, in fact,

they've been looking at the harsh rhetoric that has been coming down from the Junta.

And the number of arrests that are being taking place. And all of it is casting some doubt on exactly what the intentions of the military men that

have taken control, what those intentions are. So, they've -- part of these evacuation flights started about midday, French time today. There had been

about 600 French that have applied to get on the flights, they're not obligating anybody to leave, there's about 1,200 French in the country.

And they've also, because of their commitments with the other European neighbors, they're also going to be evacuating people from other countries,

Germany, for example, and Spain and in other countries that may want to go. But it's all on a voluntary basis. If people think that they can survive OK

there with the new regime, then they probably will stay. But for the most part, I think there's a lot of nervousness on the ground and a lot of doubt

over what the regime is planning.

QUEST: Jim Bittermann, Jim Bittermann, thank you. To Larry Madowo now. The battle lines are pretty clear cut now. I mean, on the one hand, you have

the Junta, backed by these three other -- maybe four other countries. And yet, ECOWAS says force will be used. Everybody is now in a position that

will be very difficult to roll back if the elected president is not reinstated.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fighting words, Richard, from the military Junta that already said it was ready when ECOWAS first threatened force on

Sunday, and overnight, getting a huge support from the two immediate neighbors, Burkina Faso and Mali, that are also ruled by the military, who

said any military intervention in Niger would be a direct act of war against them.

And then also Guinea, which also ruled by the military, saying they will not be enforcing the ECOWAS sanctions announcement the West African bloc

and using a word that we hear all too commonly, sovereignty. I want to play for you this statement from these three countries that appear to have been

coordinated, they all came at around the same time, and it's up to the Malian Prime Minister saying this warning three times.


ABDOULAYE MAIGA, SPOKESPERSON, GUINEA MILITARY JUNTA (through translator): Warn that any military intervention against Niger would amount to a

declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali.

RIMTALBA JEAN EMMANUEL OUEDRAOGO, SPOKESPERSON, BURKINA FASO MILITARY JUNTA (through translator): The transitional government of Burkina Faso and Mali

invite the living forces to be ready and mobilized to lend a hand to the people of Niger in these dark hours of Pan-Africanism.

AMINATA DIALLO, SPOKESPERSON, GUINEA MILITARY JUNTA (through translator): The brotherly people of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, aspire to more

recognition and respect for their sovereignty.


MADOWO: The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, now has five days to decide if they will, in fact, use force to reinstate President

Mohamed Bazoum because the military Junta in Niger does not appear keen to go back to the barracks and allow the democratically-elected president to

continue governing the country.

And what these other countries are saying, especially Burkina Faso and Mali is that if these West Africans were to invade Niger, they will send troops

to them to defend them. So, it would be all these four countries that are ruled by militaries who have all had coups since 2020 against a combined

force of West Africans or maybe the African Union stepping in as well.

If this does go down into military confrontation, it is risk destabilizing the entire region, that is the last thing it needs. It already suffers

major attacks from armed groups affiliated to ISIS and to al-Qaeda, Richard.


QUEST: Larry and Jim, thank you, thank you both. The United States is hoping the situation can be turned around. The State Department has not yet

formally classified the takeover as a coup. Because that's a move that would force it to cut financial and military support to the Nigerien

government, and potentially, if the region open to more instability.

U.S. troops in Niger have been ordered back to base. I'm joined by Vedant Patel; the principal deputy spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State.

Thank you sir for joining me. Look, let's be clear. Let's be blunt. It looks like a coup, sounds like a coup, walks like a coup. Why aren't you

calling it a coup?

VEDANT PATEL, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: First of all, Richard, thanks so much for having me. And ultimately, this

continues to be an incredibly fluid situation. Look, President Bazoum has not resigned. He continues to be the constitutionally elected leader of the

government of Niger, and we're going to continue to consult closely with regional partners and entities, including ECOWAS, which has shown immense

leadership in calling for the release of President Bazoum and his family.

A call that we are going to continue to echo, and we'll continue to assess and monitor this situation closely.

QUEST: Yes, but at the same time, I know, I -- my first question is somewhat disingenuous, because I know the practicalities of calling it a

coup. But the reality is, the reality is, you now have ECOWAS saying that they'll use force. You have Niger and these other countries saying, do

that, and we will consider it an act of war. This is a situation, I don't see where you're moving on this. I don't see what you're hoping to gain by

not having a stronger, more robust response.

PATEL: Our hope has been -- our hope and our goal here has been unambiguous, Richard. We have been incredibly clear since the early hours

of this incident unfolding, and we've been unambiguous in our call that President Bazoum and his family needs to be released, and there needs to be

recognition of the constitutionally-elected government, and leader of Niger, and there needs to be a return to constitutional order and law and

order as well. And --

QUEST: Right --

PATEL: That continues to be the goals that we're working towards, not just directly, in our engagements with President Bazoum and other officials of

the democratically-elected government of Niger, but also in our conversations with ECOWAS, the African Union and other important partners.

QUEST: OK, let's try this a different way. At what point will you need to take a more muscular response? Because so far, you are sort of going -- the

U.S. seems to be going we're hoping to be able to restore, we're hoping at this moment. But at some point, at what point are you going to put teeth

behind it?

PATEL: Well, we're certainly not going to prescribe any metric or moment in time from here. The important thing for us is that -- is a couple of

things. One, we're going to continue to work with regional partners like ECOWAS. Two, we're going to continue to engage directly with our embassy,

our personnel and our diplomats in Niamey, where we continue to have full accountability.

We're just continuing to operate normally today. And we're going to continue to call for the release of President Bazoum and the return to

constitutional order. This continues to be an incredibly fluid and dynamic situation, and we'll continue to observe and engage on this from all


QUEST: The intention, as it relates to the U.S. troops, it's about a 1,000 or 1,200 or so that are doing valuable anti-terrorist work in the country.

Is there any intention at the moment? I mean, the intention is to keep them there, not to evacuate the base?

PATEL: Well, certainly, I would let my colleagues at the Department of Defense speak to anything about troop posture, anything like that. I would

just say broadly, that of course, you know, Niger is an important partner when it comes to security cooperation, specifically as it relates to

counterterrorism efforts. But what I can say is, speaking to our diplomatic facility, our embassy in Niamey, we continue to have full

accountability there.

We continue to be operating there normally. We continue to engage with American citizens who happened to be living or residing in the country and

are communicating with them about safety efforts and advice as it relates to movements in impacted area. Now, the important thing to remember here is

that Niamey continues to be relatively calm, and there continues to be no targeted targets of American citizens or American facilities at this time.


QUEST: Let's move firmly back to the thicker ice of diplomacy then, sir. The worry is that many of these African nations are either have recently

had coups, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, et cetera, all under military rule, all in this no man's land. And I'm guessing the theories that once the

militaries have taken over, the risk is, the countries move to a different sphere of influence, to Russia's sphere of influence, if you will, and away

from the West.

PATEL: So broadly, this incident that is unfolding in Niger is not about any other country than the government of Niger, and our ultimate goal

continues to be for the release of President Bazoum and for the return of constitutional and democratic order. That being said, this kind of

instability that we're seeing or these kinds of actions and attempts of a takeover that we're seeing are fruit for instability and insecurity, and

something that we, of course, do not want to see spread to other regions of the continent or other countries on the continent.

And that's why we are being so serious about this, being so serious about our engagement with ECOWAS and other entities, to continue to call for the

return to order and the release of President Bazoum.

QUEST: Well, one final, I just want to talk to you, it's been in the news today, you'll be aware, of course, Hungary. The decision by the United

States on -- I know Homeland Security is leading on this. But the decision by the United States to restrict, or if you like, tighten up on the ESTA

for Hungarians. Many people in Hungary watching tonight will be realizing that under new ESTA's rules, it's a single visit rather than a multiple


And the reasons are many, but it's still quite a dramatic action for the United States to take in this area against an EU country.

PATEL: What I will just say is that these steps that are taken under a program that falls within the auspices of the Department of Homeland

Security, I would, of course, let them speak to those efforts. But what I can say broadly about the bilateral relationship with Hungary is that it

has no bearing on that. Hungary continues to be an incredibly important EU member, as well as a NATO ally, and we look forward to continuing to work

with Hungary on a number of issues that fall within the nexus of our bilateral relationship.

On this visa and ESTA piece, I will of course let our Department of Homeland Security colleagues speak a little bit about how it impacts travel

and the specifics, but it has no bearing on our bilateral relationship.

QUEST: I'm grateful to you, sir, the problem of being in the State Department, isn't it? Everything ends up in your door -- everything ends up

on your doorstep in some shape or form here internationally at some point. I'm grateful for your time, sir, this afternoon, thank you. It's ISA SOARES

TONIGHT, I'm Richard Quest. Still to come, the White House now says the U.S. President has been briefed about the American nurse who was kidnapped

in Haiti with her daughter. We'll tell you what we know so far.

And later, parts of China are coming from a damaging typhoon, at the same time, Japan is bracing for a new storm threat.



QUEST: It has now been six days since an American nurse and her daughter were kidnapped in Haiti, and there are many unanswered questions. Alix

Dorsainvil was abducted by a criminal gang in Haiti at the community ministry where she worked along with her daughter. The aid group says it's

working with authorities there and in U.S. to secure their release.

Haiti's capital has been dealing with a wave of kidnapping for profits for years. Paula Newton is with me. There have also been some demonstrations in

Haiti, basically saying release the nurse, free the nurse. Because there is a feeling there by many people that, I mean, this is somebody who came to

help, and now, look what's happened!

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Certainly, that sense of outrage that so many Haitians and helplessness, quite frankly, Richard, so

many Haitians have been feeling for so many years, it is bubbling over. And at that point, you know, she is a nurse. She is a community person. She's

someone who gave up her life in New Hampshire to be able to go help in Haiti, and is married to a Haitian, and they're appalled.

And obviously, Richard, the fact that a child, that her daughter was taken with her, has taken on a whole new level of seriousness, obviously, for

this hostage taking. I have been surprised at how much information they are giving us. Now, El Roi, the charity that she works at, and that her husband

is a director at, did release late last night, again a little bit more information.

I just want to read you from that, it says that "we continue to work diligently with authorities and partners in the United States and Haiti to

secure their freedom. Many people are laboring for their return, but currently, we cannot share more specific details." Obviously, Richard, as

you understand, when they are dealing with these kinds of negotiations, the first thing they have to do is determine who took them because there are so

many desperate gangs all over Haiti.

They have to determine exactly who took them. If they know what their demands might be, and for that reason, certainly, a lid, a news blackout on

any kind of negotiations or any information that the United States may have on this U.S. -- I know you were just speaking to the State Department's

spokesperson there. The U.S. continues to say that we can't say anymore about it except that we are working with Haitian authorities and we

certainly are involved to try and help. Richard?

QUEST: So, is there -- I mean, I've -- we've had lots of stories over the recent years of kidnappings in Haiti. But is -- from your knowledge of

this, is this as blunt as kidnap for ransom? You know, at some point, somebody is going to say, we will release this person if we get food, arms,

ammunition, what money, state forward, cash. And if they did, who would pay in this particular case? She's a missionary.

NEWTON: Yes, it is difficult. And look, the United States has a policy as well, just so everyone knows, that they would not pay a ransom. So it is a

very complicated question. Having said that, certainly in gang violence, we have seen hostage taking of you know, rival gang's family members, for

instance. And that is a little bit more complicated. But no, this is kidnapping for cash.

And the gangs themselves, as the United States and Europe and other countries have put the squeeze on many of their holdings outside of Haiti,

you have seen the more desperate search for money. Having said that, what is again alarming about this, Richard, is that they were taken from the

ministry itself. And you know, having been to Haiti, they have a compound, right, that has some sort of security. Was it someone who understood that

the security maybe wasn't at the level that it should be?

Because to be taken within the walls of your own faith-based charity is, again, something else that has been very difficult to try and ascertain

exactly who had knowledge of this. Did they know that she would be there with a baby? Normally, no one will take a child, because it complicates the

situation as well for those taking the hostages.

Again, as you said, Richard, at the beginning, a lot of questions. But I am heartened by the fact that the charity did put the statement on the

website, which means that they know that people are working hard at this, and that there is some hope they will be returned safely soon.

QUEST: Grateful for you, Paula.

Paula Newton in Ottawa.

It's ISA SOARES TONIGHT. Isa is off. Bad luck, you've got me.


The cleanup is underway in Beijing from a powerful typhoon, while parts of Japan are bracing for a new storm threat.




QUEST: The cleanup is underway in Beijing after being drenched by Typhoon Doksuri, one of the largest storms to hit the city in over a decade. It

dumped a month's worth of rain in only 48 hours. Here is CNN's Marc Stewart, reporting from Tokyo.


MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Violent floodwaters race across China after record-setting rain, destroying roads, flooding streets

and prompting rescues in the aftermath of Typhoon Doksuri.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I say, it's the first time in my life that I've seen such a scary flood. I haven't seen this before and

hence it's scary. I've lived so long and I've not seen this before.

STEWART (voice-over): Near the capital, Beijing, the force so fierce, the driver is trapped in their car amid the raging water. A rescue worker drops

a line and the driver is hoisted to safety.


STEWART (voice-over): In Beijing, a giant hole sits in front of a newly opened mall. One of the venues from the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is

underwater. And a recently built hotel is damaged, according to a state-run media outlet. In some cases, the water is so high it nearly tops the power


River banks are hovering close to the street. And where the water has receded, a mess is left behind. The flooding is disrupting everyday life.

At a Beijing airport, water is flooding the tarmac. Flights are facing delays and, in some cases, trains are at a standstill.

Evacuations are underway in Beijing; tourist attractions remain closed. As emergency workers do what they can to help, family members are looking for

loved ones. A city brought to a standstill as another massive storm lingers in the horizon -- Marc Stewart, CNN, Tokyo.



QUEST: Extreme heat in Syria is seriously affecting the country's agriculture. Farmers are suffering from a lack of water, along with, of

course, electricity and the heat is causing wildfires. Firefighters are struggling to put them out. CNN's Eleni Giokos tells us more on how the

war-torn population is now facing this disaster.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A war and earthquake and now, a wildfire. Syrian farmer Izzadin Zuhaira has faced every one of these


His home, as he told Reuters, already damaged by a war and also by February's earthquake. Now the orchids, his only source of livelihood, are

burned to ashes.


IZZADIN ZUHAIRA, FARMER (through translator): It left us with nothing at all. Now we need everything. We even need bread, because we don't even have

trees anymore and nothing to spend.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Like many parts of the Mediterranean region, Syria's Latakia province has been severely affected by wildfires in recent weeks.

Syria's agriculture minister says fires here burned for over five days before firefighters could get them under control.

MOHAMMAD HASSAN QATANA, SYRIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER (through translator): Most of the fires have been well controlled, two to three locations. We

dealt with them with all available capabilities.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Firefighters also struggled to put out the fires in Syria's Homs and Hama provinces earlier this month. And Syria's White

Helmets, a volunteer rescue and emergency group, also battled fires in Idlib province last week.

As for the culprits, Zuhaira says extreme heat is to blame for the destruction of his olive, pomegranate and walnut trees.

ZUHAIRA (through translator): I have never witnessed such weather. The temperature has been very high over the past 15 to 20 days. And because

trees and land are exposed to high temperature for a long time, they burned very quickly.

GIOKOS (voice-over): A spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross told Reuters, Syria's wartorn population is among the most

vulnerable to climate change.

SUHAIR ZAKKOUT, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: Over a decade of conflict has made everything weak, either infrastructure

or the resilience of people.

If we mention that 50 percent of the food production, of agricultural production is less due to the conflict and a climate change combined, that

these countries are, unfortunately, as I mentioned, forgotten by when it comes to climate coping and adaptation and to climate action.

GIOKOS (voice-over): Besides erratic rainfall and rising, heat the ICRC says dust storms, desertification and land loss have been impacting Syrian

farmers for years -- Eleni Giokos, CNN.


QUEST: It's a busy day. We will continue. The polling is showing a tight U.S. presidential race. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. Almost

despite his mounting legal troubles, which could be about to make it a great deal worse. We're in Washington in just a moment. It's ISA SOARES






QUEST: In Washington, we are watching to see if there could be a new indictment for Donald Trump. A federal grand jury and the special counsel

Jack's Smith election interference investigation, has been meeting a short time ago. The jurors were seen leaving the courthouse.

There is an extraordinary new poll, striking, in fact, from Siena College and "The New York Times." It's shows if the election were held right now,

Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are in a dead heat. At the same time, Donald Trump is burning through donors' money with all his legal


With filings for his leadership organizational PAC, as it's called, shows it's spent tens of millions of dollars paying off legal bills. CNN's Eva

McKend is live in Washington.

Let's just look, first of all, at this poll that has taken place. Now if it was held today, Trump and Biden are in an even heat. I guess you say,

having sort of that, because it's not going to be held today. It's 18 months away and there's a lot that can happen between now and. Then

But it's still telling, is it not?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, Richard. Listen, this poll actually could be some good news for President Biden

because what we see is that Democrats are more enthusiastic about him than they were a year ago and are especially comfortable with selecting him, if

he is going up directly against the former president.

So they are tied at 43 percent. What we are hearing from Democrats in this poll is that they're sort of satisfied but not enthusiastic. You know, this

is a deep frustration for what could be described as anti-Trump Republicans, because they believe that any other nominee would fare a lot

better going up against President Biden.

But what we see is that, when you put Biden and Trump in a rematch, things remain incredibly close.

QUEST: And this money question. Now we know that he's been using the PAC money to pay his legal bills. And there is plenty of those coming and still

more to come.

But is there any evidence that his legal spigot, if you will, has dried up, that he's not going to get more money in?

MCKEND: Well, he continues to be a hefty fund-raiser. But the bills are starting to pile up. He raised a lot of money but he is just burning

through it. His political action committee, for instance, it is called the Save America PAC, they started July with a little more than $3.5 million

in their bank accounts.

A fraction of the nearly $18 million in reserves they had at the start of the year. The biggest legal payment from the group, just from January to

June, so, a six-month period, more than $2 million went to a law firm of one of Trump's attorneys.

Trump, meanwhile, and his advisers are spending really a lot of time in the last few days, Richard, preparing for a potential indictment to be filed in

a special counsel investigation into Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The campaign, they've lined up surrogates, influencers, allies, all to respond to these potential new charges. They've gotten proofwritten (ph)

statements and videos defending the former president's actions in the leadup to the January 6th attack. So this could mark Trump's third criminal

indictment, Richard.

QUEST: We're watching closely to see what happens. Whether it happens tonight. Thank you very much indeed.

Still to come, China is becoming an AI powerhouse. But having (INAUDIBLE) some oversight, the Chinese government's new rules for artificial






QUEST: It's a first in the U.K. The Royal Mail is using a drone for mail delivery surface. Part of a trial. It is in the Scottish Orkney Island,

where it's delivering packages and letters.

The airborne assistant is expected to drastically improve service on the island, which is affected by harsh weather. It's a trial just at the

moment. But the scope of the system to continue permanently. The drone got sent off and the mail gets delivered.

Across the globe, China has become one of the first countries to build guardrails for technology that powers AI. That recently unveiled guidelines

take effect in about two weeks from now. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout has the story.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Xijaja (ph), a virtual idol powered by artificial intelligence to Sell Burgers in China,

McDonald's hired Xijaja (ph) to interact with Chinese customers.

The U.S. may be curbing AI chip exports to China. But the nation is fast becoming an AI powerhouse. The country's home to top tech firms leading the

AI charge like Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent and Baidu creator of Xijaja (ph) boasts that its chatbot Ernie has beaten OpenAI and ChatGPT on several


At the state-backed world AI conference in July, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk praised China's AI prowess.

ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA MOTORS: China will have very strong AI capability is my prediction.

STOUT: China has become one of the first countries in the world to regulate the technology that powers popular services like ChatGPT. In July, it

unveiled interim rules to manage generative AI, seeing it needs to be aligned with the core values of socialism.

ANGELA ZHANG, CHINESE LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: The Chinese government is trying to ensure that the use and application of AI will be

aligned with its own set of moral principles that underscores its political and social stability.

The government not only placed the burden on the service providers but also on the users of AI services.

STOUT (voice-over): In January, China's new rules against deep fake technologies came into effect. Chinese authorities have detained people for

allegedly using generative AI to commit fraud and create fake news.

STOUT: And while China is moving fast to regulate the industry, some critics warned that it may not be equipped to avoid an AI disaster.

BILL DREXEL, ASSOC. FELLOW FOR TECHNOLOGY AND NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, CNAS: Most societies to kind of learn from disasters but the PRC has a kind

of propaganda machine that makes it hard to do that where there's a sort of disaster amnesia.

There's a kind of a chronic culture of crisis mismanagement in authoritarian regimes generally and China's no exception.

STOUT (voice-over): Drexel cites China's zero COVID policy as a recent example of crisis mismanagement. But the danger posed by AI is not limited

to one country, top technologists the world over including China have signed this petition to warn of the risk of human extinction from AI.

SAM ALTMAN, CEO, OPENAI: As these systems get very, very powerful. That does require special concern and it has global impact, so it also requires

global cooperation. STOUT: China's new AI rules have a provision to encourage participation and global standards setting.

ZHANG: They are very keen to take part in shaping global regulation of AI.

STOUT: For now, Beijing is steering its own AI future with a heavy hand to encourage Chinese tech success and ensure that artificial intelligence will

not undermine the state.


STOUT (voice-over): Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


QUEST: And so to tonight's quote of the day, we turn to a sun bear in eastern China for our quote. You will be familiar with the story. This is

the sun bear that stood on his feet and everyone thought it was a human in disguise.

And because they didn't believe that a bear that size, that big -- you could see the pictures. In fact, it got so bad that the bear, through the

zoo, had to write their own perspective. The bear is named Angela and I think this is the perfect quote.

It reads, "Some people think I stand like a person. It seems you don't understand me very well."

That might be the word of a bear but it could just about be the words of anyone.

"You don't understand me very well."

Thank you for watching. Isa will be back with you tomorrow night. I will be back with you. If you have a strong stomach and you are willing to go the

full length, then, together, we'll have "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS," and that's next because the news never stops. Neither do we. We just don't understand

the bear very well.