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Hala Gorani Tonight
Summarizing the Trump Press Conference; Flooding in Northern England; Labour and Conservative M.P.s Resigning Ahead of Election; Flood And Fires On Opposite Sides Of The Globe; Orangutan Under Threat As Borneo Burns; Student's Death Sparks More Protests; 38th Anniversary Of Fall Of Berlin Wall. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 08, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Happy Friday. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, shocked -- quote unquote -- by President Trump's pretty blatant push for investigations. New transcripts from the U.S. impeachment inquiry
were released moments ago. We break them down for you.
Then, look at the flooding in Northern England today. Even for a country that sees a lot of rain, these pictures show an incredible scene. We are
live in that part of the country.
And later, the former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joins me in the studio. Her reaction to these extreme weather events and
her criticism of the Trump administration.
U.S. House Democrats, trying to build the case for impeaching Donald Trump, are ending the week with yet another release of powerful witness testimony.
This time, we're learning about the closed-door depositions of Fiona Hill, Mr. Trump's former top Russia advisor, and also Alexander Vindman, an Army
officer serving as a White House Ukraine expert. You'll remember, he was on that July 25th phone call between the president and the Ukrainian
Now, both testified of a quid pro quo effort with Ukraine, and that it was coordinated with Mr. Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. Vindman
was on President Trump's July phone call, as I mentioned, and says there was, quote, "no doubt" that Mr. Trump was asking a foreign government to
investigate his political rival in exchange for a coveted meeting at the White House.
President Trump and his Republican supporters have been slamming the entire process as a secretive sham.
Well, now that public hearings are scheduled for next week, Mr. Trump says Democrats should not be holding them. He's lashing out against the
inquiry, even while trying to appear, in some cases, nonchalant about the whole thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine. I mean, for the most part, I
never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are. They're some very fine people, you have some Never Trumpers. It seems that nobody
has any firsthand knowledge -- there is no firsthand knowledge.
And all that matters is one thing, the transcript. And the transcript is perfect. In no cases (ph) have I been hurt. In no cases that I see have I
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's get more now on what we're learning from the latest release of witness transcripts and the White House reaction. CNN's Lauren Fox is
on Capitol Hill and Kristen Holmes is at the White House.
Lauren, first of all, what more are we learning from these transcripts, released just moments ago?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Fiona Hill, the president's former top Russia advisor, basically painting a picture in her closed-door
testimony, about the fear that State Department officials were feeling when it came to Rudy Giuliani's role. They were really concerned and puzzled,
what was going on, why was the president's personal lawyer engaging in Ukrainian policy.
TEXT: Who is Fiona Hill? Former top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council; Departed NSC about one week before Trump's July
25 Ukraine call; Said Trump and Sondland "were in direct contact" over Ukraine policy; Said Bolton referred to Giuliani as a "hand grenade" who
was "going to blow everybody up"
FOX: Of course, that was a turning point. Once Marie Yovanovitch, the president's former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was removed from her post,
everything became illuminated.
Now, one thing that became very clear from Fiona Hill's testimony was that she, once she read that July 25th phone call, was very concerned. And what
she saw, very clearly, she said, was the president asking Ukraine's president, Zelensky, to take action, basically asking him to announce
investigations into the president's political rivals. She said that was very clear.
She also talked more about what she heard from the president's former national security advisor, John Bolton, who told her he didn't want to be
part of any, quote, "drug deal" that was going on between Gordon Sondland and of course the Ukrainians.
GORANI: And, Lauren, I (ph) was (ph) going (ph) to (ph) (ph) say (ph) Fiona Hill is of course the witness who said that Bolton called Giuliani a
hand grenade that would end up blowing everyone up.
And let's go to the White House. Kristen Holmes is there. We heard a lot from the president today on the White House lawn. What more did he say
about this ongoing inquiry? Because next week is a whole other phase with these public hearings.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Hala. And I do want to note here, yes, president was nonchalant, he said that he wasn't
concerned about anything. And you played that clip there, where he essentially attacks those who are testifying, saying some of them are fine
but some of the are Never Trumpers. Which by the way, is not proven, that these people testifying are Never Trumpers. In fact, he mostly says that
when it is what he perceives as negative testimony.
But one thing I really want to point out here -- and of note -- is what he said about Gordon Sondland. This, of course, is his U.S. ambassador to the
E.U. And of those transcripts that were released today, it really painted a picture with Sondland in the middle of all of this.
At one point, one of the president's top Ukraine advisors, saying behind closed doors that the president actually told Sondland that he was in
charge of Ukraine, and Sondland relayed that back to Fiona Hill.
So President Trump today, asked about Gordon Sondland -- a man who he has called a great American -- today said, I hardly know the gentleman. So
that should give you a little bit of an idea of how he is going to play this, moving forward. He is going to continue to distance himself from
anyone who he had a relationship with, anyone that is involved in this entire ordeal.
TEXT: Who is Gordon Sondland? Appointed as U.S. ambassador to E.U. by President Trump in 2018; Mentioned in whistleblower complaint; Testified
Trump directed him to work with Giuliani on Ukraine; Claimed work in Ukraine had Pompeo's "blessing"
HOLMES: But the one person he has not totally distanced himself with -- we know he's still in contact with -- is Rudy Giuliani.
GORANI: Right. Rudy Giuliani, still, though, saying that he acted entirely in his capacity as personal attorney to the president and Ukraine,
and not as some sort of envoy of the United States in an official capacity.
And next week, Lauren, those public hearings, especially the one that Bill Taylor -- the testimony that Bill Taylor will give on Capitol Hill will be
fascinating to watch. What are we expecting?
FOX: Well, that's right. Democrats, really gearing up for witnesses they believe are going to strengthen their case, moving forward, in this
impeachment inquiry. They're going to hear from Bill Taylor, they're going to hear from George Kent, another top State Department official. And then,
on Friday, the public will hear from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was removed from her post.
And Democrats really view Yovanovitch's testimony as very powerful. Basically this was a career diplomat who worked for more than three
decades, and then was unceremoniously dropped from her position and told to come back to the United States without much warning or even explanation.
So Democrats, hoping that this really paints a picture that the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was engaging in a shadow foreign policy.
That's the point that they're hoping to make.
And of course, they're hoping to have more strong testimony about this quid pro quo between the president's announcing -- or needing of an announced
investigation from the Ukrainians, and a White House meeting, and that nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid -- Hala.
GORANI: It'll be interesting to see if people's opinions change or not at all, in fact, as a result of hearing from these witnesses in open hearings.
Quick last question to you, Kristen. The president was asked about billionaire Michael Bloomberg and reports he might be mulling a run in
2020. What did he say?
HOLMES: Well, Hala, in true commander-in-chief fashion, he mocked the former mayor and the billionaire. He called him Little Michael. Now, this
is not the first time he's used this insult towards Michael Bloomberg. They've known each other for years, back from their New York days.
But he essentially said that, yes, he had known him a long time, that he used to say great things about him, but then he just turned into a nothing.
And then said that he wouldn't be successful. That he might be able to give Biden a run for his money, but he wouldn't be successful. And he
ended the entire kind of rant there about Michael Bloomberg with, there's no one I'd rather run against than Little Michael.
And I think, you know, this is a competitive atmosphere here. It's not just about the presidency. The two of them have been competitive in the
past, billionaires from New York. So it'll be interesting to see how this plays out. We know, of course, Michael Bloomberg has been very critical of
GORANI: Right. Well, in the billionaire competition, Michael Bloomberg wins handily, certainly, at least according to Forbes' estimate of his
fortune, over $50 billion. Thanks very much to both of you, Kristen Holmes and Lauren Fox.
Now, it's one thing to read transcripts, hundreds and hundreds of pages of them. But another thing altogether to hear testimony directly from a
witness' mouth. House Democrats hope the new phase of public hearings next week will help Americans better understand, perhaps, these key issues.
Because there's a whole cast of characters you have to remember, names that are not at all household names to most Americans, not even to us
journalists who've been following this story very closely. Sometimes we have to sort of come up with some sort of flow chart to remember who
So to recap what we've learned from the release of private testimony, multiple witnesses have now confirmed that there as a shadow American
foreign policy on Ukraine, run by the personal attorney of President Trump, Rudy Giuliani.
The U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, revealed one of the biggest bombshells this week by far. He changed his testimony right before
it was released, now saying that he not only recalls that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine, but that he delivered the message himself.
Let's get some perspective now from CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Doug Heye. Happy Friday, Doug.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy Friday.
GORANI: So this wasn't a great week for the president and the impeachment inquiry, right? I mean, is he going to suffer politically from this? I
know his base will stay loyal. That's, you know, not in dispute. But what about his chances for 2020?
HEYE: Well, it takes him off of the conversation that he should want to have with voters, which is about still a robust economy, accomplishments
that the administration's made. Instead, he has to talk about this all day, every day.
And you were smart to point out that these are a lot of people that haven't really been known, widely talked about, even in Washington, D.C. but
certainly outside of Washington, D.C.
I would say this does give Donald Trump an advantage and an important one, in that, you know, he is already able to -- we've seen it before, we'll see
it again this week -- basically define these people who are unknown, who have negative testimony about the president, he'll call them Never
Trumpers, he'll call them people that he barely knows or whatever.
But he will -- whether it's true or not, he will try and define them in the public eye, certainly to his supporters, before they have a chance to even
GORANI: But with some of these witnesses, he's going to have a really tough time doing that, right? Gordon Sondland, who's a fellow hotelier,
donated a million dollars to Donald Trump's campaign, now he says he barely knows the gentleman? I mean, that's kind of hard to believe.
HEYE: Well, it is hard to believe. And we've seen with Trump, there are a lot of things that he says that are hard to believe. But if he says it
over and over and over again, it seeps through in the consciousness and it also really resonates with his base.
And it's why, if you look at what happened with the Mueller report, where he had Attorney General Barr essentially pre-but any arguments before the
report was out, before anybody had a chance to access it, it meant that, with the attorney general essentially acting as his own attorney, and then
Trump repeating that over and over, even if it wasn't necessarily true that he was exonerated, it's certainly what allowed him to define that debate.
Trump will have that, going into this week. But it will be, as he tries to define the debate, as there is testimony and witness after witness that
really goes after the president and goes after his credibility on foreign policy, which could be something that the administration would want to tout
in other fashions, but they just haven't been able to on this.
GORANI: Well, we normally don't cover extensively off-year state elections on CNN international because it's U.S. political news, after all. But we
did this time because a lot of people saw, in the results in Virginia and Kentucky, perhaps a bit of a rebuke of Donald Trump.
Virginia -- considered not too long ago to be a swing state -- completely went to the Democrats. Kentucky, you had a Democratic governor beat out a
Republican incumbent who was supported by Trump.
But here's my question. Are Democrats getting a little too excited about these two results? A little too early?
HEYE: Oh, I think absolutely they are.
GORANI: Yes. Why?
HEYE: Republicans have and should have real concern about what's happened in suburban areas. I used to work in suburban -- in a congressional
district that had suburban Richmond in it, which has been trending and moving more to the Democratic side, just as northern Virginia is.
I would tell you, Virginia is probably not going to be a swing state in 2020, something that you wouldn't have thought of as recently as 2008,
HEYE: But as there's -- these erosions are happening to the president in suburban areas, in places like suburban Houston, suburban Dallas, certainly
in California, it's not really registering in many of the key states. Philadelphia, suburban Philadelphia --
HEYE: -- is an exception to that. And what we're seeing is, Donald Trump is still in a strong position to win against every Democrat who's come
against him so far. Biden looks to be the one who, right now, has the best shot to beat him. But if you look at swing states -- North Carolina,
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan -- Trump is doing exceptionally well against everybody but Biden, and he still is very competitive with Biden.
So Democrats shouldn't be, really, celebrating yet. There's a long way to go. And not only do they not know who their nominee is going to be, but
we're seeing a new Democrat jump in the race right now with Mike Bloomberg.
GORANI: Right, I was going to ask you about that next. Perfect segue. Michael Bloomberg, who would he hurt most? The Democrats or could he take
votes away from the -- from sort of disillusioned Republicans, centrist Republicans?
HEYE: Yes. I think first and foremost, he probably hurts Joe Biden the most. This is -- can be seen as a rebuke on Biden, not really setting the
path on fire that his electability argument would have Democrats do.
When you move into the general, in theory, he should be taking away -- because he's a business leader -- votes away from Trump. We really don't
know just yet. But what we do know is, you know, there'll be a lot of talk about how they're New York billionaires. Remove the billionaire equation
from it -- even though, as you mentioned, Bloomberg has many more billions than Donald Trump has -- this is going to be a New York City street fight,
if it's the two of these against each other. Something we've really never seen before in politics.
GORANI: And he called him Little Michael, which -- he's going to have to recycle these insults, by the way. Marco Rubio was Little Marco, Little
Michael. Anyway, it looked like he thought of that one on the fly today.
Thanks very much, Doug Heye --
HEYE: Thank you.
GORANI: -- joining us live for our week in review.
In just a few hours after the break, the remaining funerals will get under way for the nine family members massacred in an ambush earlier this week
near the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, we're going to look at that story now.
Really just a tragic toll. Three women and six children, including two infants, were killed, babies. Three of the victims were buried yesterday.
Now, Mexican security forces are guarding the site of the attack as investigators continue piecing together the timeline of this tragedy.
The question, though, remains. Who was behind this attack? CNN's Patrick Oppmann joins me now from Mexico City with that question. Are we any
closer to finding out, Patrick?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not really. And if the Mexican government has come close to those answers, there, it's really not sharing
them. The president of this country, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, this morning, had one of his characteristic sort of hour-plus-long press
conferences, and somehow he managed to just about avoid any mention of this story. It really is remarkable how little officials are talking about it.
And it's also not surprising entirely, if you know Mexico, because most -- many if not most of the drug cartel killings usually go unsolved here. And
we're talking about a place in northwest Mexico, along the border, where the cartels really operate with total impunity.
So, you know, let's focus for a second on what's happened today. The last of the funerals, two of the mothers and four children being buried today.
And these were people that, on Monday, thought they were going to a wedding, were going to celebrate, within their family, an important day and
were heading to the U.S. to get some people to go to the wedding with them.
And this is a very tight-knit community. And so to have a tragedy like this, where so many people die, innocent women and children, children so
young -- as you said, not even eight months old -- it's just gut-wrenching.
And, as well, we don't know if they are out of danger. They are being guarded right now, Hala, but eventually the troops and the police will have
to withdraw there. Not (ph) from this area, they have come in, as they have so many times in the past, to try to sort of pacify things. So the
cartels know to keep a low profile.
And we would expect, in the days and weeks to come, that the police and military presence will be reduced. What happens then? The Americans say
they do not want to leave. This is their home, where they've grown up for -- and lived for generations on this side of the Mexico-U.S. border. But
certainly, they feel they have a target on their back now and they don't know why.
GORANI: Patrick Oppmann, live in Mexico City, thanks very much.
Coming up, Northern and Central England experience a month of rain in just one day. Now, a warning about some deadly consequences.
And what's now considered a tourist attraction was once part of a monumental moment in history. We are remembering when the Berlin Wall came
down, 30 years later.
GORANI: A month's worth of rain fell on Northern England in just 24 hours. Floods have shut down roads and rail lines, paralyzing parts of the region
completely. Look at these aerial pictures. Danger to life warnings have been issued for several villages, and one death has already been reported.
Our Scott McLean is there.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Northern England is used to rain, but not like this. Late Thursday, Sheffield was pounded with heavy
rain that brought flash flooding, stranding cars and people too.
A few dozen people spent the afternoon stuck at a local mall, cut off after the River Don burst its banks. Frustration across the region is tangible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abandoned like this, in the middle of nowhere, can't get home to families, children. It's very dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's so frustrating. We have no help, and everybody knew about this. They knew about this two days ago. Look, everywhere you
look, there's water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knew it were coming our way. We've known it's been coming our way for days. It's -- we've watched the river rise and
rise and rise and rise.
MCLEAN (voice-over): Police in Derbyshire confirmed that one woman was killed after being swept away in the small village of Rowsley. Her body
was found, Friday morning, miles downriver.
In just 24 hours, almost 10 centimeters of rain fell in Sheffield, more than an entire month's worth. High water in low-lying areas swamped cars
like this one. It also flooded train tracks in Sheffield and, downriver at the central station in Rotherham.
By Friday morning, the water had started to recede in some areas, but the U.K. Environment Agency warned flooding in smaller communities downriver
was a danger to life, and ordered evacuations from river flooding.
MCLEAN: After the flash flooding in Sheffield, the river here in Doncaster rose more than five meters in just the past 24 hours. As you can see,
there are only so many places the water can go before it ends up flooding streets or people's homes.
MCLEAN (voice-over): If there's good news, it's that there's little rain in the forecast. The swollen river should start to recede by Saturday
GORANI: And Scott McLean joins me now, live from Doncaster in England. What's happening where you are right now, Scott?
MCLEAN: Hey, Hala. So we have been seeing first responders coming and going down this street, offering to help anybody who might want to get out.
But a lot of people don't. You see the highest house on this street had water right up to the doorstep, which means many other people had it
It was not enough to cause any real danger, but it was enough to cause damage and a real big headache for a lot of people.
Unlike the flash-flooding that we saw in Sheffield, which came and went in a hurry, this is actually river flooding, which means it came up relatively
slowly, and it will recede relatively slowly as well over the weekend.
The good news is that the worst of it has come and gone. The local council says they knew that this was coming. They did drop of sand bags on this
street, but people here say there weren't enough to go around -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Scott McLean, live in Doncaster. Thanks very much.
Well, our conversation about weather and the environment continues a bit later in the program. I'll be joined by one of the leading
environmentalists in the U.S. for a chat about the struggle between jobs today and a clean tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: This administration has completely forgotten that clean energy is the future. That it's growing
more jobs than the coal industry ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: A discussion about climate change and the Trump administration with the former head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy.
The election campaign season in the U.K. is off to a rough start for two of the major parties. Both have had candidates resign in the past 24 hours
over some controversial comments. Phil Black joins me now with more.
Yes, so rough start for both parties.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Hala. So on one hand, you've had the exodus of the moderate M.P.s, who are leaving of their own
volition. This is on both sides. The high-profile example there would be Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, this week.
Just tonight, on the Conservative side, David Gauke, the former Justice secretary under Theresa May, has said that he can't in good conscience
continue to be a Conservative M.P. because he believes that his views on Brexit are no longer chiming (ph) with the majority of his own party. He's
considering running as an independent there.
So that's the continued process. More and more of these high-profile moderates leaving, the hollowing out of the center ground in British
politics, if you like.
And then on top of that, in recent days, we have seen candidates from both sides lose their candidacy because of silly-slash-offensive statements,
some recent, some historic. For the Labour Party, the concern there is that a couple of them relate to anti-Semitic comments. This continues to
be a big issue for this party, as it has been throughout this parliament.
The criticism being that Labour has not dealt with anti-Semitism in its ranks and it was criticized in a very big way, a very high-profile way, by
the "Jewish Chronicle" this week, the biggest Jewish newspaper in this country, which ran a very big splash on its front page -- not to its Jewish
readership, but to the rest of the country, saying, we want you to think about this when you're voting. And that is that most Jews in this country
think that Jeremy Corbyn, the alternative prime minister, is anti-Semitic. You need to think about --
GORANI: And he had been defending himself against those accusations, saying essentially, this is not true, I am not racist, I'm not anti-
Semitic. But because of some of these issues with Labour Party members, this is not going away for him. So it's going to -- it's a big -- it's a
BLACK: It could be. It looks like -- and certainly, that's what the Jewish community wants, they want it to cut through into the mainstream
because they believe -- the belief, even by that ethnic minority, that the Labour leader is essentially racist, that's a really big issue in this
campaign and it should be considered as such.
GORANI: And the interesting thing about this election is because Brexit has become pretty much the central theme, topic here, you have these
smaller parties that have a very clear-cut view on Brexit. Whether it's the Lib Dems, who want another referendum in stopping Brexit, or the Brexit
Party, that wants to actually speed things up. Those might be attracting more support.
BLACK: Indeed. It is one of the theories that -- as to why this is such a volatile campaign, why no one's really, with any confidence, predicting the
outcome. But it comes down to those minor parties: Brexit, the Lib Dems.
And there was a big ,pretty comprehensive opinion poll released today by YouGov, which showed that phenomenon appears to be taking place. Now, it's
early on, but it divided the country into regions. And region by region, it showed that support for the two major parties is falling away --
BLACK: -- that the Labour Party in particular, which is accused of having the most wishy-washy policy on Brexit, is suffering the most. And those
votes are being picked up by the Liberal Democrats who want to remain, and the Brexit party that want to get out and get out quickly.
GORANI: And there's another interesting poll, Ipsos MORI, 50 percent of people polled say they don't think the U.K. will exist in its current form
in 10 years. Only 29 percent of Brits think their country will exist in its current form in 10 years.
GORANI: That is unbelievable.
BLACK: Well, one of the undoubted consequences of the whole Brexit mess has been the stress that it's placed upon the United Kingdom's component
parts. And of course, a lot of that conversation is being talked about in terms of Northern Ireland, how do you reconcile the tensions there while
maintaining its position as an equal part of the Union.
And Scotland, of course, as well, saying that it voted to stay, and believes it's being dragged out against its will, or at least that's the
view of the Scottish National Party's leadership. And again, today, as they launched their general election campaign, they made the point, they
want another referendum on Scottish independence, and they want it quickly, they want it next year.
So in that context, there is tremendous pessimism about the ability of the United Kingdom to remain in its current form into the medium and long-term
GORANI: You hear some Scots say, I'd rather be part of the European Union than the United Kingdom out of the E.U. Some Scottish people certainly
believe that. Thanks very much, Phil Black, for that.
And when we come back, it looks like driving through hell: a discussion of how climate change is creating terrifying weather conditions.
Plus, orangutans in Borneo are facing an uncertain future as massive fires ravage one of the world's largest rainforests. We go deep into the
Indonesian jungle to look at the effort to save these amazing animals. We'll be right back.
GORANI: As we mentioned earlier in the program, severe weather is threatening people on all corners of the earth today. In northern England,
danger to life flood warnings have been issued for several communities including Yorkshire. At least one woman has died after she was swept away
in a river.
And Australia is dealing with bush fires that are being described as unprecedented. Officials have issued emergency warnings for 17 separate
fires burning in New South Wales. They are fueled by extremely dry conditions and high winds.
Joining me now from the CNN weather center is meteorologist, Jennifer Gray. And let's start with these floods in the U.K. How unusual are they?
JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, what we're seeing in recent years, especially with climate change, is that we're able to hold more moisture in
the air. And so we're seeing heavier rain events. We're seeing areas like what happened in the U.K. They're dropping a month's worth of rain in a
matter of 24 hours instead of spreading it out over the month. So that's resulting in massive flooding.
Also the fires that we'll touch on in a little bit also can be related back to climate change. What happened in the Sheffield area is that these
storms basically went over the same spot for hours on end, and so it started out as flash flooding, bringing 72 millimeters of rain in just
about a day's time. That's what they get in the entire month. And then it ended up being river flooding where people downstream even saw the waters
rise very, very quickly.
They should get about 70 millimeters of rain in the month of November. We saw drastic peaks in some of these river gauges, Sheffield starting to come
down a little bit. But right at Doncaster, still peaking and then it is expected to come down over the coming days.
So this system is moving out and we are going to get some relief, Hala, in the coming days.
GORANI: And what about those fires in Australia? They look worse than what we've seen in the past.
GORANI: Yes. They're really unprecedented. We've seen about 100 fires burning right now. Over half of those are burning out of control. You can
relate those especially to the fires in California that we've seen in the United States, that we've seen unprecedented numbers over the last several
In fact, some of the top 10 largest California wildfires have happened within the last five to 10 years where we've burned more than 100, almost
200,000 acres with single fires alone, and you can see the most destructive ones have also happened in the last several years.
So we're seeing an increase in wildfires not only in Australia but around the globe. Because of this, we're having more extreme drought. We're also
having stronger heat waves. The humidity levels are down in these areas. And so it's basically becoming the new normal.
You can see the increase in the number of fires over the last several decades, 80 to 89. And then you bring it up to a roughly 250 over the last
decade or so.
So, unfortunately, Hala, this is basically the trend that we're seeing. Fire seasons are getting longer and these fires are becoming more
destructive overt the next -- in these areas. Not only in the U.S. but Australia as well.
GORANI: Jennifer Gray, thanks very much.
Well, just a short time ago, I spoke about climate change and its impact on our planet with Gina McCarthy. She's an environmentalist and was the head
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for four years and is currently a professor at Harvard.
GORANI: Gina McCarthy, thanks very much for joining us. We've seen a lot of extreme weather just in the last few months. And scientists tend to
agree on one thing, that it's due the extremes, at least, to some form of climate change, the climate crisis we're experiencing.
GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER U.S. EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Yes.
GORANI: How do we combat that?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think you have to combat it by, first of all, recognizing that the climate's changed and it's not going back. So you
have to adapt to that and be resilient to the changes and prepare for those.
And secondly, we have to make sure that it doesn't get worse. And it gets worse if we continue to ignore the challenges we're facing, and continue to
emit greenhouse gas emissions. So we have to immediately take action to reduce those emissions.
GORANI: And the world's most polluting countries, the United States, and as you well know, of course, the Trump administration has announced its
decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. It started the process officially recently.
GORANI: Your reaction.
MCCARTHY: It's not good. I feel terrible when I travel internationally and I have to explain this, because it's inexplicable.
GORANI: What are you saying?
MCCARTHY: It was a terrible decision. I tried to let people know that while the federal government, under the Trump administration, is totally
divesting of our responsibility here. In fact, they're going so far as to deny the science around climate change. You know, it is not the reflection
of what's going on in states and cities. So we have 25 states that are already committed to the Paris Agreement.
They represent 55 percent of the population in the U.S. And if you put them together, they'd be the third largest economy. They are acting. So
thankfully, we have cities, hundreds of them acting, and we have states. So we're going to try to hopefully get through the next year and then
restart in 2020 with an administration that cares about climate and our health.
GORANI: So you're hoping you'll get another administration obviously --
GORANI: When it comes to -- but it's not just obviously state by state, there are different standards. California is one of them. They have more
stringent standards. At least for car emissions.
But the Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era regulations.
MCCARTHY: That's right.
GORANI: You served under President Obama until 2017 as the head of the EPA. Recently one designed to limit ash coal pollution from seeping into
ground water. But if this happens, then there has to be a period, even if another administration comes in where all of those regulations are put back
into place. Will it be too late then?
MCCARTHY: Well, part of the information that people need to absorb is in the U.S. even though the administration is announcing things, unless they
put a final plan out, it's not final yet. And even when they do, it's always challenged in court.
So this administration has an abysmal record in the courts. It's about eight percent success rate. Ninety-two percent is a great average. For
me, it's probably better than I ever did in college.
So, you know, people have to remember that this is a lot of bluster as this administration really is. And on the ground, we're going to keep working
ahead and we're going to recover when those rollbacks have taken place and we'll have to redo them and become even more stringent, because science is
continuing to evolve and we'll have to see what the latest science says.
GORANI: The Trump administration says, look, these are not job-friendly initiatives. And when it comes to coal, it'll keep coal plants open
longer, for instance. When it comes to car emissions, it'll allow car manufacturers to sell cars cheaper.
So they have a -- they say that they have a business logic behind some of these abyss --
MCCARTHY: Well, they might have a business logic, but they're turning the business community on its head by making things incredibly instable. When
we had worked with the business community on making sure that we were doing something reasonable, that didn't hurt economy, that didn't lose jobs. And
this administration has completely forgotten that clean energy is the future, that it's growing more jobs than the coal industry ever had. Every
single year it's growing. That is where our future is.
GORANI: But the U.S. has become the largest oil producer now.
MCCARTHY: They certainly have. And they're not taking credit for all those greenhouse gas emissions that we're shipping somewhere else to burn.
And so you're absolutely right. We have a whole world to re-put on its head again and hopefully we'll be able to do that sooner rather than later.
GORANI: Your successor, Scott Pruitt at the EPA, left in 2018, his successor, there's been some criticism directed at the Trump
administration, a lot of the men and women heading federal agencies were paid lobbyists before.
Andrew Wheeler, the current EPA chief, was an energy lobbyist. He worked for a utility company, a uranium producer and a coal magnate who paid his
firm almost $3 million over eight years. What does that do to an organization that you know so well inside out like the EPA?
MCCARTHY: Well, it gives everybody pause. I mean, this is happening across this administration. And the president was very clear that his
message when he ran was he's going back to coal.
But clearly, that's going back to something that was yesterday's fuel, yesterday's future, and today, we have to look at what's going on and
what's reality. And so we're all disturbed by the background of these individuals.
But I want you to know that there are 15,000, nearly 15,000, actually maybe now 14, in the administration working at U.S. EPA, those are hard-working
career staff, they're scientists, they're technical people, they're lawyers. And underneath all the bluster are people that are holding the
fort and doing their jobs.
GORANI: If I could challenge you on one thing, the -- I guess the issue with clean air jobs, and obviously there are job openings in that, they're
not necessarily going to people who work in coal country, who are in the Rust Belt. Those people who are there see these initiatives as hurting
GORANI: Isn't it your challenge too to tell them it's in your best interests for these clean air initiatives to take hold in their country?
How do you do that? Because they're not that convinced, some of them.
MCCARTHY: You know, there's two challenges. I mean, the coal industry has been going down in terms of the number of jobs since the 1980s. This is no
surprise, the direction of the world that it's heading now. But we do have a responsibility to work with those communities that have been left behind,
just as you work with environmental justice communities in the urban area - -
GORANI: That's not happening --
MCCARTHY: Well, they've got to reconcile themselves that there is a future for them, and the future is not the past. And we have to work with them to
retool and look at the future and what their place is in it.
You know, these are very challenging times. No matter what this president said or what the coal industry wants, things are changing and they're
changing in a direction where it's better for our health. It's better for our planet. We're going to have to reconcile those issues. And also
recognize that, you know, change is inevitable, so we have to support and retool those communities that have been left behind.
GORANI: Gina McCarthy, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
MCCARTHY: It's great to be here.
GORANI: Thank you.
Now, in Borneo wildfires are putting an endangered species, the orangutan, in even more danger.
Our Ivan Watson is on the front lines of a disaster.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grinding battle deep in the jungle. Firefighters on the Indonesian island
of Borneo struggle to control a forest fire that threatens a national park.
WATSON (on camera): This is just brutal, brutal work they're doing here.
WATSON (voice-over): Toxic smoke in the tropical heat.
KRISYOYO, LAHG SEBANGAU PATROL UNIT MEMBER: We are fighting here almost two weeks already in here. Stay in here. Sleep in here.
WATSON (on camera): The rainforests in Indonesia are burning. Firefighters have been battling this blaze for weeks. And at its peak this
summer, there were thousands of similar fires in other parts of the country.
WATSON (voice-over): The fighting on the ground and in the air.
WATSON (on camera): These are aerial firefighters and right now, we're on a water-bombing mission.
WATSON (voice-over): Helicopters dump giant buckets full of water on the flames.
WATSON (on camera): Bombs away.
WATSON (voice-over): Firefighters say this crisis was ignited by men.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the fire coming, I think from human, yes.
WATSON (on camera): You think humans started this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course.
WATSON (voice-over): An unusually dry summer fueled this inferno, visible from space. The haze engulfed cities in neighboring countries like
Singapore and Malaysia. While in Indonesia, the smog closed airports and schools, creating apocalyptic skies.
DR. KEVIN SUTRAPURA, PALANGKARAYA HOSPITAL: Sometimes, it feels like science fiction because --
WATSON: This doctor saw panicked civilians flood his hospital. Indonesian authorities estimate about a million people suffered respiratory problems.
SUTRAPURA: Be grateful to the air that we have that is not toxic like this because not everyone can enjoy a fresh air.
WATSON: The forest fires also threatening one of Asia's last great rainforests, home to orangutans, symbols of an entire ecosystem under
WATSON (on camera): This is Poppy and she's a 1-year-old example of one of the world's most endangered species. Right now, she's attending a class in
WATSON (voice-over): Activists from the Center for Orangutan Protection take orphaned animals and teach them to survive, and hopefully, one day
return them to the wild.
As Borneo's rainforests shrink, the orangutan population has plummeted.
FLORA FELISITAS, VETERINARIAN, CENTER FOR ORANGUTAN PROTECTION: The threat is deforestation maybe because of illegal logging or like conversion of the
forest to make building or something by human, and also for the forest burning.
WATSON (voice-over): These activists also rescue and relocate orangutans stranded by mass deforestation. The clash between man and nature on
display when an ape confronts the heavy machinery ripping down its home.
And this is what's replacing much of Borneo's jungle -- sprawling plantations of palm trees, Indonesia's most lucrative cash crop.
Palm fruit like this makes a vegetable oil used in around half of all household products sold in your neighborhood grocery store.
As palm oil exports ballooned over the last 20 years, so did the Indonesian territory used to grow palms. It's now bigger than entire countries, like
England or Greece.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's now way out of our control in Indonesia.
WATSON: Even this industry insider is calling for a stricter government regulation of the palm oil industry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we just do it halfway, we should always expect this forest and land fire in the future.
WATSON: But this cash crop has also lifted millions of Indonesians out of poverty -- people like this farmer.
Before I grew palms, I couldn't even afford to feed my children chicken, he tells me. Farming palm, I've been able to buy a T.V. and a refrigerator.
The cheapest way to clear land for farming is to burn it. The government says it's trying to crack down on these manmade fires.
RASIO RIDHO SANI, INDONESIAN FORESTRY MINISTRY: For us, the forest fire is a serious crime.
WATSON (voice-over): Officials show me how they use thermal satellite imagery to detect fires to then prosecute palm oil companies. They say
they've opened cases against 21 companies in the last four years, but some activists fear it's too little too late.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the forest to live. So please protect the forest.
WATSON (voice-over): Ramadani (ph) is trying to reintroduce a rescued orangutan named Michelle to the wild. But the island halfway house where
she now lives is in the shadow of a growing coal mine. Yet another industry, yet another threat.
Michelle's protectors fear that in 20 years' time, there may be no forests left for these incredible animals.
Ivan Watson, CNN Indonesian Borneo.
GORANI: And still to come tonight, a protester dies and vigils become demonstrations once again in Hong Kong. We'll be right back.
GORANI: The death of a 22-year-old protester is sparking new unrest in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists are blaming the police. Law
enforcement, though, is denying any role.
CNN's Will Ripley reports from Hong Kong.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For some of Hong Kong's top students on graduation day no joy, only grief. As their
canceled commencement ceremony becomes a moment of silence for a friend and fellow student. Alex Chow died Friday morning. He spent nearly a week in
intensive care. He fell to his death near the scene of a protest as police fired tear gas nearby. Protesters and friends say police actions that
night delayed paramedics' arrival to aid Chow. But police say protesters barricaded roads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many others have sacrificed or have been injured because of what the Hong Kong government is incapable of doing.
RIPLEY: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology held one formal graduation ceremony on Friday morning, just before news broke that Chow was
dead. The second ceremony of the day was canceled. A failed attempt to avoid this.
As we were filming an interview, dozens of young people in black wearing full face masks in defiance of Hong Kong law, smashed their way into a
campus dining hall.
RIPLEY (on-camera): It took just a couple of minutes for that group of protesters to do all of this damage. They have essentially trashed their
cafeteria on campus. And it's these acts of disruption -- I know we're just trying to shoot something here. It's these acts of disruption that
the protesters say are going to continue. And it's this kind of event, the death of a student, that fuels their anger.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Like so many students here in Hong Kong, friends of Alex Chow say he put down his books and joined this summer's often intense
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I saw his Instagram story, it's like he hates the police --
RIPLEY (on-camera): He said he hated the police?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And he hates the government. Because the government would never listen to people and the police was like crazy and
RIPLEY (voice-over): Late on Monday night, the 22-year-old fell between floors at a car park. He never woke up from a severe head injury. Police
say they don't know how he fell but rumors are rampant online. There had been protests nearby. Tear gas had been fired. An investigation is under
way. But police insist there were no officers on the scene when the incident occurred and they did not obstruct ambulance or rescue teams.
FOO YAT TING, HONG KONG POLICE: There are accusations that police officers chased after the man before his fall. We must clarify that it is certainly
RIPLEY: That explanation doesn't matter to those who say they hate the police and they have no trust in the Hong Kong government. To many, it's
just another lie, another cover-up, a feeling shared by one of chow's closest friends.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone thinks it's connected.
RIPLEY (on-camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If not the police cleaning the area, then Alex won't go to take a look and then the whole thing would not happen.
RIPLEY (voice-over): She doesn't want to be shown on camera but she does want people to know what kind of a person her friend was.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have future. We have like bright future. But he will never have the bright future.
RIPLEY: A bright future extinguished. A city already in turmoil braces for more violence.
Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.
GORANI: A quick break. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
GORANI: Saturday marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It stood as the most visible symbol of the iron curtain between western and
Eastern Europe. Many people died, of course, trying to escape East Germany.
Fred Pleitgen met one man who made it across.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The line of demarcation in the Cold War lies in Berlin.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 28 years, the Berlin Wall symbolized the struggle between capitalism and
communism, and the cruel division between the people of East and West Berlin.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
PLEITGEN (on-camera): So here at CNN, we actually own our own CNN Trabant. This was the epitome of communist East German automotive engineering. And
for the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, what we're going to do is we're going to take this car and take a drive back into history. That
is if I fit into the car. Because it's small, and I'm big. Ready to go.
PLEITGEN (on-camera): The remnants of the wall are a tourist attraction nowadays, but this deadly barrier with border guards, observation towers,
and barbed wire struck fear into the Berliners it divided.
I stopped and picked up Peter Bieber who grew up in East Germany despising the communist regime and the wall it needed to keep people from fleeing
into the West.
PETER BIEBER, ESCAPED EAST GERMANY: You look and saw the wall. And you know it's the end.
BIEBER: It's the end of the world. You can't go where you want.
PLEITGEN: As a young man, Peter Bieber attempted to flee East Germany several times until he finally succeeded in 1972. He then helped others
get out as well, until he was betrayed and arrested by East Germany's secret police, the Stasi and spent five years in jail there.
BIEBER: It was a little --
PLEITGEN: Psychological terror. Yes.
BIEBER: Me, I sit in a little room, not so light. And one month, two months, nobody came and said anything.
PLEITGEN: The West German government eventually paid East Germany to release Peter Bieber, but many others who tried to get away paid with their
lives. More than 100 of them in Berlin.
In 1989, East Germans had had enough, after a wave of mass protests, the regime opened the wall leading to mass celebrations as people from all over
the world joined in to literally tear down the wall.
BIEBER: I think about the freedom, that's for me the highest point --
PLEITGEN (on-camera): The highest good that people can have is freedom.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Thirty years later, a united Berlin is thriving, having shed the shackles of communism and dismantled the wall many thought
could never be breached.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
GORANI: Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.