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California Wildfires; Flooding in India and Laos; Cohen's Public Breakup with Trump; Cyber Experts on High Alert for Hacking; Palestinian Teen Leaves Israeli Prison; Putin Attends Navy Parade; Pakistan Election; Trump versus the Truth. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired July 29, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The new normal, that's what the governor of California calls the deadly wildfires in California. Even Yosemite has been evacuated for the first time in decades.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus, the contradictory statements on Cohen. President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani flip- flops on Cohen, calling him an honest man at one point, now calling him a liar.
ALLEN (voice-over): Also coming ahead this hour, Israel releases a Palestinian teenager from prison, a girl who has become a symbol for resistance. We'll have a live report for you.
HOWELL (voice-over): And we are live at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. We welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: At 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, we start in Northern California, a wildfire there continuing to burn out of control, destroying everything in its path and, now we know, claiming more lives.
Two children and their great-grandmother were not able to escape the fire when it overtook their homes on Thursday night. We understand the death toll now stands at five people who were killed.
ALLEN: Two people who died were fighting these fires. This is the Carr fire. It burned nearly 33,000 hectares, more than 80,000 acres, just one of several fires in California. President Trump has declared an emergency in the state to allow more federal assistance.
And you can see the scale of the fires from the sky. This, a view from an airplane; that's not clouds, that's smoke. And also this is from the top of a building in Redding, California, a smoky orange sky as far as you can see. Gives you an idea of what they're dealing with. High temperatures and
erratic winds in the area are fueling the flames and it doesn't seem to be about to stop anytime so.
Dan Simon has been following the story for us in Shasta County, California, and filed this report for us.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We now have the first confirmed civilian deaths associated with this fire, 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her two great-grandchildren, 5-year-old Emily Roberts and her brother, 4-year-old James Roberts.
They were in a house and were unable to leave as the flames raced through their neighborhood. We're told by a family member that Bledsoe called her husband at work to say that the fire was getting close and he needed to come back as soon as he could. That was the last anyone had ever heard from them.
The family checked hospitals. They checked evacuation centers and then late this afternoon they got word that the bodies had been recovered.
In the meantime, you can see where we are. This is called the Keswick Estates subdivision. If you look around, you can see that nothing is left. Whole neighborhoods have disappeared as a result of this fire.
Unfortunately, in terms of the outlook over the next few days, things do not appear to be getting better. This fire is just 5 percent contained, the weather remains hot, triple-digit temperatures today and over the next several days. Humidity is low.
And then at night the wind really gets going. And so firefighters fear that there could be more destruction -- Dan Simon, CNN, Keswick, California.
ALLEN: Tens of thousands of people have already evacuated their homes. Earlier, officials warned anyone in the area to leave while they still could, to help avoid putting themselves and firefighters in danger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important, when people receive an evacuation notice, that they are prepared and ready, to have their belongings, their important paper, artifacts and belongings ready to go.
And then be set, have your car full of gas, have those medications ready, have that cell phone and cell phone charger ready with you and then, when you receive that notification, is to go.
The worst thing that happens is people refuse to leave and then the fire is coming and then firefighters are placing themselves in harm's way, in danger, to do a rescue.
We saw that happening in this fire, where a firefighter was going in, did a rescue and the windows in the vehicle were literally blown out or all damaged and he was able to perform that rescue but definitely putting himself in harm's way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Thousands of firefighters are working around the clock trying to contain this fire. A few seen here taking a break after fighting the fire. Our Paul Vercammen drove through areas where firefighters saved some structures from destruction and has more.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the road leading toward Igo, a small town west of Redding. And look around at the --
VERCAMMEN: -- charred landscape. You can see where the Carr fire came roaring through here, burning most everything in its path. But firefighters successfully had some great moments, where they saved structures.
You see off in the distance on top of the hill, everything else is burned but that structure is still standing. And the landscape is just barren. Look at the remnants of trees. They're just like burned-up matchsticks now, pointing toward the sky.
ALLEN: Brian Rice is president of California Professional Firefighters. He joins us via Skype from Santa Cruz.
Brian, thank you so much for joining us. We know this is a terrifically tense and troubling time for the people you represent. Thank you so much.
I was reading something that you said about how intense these fires are. And we have some video that you provided that shows a structure going up in flames. And you can appreciate what these fires are bringing to this region.
What is the latest that you can tell us as we look at this video?
BRIAN RICE, CALIFORNIA PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS: We know that the fire made a very strong and erratic push Thursday night and then into Friday, the pictures that you're looking at are taking -- were taken during that time period.
You're seeing a lot of different things from accessing the area, either behind the fire or ahead of the fire and then also, you know, some of the homes and the buildings, the standing fuels that are going.
You'll see, also in there, you can see just how much blowing embers and ash there is and what a problem that causes for spotting. I think a viewer can get a sense of the tremendous amount of heat that the firefighters are facing, not just the temperatures.
And the daytime temperatures in the Redding area are in excess of 105 and closer to 110 degrees. And it -- that is taxing to the firefighters let alone the heat that the fire generates and all that plays into the fire behavior.
And I talked to many veteran firefighters in the wildland arena (ph) and I've heard almost verbatim from every one of them that the fire behavior that they witnessed and experienced on Thursday evening into Friday morning, they had never seen before.
And these are men and women that have many, many years of experience and training under their belts.
ALLEN: Climate change is making an impact. I was reading here, since 2012, there has not been a month without a wildfire burning in the state and the governor has called this a new normal. This is a completely different situation that anyone is trained for.
I know we have some more video that you have also supplied to us, to show firefighters going down a highway and you see flames on both sides of the highway.
The question is, how do you sustain this?
How do these brave men and women work in these conditions?
And, you know, we're looking at a huge swath of the state. These aren't just small pockets.
RICE: No, no, they're not, Natalie. In fact there is two other fires in the Mendocino area and Lake County areas that have just sparked up today, that are causing a lot of concern.
But the video you're seeing, what you're -- those are highly trained men and women. The equipment that they have, both the personal protective gear and the fire apparatus, are -- it is all designed to accomplish one goal and that is to suppress the fire and protect our watershed and protect our citizens.
And I can tell you that, if you and I were caught out on that road that we're watching, the firefighters working through, and it was you and I, we were trying to escape, our chances of surviving would be very little.
ALLEN: It is terrifying to think that there are actually people working in these conditions and driving through these conditions. In fact, I have a quote here from the Redding police chief that says, "This fire is scary to us, this is something we haven't seen before in the city." And I just have to say, our thoughts are with all of the people that
are working in this situation. Unprecedented times and situations that no one could actually be prepared for. But they certainly are brave and I know the people there in California appreciate their work so much.
Brian Rice, we thank you so much for your time and we hopefully will talk with you again and, hopefully, things will get better before they get worse. Thank you.
RICE: Thank you, Natalie. Good night.
ALLEN: Just so many fires in California right now.
ALLEN: Another story we're following here, at least 10 people were killed when a strong earthquake struck an Indonesian island east of Bali and not far from a volcano. As you can see in the video here, rescue teams are searching for survivors.
Local officials say a citizen of Malaysia is among those killed. The magnitude 6.4 earthquake caused significant damage. Tourists and residents in Bali say they felt the shaking. Happy to report, no tsunami advisories issued.
HOWELL: The latest now on a tropical storm that hit Japan, threatening areas hit by deadly flooding a few weeks ago. Jongdari was downgraded from typhoon status after it made landfall on Saturday.
ALLEN: Still some 37,000 people in the Hiroshima prefecture have been ordered to get to a safe location because of concerns about landslides and river flooding. Train services and flights were canceled as this storm approached.
Next here, long-time Trump confidant Michael Cohen has made a clean break from his boss. We'll discuss why he's perhaps doing that and what risk it could pose to the president ahead here.
HOWELL: Plus, in a delicate time for relations between Russia and the West, Russian president Vladimir Putin reminds the world of his country's military strength and CNN is live in St. Petersburg following the story. Stay with us.
(MUSIC PLAYING) ALLEN: The dramatic falling-out between President Trump and his long- time attorney Michael Cohen now appears irreversible. One of Mr. Trump's lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, says the president's legal team and Cohen's legal team have stopped sharing information.
That includes documents and witness interviews.
HOWELL: That is important. In the meantime, the president is spending the weekend away from the white-hot glare of Washington. Our Boris Sanchez explains it all.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was supposed to be a positive week for the White House following the president's announcement on Friday of strong economic numbers symbolizing the growth of America's economy and his announcement of a recent deal struck with the European Union.
Instead the focus, as it often has been, is on the Russia investigation and the president and his team's dramatic shift on his former attorney, Michael Cohen, after reporting that Cohen was preparing to tell Robert Mueller and other investigators that the president was aware of a meeting between his son and other campaign officials and Russians, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, at Trump Tower during July 2016.
Early on, after the FBI raided the apartment and office of Michael Cohen, the president and his legal team defended Cohen, Rudy Giuliani calling him an honorable man. Now they are singing a very different tune. Listen to these two sound bites from the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He doesn't have any incriminating evidence about the president or himself. The man is an honest, honorable lawyer.
I expected something like this from Cohen. He's been lying all week, I mean, or for -- he's been lying for years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: President Trump himself tweeting on Friday, suggesting that Cohen was making up stories in order to lessen the weight of the legal burden that he is facing, potentially, in part, because of his taxi cab business. Aides tell CNN that they have tried to pack President Trump's schedule with travel, trying to get him to focus on the economy and not the steady drip of information coming from the Russia investigation.
But of course this has been a cloud hanging over the administration, one that President Trump apparently is unable to avoid -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president, near Bedminster, New Jersey. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HOWELL: The drip of these investigations continues. Boris, thank you.
In the meantime, the midterm elections here in the U.S. just three months away and the outcome could dramatically alter the balance of power in Congress and directly impact the Trump presidency.
ALLEN: And there is growing concern Russian hackers, yes, talking about that again, are targeting some campaigns in a renewed effort to disrupt and undermine American democracy. For more about it, CNN's Alex Marquardt has our story.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing growing criticism, he hasn't focused enough on the election's cyber security threat from Russia, the president today met with his national security team in the White House situation room to discuss election interference. So far, the administration, vague on the details.
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Just rest assured there are actions under way to protect our elections or to expose any external, any -- by anybody, external efforts to influence the American public, to show false news, that sort of thing.
MARQUARDT: It comes as Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill accuses Russian operatives of trying to hack into her office last year, saying in a statement, "While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can --
MARQUEZ (voice-over): -- "get away with this. I will not be intimidated.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully."
McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for re- election this year. A senior Microsoft executive confirmed that three 2018 candidates have been targeted by the same group of Russian intelligence operatives who targeted Democrats in 2016.
TOM BURT, VICE PRESIDENT OF CUSTOMER SECURITY, MICROSOFT: They were all people who, because of their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint as well as an election disruption standpoint.
MARQUARDT: The hackers used fake Microsoft pages in so-called phishing attacks. The company is on high alert for similar pages, which they say they'd take down when discovered. It's the campaigns rather than the voting systems that are among the most vulnerable systems. ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: I think the fact of the matter is that campaign staffers are just never going to be able to get to the level of these adversaries and stare them down. We're talking about the most sophisticated cyber operators in the world: Russian intelligence, the Iranians and the North Koreans.
MARQUARDT: The Trump administration has come under fire for not announcing a comprehensive coordinated plan to thwart cyber threats.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I think it's an embarrassment that this White House has not made election security a top priority and has not put the kind of attention and focus on it that we need.
MARQUARDT: In May, the cyber coordinator role on the National Security Council was eliminated as top intelligence officials are sounding the alarm, comparing the current state of danger to the months before the 9/11 attacks.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red, again. Today the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.
MARQUARDT: The Department of Homeland Security oversees the defense of the country's voting infrastructure. But on offense, it's less clear, with the NSA, FBI and military all taking leading roles.
MOOK: We really need more connective tissue between people gathering intelligence, people doing law enforcement and people charged with protecting our different assets in the digital realm.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Alex Marquardt, CNN, New York.
HOWELL: Let's talk about this now with Steven Erlanger, the chief diplomatic correspondent for "The New York Times," live from Brussels, Belgium.
A pleasure to have you on the show as always. So when it comes to this issue of cyber security, we've heard from the president before. Either it becomes a political issue or an issue that it seems that he feels undermines his presidency.
But given the pressure that we're seeing now, do you think there might be something the Trump administration will do on this topic?
Is the pressure mounting?
STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think the government itself is doing quite a few things to protect the democratic process from Russian interference, from anyone's interference.
People have been working on beefing up security for voting machines, for lots of things. They worry more about voter registration, easier perhaps to manipulate. But the point this time is that, having experienced it once, people are much more aware of what might happen this time.
So I think the fences are up, even without a big push from the actual White House itself. As you know, you know, elections are pretty much state affairs. And so, to a large degree, this is the responsibility of the states.
But forewarned is forearmed. And I think there is a lot that has happened here. In Germany, too, in the last year, having, you know, watched what happened in the American and French elections, the Germans were, you know, much more aware of Russian efforts to meddle with their elections.
So it is a battle. It is true that Dan Coats said things are blinking red but they're always blinking red. We're under cyber attack, people are trying to get into our systems all the time.
We've just had a story that the Russians seem to be more engaged now in getting into America's electricity grids and power grids than into the electoral system. And no one is sure what the point of that is. Maybe it is just to show that they can do it or they can try to do it.
But this is what they did in Ukraine a couple of years ago and actually shut down the electricity grid for some time. So there are efforts going on. Chinese are trying to get in, to steal intelligence and industrial secrets. This is a big problem generally, I think.
ALLEN: It is. It's interesting that you brought up that Russians are alive and well, hacking into our systems and even our power grid. We have been covering Vladimir Putin right now, showing off his military might in Russia.
It's such a contrast, isn't it, between the -- seeing President Trump and Vladimir --
ALLEN: -- Putin making friendships and inviting each other over and, at the same time, look at what we're talking about, look what's going on. It is odd to say the least.
ERLANGER: Well, it is. And, of course, you know, Russia is trying very much to assert its power, to tell the world it is back again, that the weak Russia is gone and this Russia, despite its demographic decline, despite its overdependence on energy exports, despite its GDP, which is no bigger than that of Sweden right now, but militarily it is a nuclear power.
It has modernized its rockets, the airplanes and it is showing off now it is modernizing its fleet. It intends to show that it can push power, that it can move troops, that it can be a very important regional player.
But I think it is an important sign to China, too, by the way, that Russia is not militarily in decline, can't be pushed around. I think if Russia has concerns, it is more about China than it is about the United States.
ALLEN: Steven Erlanger, we appreciate your insights. Thank you for giving us the time.
ERLANGER: Thank you.
HOWELL: Thank you.
ALLEN: We just mentioned Vladimir Putin showing his military might. He's doing that right now. Fred Pleitgen is there. We'll talk with him about what is going on in St. Petersburg, coming up here.
HOWELL: Plus, a hero to Palestinians and a criminal to Israeli authorities. What teenager Ahed Tamimi is saying now that she is out of an Israeli prison.
HOWELL: Good morning. Coast to coast across the United States and to our viewers around the world, this hour, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are the top stories.
ALLEN: A 17-year-old Palestinian girl is out of prison in Israel. You might have heard about her by now. Her name is Ahed Tamimi. And she's now back in the West Bank after being released from a prison in Israel. In a brief statement to the media, she was defiant, saying the resistance continues.
HOWELL: Tamimi was jailed late last year after she was filmed kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier. The incident occurred after a soldier allegedly wounded her 15-year-old cousin, shooting him in the head with a rubber bullet.
Israeli officials have challenged that account. Tamimi's actions made her a hero to many Palestinians. Israeli authorities changed her with a list of offenses, including assault.
ALLEN: CNN's Oren Liebermann is following the story for us. He joins us live from Jerusalem.
So she is out of prison. Many have criticized Israel for jailing a teenager, for slapping the soldier, after what happened. And she is out and she's had something to say.
What can you tell us? OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. She was released early this morning from a prison in Central Israel. She was taken to a West Bank crossing and then to her home village of Nabi Salih, that is where she was greeted as a hero by dozens of her supporters, waving Palestinian flags, chanting slogans and essentially lining up to hug her.
You mentioned she's a hero, she's beyond that. She's a symbol and her fame, it seems, is only growing. She came to worldwide attention back in 2012, when a picture of her holding up her fist to an Israeli soldier went viral.
This trial, this case, which has become a lightning rod for criticism of the Israeli military, the military court system and its treatment of Palestinian youth, has only served to increase her fame.
Her lawyer speaking to CNN a short time ago said the entire case was political and wasn't based on legal issues.
She was in jail for eight months and then struck a plea deal in March with prosecutors, pleading guilty to counts of incitement and disrupting a soldier; notably, eight of the 12 charges against her were dropped.
She served five more months, having already served three months of her sentence, and then released again, as I said, to a hero's welcome.
After stopping at her village, she made a short statement, saying, "From our home, the resistance is continuing until the end of the occupation."
Then she went to Ramallah, the presidential compound, where she visited the grave of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and paid her respects there. She's made her way back to her home village, where she'll address the media, holding a press conference in just a few hours -- Natalie and George.
ALLEN: What is it about her vigor, her passion, that has her in the spotlight like this?
She is a tough girl, what she did. Of course, she -- you shouldn't slap a soldier, I want to make that point as well.
LIEBERMANN: Tough girl seems to be a bit of an understatement. Her family is well known as activists, that during weekly protests film it. And that has led to her fame. The 2012 picture of her holding up her fist to an Israeli soldier rocketed her to stardom and that path continued, as her name continued to be out there.
Part of it is the fact she was 16 years old when she was arrested and already famous, meaning it was that much easier to pick up on her story of being arrested as a teenager, as a youth in Israel's military court system. There were questions from the very beginning about, should she have served --
[05:35:00] LIEBERMANN: -- eight months in prison for slapping a soldier, especially after the -- another soldier allegedly had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet, injuring him. All of that made the case more volatile, more polarizing and made her more famous.
Interestingly, we haven't seen any response from the Israelis since her release, since this morning. Perhaps Israeli officials would rather see this case move on quietly. That's what it seems like right now. But given her fame, given the statement she is about to make, it doesn't seem like this is going quietly at all.
ALLEN: Not at all. We'll wait and see what she has to say. Oren Liebermann, covering it for us, thank you.
HOWELL: Russia is putting on a show of military strength, a spectacle that has geopolitical significance. Moscow kicking off the international army games and its Navy Day, which is a public holiday.
ALLEN: Moments ago, you just saw him, President Vladimir Putin inspected some of Russia's newest equipment, designed to challenge the United States and NATO. The showcase is also sending a clear message to Russia's allies and its foes.
HOWELL: Following the story live, our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is in St. Petersburg, by phone.
Fred, this is a show of force; from what we have seen, certainly meant for two audiences, for there in Russia and abroad.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George, I'm just a couple of feet away from where Vladimir Putin gave his speech. It is a show of force, for Russia's domestic audience and to show how strong the military has become.
It was in a lot of trouble, especially in the early 2000s. We see Russia's military continuously be upgraded over the past couple of years, especially, I would say, since about 2007, 2008, until this show here, this parade for the Navy Day, is one that is certainly meant to showcase some of the new ships that Russia that in its arsenal.
In his speech, Vladimir Putin said the navy has helped Russia achieve what he called parity. That is aimed at the United States with its much bigger Navy but the Russians obviously think they have a big naval force now once again as well.
To see some of the things they were showcasing here, they have a huge spyship that is obviously aimed at operations of NATO, especially in the Baltic Sea. They have a news stealth frigate they had on display here as well, which they had a lot of trouble launching but now seems to be operational, at least that's what they say.
They had a submarine they called the carrier killer, also here. The Russians clearly sending a very clear message that, while Vladimir Putin is talking about disarmament with President Trump and those two leaders seem to be getting along, despite all the troubles between the U.S. and Russia, the Russians saying their military is that strong and as lethal as it has been since the end of the Cold War.
HOWELL: Fred, several assets on display. Also noteworthy to point out an asset missing from the lineup.
PLEITGEN: One of the flagships of the navy, which is the only aircraft carrier that Russia has in its arsenal, it was seen in operation last year, outside of Syria. One thing that I think the Russians noticed there, that they certainly had to acknowledge, they were having some trouble --
PLEITGEN: -- that ship and with the operations of that ship as well. There were some planes that crashed upon takeoff from that ship and tried to get back. That was certainly a big thing that really led to questions about the effectivity (sic) when it is in real combat operation.
It is currently undergoing a period of getting some upgrades, it is going to take seven months. That's after one deployment. So there are some questions about that ship. And you're right. It is notably absent from this very large and (INAUDIBLE) sea parade that took place here in St. Petersburg today -- George.
HOWELL: Following the story, CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, live by phone in St. Petersburg, thank you.
ALLEN: A former cricket star is set to be Pakistan's next prime minister. Ahead here, a look at Imran Khan's controversial rise to power.
HOWELL: Polls closed in Cambodia last hour as an election some critics call a sham concluded. The prime minister, Asia's longest serving leader, appears set to secure another term after more than three decades in power.
ALLEN: His government has dissolved the main opposition party, dissolved it, and has launched a crackdown on independent media.
Meantime, China has emerged as a key economic supporter of his government.
Looks more like Imran Khan will be Pakistan's next prime minister. Election officials say his party won the most seats in the general election this week. Khan declared victory days ago but he does not have an outright majority. He will need allies to form a coalition and that could be tricky. HOWELL: Khan is a national hero from his cricket days but many of his rivals say the vote was fixed. That's in part because he's seen as the military's favorite candidate. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has a look at Khan's rise to power.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An historic height in an extraordinary journey. Cricket star turned socialite turned political firebrand. Imran Khan is close to becoming Pakistan's new prime minister after a bitterly fought election that have turned Pakistan's tightly controlled political older.
And casting the sporting icon as sometimes anti-American force for change. Born into a wealthy family in Lahore, Khan soon discovered his gifts as a fast bowler leading Pakistan to its first and only Cricket World Cup victory in 1992.
And Khan to become a national hero in a country where Cricket is always worshiped and politicians often reviles. He retired from support and after a spell as international playboy, he married his first wife, wealthy London socialite, Jomana Khan.
A family man, he raised money for charities, one, building a cancer hospital in his home city, Lahore. But back in the turmoil and injustice of '90s, Pakistan, his political ambitions grew.
Founding a new party, the Pakistan Movement for Justice, his central pitch, to end corruption among the country's ruling elite. Pakistani politics has few umpires or rules, though, and is often marred by violence and coups.
He was briefly arrested in 2007 --
WALSH (voice-over): -- for criticizing military leader, General Pervez Musharraf and just a month later, a political rival, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on the campaign trail.
But still Khan kept his sights on the premiership. By 2013, he could martial huge crowds and win the vote in one Pakistani province.
He remained a distant third however nationwide. His conservatism grew as well religious, panning American interference and favoring Pakistan's drastic and sometimes brutal blasphemy laws this year.
He rode a populist wave promising to fight for equality and get tough on terror. His vision he says is for a new Pakistan. What that means, his critics do not know.
ZAHID HUSSAIN, JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) what really he wants to do. He wants to change the system, but nobody knows exactly what kind of change would it be.
WALSH: His supporters think any change is good. NIMRA HAUREEN, PTI SUPPORTER (through translator): We are supporting Imran Khan because he promised to stop corruption in Pakistan. We are hopeful that we will have a better future and our children will have a better future.
FALVIRA JAVI, PTI SUPPORTER (through translator): This is the first time anyone has treated us as human beings. That we have rights too. Somebody is finally saying we also need medicine and education and other things.
WALSH: This is just the first innings. He'll need to form a stable government, handle a looming economic crisis and navigate the powerful army, who really decide the winners in Pakistani politics and may still be unsure about this charismatic reformist outsider -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Islamabad.
HOWELL: Still ahead, the U.S. president's tricky past with the truth. It has been a lifelong habit that has followed him all the way to the Oval Office. We'll have a story on that. Stay with us.
ALLEN: Since becoming U.S. president, Donald Trump has told on average at least six falsehoods a day. That is according to "The Washington Post," which keeps track and said Mr. Trump's tally of lies topped 3,000 back in May.
HOWELL: One can imagine that number has certainly gone higher since then. CNN's Gloria Borger has this story for us.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): From the election itself...
TRUMP: Many places like California, the same person votes many times, you probably heard about that. There was -- that's a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks, millions and millions of people.
BORGER (voice-over): -- to the inauguration...
TRUMP: We had a massive field of people, you saw that. It went all the way back to the Washington Monument.
BORGER (voice-over): -- to statements like this...
TRUMP: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.
BORGER (voice-over): -- Donald Trump has had a fraught relationship with the truth, one that goes back decades, to the building and selling of Trump Tower, where Barbara Res managed the construction.
BARBARA RES, FORMER CONSTRUCTION MANAGER FOR DONALD TRUMP: He pointed that Princess Di was looking for an apartment in Trump Tower.
BORGER (on camera): And that didn't happen?
BORGER (on camera): Oh.
RES: But it made the papers.
BORGER (on camera): Sure. So veracity wasn't a part of it. It was just getting the buzz out there --
BORGER (on camera): -- about --
BORGER (on camera): -- about Trump? Did you guys laugh at it or --
RES: Yes. Because there was nothing so terrible about it. I mean, you know, it's kind of like puffing. You know, it's like exaggerating.
BORGER (voice-over): Tony Schwartz, co-author of Trump's "Art of the Deal" has a name for this.
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": I came up with this phrase, truthful hyperbole, which is -- you know, I called it an innocent form of exaggeration. Now, I can call it something that I actually sold for $2 million and I can say $10 million and that becomes truthful hyperbole.
The problem is that there is no such thing as truthful hyperbole. The truth is the truth. Hyperbole is a lie. They don't go together.
BORGER (voice-over): And they didn't go together during the troubled opening of Trump's Atlantic City Taj Mahal casino in 1990 when some of the slots didn't work.
ALAN LAPIDUS, FORMER ARCHITECT FOR DONALD TRUMP: When the Casino Control Commission went down there on opening day to check out that all the things have been done, many things haven't been done. They shut down a third of the slots.
BORGER (voice-over): Slots that were critical to the casino's success. LAPIDUS: The slots are the prime revenue producer of the casino. To shut down a third on opening day was both humiliating and financially disastrous. And it's -- and it was only done because he doesn't have, you know, an organization in depth.
BORGER (voice-over): But that wasn't the story Trump told.
JACK O'DONNELL, FORMER MANAGER, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL AND CASINO: Something could go bad, like the opening of the Taj and he would say, it's because we had so much business here that this happened.
Not that the systems broke down, not that we didn't know what we were doing. We had so much business, it broke down. Truly, he just would lie about everything.
BORGER (voice-over): And he did.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What about the slot machine thing where they were down for a while?
TRUMP: The slots were so hot, nobody's -- again, nobody has seen people play that hard and that fast, we were --
KING: So what, it blew out the slots, literally?
TRUMP: They blew apart. We have machines that --
KING: Was it like too much use?
TRUMP: They were virtually on fire.
O'DONNELL: Donald is so wrapped up in hyperbole that it's almost constant lies. You know, whether it's the littlest things where, you know, if you had 2,000 people at an event, you know, he would say there were 5,000 people at an event.
BORGER (voice-over): And he got away with it.
SCHWARTZ: There is no belief system. If it will work, I will say it. If it stops working, I'll say its opposite. And I will not feel any compunction about saying its opposite because I don't believe anything in the first place.
BORGER (voice-over): Switching gears is exactly what President Trump had to do after his press conference with Vladimir Putin, attempting to walk back this remark on election interference.
TRUMP: My people came to me -- Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia.
I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any --
TRUMP: -- reason why it would be. In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't -- or why it wouldn't be Russia.
SCHWARTZ: Seeing it from his perspective, doesn't make a distinction between what's true and what's false. His only distinction is what will work and what will not work.
BORGER (on camera): And what happens when he is challenged with facts?
What does he do?
SCHWARTZ: He has a genius, you know, perverse genius, for turning any situation into something that is evidence of his brilliance. Even if it's not true.
BORGER (voice-over): Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: And that is CNN NEWSROOM. We thank you for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.
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