Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. President in South Korea; Texas Church Massacre Investigation; Saudi Corruption Crackdown; Campaign Aide Pitched Trump Trip to Russia; Russia Probe. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired November 7, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:10] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN Center.

ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Anna Coren here in Seoul, South Korea, here with President Donald Trump's visit to the region at a time when (INAUDIBLE) attention here in the Korean Peninsula, the issues and (INAUDIBLE).

CHURCH: Anger and disbelief after yet another mass shooting -- the investigation into the church massacre in Texas.

COREN: U.S. President Donald Trump arrived here in South Korea, a short time ago. We are expecting his motorcade to pass us soon. This, of course, is his second stop on his 13-day Asian tour where later this later he is scheduled to hold talks with the South Korean President Moon Jae-In where, of course, North Korea is expected to be top of the agenda.

In Japan on Monday where President Trump has just come from, he said that the era of strategic patience of Pyongyang is over. And he had no (INAUDIBLE) whatsoever for his fiery rhetoric on confronting the North.

Although South Korea is looking for a united front on the nuclear issue President Moon for this engagement with North Korea. This has been his strategy for the past six months.

Joining us now is Paula Hancocks who is here in South Korea and she's been covering this story for years.

Paula -- certainly where we are here in (INAUDIBLE) it is very lively. There are protesters. There are also supporters of Donald Trump but there are thousands, tens of thousands of police lining the streets. Describe the scene where you are.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anna -- it's certainly the case that we were expecting a number of protests here in South Korea both pro and anti. Certainly there are concerns across the country during this U.S. presidential trip.

What South Korea is looking for is reassurance from U.S. President Donald Trump. The officials of the government, they want reassurance that the U.S. has the back of South Korea. That they are going to continue to support this alliance. And that even though North Korea is now directly threatening the United States as well that South Korea can still count on that support.

Now there have been many concerns about off the cuff remarks form the U.S. president about his tweets. Certainly the relationship between the two presidents is not the same as the relationship between the U.S. president and the Japanese prime minister, for example.

We've heard speech from Donald Trump talking about President Moon Jae- In here calling him an appeaser, saying that his idea of trying to talk to North Korea simply won't work. Also just missing his own U.S. Secretary of State trying to have back channels with North Korea.

So there is a fundamental difference when it comes to the two sides but certainly from the South Korean point of view, they're hoping that the fact that the goal is the same, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will help the two sides agree.

We've seen President Moon move his position to a more hardline position. He came to power a few months ago saying he wants dialogues, he wants to (AUDIO GAP)

COREN: Paula -- as you said there are thousands of people -- ok, looks like we have lost our Paula Hancocks there. But she is obviously covering this story extensively and the protest. And we will push back to Paula a little bit later in the show.

Also later in the program, Rosemary -- we're going to cross lines here -- Pyongyang, North Korea. That is where we will find Will Ripley. He's the only U.S. network journalist who is covering the story of Trump's visit to South Korea. So that will be very interesting indeed. That will be coming up a bit later in the story -- Rosie.

CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much -- Anna. We'll come back to you in just a few minutes.

But we do want to cover this major story here in the United States -- the second mass shooting in the U.S. in barely more than a month. The shocking loss of 26 innocent lives is a fresh wound to all as we are learning more about the church massacre in Texas.

The violent past of the shooter should have prevented him from buying guns legally. Devin Kelley was convicted of assaulting his wife and stepson about five years ago. But the U.S. Air Force failed to enter that conviction into a national criminal database. The shooter killed 26 worshipers during the Sunday morning service.

[00:05:02] This family, the Holcombes, lost eight members across three generations. Among the dead: the pastor who led prayers that morning, a woman who was two months pregnant and a girl just a year and a half old.

How does this family handle the tragedy? Well, their patriarch writes this. And I'm quoting, "Today is today. What happened, happened. We don't like what happened but I have read The Book and I know how the story turns out. We will be ok."

The pastor of the little church was out of town but his 14-year-old daughter was there. Her mother spoke about losing her daughter.


SHERRI POMEROY, MOTHER OF 14-YEAR-OLD VICTIM: We lost more than Belle yesterday and one thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa.


CHURCH: Now we know the shooter was heavily-armed. He had a military style rifle and 15 loaded magazines capable of firing hundreds of rounds. Officials say the suspect used all of them.

Our Ed Lavandera is in Sutherland Springs talking to residents and he filed this report.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Here in the quiet country side of Sutherland Springs, Texas nearly 4 percent of the town's population was killed inside this small church on Sunday.

POMEROY: We laugh together. We cry together. And we worship together.

LAVANDERA: When a gunman opened fire during the service, more than two dozen members of the church also died together. Many were children, the youngest just 17 months old.

FRED CURNOW (PH), WORSHIPER: It was -- nearly what your heart was made of. They brought a girl out, little girl out in -- I'm sorry. She was just covered in blood.

LAVANDERA: Fred Curnow lives directly across the street less than a hundred feet from the church. He says he saw the gunman begin his rampage outdoors, firing into the sides of the building.

CURNOW: They're in pews. They're in line. So going to the side, he's shooting straight through there. He knows he's doing some harm.

LAVANDERA: Curnow says the killer unloaded several rounds then appeared to retrieve more ammunition from his car before heading inside.

CURNOW: It looked like he grabbed just, like an armload of something. He popped another one in and started firing in the door.

LAVANDERA: Twenty-six-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley came armed with three guns and donned the ballistic vest and a skeleton mask to carry out his attack.

FREEMAN MARTIN, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: There was a domestic situation going on within his family.

LAVANDERA: Kelley's mother-in-law attended the church and while she was not here during the massacre, she had received a message from the gunman that morning, according to law enforcement.

MARTIN: We know that he had made threatening texts from him.

LAVANDERA: Kelley's UV may hold even more evidence. He used it to flee the scene after being shot in the driver's seat by Good Samaritan Steve Willeford who ran to help barefoot.

CURNOW: The window on the driver side came out. I mean it shattered. And it's pretty blurry but, you know, I was sure I saw some blood.

LAVANDERA: Police say Kelley made a final phone call soon after.

MARTIN: The suspect used his cellphone to notify his father that he had been shot and didn't think he was going to make it.

LAVANDERA: Right behind him at more than 90 miles per hour Stephen Willeford and Johnnie Langendorff gave chase for more than 10 minutes before the suspect crashed the car.

JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF, CHASED GUNMAN: It was do -- you know, do everything necessary to make sure that this guy stopped.

LAVANDERA: Police say the gunman shot himself inside his SUV. We now know he was a water park security guard over the summer and served in the Air Force.

In 2012, a military court charged him with assaulting his spouse and child and resulted in a 12-month confinement and a bad conduct discharge from the military.

MARTIN: Until we can get all the documentation we will not have a determination on if this individual's prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms.

LAVANDERA: A law enforcement official does tell CNN that no disqualifying information turned up in Kelley's records when he bought the assault-style rifle.

As for what led him to this, the pastor of the church says he has no answers.

FRANK POMEROY, PASTOR: I don't understand. But I know my God does.

LAVANDERA: Investigators here in Texas say they have also secured the video footage from inside the sanctuary; these were services that were normally recorded and shared online. Investigators say that that video has been secured and you can just imagine how gruesome that must be to watch. In fact, Fred Curnow, who you just heard from in that piece says that he, for a brief moment, afterwards after the shooting had stopped was going trying to get inside the sanctuary to retrieve a cellphone for one of the survivors. And he said what he saw when he stuck his head inside that sanctuary is an image, a gruesome image that he will never forget.

Ed Lavandera, CNN -- Sutherland Springs, Texas.


[00:10:02] CHURCH: And we are learning more about what happened after the church shooting from the man who confronted and shot the gunman. Stephen Willeford spoke with CNN affiliate, KHBS on Monday.


STEPHEN WILLEFORD, SHOT THE GUNMAN: He saw me. I saw him and I was standing behind the pickup truck for cover. And we exchanged -- I'm like it was surreal to me and it couldn't be happening. I could not believe it.

And we exchanged gunfire and I know I hit him. I don't know where I hit him. But I know I hit him.

And he got into his vehicle then he fired another couple of rounds through his side window. And I fired when the window dropped, I fired another round at him again. And one as he was pulling way and he turned down 539 from the market road 539 and set away.


CHURCH: Well, President Donald Trump blames the Texas shooting on mental health problems, not problems with U.S. gun control laws. Someone with a unique perspective on gun control is Mark Kelly. The retired astronaut's wife former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a 2011 political event and he shared his frustration about the lack of action on guns by lawmakers with CNN's Anderson Cooper.


MARK KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: We need the people we elect to office to sort of stand up and acknowledge that we have a problem in this country; 35,000 people dying from gunshot wounds, another hundred thousand shot every single year is completely unacceptable. It's a problem. And for problems, there are solutions and we elect this people to provide and work through these solutions.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You know, I mean in this 26 people killed, the oldest 77 years old, the youngest just 17 months old. After Las Vegas, after Orlando, after Newtown, after your wife's shooting -- every shot (ph) does an equal action.

KELLY: No, it doesn't. And you know, we've got to figure out how do we convince people to do -- to have courage? I mean really that's what it's about.


CHURCH: And the numbers show just how much gun violence there is in the United States. According to the gun violence archive there have been 307 mass shootings this year alone. There are more guns owned by civilians in the U.S. than any other country, about 89 for every 100 people. The U.S. has about 5 percent of the world's population but 31 percent of all public mass shootings.

And we will have more on President Trump's visit to South Korea including reaction from Pyongyang in just a moment.

And President Trump sounds off on Twitter, backing a massive and unprecedented purge in Saudi Arabia. The details on that after the break.

Plus new revelations about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawmaker -- what she says that President Trump promised in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton.

We're back in a moment.


COREN: Hello. I'm Anna Coren, live in Seoul. Welcome back to CNN where we are covering Donald Trump's visit to the region.

He of course, has arrived here in Seoul, South Korea. This is the second stop on his Asian visit. He and first lady Melania Trump were welcomed at Osan Air Base near Seoul with a 21-gun salute.

President Trump is expected to focus on North Korea in his talks with South Korea's President Moon Jae-In who he will be meeting in the next few hours.

Mr. Trump's visit coincides with joint navy drills by the United States, Australia and South Korea. But the drill will be focused on being able to stop or deter Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities.

Let's now go back to our Paula Hancocks, who is also here in Seoul covering the demonstrations. Paula -- we were earlier discussing the relationship President Trump and South Korea's President Moon Jae-In. It is strained to say the least and it's not the bromance, the love fest that Trump enjoys with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

What does Trump's visit to Seoul mean to President Moon?

HANCOCKS: Well Anna -- we know that the South Korean President Moon Jae-In actually went down to the U.S. military base, Camp Humphreys, to greet the U.S. President -- the first time a South Korean president has done this.

So you can see that they're making a real effort, pulling out all the stops, making sure that they can nurture some kind of strong friendship, strong relationship as you see between Shinzo Abe and President Trump.

Now we just heard that the first comments from President Trump since his touched down in South Korea saying quote, ultimately it will all work out. This was talking about North Korea, about the standoff, trying to stop the nuclear and missile development of North Korea saying it always works out, it has to work out. This is a more positive sentiment from the U.S. president than we have

heard in the past and that will certainly be very welcome news to the South Korean president and now he is pro-engagement. He's pro- dialogue with North Korea.

He has made his stance more hardline in recent months towards more sanctions and pressure on North Korea. Not necessarily just to try and be on the same page as the United States but because there has been such an intense amount of testing of the nuclear missile capabilities by Pyongyang.

So certainly what South Korean diplomats are looking for, they are looking for a close relationship between the two men. And they are looking for reassurance from the U.S. President Donald Trump that the alliance is strong. That the U.S. does have South Korea's back -- Anna.

COREN: And Paula -- we are looking at live pictures of Donald Trump there at Camp Humphreys that you mentioned which is not far from us here in Seoul. That, of course, is the largest American base in South Korea where he's had lunch with the troops, as you say, was met by President Moon Jae-In.

Paula Hancocks -- many thanks for that update.

Well, CNN is the only U.S. network in North Korea. It is covering Donald Trump's visit to the region and that is where we will find our Will Ripley, live in Pyongyang. Will -- tell us, what is the feeling where you are? How do North Koreans feel about Donald Trump being here in Seoul?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi -- Anna. It sounds like there's a lot more activity happening where you are than here in Pyongyang where it's actually a relatively quiet afternoon.

We did meet though last night with two government officials authorized to speak on behalf of the North Korean government and they told that from the North Korean perspective, the situation involving the United States has really gone from bad to worse.

Even though, yes, we just heard President Trump use relatively measured words when talking about North Korea and it was relatively the same when he was in Japan as well. From the North Korean perspective, that just might not be enough given the fact you have those naval drills with the U.S., South Korea and Australia that you mentioned.

In the coming days there will be even larger military exercises happening in the Pacific involving three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Each strike group generally has around 10 ships. You're talking about a massive show of naval force.

[00:20:00] And what North Koreans have told me repeatedly really for weeks now is that ever since diplomacy broke down after President Trump's speech at the United Nations in September they feel they cannot talk with the Trump administration. They have to send a message to the Trump administration. Actions, they say, will speak much more effectively than words. But the question is what actions?

It's been more than seven weeks now since North Korea has conducted any sort of live-fire military exercise. But there are indications that that could change perhaps very soon even while President Trump is here in the region.

The watchdog group 38 North has observed activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, significant activity in the words of the analyst with 38 North. And South Korean intelligence has also observed heightened activity in missile research facilities here in North Korea.

Obviously the unknown here -- Anna, is if North Korea does move forward with some kind of test while President Trump is here in Asia, what will he say? How will he respond? And the fear on all sides I that there really could be a series of events triggered here that could take this part of the world down a very dangerous road.

Or it could all be posturing and things will go on as normal. We just never really know for sure which is why we're here while watching and waiting.

COREN: We certainly hope that diplomacy -- diplomacy prevails. Will Ripley joining us from Pyongyang. Many thanks for your report.

And Rosemary -- I just want to show you what is happening here where we are in Seoul right now. You can obviously hear the noise and you can see the thousands of police lining the streets. But there are hundreds and hundreds of protesters waving flags which say "No Trump, No War".

These are people who don't want the President here in South Korea's capital. They believe that President Trump is in fact dragging South Korea to the brink of war. They don't like the fact that tensions are escalating and they are concerned that Donald Trump could in fact ratchet up those tensions even more in the two day that he is here.

We'll be bringing you much more of the show and Donald Trump's visit to South Korea a little bit later. But for now Rosemary -- back to you.

CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much -- Anna. We will talk very soon.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he supports Saudi Arabia's anti- corruption crackdown. In a tweet Monday, Mr. Trump writes he has great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. They know exactly what they are doing.

He adds, some of those they have been treating have been milking their country for years.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is taking a hardline approach to the reforms and consolidating his power. Since Saturday at least 38 businessman princes and officials were arrested on corruption charges.

They're not exactly behind bars, though. Instead they've been taken to the Riyadh Ritz Carlton. A statement from the Saudi Attorney- General says they will have full access to legal resources and proper trials.

He adds that the arrests completes phase one of an anti-corruption push. Earlier on Monday, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister told CNN the Kingdom has zero tolerance for the corruption, waste and mismanagement that's holding back the economy.


ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: Saudi Arabia has a zero policy when it comes to supporting terrorism and extremism. Saudi Arabia now has a zero policy when it comes to corruption and waste and mismanagement.

Our Vision 2030 calls for efficient, accountable, transparent government. We cannot afford to have corruption and waste and mismanagement, reduce our ability to improve the lives of our people.

And that's why the Supreme Anti-Corruption Commission was established headed by his royal highness, the Crown Prince. And it's now engaged in doing its work.


CHURCH: On to another big story we're following. A former campaign aide says he raised the idea of Donald Trump going to Russia in May of last year. According to a newly-released transcript of his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Carter Page says he told the head of the foreign policy adviser team and another adviser. It's just the latest apparent link between the Trump campaign and Russia.

CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Paul Manafort and Rick Gates remain under house arrest with GPS monitoring. The judge determined today their final disclosures were clear and asked for more information before deciding whether to ease the conditions of their release next month.

KATELYN POLARTZ, CNN JUSTICE WRITER: In court the judge suggested that they could modify the bail for Manafort and Gates, that they would possible still wear anchor monitors. They would have to stay near their homes. They would have to do things like not go near airports and railroads and have an evening curfew.

[00:25:00] SCHNEIDER: Paul Manafort claims to have a net worth of $28 million according to court filings and offered up three of his properties as collateral for his $10 million bond. But prosecutors said the value of his property and net worth have yet to be substantiated. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to 12 counts including money laundering and false statements which stem from their work as lobbyists for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. The charges do not explicitly relate to their work during the campaign.

The court appearance comes as new allegations emerge about that Trump Tower meeting attended by Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016. Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya led that meeting and now tells Bloomberg News Trump, Jr. indicated the law she was lobbying against might be re-examined if Trump became president.

The 2012 Magnitsky act imposed sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights abuses. Looking ahead if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it, Veselnitskaya describes Trump, Jr. as saying.

Veselnitskaya says Trump, Jr. also asked for documents backing her claim that a donor to Hillary Clinton's campaign evaded U.S. taxes.

A number of Trump associates with ties to Russia now stand at 11, according to CNN's reporting. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is under scrutiny for his investment in a shipping firm with significant ties to a Russian company linked to President Putin's inner circle.

In an interview with the BBC in London, Ross slammed the suggestion his business ties constitute anything improper.

WILBUR ROSS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: If our government decided to sanction them, that would be a different story. Our government has not thus far made the determination to sanction them so there's nothing wrong with it. The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company does not mean that there's any evil in it.

Where there is evil is the misstatement that I did not disclose those holdings in my original form.

SCHNEIDER: And while Ross met his disclosure requirements, some lawmakers feel they were misled. They're not demanding an investigation and possible resignation.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: He apparently deliberately concealed these ownership interests. There ought to be hearings and if he fails to survive a convincing and compelling explanation, he ought to resign.

SCHNEIDER: In the Paul Manafort-Rick Gates case, the next court appearance will be on December 11 and that's when the judge could determine a trial start date. Right now it looks like May 7, 2018 could be when the trial gets under way meaning the Russia investigation will stay in the headlines just as the midterm congressional races start to heat up.

Jessica Schneider, CNN -- Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: The U.S. President's latest stop on his Asia tour puts him at North Korea's doorstep. How the U.S. and South Korea are confronting the nuclear threat. That's still to come.

Plus it was almost exactly a year ago that Mr. Trump shocked the world with his election win. A new CNN poll marks another milestone in his presidency.

We'll have that in just a moment.




COREN (voice-over): Welcome back. We are coming to you live from Seoul. This is the second stop on Trump's visit to Asia. He's had lunch with U.S. and South Korean troops at Camp Humphries (ph). The weapons ceremony at the Blue House is scheduled to begin at any moment and when ID does we will bring you live pictures.

After that, President Trump and President Moon will hold bilateral talks with North Korea -- about North Korea's nuclear program. That is top of the agenda of his two-day visit here in South Korea.

South Korean citizens being urged to come out onto the streets and welcome Trump and obviously where we are, there are hundreds and hundreds of protesters. A Gallup poll earlier this year showed his favorability rating at just 9 percent.

Well, compare that to 71 percent that Barack Obama received as president back in 2013. And when it comes to confidence in the U.S. president, a recent poll shows just 17 percent in South Korea have a lot or some confidence in Donald Trump.

Two years earlier, that number was 88 percent for President Barack Obama.

Joining me is Daniel Pinkston. He is a professor of international relations at Troy University.

Daniel, lively things.

Have you seen anything quite like this?

DANIEL PINKSTON, TROY UNIVERSITY: Yes, welcome to the street life in Seoul. There's a lot of energy out here. Protesters are out demonstrating peacefully against President Trump.

COREN: We've just spoken about these polls. He is not a popular president, U.S. president here in South Korea. But I guess there are also supporters on the streets and probably more so supporters of the alliance between American and South Korea.

Describe to us the strength of that alliance. PINKSTON: That's right. I think the relationship and the alliance is stronger than any single individual. The relationship has weathered great turbulence in the past and there have been differences between personalities amongst the leaders.

But the common values, the security treaty, the common interests, the economic relationship, those bind the two together that will maintain the strength of the alliance and relationship.

COREN: You've lived here for almost two decades and have you seen things as dire as what they are now on the Korean Peninsula?

With President Trump here in the region ratcheting up the rhetoric?

PINKSTON: I think it's mostly rhetoric but, in actuality, there are number of barriers to conflict for any actor to initiate conflict in the region. Institutional barriers, political barriers and legal barriers; the U.S. cannot fight North Korea alone. It must fight with its alliance partners. It must have access to the bases. There is not political support for that. There is not legal support for it.

The South Korean president and the prime minister of Japan are bound by their constitutions to reject aggressive wars or wars of aggression. So the people do not support lashing out or invading North Korea without a reason to do so.

So I think a lot of this is rhetoric that is targeted at the U.S. domestic audience and it really is useless in the international security around here and Northeast Asia.

COREN: But it's certainly unnerving here in South Korea, wouldn't you say?

PINKSTON: Yes, people are upset about it; some people are worried about it. But if we look at the observable actions and behavior in the region, there is no indication of any war or preparation for war; no one wants more conflict.

So if that were to go into motion, moving towards conflict, we would see mobilizations and other actions that would be taken. And none of that is going on right now.

COREN: And do you think that Donald Trump, as unpredictable as what he is, you think he will be on his best behavior while he is here?

PINKSTON: I can't predict what he will do. I don't know him' I've never met him. I've stopped trying to make sense of what he says in terms of foreign policy. I think it's a bunch of incoherent noise directed at his domestic audience. So I've stopped paying attention to it.

COREN: And tell me, do you think that North Korea could potentially launch a missile strike -- I should say test a missile while President Trump is in the region?

Of course the last test was the 15th of September. They have been very quiet since then.

Any chance that there could be a missile test over the next --


COREN: -- 10-12 days?

PINKSTON: Well, it's always possible. They have a technical timeline and reasons for testing for developmental purposes. But I think it is very unlikely right now in North Korea. They're focused on economic production targets. It's the end of the year.

If you look at their media, they're trying to meet their quotas and then they will start their military training during the winter. They have a winter training cycle, begins around January or February.

So I think they will focus on hitting their economic targets and I think it's unlikely -- although it's not impossible.

COREN: All right. And more so around the Winter Olympics, you think?

PINKSTON: I think they'll probably be on good behavior up until the Olympics, which are in late February. They have not committed to sending a delegation yet. But sports are very important for the leadership. And I anticipate they'll probably participate.

COREN: All right. Daniel Pinkston, great to get your perspective and thank you for joining us here on the lovely streets of Seoul.

PINKSTON: Yes, my pleasure.

COREN: Great to have you with us.

Rosemary, back to you.

CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much, Anna. We'll see you in a bit.

Well, President Trump may be enjoying the spotlight on his trip to Asia. But there is trouble back home. A look at the latest CNN poll on the president's approval rating. We'll be back in a moment.




CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

It has been almost a year since U.S. voters elected Donald Trump president and now it seems some may have buyer's remorse. A new CNN poll shows just 36 percent approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling his job. That's a new low, down 1 point from last month; 58 percent say they disapprove, which is a new high.

The poll was conducted after the indictment of Mr. Trump's campaign chairman and the guilty plea from a former advisor for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

As the FBI's Russia investigation intensifies, the professor who allegedly told a Trump campaign adviser that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton has vanished. Joseph Mifsud was last seen at a private university in Rome, where he teaches. We heard from Nic Robertson a little earlier.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It seems to be that his -- Mr. Mifsud is trying to avoid speaking about this issue. The day before he disappeared, he spoke to "La Republica" magazine, Italian publication, and told them that what George Papadopoulos, the advisor, the foreign policy advisor to candidate Trump had told the FBI in that affidavit that the FBI published, said that it was baloney, that what Papadopoulos was saying was baloney, that he never had, he was never -- he never told him that the Russians had emails on Hillary Clinton.

Subsequent to that, of course, he disappears. Now all of this seems to be at a variance with not only what he told Papadopoulos, allegedly told Papadopoulos, but what a associate --


ROBERTSON: -- former associate of Mifsud has told CNN.

The associate told me very clearly that, around about the same time that the FBI alleges these conversations took place -- that would be in the spring roughly, mid-April time last year, that Mifsud has told this associate exactly the same thing, that, indeed, the Russians did have stuff on Hillary Clinton.

So it appears at the moment if Mifsud has gone to ground -- when we spoke to the officials at the university last Thursday, they said that he had left Rome -- if he has gone to ground, it does seem to be avoid answering this now very pressing question because he is -- certainly appears to be the key link or potentially an initial key link between the Russians and using this information that they gained through -- apparently gained through hacking, as -- to meddle in the U.S. elections.

So he is a very, very key player. So he seems to be trying to avoid answering the questions that many, many people, us and many others, would like to ask him at the moment.


CHURCH: Our thanks to Nic Robertson for that report.

British Prime Minister Theresa May wants to overhaul how harassment is reported in Parliament. She urged party leaders Monday to embrace a new culture of respect. Several lawmakers are being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct. Diana Magnay has more now on the growing scandal from London.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pace of sexual harassment allegations in Westminster shows no sign of letting up. The latest that the Liberal Democrats have referred, a rape allegation, to police and suspended a party member.

Theresa May met with the other leaders of the parties in the parliament today and they agreed to set up a new grievance procedure and an HR system within the parliament. She has promised a zero tolerance approach.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What is being revealed over the last few weeks has been deeply troubling and has understandably led to significant public unease.

Women and men should be able to work free from the threat or fear of harassment, bullying or intimidation. But for too long, the powerful have been able to abuse their power and their victims have not felt able to speak out.

MAGNAY: This is an issue which, as a woman who knows Westminster as well as anyone, the prime minister could have owned. But she has seemed more reactive than proactive on this one, perhaps hamstrung by concerns that the scandal could claim more of her key allies, her de facto deputy, Damien Greene (ph), is currently under investigation for alleged sexual impropriety charges, which he vigorously denies, and other Tory MPs, too, though is clearly a predatory culture across Westminster, irrespective of party lines.

Ms. May suffered a catastrophic election result earlier this year and her government has been plagued by bad blood over Brexit. This scandal is serving to make a weak government and a weak prime minister weaker still -- Diana Magnay, CNN, London.


CHURCH: And thanks for joining us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next after a short break. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN Center.