Return to Transcripts main page


Possible Hit Squad Scattered in England Carrying Novichok Agent; Wildfires Taking More Lives in Greece; Military Deployed in Pakistan to Watch over Election; Macron's Bodyguard Video Became Viral. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 25, 2018 - 03:00   ET



CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: Searching for a hit squad as U.K. investigators look into another poisoning, they are trying to figure out if multiple teams were involved in a deadly nerve agent attack.

Plus, Pakistan finally heads to the polls in one of its most controversial elections ever. We'll be on the ground in Islamabad. We'll go practically where no one lives to see how plans for oil drilling could destroy where polar bears have lived forever.

Live from the CNN center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. Great to have you with us.

We begin this hour in England where there are new concerns that samples of a deadly nerve agent may still be hidden in some public places. And British police are warning people to be careful. That's what sources are telling CNN.

They also say the investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy and three other people is looking at whether a drop team planted the poison known as Novichok and then a hit squad used it suggesting there were multiple teams involved.

CNN's Nina Dos Santos is following this for us. Nina, what are we learning, can you recap things for us?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: Thanks so much, Cyril. Well, essentially what we're talking about here is potentially different packages, different receptacles containing Novichok having been dropped a drop team that wouldn't necessarily have met with the hit squad that would have targeted Sergey Skripal here according to sources who may well have left some of these parcels in different locations.

And that raises the specter of whether or not Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess who you remember were poisoned in June after intercepting a package that contained Novichok in a small perfume bottle were poisoned by a completely different receptacle containing this substance than the one that was used to target Sergey and Yulia Skripal back on March the 4th earlier this year.

Now Charlie Rowley, the survivor of the Amesbury poisoning incident back in June, his partner Dawn Sturgess tragically died in that incident you'll remember, so he's been speaking to CNN's affiliate i- TV News.

And interestingly enough, you know, a number of comments that he's made on his recollection of the events leading up to his poisoning, he said that he believed that the package that he found contained a bottle and that it was wrapped in cellophane, again, seeming to suggest that it was intact when he found it. Take a listen.


CHARLIE ROWLEY, NOVICHOK POISON VICTIM: It was a three by three box a half inch thick which contained a glass bottle. So we had to remove the bottle from the cellophane wrapper. I put upon the dispenser on the bottle and it poured it ended up tipping some in my hands.


DOS SANTOS: And Charlie Rowley says that it was the act of washing his hands, washing the substance off very quickly that was perhaps made all the difference between his predicament and sadly Dawn Sturgess, his partner. Because you'll remember that she tragically died in this incident after- several days after being admitted into hospital.

Sources say and Charlie Rowley is now confirmed this in his interview, that she sprayed this particular substance onto her wrists, believing it was perfume. He said about 15 minutes later she began to fall quite seriously ill.

The reason why all of this is significant, Cyril, as I said before is because authorities obviously have a huge clean-up operation in and around the Salisbury and Amesbury area. At this point we don't yet know whether there is more Novichok out there, and also if there were more people involved in this who exactly were those other suspects.

You remember last week, CNN reported that authorities have two identities in their sites who have believed to have left the United Kingdom soon after this attack.

VANIER: And you were talking about the clean-up operation that authorities have to do in the Salisbury area. If you are a resident of that area and you are waking u to this news or you're just finding out about this, you have to be concerned, what are authorities saying to people there?

DOS SANTOS: Well, if you're a resident of this area, you'll also have been aware of the very significant public health messaging that is being taking place all the way since March the 4th when Sergey and Yulia Skripal were originally targeted with Novichok and it became apparent that what authorities were dealing with here was essentially a chemical weapon on British soil.

What we are hearing and we have always heard from Public Health England, the body responsible for public health messaging is if you didn't drop something on the ground, if it's a receptacle, a syringe, whatever it is, if it's a foreign object, refrain from touching it, do not pick up stuff that you have found on the ground.

[03:04:55] Obviously, this is a message that parents will have to tell their children as well. Because although Charlie Rowley doesn't remember where he found this particular package containing this bottle which seems to have contained Novichok, police are obviously continuing to comb various public places including a particular park in the Salisbury area is believed Charlie Rowley and also Dawn Sturgess visited at one point.

Charlie Rowley, himself, saying that he was extremely angry that this particular package would have been out in the public domain. He also said that he believed that, you know, it could have been a child who could have picked up this particular package and the consequences could have been very severe.

So again, Public Health England have said repeatedly, if you believe that you have come into contact with any foreign body that you are suspicious about wash your clothes. Wipe down your electronic devices with baby wipes and cloth and so on and so forth because it's the long-term effects of repeated exposure to Novichok that they don't yet fully understand and they like to try and avoid to make sure everybody is safe and sound.

I should point out, the metropolitan police, the Department of the Environment, the foreign office and home office have all referred comment tonight to the police which at the moment says being an active investigation they are not commenting on to CNN.

VANIER: All right. Take absolutely no chances if you are in that area. Nina, thank you. Nina Dos Santos, reporting from London, thanks.

Let's head to Southern Europe now to Greece which is waking up to tragedy. At least 74 people have died in the worst wildfires to hit the country in more than a decade. Some who survived had to flee into the sea just to escape the flames. Look at this.

Dozens of rescuers are searching for missing people right now. The prime minister has declared three days of mourning over this tragedy.

Our Melissa Bell joins us from the popular resort village of Mati where much of the damage occurred. Melissa, has the fire been put out yet?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is still raging, but to the west of Athens, not far from Kineta, that continues we're told by the fire brigade this morning. But here in Mati and all around this area, east of Athens, the fires have now been put out and contained.

But this really was one of the worst hit parts of the country, more than half of the victims died here. And in this particular field, Cyril, the greatest tragedy of the wildfire so far unfolded, this is the field in which 26 people sought refuge from the flames as they came down the hill, hoping to make their escape to the sea as so many people had on that terrible night. Even now, Cyril, the ground is hot. It's smoldering in places it is

strewn with the remnants of the living, shoes, mobile phones, keys, the corpses of dogs as well. And the 26 people who were found here, Cyril, were found locked embracing one another. They clung on to one another as the flames engulfed them.

And it is at the end of this field here, Cyril, the door by which they might have escaped, but they failed to find on the night that those fires broke out around Athens.


BELL: Wildfires rage across the hills surrounding Athens, forcing many to jump into the sea to escape the flames. A wall of fire so hot it melts the tires of cars in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I saw fire at the back of the house. After that it came here in the front. It was sheer hell.

BELL: And moving so fast that dozens were trapped as they tried to escape. Some of the victims in Mati to the east of Athens were found clinging to each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, it's true, it seems that some of them, the deceased knew each other because they were found in groups of three and four. So they could be friends or relatives or families who tried to protect themselves by hugging each other.

BELL: In Mati the fire has now been put out and locals like Donis Kountouriotis (Ph) are returning to size up the damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people who were during the fire yesterday, they say that it expands within minutes. And the temperature was so high so nobody could do anything just in this area. As you can see, houses, cars, everything destroyed from the fire. I have lost everything.

BELL: But elsewhere the fires continue to rage as 500 firefighters battle to put out the flames. Hundreds have been evacuated and a state of emergency has been declared. The Greek prime minister has urged people threatened neighborhoods to flee immediately. On Tuesday he declared three days of mourning.

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE (through translator): Now it is a time for mobilization and fighting. The fight to save what can be saved. A fight to defeat the fire. A fight to find the missing so that we don't mourn any more lives and we may soothe the pain of those affected.


[03:09:55] BELL: The events that unfolded in this field, Cyril, the tragic events of these 26 people failing to make it to that door really give us an idea of just how fast, just how ferocious this fire was, and how completely it engulfed, it surrounded this small town, once a haven for holiday makers, now the scene of one of Greece's greatest tragedies.

VANIER: Melissa, I have to say when I look at the picture of desolation behind you, what are the villages going to do?

BELL: Well, a huge amount of reconstruction is going to be needed. There are entire homes of forest areas that have been entirely wiped out by this fire. But that really is for later. For now, this is a town really coming to terms with what went on. It is beginning the grieving process.

But also a certain amount of anger is already bubbling up. You can see it in today's headlines. You can hear it when you speak to locals. There is anger that this kind of thing, these kind of fires which are, after all, regular occurrences in this part of Greece in the summertime, that there had not been better plans to prepare for them.

That this town by its very geography so vulnerable to the sort of tragedy that have unfolded here had not been better protected by local authorities. And that really is the theme of the day, anger, mourning as Greece comes to terms with what happened over the last couple of days.

VANIER: Melissa Bell, reporting from Mati in Greece. Thank you. Now we go to Laos where five people are dead and many more are missing after part of a dam collapsed. Some who survived sought refuge on boats or they climbed to higher ground.

The owners of the dam, which was under construction, say that heavy rain led to the collapse of the dam.

Our Paula Newton reports.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They carry what few possessions they have left as they wade through muddy waters. Villagers pack small boats or climb on rooftops of buildings in an attempt to escape to higher ground.

Several are now feared dead. Hundreds are missing. And more than 6,000 people are now homeless after a hydroelectric dam collapsed in southern Laos according to state media.

The dam was under construction when it buckled releasing five billion cubic meters of water, causing flash flooding in six villages and sweeping away homes. It happened in the southeastern part of the country in an area that had been hit by heavy seasonal rains in recent days.

The company building the dam is working with government officials to help in rescue efforts and investigators are looking into why it collapsed. It's unclear how badly the dam has been damaged or when the water is expected to recede.

Construction of the dam begun in 2013 and it was due to begin operating in the coming months. The new dam was expected to serve a 410 megawatt power plant where 90 percent of the electricity would be exported to neighboring Thailand and just 10 percent of the power used locally. The project cost was an estimated $1 billion.

Paula Newton, CNN.

VANIER: Nikhil Kumar is following the dam collapse from New Delhi. What do we know, Nikhil, about any search and rescue efforts that are going on and the chances of survival of the villagers who disappeared?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Cyril, the latest we had is from the U.N. which has just issued an update just a little while ago. They are saying that as many as 12,000 people, almost 12,000 people have been affected by this disaster, the buckling of this dam in southern Laos.

Thirty people from what we understand are missing, five people, at least five people according to the U.N. have died earlier. Of course, the news agency, state news agency there had said that hundreds are missing.

And you know, this is if you look at the photos coming out, it is still a situation where we are still trying to get a full picture of the extent of the damage.

We know that the disaster occurred late on Monday evening about 8 p.m. We know that as Paula said in her report that something like five billion cubic meters of water was released as a result of this disaster, inundating at least six villages.

And you can see these villages coming out from the area where these entire villages are submerged in the sea of muddy water, people stranded on their rooftop of the structures that you can see just sort of peeking above the water.

And so now the efforts is to get in, to get them water, food and also there's been a call to provide boats so that they can reach these people and bring them out to safety. Cyril?

VANIER: Nikhil, is this tied to all the bad weather that we've seen across the region lately?

KUMAR: So, the electricity company, Cyril, that is responsible for running this dam and as Paula said had been under construction for a number of years now, it's almost complete, it was meant to be fully operational this year, the electricity company says that there is a reservoir that this -- by this dam which was filled to capacity, more than capacity with water because of heavy rainfall in the area in recent days.

And that's what led to this collapse of a section of this dam, and then the water heading down to these villages and flooding this entire area.

[03:15:02] The government there, the prime minister has said that he suspended a regular meeting of his government so that all the efforts and all the attention can be focused on the rescue and relief efforts to, as I say, get in there, get the people out and once again to get full sense of the extent of the damage done in this area. Cyril? VANIER: Nikhil Kumar, reporting live from new Delhi, thank you very

much. Well, keep updating us on the search and rescue efforts throughout the day. Thanks.

And we turn to Japan now where at least 65 people are dead. I was just telling you about that severe weather across Asia. Well, tens of thousands more people are in hospitals in Japan as the country grapples with the persistent and dangerous heat wave.

The region has been sweltering under high temperatures for more than two weeks. And officials warn that there may not be much relief until early next month.

When we come back, we'll monitor voting in Pakistan hours after polls open. Violence mars the election.

Plus, French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to contain the political damage from the scandal involving a former bodyguard.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about what's going to happen in this land if there is an oil spill and the response that's going to come along with it.


VANIER: And conservationists take on the Trump administration in a battle over pristine wildlife refuge in Alaska. Stay with us.


VANIER: Well, there were fears that Pakistan's general election could be a bloody one. And now we are getting reports of more violence. In the run up to the election, a spate of deadly militant attacks frightened many voters. And moments ago, there was another one in Quetta.

Sophia Saifi is in Islamabad. Sophia, what do we know?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Cyril, we're getting reports of this massive blasts that's taken place in a by bust in Quetta in the province of Baluchistan. And we're getting numbers that continue to rise.

So at the moment we have 20 dead with over two dozen injured. And it appears that this number is going to continue to go up.

Now bear in mind, Cyril that, you know, generally in the past two years, Pakistan has seen relatively peaceful times. And it's just last week, only 10 days ago, that we saw a very big suicide attack that took place at a rally in Baluchistan the same province where the attack is taking place today where around 150 people died with ISIS claiming responsibility.

[03:19:58] We're still getting conflicting claims of responsibility right now, but there has been a huge security presence across the country. Three hundred and fifty thousand troops have been deployed. And we were speaking to voters who have come out in the city of Peshawar, for example, in the north and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Everybody said, you know, everybody that we've spoken to, the reporters have spoken to, have said that they're scared. That there was this feeling of fear, there was some trepidation about coming out but they wanted to come out. They wanted to vote to bring about change in the country.

So, you know, there is still quite a bit of time left for polls to close. But looking at what's happening right now in the south, we are also getting reports of an attack, skirmishes in the north between different supporters.

One person died after a political party from the AMP in the north started shooting at their -- you know, at protesters at one specific polling station. So this is kind of unraveling at the moment and we are continuing to monitor to see how it plays out in the hours to come. Cyril?

VANIER: So, could the news of this attack and this violence keep people away from the polls on this crucial election day?

SAIFI: Well, yes, definitely. I mean, there was already a sense of fear. I mean, in the city of Islamabad, for example, we haven't seen a very large turnout. In Karachi, which is the largest city of Pakistan there are considerable cues at the moment.

There are considerable cues in Peshawar in the north, as well in Lahore which is an important city with regards to, you know, the entire election, it being in the province of Punjab where the party of Imran Khan, former cricket rock star as well as the PLMN, which is the party of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is neck to neck.

Now we are fearing that, you know, the situation kind of gets into control, but at the moment, there isn't, you know, a clear sense of what is going to happen in the hours ahead.

VANIER: This is -- this is what many feared would happen, especially given the attacks and the violence that occurred during the campaign. And now we're seeing one on Election Day.

One last thing for you, Sophia. The security of the polling stations, because we know that there had been quite a large military deployment to secure this election.

SAIFI: Yes, we know that there's been a large -- 350,000 military personnel apart from the police personnel and other security forces that have been deployed across the country. You know, there's been very stringent -- we are getting reports there are full body checks that are happening in various polling stations.

Mobile phones are not allowed inside. So there were stringent security measures already in place. But at the moment, like you said earlier, there are just fears that this might prevent voters from coming out. I mean, there are so many hours to go. There are six, seven -- six

hours to go before polls close. This could be extended if voter turnout increases later on in the day.

It's a public holiday inn Pakistan, so, you know, we were expecting a rain storms because it is monsoon season and Pakistan has seen substantial rainfall in the last week. But we've seen clear skies across the country.

That was, you know, a concern, that voters wouldn't come out. But with the security, Cyril, and with the fact that we're seeing these rising numbers in the south and various skirmishes in different parts of the country that might prevent voters from coming out, out of, you know, out of just general fear of being killed really. Cyril?

VANIER: Absolutely. And one can understand why. Sophia Saifi, reporting live from Islamabad, thank you very much.

With his political image on the line, French President Emmanuel Macron is taking the blame for the worst scandal of his young presidency.

This is how it all began. A video of one of his bodyguards beating a protester while posing as a police officer. He had no authority to do this (TECHNICAL PROBLEM).


AGNES POIRIER, AUTHOR, "TOUCHE: A FRENCH WOMAN'S TAKE ON THE ENGLISH": --investigation. So we'll see how, you know, it develops over the weeks. But it's, you know, unacceptable behavior from one individual.

VANIER: Agnes, just to be clear, you say there is hysteria from the opposition over a cover up, but there was a cover up. We know there was because in the days after the video emerged, the Elysee have told us that the, that Alexandre Benalla, the former body guard was no longer working with the president.

And then we saw pictures show that he had been with the president. He had been with the president in early July and then on Bastille Day celebration, and then again when he met with the French World Cup soccer stars. There was a lie. There was a cover up. And it took them almost two months to fire him.

POIRIER: Yes, absolutely. But he was fired, thanks to the investigation of the French newspaper Le Monde. So, you know, it's great when the democracy works well with press that is independent. I mean, you're saying there is a cover up.

Yes, but there are not -- if you lie in the far right and the far left in France, being there is police within the police -- you know, their semantics is extremely flamboyant as you might expect in a way hysterical.

The Elysee Palace tried to hush-up the event. I mean, they took an action, but far too light action, which is this-- (CROSSTALK)

VANIER: I want to ask you one more question--


VANIER: I want to ask you one more question before I have to go. Which is, how this plays into the image of the French president, because he is already seen as the president of the elite and the privileged. So this is just about the worst thing he could have done, given that image he has.

POIRIER: Well, this image is very much about the extreme right and the left want to, you know, to convey. But you are absolutely right. I mean, the problem is he campaign on the platform of normalizing French politics. You know, new blood, new generation. And there is this fear that we're coming back to old antics and that's really is damaging and his popularity is plummeting at the moment.

VANIER: All right. Agnes Poirier, joining us -- Poirier -- from the Brittany Coast in Marlieux in France. Thank you, Agnes.

Only a few days ago we learned about secret recordings between Donald Trump and his former lawyer. Now, CNN has the audio. What the tapes say, and what they could mean for the president, next.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN SHOW HOST: Welcome back to the Newsroom. The headlines today, the British investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy is looking at whether a drop squad planted the nerve agent only for a second hit team to then carry out the attack with it. More vials of Novichok may be hidden in the Salisbury England area after the ex-spy and his daughter became ill. Two others were exposed when they found a bottle containing Novichok. One person died.

In Laos, hundreds of people are missing after a dam under construction collapsed creating a flash flood in six villages. Officials say at least five people have been killed. The owner an electricity company says a smaller dam was intended to hold excess water fractured when it was hit by a heavy rain storm.

The Prime Minister of Greece has declared three days of mourning after at least 74 people were killed in the country's worst wildfires in years. Dozens of rescuers are searching for those who are missing.

Our Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, joins us. He has been monitoring the status of these fire and the weather on how it might affect the blaze in Greece.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Cyril, there is some element of good news to this. The weather pattern here has shifted a little bit, to where the winds are a little calmer. The temperatures are a little bit cooler. There is some wet weather pattern that are changing here to give a little bit of improving forecast. But unfortunately across this region on this time of year, some of these storms come with some what we call dry thunderstorms.

So we get some rain out of them, but really not a significant amount to make much of a difference. And we do see the temps at least cooling off. The big difference there of course, is the firefighting efforts, gives the folks on the ground there at least a little bit of the upper hand.

But you notice the lightning strikes certainly doesn't help and often times with that we have gusty winds that are associated with it as well. So the fire that are in place can be of course, pushed further away and enhanced, the coverage of the area of the fire as well.

When you take a look at the area concern me knowing Athens on that and (inaudible) on Monday, temps as high as 38 degrees. We had four consecutive hours where we had winds as high as 80 kilometers per hour. And again, these storms as they pop up, could once again be a concern there with allowing the fires to really fan out, but we know the rainfall that is required typically the number we look at around half an inch or so, 13 millimeters, what it takes to stop the spreading of wildfires.

And you bump that up to 50 millimeters to in fact put a fire out. Those numbers unfortunately not in the forecast, but again, slightly cooler temperatures at least in store across that region of the world. That is good news there.

Also good news for at least the moment there across portions of Japan where temps also considerably cooler in recent days. From Wednesday into Thursday in Tokyo dropping down into the lower 30's and notice the trend here with some thunderstorms and wet weather for the next couple of days in Tokyo as well. So, Cyril, again, seeing a little change for the better for both Athens and also in Tokyo as well.

VANIER: Pedram, across those two stories today, Tokyo and Athens. Thank you. Pedram Javaheri live from the Weather Center.

To our CNN exclusive now, we have the recording of a private conversation between Donald Trump and his then attorney Michael Cohen. A conversation that took place just weeks before the Presidential election.

[03:35:04] The audio appears to show that Donald Trump was not being honest when he denied knowing about payments related to his alleged affair with a former Playboy model. Michael Cohen once known as the President's fixer secretly recorded that conversation and CNN just obtained it from his attorney.


MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I have spoken to Alan Weiselberg about how to set the whole thing up.


COHEN: Funding, yes. And it's all the stuff, all the stuff because you never know whether that company -- TRUMP: Gets hit by a --

COHEN: Correct. So I am all over that. And I spoke to Alan about it when it comes time for the financing which will be --

TRUMP: Listen. What financing?

COHEN: We'll have to pay --

TRUMP: Pay cash.

COHEN: No, no, no, I got -- no, no, no.


VANIER: The audio quality isn't perfect. You heard that, the precise words that were said are still a matter of debate. Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Guiliani says that the recording helps their case and helps his client Donald Trump, because there is no immediate indication of any crime being committed.

Areva Martin is with me. Areva, this -- honestly, there is a lot I don't understand here, so help me out. Donald Trump and Michael Cohen are talking about buying the rights to the story of Karen McDougal. That now famous or infamous Playboy model. And they are talking about how they are going to do it, how they are going to proceed. Is there any legal exposure there for the President?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Cyril, not in what we heard in that brief tape that was played tonight on Chris's show. What we hear is an effort by Trump and Cohen to determine how they can set up a company, perhaps, how they can use either cash or check to finance, to get the funds necessary to buy this contract that AMI, he has entered into with Karen McDougal for her story, her story being that she had an extra marital affair with Donald Trump.

So, no crime per se in what we've heard, but we have to keep in mind this tape is -- has to be viewed in the context of other information, over evidence that hasn't been revealed as of yet. So, although Rudy Giuliani is saying that this vindicates the President, I think he is over speaking when he makes that claim, because we don't know what other evidence exists.

We do know this tape confirms that Donald Trump through Hope Hicks was lying. He wasn't telling the truth when he said he had no knowledge about Karen McDougal being paid, you know, to be silent about an affair that she claims that they had for over ten months. So if nothing else, this tape shows that the President misrepresented the facts about what he knew about the Karen McDougal payment and contract with AMI, and it raises real questions about what this whole issue has been in terms of campaign finance violations.

Although in the tape, there is no statement like we have to suppress this information before the election, or we can't let this get out before the election. There is conversation in the tape about the fact that there is some divorce issues with Donald Trump and his first wife and they need to, you know, make sure that doesn't come out for the next couple of months.

VANIER: Yes, they talk about the fact at the time "The New York Times" had petition to get the paperwork for Donald Trump's divorce with his previous wife Ivanna Trump. But when Lanny Davis, the lawyer for Michael Cohen who released this tape to us at CNN, when he went on Chris Cuomo's show earlier a couple hours ago, he made a huge deal out of the fact that Donald Trump uses the word cash. He says cash when they're talking about payments to buy the rights of the story. Now we can't quite make out with it whether he is saying use cash or don't use cash. The negative is probably going to end up being crucial. But at the end of the day, what does it matter if they had bought the rights of the story in cash or using a check?

MARTIN: Well, you know, Cyril, Lanny Davis says only mobsters and drug dealers talk about using cash. I don't think the real issue in this case is about cash or financing or use of a check. I think the bigger issue here is what else was Donald Trump engaged in? How many other agreements like this was he attempting to purchase? Was he doing this for the purpose of trying to silence someone like Karen McDougal or perhaps other women leading up to the campaign?

I think those are some of the bigger issues that Robert Mueller and his team are going to be looking at to determine was there some crime committed. We know that Rudy Giuliani thinks that this, again, somehow vindicates the President. I don't know as a lawyer why they would want to release this tape, why Trump and his team waived privilege and released this tape, but we do know that because Lanny Davis went on Chris's show tonight, there's been a reset button set by Michael Cohen and his team.

[03:40:12] Clearly this, you know, I'll be loyal to the President until I die, I'll take a bullet for him, all that has changed and Michael Cohen now is coming out saying he wants to tell the truth. So hopefully this is just the beginning. And if he has other information that is pertinent to what was going on with Donald Trump leading up to the election, he will come forward and share that information to the American public.

VANIER: Ultimately, I do want to remind our viewers, ultimately there was no payment made. And that tape sure they are discussing potentially buying the rights to that Karen McDougal story of the alleged affair and created the company which was supposed to make the payment for those rights, but ultimately they didn't make the payment, didn't buy them. All right, Areva Martin, thank you for joining us.

MARTIN: Thank you, Cyril.

VANIER: Outrage and fear in China vaccines used by hundreds of thousands of children have been found to be defective. Parents want answers and so do China's most powerful leaders. Stay with us.


VANIER: A human rights group says at least 300 people have been killed in violence in Nicaragua since mid-April. Protesters originally came out against the pension reform plan which has since been dropped by the government, but the demonstrations spread quickly as did the violent government crackdown. Protesters are waging abroad anticorruption campaign against President Daniel Ortega and his wife who is Vice-President of the country.

Outrage across China after it was revealed hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccine for children are defective. Five senior executives of the manufacturer are now in custody along with ten others, but the scandal may not be limited to that one company. CNN's Matt Rivers is with us in Beijing. We will want to know who is to blame for this, Matt, but first we have to know how many people have been affected.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And that is something that I think we are still trying to figure out the total numbers here. I mean, we know the number of vaccines found to be faulty that were given out were in the hundreds of thousands and so how many were there two vaccines given to each kid? Does that lower the number of it? We also know that there is evidence some of these vaccines made their way to other countries like certain countries in Africa, for example.

[03:45:01] So, we're still trying to figure out exactly how many people were affected here, but we are talking about a massive number of people. And the other big outstanding question here is, when we say faulty vaccine, what does that actually mean? And the government hasn't really said at least officially so far. So if we don't know what's wrong with the vaccine, then we and more importantly the parents of those children who received these vaccines don't know what, if any, health effects, negative health effects could be facing their children down the road.

So that is what the investigation I think is focusing on now by the government. We know that around 15 people associated with the company that made these vaccines have been criminally detained at this point. No charges have been officially filed, but it seems this investigation is well underway, but there are still a lot more questions than answers and that is part of the reason, Cyril, why things are so tense right now for parents in China.

VANIER: OK. So who is to blame and how high does this go?

RIVERS: I think you're going to squarely point your finger at the company itself. Apparently the way they were able to do this was to falsify records for a long period of time and to try and get around regulators looking at them. Why they were doing this? Well, perhaps it was for financial gain is what the thought is.

But then, I think the other thing you have to look at is the regulators. There are investigations ongoing in to alleged connections between local regulators whose job it is to oversee these vaccines producers and the company itself. So, I think you're going to have dual complicity here in the end. The company probably first and foremost, but also the regulators who were lax at best in their jobs.

VANIER: Look, the Chinese leadership really does not want to publicize this, doesn't want this to get out. You got firsthand knowledge of this, this morning.

RIVERS: Yes, you know, it's interesting. Any time there is a big public outcry like this, you know that the political leaders here in China worry about social and political unrest. So, Xi Jinping, the President has come out and said, you know, we're going to investigate this, it's vile and he said they're going to talk and be transparent. But at the same time, you've got social media post where much of this outcry from the public has gone.

They are being regularly deleted on Chinese internet. And it shows you the government censors are really working quite hard to tamp down this public outcry. I don't really think it is working. But you know, just another example of CNN's signal has been getting cut all day. The second we start talking about censorship and the fact that the government doesn't want people taking about this, well, we get cut ourselves. So, we're seeing it, but more importantly the public is seeing it when they are justifiably talking about a public health crisis out in the open, the government just doesn't want them to.

VANIER: Well, we'll keep talking about it. Hundreds of thousands of dozens of defective vaccines. Matt Rivers reporting live from Beijing. Thank you.

For the first time in almost four years, Israel has shot down a Syrian fighter jet. The rare military confrontation is raising fears that it could escalate hostilities near the Golan Heights. Details now from our Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem.


OREN LEIBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet and it says entered Israeli air space on Tuesday afternoon. Israeli military saw the jet entered about two kilometers or one mile into the air space when Israel launch two patriot missile to intercept the fighter jet.

The jet was shot down over Syrian territory in the southern part of the country. Israel said there had been increase activity on the part of the Syrian forces all day in southern Syria and in recent days including the Syrian air force. The Syrian regime has been trying to take back one of the last areas of southern Syria outside of its control, an area held by an ISIS affiliate.

Syria says its jet had been conducting operations against terrorist groups when it was shot down. Israel says the fighter jet was at a Sukhoi coy 22 or Sukhoi 24. Both are Russian made jets developed in the 60s and '70s. Before firing at the jet, Israeli military made sure it was in fact operated by Syrian air force and not the Russians who have been working with the Syrians in that region. Israel insists it's sticking to its policy of not getting involved in the Syrian civil war, but it will not tolerate violations of its sovereignty or of its air space.

Now to give you an idea of how rare this is, the last time Israel downed a Syrian fighter jet was back in September 2014 under very similar circumstances. A Syrian jet entered one mile into Israeli air space when it was shot down by a single patriot missile. In February the reverse happened. Syria shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet which was conducting airstrikes in Syria after the Israeli military said an Iranian drone crossed into Israel. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


VANIER: And drilling for oil in Alaska, specifically in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When we come back, the emotional issue pitting neighbor against neighbor in places where wildlife has been protected for decades.


VANIER: President Trump's plan to open up America's last big wilderness too dig oil. Can you fight climate change and support more drilling at the same time? It's a question that many are asking about millions of pristine acres which makeups the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Here's Bill Weir.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a little Hamlett of Alaska, the only village inside the arctic national wildlife refuge, there are three topics of conversation most days. Polar bears, the weather, and Donald Trump.

Are you a fan of President Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he does good things. He does bad things. I'm grateful that he got that bill passed.

WEIR: December's tax cut bill also opened the arctic refuge to drilling and the government is now moving fast to lease 800,000 acres on this pristine coastal plain. This is where the last great Caribou herds give birth. A place griming with life and beauty made it all the more fragile by the staggering rise in Arctic temperature.

Do you believe in climate change? Do you think it exist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here there is a cooling and there is heating. The icecaps are going to melt, they would be gone by now, but now they are setting records.

WEIR: That is the exact opposite of the truth. In this time lapse of NASA satellite data clearly shows how the relentless burning of fossil fuels is melting the arctic at a record pace. Including the oldest thickest ice seen here in white.

Which is why more and more emaciated Nanuk are wondering into town. They need sea ice to make dams and hunt seals and without it, whale scrap are the next best thing. But skinny hungry polar bears are not the only warnings side up here. That is Kaktovik air pore and they are moving it away from the coast due in part to sea level rise.

They are seeing more and more freakish rain storms in the winter and blizzards in the summer, but at the same time all the modern creature comforts in this town from the clinic to the school were paid for with oil money. And with the promise of fresh millions for their native corporation, most of the folks here are eager to tap into the one product that is changing their land forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We go whaling, for gas and oil. What do we use to hunt caribou? We used gas and oil. We have this right on our land.

WEIR: A so-called scoping meeting with federal officials raise bear with just how emotionally divisive the issue has become.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Think about what was going to happen to this land if there is an oil spill and the response that is going to come along with it.

WEIR: Thank you for that message. May I ask where you are from?

That loaded question and the tension in the room shows how much resentment there is for outsiders who want to protect the refuge. And to the Inupiaq here on the coast, those environmental rivals include the (inaudible) tribe up in the mountains. Folks fiercely opposed to drilling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The oil companies. We've told them our position our culture, our spirituality, our traditional way of life is based on the caribou and we're not willing to give it up.

WEIR: They have the moral high ground. Trying to preserve their culture and the people who are pro-oil are doing it for money.

Back in Kaktovik, Robert Thompson is known as the local anti-drilling gad fly, a wildlife guide who carries a revolver just in case that skinny polar bear gets grouchy.

[03:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gun is more powerful than Dirty Harry's gun.

WEIR: He points out that the native owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is worth billions. Thanks to royalties from other drilling sites, but that wealth does not trickle down. And his neighbors here believe tapping the refuge will finally bring the wealth and respect they deserve.

There are a lot of people in Chicago or Dallas or Iowa who believe this is their land, too. It is a national wildlife refuge, like a national park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but they don't want it to keep it pure. But they will never set foot here.

I don't think it is right for them to be able to tell us what we can and cannot do with our own land. You know, we're the best stewards of our land.

WEIR: That is the kind of local support pro drilling lawmakers like Lisa Murkowski love to highlight. The senator is a driving force behind opening Anwar and she insists that wildlife won't be harmed. Despite our numerous requests, she refused to be interviewed. One reason may be that unlike the President, she is one Republican who believes in manmade climate change, but wants her state to keep drilling regardless.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this will happen here, it would just destroy the entire place.

WEIR: Up at the refuge, photographer Florence is one outsider who has spent years here capturing the magic of this place. And he hopes everyone including the good folks of Kaktovik, will take the long view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm using resources. I am driving a car, but I feel we need to think in new ways. We need to think in new technologies and stay with the value of keeping wild landscapes because once they're gone, they're gone.


VANIER: All right. Well, we're almost done for the day, but I could not wrap this up without showing you this video. A fisherman in Taiwan couldn't quite believe it when he saw this happen.




VANIER: So, he is watching thousands of sardines leaping out of the water trying to land on his boat. His theory is, and I don't know if we actually know the definitive facts on this. But the fisherman said, the sardines where being chased by a larger fish. That is the facts as they were presented to us. A larger fish causing this. Who knows? Thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier. The news continues with Max Foster in London. Stay with us.