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More Questions After Niger's Ambush; Xi Jinping's Added Power in China; New Forces Ruled Raqqa's Oil Rich City; Elders Call for World Peace and Dialogue; Weinstein's Domino Effect; Entertainment Wrapped in Controversy. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 24, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: After the terror group's recent defeat captured fighters say ISIS has gone underground and has a stockpile of cash.

Plus, the top U.S. general comes forward to answer questions about the deadly ambush in Niger, but many questions still remain unanswered.

And we are live in Beijing where President Xi Jinping's ideology is being enshrined in China's Constitution elevating him to the highest political level.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

The United States top diplomat is trying to keep the focus on ISIS in a second meeting in as many days; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Monday. The unannounced visit to the Iraqi capital focused on calming tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds.

Kurdish forces are viewed as a major factor in successfully forcing ISIS to give up territory it seized beginning in 2014. But even though ISIS has retreated, the battle is not over.

Arwa Damon spoke to two ISIS members who are being detained by Kurdish forces. They confirm the militants have plans for the future.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ISIS' survival is not tied to the fate of its crumbling caliphate. It planned for this day. ISIS did calculate that one day they will be finished, the Bahrain man says, his voice calmed and steady.

He says his Omar. He was in charge of ideological training at ISIS military camps in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa. He tells us they did not put a lot of money into the battles they fought. The weapons they used were the weapons of the enemy. The money went elsewhere, Omar says, even during times of austerity, there was always a calculation for the future.

No one know exactly how much ISIS is worth now. In 2014, the group was thought to have a total of $1.5 to $2.5 billion. It was making a million dollars a day from oil fields more than enough for its regular expenses.

ISIS has distributed its revenues overseas for the next phase of its war. I saw this man is ISIS member from Morocco who oversaw the border crossings between Turkey and ISIS territory.


He tells us that ISIS would train and dispatch members to set up companies, which then acted as facilitators but also behaved as regular businesses. ISIS may no longer physically control swaths of Syria and Iraq, but it thrives underground and it is widely assumed that the ISIS leadership Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his top lieutenants are in the border areas between Syria and Iraq, familiar territory.

The first stage of the ISIS insurgency back in 2010 was called aggressive hibernation, making money, building networks in the deserts and cities of Iraq. In many ways, ISIS is going back to that strategy, waiting for the next opportunity. It's an ideology that exploits and feeds off of deep-seeded grievances, fosters a thirst for revenge.


They will spring up somewhere else, Omar says, if you don't know how to fight them ideologically. ISIS plots for the long game. Its leaders are fond of saying that it's not ruling Mosul and Raqqa that counts. It's the will to fight and ISIS will once again simply bide its time.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Northern Syria.

CHURCH: And later in the program we will have a report from Nick Paton Walsh on the battle for the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor.

Well, new information is coming out on the deadliest combat loss during Donald Trump's presidency. It dramatically changes the time line of the firefighter that killed four American soldiers and five Nigerian troops.

The chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs said Monday their families and the American people deserve transparency.

More now from CNN's Jim Sciutto.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The chairman of the Joint chiefs says that the ambush came despite intelligence that enemy contacts with not likely.


JOSEPH DUNFORD, UNITED STATES JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: U.S. Forces accompanied that Nigerian unit on a reconnaissance mission to gather information. The assessment by our leaders on the ground at that time was that contact with the enemy was unlikely. Mid-morning on October 4th, the patrol began to take fire as they were returning to their operating base. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:05:04] SCIUTTO: Troops first requested air support a full hour after initial contact with approximately 50 ISIS affiliated fighters.


DUNFORD: My judgment would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without traditional support. And so what we'll find out in the investigation exactly why it took an hour for them to call.


SCIUTTO: A U.S. drone already in the air nearby reached their position within minutes. French mirage jets responded next, arriving about two hours after initial contact, though none conducted air strikes.

In response to criticism that the military has not been forthcoming, Dunford promised honest answers to the families and the public.


DUNFORD: I think we do owe the families and the American people transparency in incidents like this and we intend to deliver just that.


SCIUTTO: As she said her final good-bye to her husband this weekend, the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson told ABC's Good Morning America that she is still waiting for answers as well.


MYESHIA JOHNSON, GOLD STAR MOTHER: I don't know how he got killed, where he got killed, or anything.


SCIUTTO: Still to be explained, why was Johnson's body recovered 48 hours after the attack, and how did it end up nearly a mile away from the scene of the ambush?


DUNFORD: I can tell you once we found out that Sergeant Johnson was missing, we brought the full weight of the U.S. government to bear in trying to identify, to try to recover his body.


SCIUTTO: Now nearly three weeks after the attack, lawmakers are still demanding details.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: Americans should know what's going on in Niger. They should know what caused the deaths of four brave young Americans.

DUNFORD: What the American people need to know is where the relatively small footprint, we are enabling local forces to deal with these challenges before they become a threat to the American people. And to help them to deal with the challenges so they don't further destabilize their local area or region.


SCIUTTO: General Dunford also detailed the wider footprint of the U.S. military in Africa. He said some 6,000 U.S. forces are there spread among 53 countries. Many of those forces fighting terrorist groups. Many of those now aligned with ISIS and the intention in large part to train and assist local forces so they could do most of the fighting and therefore not require more U.S. forces to be deployed there.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton joins me now. Thank you so much, colonel for being with us. As we just saw in that report, the Pentagon has offered these new details, but there are still so many more questions about what exactly happened in that ambush in Niger that killed these four American soldiers.

What's your assessment of the details released so far and the time its taking to reveal what happened?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Rosemary, I think the big problem is that you're dealing with a process that takes its time, and it may not be the kind of time line that we become accustomed to and the information age. So it's taking a lot longer than people really have patience for.

And the other thing that we're dealing with, of course, are the vast distances in that part of Africa. You're dealing with a country in Niger that has very little infrastructure, and so that presents some challenges to the investigative process and to finding answers the way we really need to have these answers.

CHURCH: And, of course, as we're trying to get to the bottom of the, we're seeing this back and forth between the president of the United States and now the widow of one of the soldiers who was killed. Is that -- you know, as a military man yourself, how uncomfortable are you with that?

LEIGHTON: Very, in a word. I'm very uncomfortable with that because it really gets -- first of all, it gets the president into a fight that he cannot win, and it is very bad really for the family and especially for the widow. She is suffering because of the loss of her husband. In this particular case she has two children already and a third one that is on the way. That is just -- it's too hard, I would think, for any human being to

deal with that. And I think this is just a very tragic case that does not need to be exacerbated by this back and forth that we see between the White House and the congresswoman on one side and the mother and wife on the other, so it is a very terrible situation from that perspective alone.

CHURCH: And when you look at the details that we know so far and your military background again, why do you think the request for air sport after that initial contact with the enemy took so very long?

LEIGHTON: Rosemary, the only thing I can think of in this particular case is what General Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, and that was that the team felt that they could handle the situation on their own.

[03:10:06] In American military training, it's often the case that you try to handle something locally before you ask help from either another arm of the military such the air force or even neighboring units from the same service.

So you have a situation where the people on the ground felt they could deal with the attack, and that attack proved to be at greater I think than they thought was possible.

CHURCH: And of course, that we're saying, the families of the victims don't feel like they're getting the answers they need. The wife of Sergeant La David Johnson said she was not allowed to see her husband's body, and she hasn't been told anything about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Why would she not be told something, some sort of -- because in these sorts of circumstances you need to know, don't you, what has happened? Why would they prevent her from seeing her husband's body?

LEIGHTON: It's a bit different from anything else that I have personally dealt with or that I've seen others deal with in the military. Usually it's very clear that a family has the right to view the remains of their loved one who has been killed in action. But in this particular case, I'm not sure exactly what happened. But it seems as if the suggestion was made, and perhaps it was a forceful suggestion that she not see the remains because they may be damaged in a very bad way.

And that, of course, is not only terrible to contemplate but also something that, you know, would be terrible for her both from a psychological standpoint, as well as from a pure humanitarian standpoint. So that may be the reason, but it may not be a satisfactory answer for her or for her family.

CHURCH: Yes, and even if those instances, sometimes to be told that so that she at least understands. She's only young, isn't she? Twenty four years old.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you so much for talking with us. We do appreciate it. LEIGHTON: Absolutely. Absolutely, Rosemary. Thank you.

CHURCH: And the White House apparently scrambled to get condolence letters to some families of fallen U.S. soldiers. This coming after the president made these comments a week ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've written them personal letters. They've been sent, or they're going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will at some point during the period of time I call the parents and the families because I have done that traditionally.

For me, that's by far the toughest. So the traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls.

JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The White House confirmed the West Wing did expedite condolence letters to family members after the president's remarks in the Rose Garden last week.

But this official said during the process a discovery was made that there were bureaucratic reasons for why some of the letters had not gone out to the families sooner, and most of those cases, this official said, letters and contacts were delayed because the servicemember killed in action had quote, "been involved in multiple casualty incidences."

This official said the White House then directed that the condolence letters be sent out.


CHURCH: Jim Acosta talking about White House efforts to get condolence letters to fallen soldiers families.

Well, meantime, the family of an American soldier who died in Afghanistan has now received a $25,000 check from the president. According to CNN affiliate WTVD, the check arrived Monday via express mail three months after President Trump promised the family he would send it.

The soldier's mother says she's moved and grateful and will use the money to honor her son Dillon's legacy.

The White House says the president followed up several times to make sure the check was sent.

Chinese President Xi Jinping cements his grip on power after China's communist party gives him a rare honor. We will look at what it means for the country's political future.

And two former U.N. leaders hope the words of Nelson Mandela will calm tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. That story and more still to come. Do stay with us. [03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. Well, the next phase of Chinese President Xi Jinping's leadership has begun. China's communist party has unanimously voted to make President Xi's thoughts on communism party of the party's constitution. Now this comes at the end of the party's Congress in Beijing.

He's only the third Chinese president to have his ideology and name added to the Constitution. In a speech to the party, Mr. Xi said China should take center stage in the world and said China's brand of socialism is new choice for other countries.

Well, Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing. Matt, what does this mean exactly? Which specific Xi Jinping thoughts on socialism are being enshrined in the party's constitution, and just how significant is all of this?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, really it's more the symbolism of this, Rosemary, than the actual details of what's being written into the Constitution that makes this such an important event that happed this morning here in Beijing.

Xi Jinping joins Mao Zedong as the only two Chinese leaders to have their thoughts inscribed into the party Constitution. The only other leader that has his name into the Constitution is Deng Xiaoping, but bear with me here, this is very political jargon. But Deng Xiaoping has theories transcribed in the party Constitution.

Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping have thoughts. And in China political jargon thoughts Trump theories. So you can say that this instance of this -- this enshrinement of Xi Jinping's name and his thoughts into the Chinese Communist Party Constitution is something that we have not seen since Mao Zedong, the guy who founded all of this to begin with.

So you can see right there, the symbolism, what that means. It's really showing that Xi Jinping has amassed the kind of political power that we have not seen here in China in decades and it really lines him up in a major way to execute his vision for this country as he's set to begin his next five-year term as the head of China's communist party and, in turn, the state of China.

CHURCH: And, Matt, Mr. Xi said in his speech to the party that China should take center stage in the world. What might that signal, and do we have any idea who might be the heir apparent to Xi in the years ahead?

RIVERS: Yes, well, in terms of what China is doing on the world stage, I mean you can look at what's happened over the last five years and you have seen an increasingly assertive China on the world stage. You've seen China's military grow. You've seen their aid to developing countries grow. You've seen them take a leadership role on things like climate change. You've seen Xi Jinping at least nominally being a champion of free trade.

And so China does appear willing to assert itself on the world stage. Now that said, China is a long way away from being the super power that it may or may not want to be. But the fact is that under Xi Jinping's leadership, China is branching out more into the world.

In terms of what we could see in 2022, that's when Xi Jinping traditionally would be expected to step down. But given the amount of power that he has amassed and how he has lined up the future with his name being written into the Constitution, a lot of analysts here in China are suspecting that come tomorrow when the standing committee of China' communist party politburo is announced, usually when that happens we get an idea of who the heir apparent to the current leader might be.

[03:20:05] But we're not sure that we're going to see one. What we could see is a standing committee filled with nothing but Xi Jinping allies and no obvious heir apparent which likely would lead to a lot of speculation and like we would lead to a lot of speculation that Xi Jinping himself would try and stay on in some sort of role beyond 2022. We don't know if that's going to happen but it's certainly is a possibility.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And given Xi Jinping has amassed so much power and he started out a much quieter, milder figure, didn't he, when he stepped onto the international stage. But given this new power, what might we see in terms of changes in his leadership style? Is that possible?

RIVERS: Well, it's a good question, Rosemary. I think that the last five years were about kind of changing China's course, changing the nature of the communist party and really amassing his own power. The next five years will be about using it.

And really the best indicator of what Xi Jinping is going to do is what, is by looking at what he's done so far. I think you can expect China's military to continue to get stronger. I think you can expect censorship to continue to grow here. I think the monitoring of China's citizens is going to continue to grow.

I think the internet restrictions are going to remain in place. I think you're going to see China continue to try to and take the lead on things like clime change on the world stage.

So, given what Xi Jinping has done over the last five years it does give us some clues as to what he will do moving forward and given his status right now within the party as the unquestioned leader of the communist party and of China, whatever he wants to do, he's likely going to be able to do it.

CHURCH: Watching the growth of China for sure. Matt Rivers, bringing us up to date on developments there, where it is nearly 3.30 in the afternoon in Beijing. Many thanks.

Well, Japan's defense minister says the threat from North Korea has reached a critical and imminent level. His comments came during talks with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts Monday. The talks show the urgency the three allies share as Pyongyang seeks to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States. President Donald Trump says his country is ready.


TRUMP: We're prepared for anything, we are so prepared like you wouldn't believe. You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be. Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows? Who knows?


CHURCH: Two former U.N. leaders warned that the possible devastating effects of the rhetoric between North Korea and the United States. They call for dialogue at a symbolic Walk of Peace in the center of London commemorating Nelson Mandela's founding of The Elders, a group of global leaders working toward peace.

Max Foster reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He also knew that peace is more than the absence of war.

MAX FOSTER, HOST, CNN: Well, the Elders have gathered here in Trafalgar Square for what is essentially a peace rally. This one subject very much at the forefront of their minds. After the speeches they're going to head down towards the parliament square and pay tribute to this Nelson Mandela, who established the group 10 years ago.

KOFI ANNAN, FORMER SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS: Friends, we live in troubled and turbulent times. The nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the acute and urgent threat to global peace, they can only be restored if leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States address the issues in calm, sober, and respectful way to avoid further escalation and potentially devastation in military conflict.

BAN KI-MOON, FORMER SECRETARY-GENERAL OF UNITED NATIONS: This because of North Koreans defiant behavior challenging before the international community, therefore, it is absolute and necessary that the international community must stand united and very firm and resolute determined their message to North Korea. Making them realize that there is no other way for them to survive in this defiant way.

ANNAN: I don't think you solve problems by shouting at each other. That has never resolved any issues. One has to be calm, reflective, and deal with the issues at hand.

FOSTER: Is your concern that rhetoric could one day just go a little bit too far and tip one of the sides over the edge?

ANNAN: This is one cannot rule it out. That's why I talked of miscalculation or mistake and all best.

[03:25:05] GRACA MACHEL, NELSON MANDELA'S WIDOW: Mr. Mandela always, always give priority to dialogue. To dialogue and negotiations and to find a solution. I think this is how he is being remembered as a leader who in a tractable situations who is able to reach out to the other side and to find a common ground.


FOSTER: The walk finished here at the Nelson Mandela's statue in the shadows of the British parliament. The Elders want to start a new conversation today, and they want it to start with this man. He simply wouldn't have recognized all the rhetoric around the North Korea issue today.

Max Foster, CNN, London.

CHURCH: Two women accused of murdering the half-brother of North Korea's leader were taken back to the crime scene. A Malaysian court ask them to retrace the events surrounding the death of Jim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur's airport.

The women are accused of smearing his face with a nerve agent which the U.N. considers a weapon of mass destruction. They have pleaded not guilty and say they thought they were on a TV prank show. Prosecutors say North Korea trained the women to kill Kim Jong-nam, which Pyongyang denies. He was critical of his family dynasty and was living in exile.

Well, two prominent democracy activists in Hong Kong are set to be released on bail. Joshua Wong and Nathan Law was sentenced for their role in the 2014 protest under the Umbrella movement. Their arrest fueled fears of a Chinese government crackdown on the semi-autonomous city. Wong and Law are appealing their sentences and are pledging to keep fighting for greater political freedom for Hong Kong.

All right. Over in Paris, there was a lighter moment for the French president, or perhaps we should call it a moment of relief. This is Emmanuel Macron's dog, Nemo, who was adopted from a shelter this year. Now keep your eyes near the top right of the screen.

Did you see what happened there? It seems Nemo had some trouble finding the bathroom. He made a surprise appearance during a meeting of junior ministers to prove that when nature cal1s, there's no saying no to wee-wee. There you go.

All right. To a much more serious issues again. U.S. government auditors are telling the Trump administration deal with climate change now or the government will have to pay a lot more later.

Plus, land a valuable resources are at stake in the next battle in the war against ISIS.

And then later, former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is playing the victim after a new report claim he settled a sexual harassment suit for a very hefty sum of money. We'll explain when we come back.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's ideology is now enshrined in the Communist Party's Constitution. He's only the third leader to have his thoughts and name added to the Constitution, putting him on par with Chairman Mao Zedong.

President Xi Jinping just oversaw the closing of the Communist Party Congress, where China's new leadership was also revealed.

The widow of one of the four American soldiers killed in an ISIS ambush in Niger is speaking publicly. Myeshia Johnson says President Donald Trump' condolence call made her cry. She says she grew distraught at the tone of his voice and the fact that he appeared to stumble on her husband's name.

President Trump responded swiftly, tweeting that he had a respectful conversation with the widow and had said her husband's name without hesitation.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a surprise stop in Baghdad during a trip to the region. He met with Iraq's prime minister in hopes of calming tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds. Both sides are key U.S. allies in the region. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has dismissed a call from Tillerson to expel Iranian-backed paramilitary forces fighting ISIS.

Though ISIS militants are retreating, the battle is not over just yet. Dozens of the fighters who fled Raqqa, Syria, are holed up in Deir ez- Zor.

Nick Paton Walsh reports the next conflict could be over who takes control of the territory once held by ISIS.

NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: They lost Mosul in Ira then Raqqa in Syria. now there down to a small pocket of the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. But really the issue now is as ISIS rapidly loses territory, what happens to the land and the resources they used to control?

Literally in the last few days, the SDF, the U.S.-backed force that occurs have kicked ISIS out of much of northern Syria have taken control of a vital oil field, a valuable resource that the regime in Syria also wants too, creating a fascinating and geopolitically very fraught new front line in this now five-year-old war.


WALSH: This may be where the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is hiding, but probably wishes he wasn't. Russian and Syrian regime air strikes pound ISIS' remnants in the city of Deir ez-Zor, but they aren't alone in the skies or on the ground here.

Banking hard and keeping out of the Russians' way are U.S. jets. Assisting these U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters to take the nearby countryside from ISIS just the day before. ISIS are collapsing and leaving in their wake an almost Cold War standoff. While ISIS maybe holding out in a pocket of a town of Deir ez-Zor

behind me over there surrounded by the Syrian regime. But they've been kicked out too of this area by American-backed Kurdish SDF forces. Now, they've advanced to this river here, which puts them literally meters away from the Syrian regime who are backed by Russian air power.

We're told, in fact, these Kurdish American backed have held face to face meetings with Russian military officials to be sure they don't clash around here. Now in the end game against ISIS, Moscow and Washington's forces literally meters away from each other.

The Kurds are so relaxed with their new neighbors that fishing is this afternoon's task with hand grenades. Five years in and Syria is ground to dust. And this is what they're still fighting over. It's unclear who is left inside Deir ez-Zor but those who fled estimated recently at 10,000 a day dot the skyline.

They try to filter them, but last week a suicide bomber struck, and yesterday they found 30 ISIS fighters. They're followed around by the horror of what they fled, but also by suspicion. The simple question, are the last to flee the most loyal to ISIS or just the least fortunate?

"We saw everything in my village," she says. Air strikes, children and elderly dying. My relative just last week. The children couldn't stop crying from fear. I could only stand there. What could I do? I don't know if our home is still standing or even who's bombing us."

[03:35:10] Youssef is 10 and doesn't have any superhero powers here. Just dust and bad dreams. "When I've hear the shelling," he says, "I'd hide in the ground."

The hardest part about living in the desert is they're not at home. The stream is endless like the bombing they flee and this war, which keeps finding new chapters and adversaries around them.


WALSH: Now, there is a wider potential for conflicts here. The U.S. and Russia have a de-confliction hotline to keep their aircraft and their forces away from each other. But the Syrian regime and the SDF backed by the United States do it appear have very difference in agendas in terms of who controls what part of territories ISIS used to run.

And the SDF soldiers we we're with said that actually recently a rocket that hit their forces injuring four, killing one. They weren't sure who fired it. Was it the Russians, the Syrian regime, was it Iranian militia? Unclear, but it emphasizes really the capacity for misunderstanding, the capacity maybe for conflict, is that sense of covetousness over who controls what valuable parts of infrastructure comes to ahead.

Remember, in the last few days, an important oil field in Syria has been seized by those American-backed SDF. The regime are clear they want to control as much of Syria as they can. And it's flash points like that that risk a new troubling potential moment in this ongoing five-year war, one that could possibly have broader geopolitical risk because it's Moscow and Washington now backing opposite sides of this war who literally are meters apart.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, northern Iraq.

CHURCH: To England, and it's getting increasingly expensive to drive around London. Some drivers will now have to pay nearly 30 just to enter the city center. The mayor just introduced an emission charge on older vehicles because they cause the most pollution. And that adds to a congestion charge that every driver in central London has to pay during the working week.

U.S. congressional auditors are warning the Trump administration deal with climate change now or pay the consequences later. A non-partisan group estimates the U.S. government has spent more than $350 billion over the past decade responding to extreme weather and fires.

President Trump is rolling back climate change initiatives launched by the Obama administration. Experts say ignoring climate change will get more expensive ever year. And this comes as the Senate is expected to pass a $36 billion aid bill in response to recent hurricanes and wildfires.

Well, meanwhile, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized for his travel spending, and now his security measures are being questioned as well.

Our Rene Marsh explains.

RENE MARSH, AVIATION CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Scott Pruitt is rapidly expanding his security force to an unprecedented level. CNN has learned the EPA is in the process of hiring and training a dozen new agents to provide 24/7 protection for Pruitt. Salaries alone could cost $2 million, not including training, equipment, or travel.

The agency says the level of protection is dictated and determined by the level of threat. Pruitt faces four to five times more death threats than his predecessors, that's according to the EPA inspector general's office.

As security spending increases, Pruitt hopes to cut the EPA's budget by 30 percent, including major cuts to the agency's enforcement work and staffing. Pruitt's schedule is more than 100 meeting with the fossil fuel industry but only five with environmental groups.


ERIK OLSON, SENIOR STRATEGIC DIRECTOR, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: It's very clear that EPA Administrator Pruitt is trying to cripple the agency. He is trying to slash the agency's budget. He's trying to keep the agency from doing its job, from protecting public health and environment. It's very worrisome.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARSH: A former executive, Nancy Beck, who worked for the chemical industry, is now in charge of shaping EPA's rules on hazardous chemicals. The New York Times reported Beck insisted the agency rewrite a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of PFOA, a chemical linked to health problems like kidney, cancer, birth defects, and immune system disorders.

And last month, the EPA made a reversal on what's considered safe levels of exposure to radiation. EPA guidelines now say radiation exposure of five to ten ream usually result in no harmful health effects. That's the equivalent of 5,000 chest X-rays according to the public employees for environmental responsibility.


[03:39:56] OLSON: There are many industries that have been pushing hard to roll back these rules. Some of them are in the nuclear industries; some of them are in the hazardous waste industry. Some of them are in the chemical industry.

And Scott Pruitt has been meeting secretly with literally scores of these corporate executives quietly behind the scenes.


MARSH: But the EPA is pushing back on the idea that Pruitt is turning a blind eye to bad actors in industry, the agency pointing to an interview in Time magazine where Pruitt discussed his partnership with industry. Quote, "I don't spend any time with polluters. I prosecute polluters. What I'm spending time with are stakeholders who care about outcomes."

CHURCH: And that was our Rene Marsh reporting from Washington.

In some U.S. communities, firefighters' responsibilities have taken on another life and death challenge. We ride along with one crew in New Hampshire.

Plus, he reportedly paid $32 million to make a sexual harassment claim go away forever. But it didn't. How Bill O'Reilly is now firing back against the revelations. We're back in a moment.



RANIA AL-ABDULLAH, QUEEN CONSORT OF JORDAN: The residents have spoken to me of unimaginable acts of violence that they have witnessed. Children have been orphaned, women brutalized, family members butchered, villages burnt to the ground.


CHURCH: Jordan's Queen Rania is calling for a stronger response to the plight of the Rohingya Muslims. She visited refugees Monday in Bangladesh. Nearly a million Rohingya

are now living there after fleeing violence in their native Myanmar. Many were forced out in August when Myanmar launched a counteroffensive to Rohingya insurgent attacks. The U.N. calls it ethnic cleansing.


AL-ABDULLAH: One has to ask why is the plight of this Muslim minority group being ignored? Why has the systematic prosecution being allowed to play out for so long? Unfortunately, what we've been seeing is as a result of some of the terrible acts of a very small minority on the fringes of Islam where we, the majority, even think that they're on the outside of Islam, has led to a very strong anti-Muslim sentiment and a negative stereotype of Muslims to the point where many around the world are unable to see Muslims as victims.

It leads one to wonder that if the tables were turned and these acts of violence were committed by Muslims the world response would be, would have been as muted as the response that we're seeing here today.


CHURCH: And world leaders are answering the U.N.'s appeal for $434 million in aid. So far countries have pledged around 344 million to help care for Rohingya Muslims and their hosts in Bangladesh.

[03:45:02] Well, many experts call the opioid epidemic the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Last year, overdoses killed more people than guns or car accidents.

In 2015, roughly 2 percent of deaths in the U.S. - that's 1 in 50 were drug-related. And more than two million Americans are estimated to have a problem with opioids.

New Hampshire has one of the highest opioid death rates in the U.S. No one knows more about how bad the problem has become than the firefighters who are on the front lines of this battle.

CNN's Chris Cuomo rode along with one crew that gets a lot of calls for help, but not to put out fires.

CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: New Hampshire has seen a huge spike in opioid overdose deaths. Five hundred people a year in this small state. Addiction is becoming the new normal.

These days the Manchester Fire Department responds to more overdoses than fires. Just walking down the street, you're liable to see an overdose. This one right in front of a children's karate studio in Manchester. Fire department soon arrives to administer Narcan, a drug that brings a seemingly dead man back to life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were out. I mean out. It wasn't like you were -- you out. We gave you a lot of Narcan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, the time has come, you got to get yourself some help.


CUOMO: Saving this life is the easier part of the problem, getting the man to save his own life, that's the real challenge. Chris Hickey is the Manchester Fire Department's head medic.

CHRIS HICKEY, EMS OFFICER, MANCHESTER NEW HAMPSHIRE FIRE DEPARTMENT: So he got a total of nine milligrams before he woke up. The most we can give is ten, so nine is more than enough. And he'll live. He might have some, you know, brain issues because the lack of oxygen, for how long that he went. But he'll live.

This is what we carry on every piece.

CUOMO: That man very well could have died without those nine milligrams of Narcan. That's the brand name for the drug Naloxone, which literally brings overdose victims back from death's doorstep.

HICKEY: You put this in one nostril, block it. You give half the fluid that's in here and switch over to the other nostril and squeeze it and give the rest of it. It's the quickest and closest route right to the brain.

CUOMO: What does it mean to you that you'll find someone who even though the know, they just popped and looked into your eyes, and you save their life that they should be dead, they still use.

HICKEY: I think if you asked me or anyone of the guys here on the job that same question two years ago, we'd have been pretty upset. But what we know now about the problem and how it truly is a disorder, and it's not something that you control. Like once opioids get their hook into someone it's very, very hard to get those hooks back out.


CHURCH: Extraordinary report there.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal is growing. The New York State Attorney General's Office is looking into his namesake company, the Weinstein Company for violating civil rights law.

A source tells CNN the office requested all documents related to sexual harassment or other discrimination complaints against any employee. Weinstein was fired from the company's board after the New York Times released a bombshell report detailing decades of alleged predatory behavior.

So far, more than 40 women have come forward with accusations ranging from sexual harassment to assault. Weinstein denies having non- consensual sex with anyone. Well, meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly is back in the headlines for another

sexual harassment allegation. The New York Times reports the former Fox News host secretly settled with an accuser for $32 million just weeks before renewing his Fox contract for $25 million a year. And now O'Reilly is firing back.

Here is CNN's Brian Stelter.


MEGYN KELLY, FORMER HOST, FOX NEWS: What on earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?


BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's what so many people are asking now that the New York Times has revealed that Bill O'Reilly...


BILL O'REILLY, FORMER HOST, FOX NEWS: Stuff is right here.


STELTER: ... paid $32 million to stop former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl from suing him. Of all the settlement payments involving Fox News, this is the largest by far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This morning the stunning new report and what he is saying about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new Bill O'Reilly bombshell reportedly paying $32 million.


[03:49:58] STELTER: On Monday, O'Reilly told Glenn Beck that his enemies are behind this, plotting to keep him off TV.


O'REILLY: The end game is let's link O'Reilly with Harvey Weinstein, let's make him that so we take him out of the market place forever.


STELTER: His theory aside, there is new scrutiny on Fox News, which just can't see him to shake these sexual misconduct scandals, and there are new questions about O'Reilly's behavior.


O'REILLY: My conscience is clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: He says he has not mistreated anyone despite at least five other settlements with other women in the past. O'Reilly defended himself on NBC last month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were accused of sexual harassment. You said at the time you did absolutely nothing wrong.

O'REILLY: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you stand by that?



STELTER: What we didn't know then is that O'Reilly struck a $32 million deal back in January. Wiehl, a regular guest on his show, was threatening to sue.


EMILY STEEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: S made allegation of a non- consensual sexual relationship and that her allegations included that he sent her pornographic material that included gay pornography.


STELTER: The money made it go away. In this affidavit dated January 17th, Wiehl said she had no claims against O'Reilly. With the secret safely buried or so they thought, Fox renewed O'Reilly's deal, worth an estimated 25 million a year.

You already know the rest. Fox booted O'Reilly in April after the initial New York Times investigation revealed other settlements. But he was welcomed back on the air last month.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: All right, Bill, come back. Will you come back?

O'REILLY: Maybe.

HANNITY: Maybe? Are you coming back?

O'REILLY: Yes, I'll come back. Yes, I got to hawk this book, man.



STELTER: Gretchen Carlson sued Fox News founder Roger Ailes last year and settled for 20 million.


CARLSON: Nobody pays $32 million to anybody for false accusations. Nobody. I don't care how much money you have.


STELTER: Now O'Reilly has tens of millions less. He's vowing to fight on, saying the Times story is part of a plot to take him down. He told the Times reporters...


O'REILLY: We have physical proof that this is bull (muted). Bull (muted), OK? So it's on you if you want to destroy my children further.


STELTER: Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: Just ahead, controversy at the Palestinian film festival. We're back in a moment.


CHURCH: This year's Palestinian film festival ended without screening its final film after critics campaigned against it because the director had previously made a film in Israel.

Ian Lee explains how an evening of celebration turned into a controversy about censorship.

IAN LEE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It wasn't the welcome Kamel El Basha would have preferred at the Palestinian film festival. He had just won best actor at the Venice film festival for his breakout role in the film, "The Insult."

The star of stage not only became the first Palestinian, but the first Arab to win this award. "The Insult' depicts a complex story of Palestinians living in Lebanon where a perceived slit leads to a courtroom drama.


KAMEL EL BASHA, ACTOR AND PRODUCER: I believe that it is the first noble character in the Arab cinema for the Palestinian.


[03:54:55] LEE: Excitement built for the film's screening but the curtain didn't rise, adding injury to insult.


BASHA: The government of Ramallah decided to stop screening the movie. I don't get it. I'm very angry. I don't get it. It's shameful for me.


LEE: The film faced criticism for one reason. The Lebanese director Ziad Doueir previously filmed in Tel Aviv. That's a red line for many Palestinians even though his latest films, starring El Basha was shot entirely in Lebanon.

BDS Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions led the call for the movie to be postponed. The movement in its words, "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with the international law."

BDS admits El Basha's film doesn't fall under their guidelines for boycotting. It's the director that they are targeting for dealing in Israel.


OMAR BARGHOUTI, CO-FOUNDER, BDS: Making something that's inherently abnormal like the occupation, like a master/slave relationship to appear deceptively normal. And that's what this filmmaker is doing.


LEE: A group of Palestinians took their anger to social media, demanding the movie be banned. Some even posting death threats. Ramallah officials say they were forced to cancel the screening for safety. The festival's director wanted to judge himself if El Basha deserved the international accolades.


HANNA ATALLAH, DIRECTOR, PALESTINIAN FILM FESTIVAL (through translator): Unfortunately, now there is censorship that is being borne by the religious or political or any other reasons. We had it this year. It was never before. Every Palestinian citizen should have the right to watch a film and decide whether it's good or not.


LEE: One of the main concerns of people in the film industry is what happens next time. What happens when someone doesn't like the content of the next film? Could it lead down a slippery slope of censorship?

El Basha worries his movie could usher in dark times for Palestinian cinema.


EL BASHA: All these years, somebody is trying to censor our movies, our job. It's a catastrophe for our struggle for our life.


LEE: Ian Lee, CNN, Ramallah. CHURCH: And thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church.

Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. I would love to hear from you. The news continues now with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN. Have a great day.