Return to Transcripts main page


More Headaches for Trump from Mueller Team; Families Reunited After 65 Years; Syrians Bracing for Government's Retake of Idlib; U.S. Addicted to Sanctions. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 03:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: -- about White House counsel Don McGahn's expensive cooperation with the probe.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: And families finally are coming together after decades apart. Some lucky ones on the Korean peninsula get to reunite with their loved ones.

Plus, this.


JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF IRAN: I think there's a disease in the United States and that is the addiction to sanctions.


HOWELL: It is a CNN exclusive, Iran's foreign minister talks to our Nick Paton Walsh about the impact of U.S. sanctions and Iran's response to the pressures.

CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world including here in the United States. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell, from CNN news headquarters in Atlanta. Newsroom starts right now.

We start with the U.S. president's personal attorney. For years, Michael Cohen said he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump, but by the end of the month new pressure from prosecutors could in fact put him on the spot.

CHURCH: Yes. Federal prosecutors are reportedly preparing criminal charges against Cohen and could charge him by months' end. That is according to CNN sources who say prosecutors are being mindful of the upcoming midterm elections.

HOWELL: Cohen is also under investigation for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels. Stormy Daniels, the adult star, the porn star who a allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump. That payment may have broken tax, bank and campaign finance laws. Cohen has hinted he's ready to cooperate with prosecutors. CHURCH: President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani are

working to manage potential fallout after a New York Times about White House attorney Don McGahn being interviewed in the Mueller investigation.

HOWELL: Our Ryan Nobles report what they don't know could mean trouble for the U.S. president.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president and his legal team spent a lot of time over the weekend trying to convince the American people that these conversations or the series of conversations that Don McGahn have with the special counsel was actually good for their legal defense as it relates to the Russian probe.

Listen to the president chief legal spokesman Rudy Giuliani discuss this particular topic.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: We have a good sense obviously of what Mr. McGahn testified to. I can figure it out --

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MSNBC: How do you say that, good sense? Have you debriefed him?

GIULIANI: No, but Mr. Dowd has a good sense of it. He talked to him at the time.


TODD: So you don't know what Mr. McGahn -- you don't know 100 percent of what he testified to Mr. Mueller?

GIULIANI: I think that through John Dowd you have a pretty good sense of it. And John Dowd yesterday said -- I'll use his words rather than mine -- that McGahn was a strong witness for the president. So I don't need to know much more than that.


NOBLES: Now even Mayor Giuliani contends that they have a good handle on what Don McGahn said to the special counsel there's another New York Times report that says exactly the opposite.

That the White House and the president's legal team was not prepared for the voluminous amount of information that Don McGahn potentially could have given to the special counsel and that he's not been fully debriefed outside of a short list of notes that was provided by Don McGahn's personal attorney to the effect of exactly what he talked about.

And that could be for the problem for the White House. McGahn and his legal team have said repeatedly that they've been honest. And there's few people who knows much about exactly what the president has been up to over the past year and a half as it related to the Russia probe than Don McGahn. So, the big question is what did the special counsel learn and how could impact their investigation, that's an answer we may not have for several weeks to come.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

HOWELL: To talk more about this let's bring in Steven Erlanger. Steven, the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for the New York Times, live in Brussels, Belgium this hour. Steven, always a pleasure to have you here on the show.

Look, we know that McGahn spent three days, some 30 hours speaking with the special counsel. The president appearing to get out ahead of the story saying he told him to do so. But here's the thing. A source telling CNN the White House doesn't know exactly what McGahn discussed. Is this a problem for the president?

STEVEN ERLANGER, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's always a problem for the president because this investigation really goes to the heart of his election victory, first of all, which he's very sensitive about. And it's a question of whether he obstructed justice or whether anyone in the White House tried to obstruct justice.

And that's what Mr. McGahn is likely to be able to testify about. Now, I don't know what he said anymore than Trump did, but lawyers are very careful when they're talking under oath to other lawyers, particularly prosecutors. They have in mind not just the integrity of the White House or their particular boss which actually is the White House, not necessarily the president, but for their own professional reputation.

[03:05:02] Mr. McGahn has been very careful not to commit perjury and it depends on what he was asked and what he answered. But 30 hours is a really, really long time.

Mr. Trump has kind of got himself stuck here because on the one hand he said, go ahead, testify, I've got nothing to hide. And on the other hand he complains about his lawyer doing just what he told him to do.

HOWELL: You know, it does also show that difference in strategy in the beginning to be more cooperative with the special counsel but later and with Mr. Giuliani it seems to raise more questions about the overall investigation.

Look, it all comes down to one central question, Steven, will the president agree to an interview with the special counsel's team? Mr. Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, suggested that doing so could be a perjury trap.

And in making the case about that on NBC's Meet the Press, Giuliani gave life to a head thing term that is akin to saying the sun is the moon and the sky is the ground. Listen for it.


GIULIANI: I'm not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well, that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth not the truth. He didn't have a conversation about--


TODD: So this truth I don't need to go like--


GIULIANI: No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth. The president of the United States says I didn't--

TODD: Truth isn't truth. Mr. Mayor, do you realize this is going to become a bad meme.


GIULIANI: No. No. No, don't do this to me.


HOWELL: Chuck Todd and both Giuliani thinking about that head slapping emoji. Truth is truth, he says truth isn't truth. The last time, Steven, we heard something like this, that ridiculous term, alternative facts. But here's the serious question. Do you take something from Giuliani's comments there, from what you heard?

ERLANGER: Well, I do. It's not just George Orwell war is peace, truth is falsehood. There is anxiety. I mean, Rudy Giuliani was a very good prosecutor in the city of New York. He knows what a prosecution is and he knows how it works and he feels the pressure building on the White House, and he's obviously trying to defend Trump as best he can.

And I think he's probably right. I mean we've heard Trump talk. Trump likes to talk about whatever crosses his mind. He has a kind of loose grip on what actually happens sometimes. He has, he thinks that he keeps coming up with them over and over again no matter what the truth is, these are just his ideas.

So to put him face-to-face with a well prepared prosecutor is probably not a good thing. I think Rudy Giuliani is right about that.

HOWELL: Steven Erlanger, live for perspective in Brussels, Belgium. Thank you, Steven, for your time.

ERLANGER Thanks, George.

CHURCH: Well, right now emotional reunions are taking place in North Korea. Dozens of families separated by the Korean War are meeting with relatives they haven't seen in decades.

HOWELL: Keep in mind these are very brief reunions. They last only three days. But with each pressure hour it could be the last chance for these Koreans, many of them over 80 and 90 years old, to see their loved ones. CHURCH: So let's get the latest in Seoul, South Korea. Our Paula

Hancocks is following this story. So, Paula, happening this hour, emotionally charged meetings because for most of these elderly family members it is the last time they will ever see their loved ones. Talk to us about what is happening right now and how this whole process of reuniting these relatives, how it works.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, according to the unification ministry the reunions started at 3 p.m. So that's an hour ago local time. So these families, 89 South Korean families have been meeting with their family members from North Korea that they haven't seen for decades, since the Korean War.

In fact, many of them say that they have so many years, they never even knew if their loved ones were still alive. But they are the lucky ones. They are part of these fairly rare reunions that happen when North and South Korea are cooperating, when relations between the two Koreas are strong.

And certainly they are the lucky ones, because it is a fraction of those who want to meet family members in North Korea that actually have the chance to do that. Fifty seven thousand people were eligible to be picked this time around. Just 89 were able to go.

And a tragic example of just how this is race against time, there should have been four more families involved but four individuals had to pull out in the last couple of days because of health reasons.

[03:09:58] As you say, many of them in their 80s and 90s knowing that this really is a last chance for them.

Now one lady we spoke to was very excited that she was going into North Korea to see family, but she said it was bittersweet.


HANCOCKS: So there are just a few hours of the day over three days that these families will be able to sit down with each other, to talk to each other, to catch up on almost 70 years of life. They have two hours this afternoon where they are able to sit down. There'll be a dinner for two hours this evening and then they will meet again tomorrow.

But it is very choreographed, it is very controlled the amount of time they can spend together. It was about 11 hours in all over these three days, and then of course they have to get on the bus and come back to South Korea knowing that that is likely the last time that they will see their loved ones.

We just heard comments from the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who, himself, was part of this family reunions a few years ago going with his mother to go and meet his auntie that he had never seen.

He's the son of North Korean refugees and he said the fact that there are so many people that still want to be reunited with family is a matter of shame for both the North Korea and the South Korean governments.

And also saying, that as a member of a divided family myself, I sympathize deeply with the sadness and pain, there really is no time. Talking there about the many thousands that are still waiting to be part of these reunions.

CHURCH: It is exactly as you say bittersweet. Our Paula Hancocks bringing us the latest on those family reunions from her vantage point there in Seoul, South Korea. Many thanks to you, Paula.

HOWELL: Still ahead, government forces are closing in and millions of Syrians, they're trapped. Coming up, the grief and feeling of hopelessness that people feel in Idlib province.

CHURCH: Plus, Iran's top diplomat says his country might be able to make a deal with President Trump but there are conditions attached. His exclusive interview with CNN when we come back.


CHURCH: Well, three million Syrians are bracing for a government offensive to retake back Idlib, the last rebel-held enclave in the country.

HOWELL: Air strikes have hit that area very hard in recent days and dozens of people have been killed. Many of the survivors have nowhere else to go.

CNN's Arwa Damon has been following the story joining us live in Istanbul, Turkey this hour. Arwa, with government forces stepping up their attacks, you've spoken to people there. What are they saying?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, George, they're absolutely terrified because what we're seeing right now is these air strikes hitting deeper into the heart of Idlib province and closer to the Turkish border.

There used to be an ice cream shop on the corner, kids playing in the street, a sense that the violence would not strike here, at least not like this.



DAMON: After five days after multiple air strikes hit this one quiet neighborhood in Idlib province, killings dozens of people, shattering whatever illusion of safety that may have existed.

For seven years now Syria's unraveling has been documented. "What's the point in all your filming?" Ibrahim (Ph) wants to know, "for there is no humanity in this, in the world's muted response to Syria's heartless destruction."

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE) DAMON: Only one of Ibrahim's five children survived. It's just memories now. The family next door displaced from elsewhere were all killed, seven of them. Also killed was a media activist, Ahmed. Ahmed was just 20 years old, a nurse and first responder by training, a role he played in his native Aleppo before the family was forcibly displaced to Idlib as the regime took over.

"When he saw the responders weren't there he threw his cameras aside and went to save a little girl," Ahmed's (Ph) father Mahmoud (Ph) tells us. But another strike came in killing them both.

His parents seem stoic together, proud but in pain. But later as his mother shows us Ahmed's clothes she breaks down. In the room next door his father shows us his photos. Tears he can't cry in front of his wife.

They did everything together. A father-son team documenting their nation's pain now directly a part of it.

The sluggish summer piece of life as we drive through Idlib province seems to belie the looming violence. It's the last remaining main rebel stronghold. Turkey, Russia and Iran have been negotiating to extensively come to some sort of agreement to prevent a total massacre here by the Syrian regime and its Russian backers.

Turkey has military observation posts in the province and has called an assault on Idlib a red line. Its border has been closed and instead, a senior Turkish official says his government is pouring millions of dollars into swelling refugee camps.

[03:19:58] Alhum Hammed (Ph) was just saying he remembers when there were just a few tents here and the rest of it was just the olive groves. And now you take a look and it just has such an aura of permanence to it all.

The rolling hills stones roved from the Turkish border have been transformed into a sea of homes of lost souls from Aleppo, Hama (Ph), Julta (Ph), Darayya, and elsewhere.

Idlib's population has doubled in recent years as more Syrians arrived. It's also where as other parts of the country fell back into government control the regime relocated residents and rebel fighters.

For those here normal and home have been irreversibly redefined. "We can't go back ever," Mustafa Alhaibad (Ph), he says. He doesn't trust the Assad regime. And with nowhere left to go, many feel like they're just waiting for their death sentence to be carried out.


DAMON: You know, George, in the past when we went to Syria we would really feel a lot of rage. And while people are still incensed by what's happening, but what they perceive as being international inaction or a lack of a will to try to stop the violence now you really get the sense that they're just resigned to their fate, that they know that no one is going to come to save them or even try to stop the bloodshed.

HOWELL: Arwa, I think you covered it all. Not much more to ask there. Thank you for the report.

CHURCH: The U.S. has refused to give billions of dollars in fines to secure the release of a U.S. pastor in Turkey. That is according to the Wall Street Journal citing a senior White House official.

HOWELL: It says that Turkey offered to free Andrew Brunson if the U.S. forgave huge fines on a Turkish bank. Brunson has been held by Turkish authorities since 2016 over his alleged role in a failed coup. The Trump administration has threatened more sanctions if he is not freed.

CHURCH: I want to bring Iran, also knows a thing or two about U.S. sanctions. In fact, its foreign minister says it's addicted to them, he spoke to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in this exclusive interview.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Would you possibly see any merits when President Rouhani and President Trump having a one-on-one meeting and see what progress that could possibly make?

ZARIF: There not been the previous huge progress that he'd make is simply thrown out.

WALSH: If you come back to that deal again because--


ZARIF: They've thrown it out.

WALSH: You've got two to six years before until you get someone else to--


ZARIF: It's the litmus test. The litmus test of whether we can trust the United States now. It was not an easy political decision for the Iranian government and for me personally and for President Rouhani to sit down with the secretary of state.

WALSH: You took a bit of a personal hit then, didn't you?

ZARIF: Well, that's what -- that's what diplomats are for. Part of our salary is to get personal hits. I believe there is a disease in the United States, and that is the addiction to sanctions.

WALSH: If you felt the U.S. was addicted to sanctions, though, why did you go ahead with the deal?

ZARIF: That may have been one of the mistakes but the problem was that we felt that the United States had learned that this as far as Iran is concerned sanctions do produce economic hardship but do not produce the political outcomes that they intended them to produce. And I thought that the Americans had learned that lesson. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

WALSH: So here we go in the opposite direction. When you talk about trying to revisit that nuclear deal but it is quite clear that Donald Trump has no interest in doing that.

ZARIF: We do not want to revisit that nuclear deal. We want the United States to implement that nuclear deal. Today the closest U.S. allies are resisting those sanctions. The U.S. basically are twisting its attempt to put pressure -- I don't want to use the term bullying--


WALSH: You don't want to use the term bullying but that's--

ZRIF: But that's what it amounts to, bullying.

WALSH: Are they succumbing to it do you think? The European allies are they--


ZARIF: I think everybody looks at it that way.

WALSH: Is November going to hurt, just for clarity here. Are you going to hit, have another wave of U.S. sanctions and against the U.S. industry.

ZARIF: But U.S.--


WALSH: It's not going to take a toll--

ZARIF: The U.S. sanctions have always hurt. What is hurting, though, is people who want to buy medicine, people who want to buy food, the economic upheaval that you see right now in Iran is because of the measures that needed to be taken to be prepared for those things. So we are prepared for the worst-case scenario.

WALSH: Could you ever get a deal with Donald Trump?

ZARIF: Well, it depends on President Trump, whether he wants to make us believe that he's a reliable partner.

[03:25:00] Now, if we spent time with him and he signs another agreement, how long will it last? Until the end of his administration, until he departs from the place where he put his signature on the agreement.


CHURCH: And for more on his exclusive interview Nick Paton Walsh joins us now live from Tehran. Nick, good to see you, So if they don't think they can talk to Donald Trump, what comes next?

WALSH: That is the extraordinary question to answer here. It's remarkable in passing really to see a man like Javad Zarif who frankly created one of the most complicated and unlikely deals, that nuclear deal and Donald Trump who prides himself as being the man behind the art of the deal comes at this sort of negotiation impasse.

It's a lack of trust really at the end of the day. And I think the other part of the interview when we spoke to Mr. Zarif was clear he felt the future lay in European allies -- he believed or hoped that somehow because of the U.N. Security Council resolution backing the nuclear deal, the international law, international pressure could cause the rest of the world frankly to go it alone without the United States and that fact might cause Donald Trump to have a change of heart.

He even suggested perhaps Europe would be able to change America's mind about tariffs and maybe they can exercise the symbol of pressure from the White House over this too.

But you have to bear in mind this comes at a time when rhetoric against this current Iranian government from the White House is at a pretty high level.

They just created last week so they called the Iran action group back which many felt had a reminiscence back in the early 2000s before the invasion of Iraq, a group that was designed to get to Iran to, quote, "change its behavior in many different ways."

But unfortunately, many felt it overlapping the six anniversary of the U.S. backed coup against democratically elected government inside Iran. So the pressure grows on both sides, certainly. And I think at this point there's a sense of exasperation that that very intricately carefully fashioned nuclear deal would simply be thrown out of the window by Donald Trump.

In fact, Mr. Zarif wasn't even sure how many top level U.S. officials in the current White House have read its final prints (Ph). It was complicated and took years to put together and so I think really his belief is they have to go back and reinstate that and then there may be a future.

But you have to bear in mind too, the sort of likely haphazard way of Donald Trump's diplomacy one-on-one if he prefers it. It may yield something in the future but you got the impression really here that the Iranian government feels its trust has been violated it may have lost a bit of faith and so we're going to see a lot of changes perhaps when it's found again with the U.S. administration right now.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Nick Paton Walsh joining us live from Tehran where it is midday.

HOWELL: And we're following these historic floods in Southwest India of Kerala state. These floods leaving behind widespread destruction and a massive recovery challenge.

CHURCH: But first crews are racing to help thousands still stranded. Plus the Afghan president waves an olive branch to the Taliban. How the militant group is responding to a proposed ceasefire. That is still to come. Do stay with us. [03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: And a very warm welcome back to our viewers joining us here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. Sources tell CNN the Trump administration does not know exactly what White House counsel Don McGahn told Robert Mueller in his investigation. McGahn spoke with the special counsel for some 30 hours as part of the investigation into Russian election interference.

CHURCH: Eighty-nine South Koreans are now in North Korea for brief reunions with relatives they have not seen in decades. Thousands of families were separated by the Korean War in 1950 and many have had little or no contact since. Participants have just three days to spend time with their loved ones.

HOWELL: In the southern part of India perilous state, flood waters, they are slowly receding but thousands of people remain trapped in the worst floods there in nearly a century. Officials fear there could be an outbreak of disease among the more than 800,000 people who are staying in shelters. Three hundred ninety one people have died since the monsoon season started in May.

Following this story, CNN's Alexandra Field is live in Hong Kong. And Alexandra, we're talking about 33 million people in that state. When you consider the damage that we've seen, these images that are just so terrible, the devastation, officials worry this recovery, it could be overwhelming.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is really destruction on a massive scale when you take a look at the numbers here. This was tremendous flooding, the likes of which people have not seen in decades and decades. We heard from some in the hardest hit areas of Kerala, they say the flood waters were coming so quickly that the first story of their homes were filling up with water in the space of just an hour.

The cleanup will bring a long road ahead, but the short-term goal is to continue these rescue operations. Officials are working to find anyone who are still stranded on a rooftop or in a flooded building by the end of the day today.


FIELD (voice-over): Rescuers can only reach the most desperate by boat and by air. People left stranded by raging waters by the thousands.

CHRISTOPHER JOSEPH, FLOOD VICTIM: No house is left here. No house is left here. Almost all the houses are flooded. Probably four feet of flood water has come down in this particular place. And when we get inside, still you can't walk, you need a board or something like that. FIELD (voice-over): Emergency workers, among them the Indian Air force and the National Disaster Response Force must navigate the washed out roads to deliver supplies, a hand and any help they can give.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the day we deployed here, the situation was very horrifying. Almost 10 feet to 6 feet and you can find water everywhere. There was water and water and nothing else. Today, the water level is depleting. The water level is coming down and down. But the real work really starts now.

FIELD (voice-over): The Indian state of Kerla is now a disaster zone. Food is air dropped to those who can't be reached. The injured and traumatized taken to hospitals. Days of deadly landslides and flash floods brought devastation worse than any they've seen before even here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing is right now the flood we are experiencing right now is horrible. We've never had such a chaos situation. Every house is filled in with water.

FIELD (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands who have reached shelters are still in need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing is there's no toilet over here, OK?

[03:35:01] There is nothing -- no sanitation, basic sanitation thing over here. There's no drinking water over here. We have no drinking water. The water issue is the primary -- that's also a primary concern.

FIELD (voice-over): Every year, millions of tourists visit Kerala, drawn by its rivers, its natural beauty. It's natural disaster has now claimed hundreds of lives.


FIELD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the devastated area over the weekend. Officials pegged the damage, costing nearly $3 billion. They're working now to free up resources to the tune of some $70 million to bring people the immediate relief supplies they need, things like water, fuel, even oxygen or medicines in some cases.

Most importantly, though, George, they're trying to get people clean water. As we know, that was certainly the key to staving off the spread of disease at this point. George?

HOWELL: And that is the concern. Is there a concern that it will be difficult to get the supplies down, the medicine if need be, food and water to people just to make sure the disease does not spread?

FIELD: It's certainly something that authorities are very much focused on right now. As we said, they're trying to finish the rescue operations today. They also believe that they will be able to stop the airdrops of supplies and food today. That's indicative of the fact of course that more people are getting to shelter now or out of homes or buildings that have been devastated or damaged.

So they're getting to areas where they can be helped. But you still have to keep a steady stream of supplies to those people. And when you talk about the fact that this is recovery work and rebuilding work, that's going to take months if not years. It means there will be a critical need that has to be met.

They are going to have to develop order to get people the things they need. Some 800,000 people in shelters currently, many more displaced from their homes, staying of course with friends, family or any other place where they can get shelter at this point, George.

HOWELL: It is a densely populated part of that nation and a lot of water from what we've seen. Alexandra Field, thank you for the reporting.

CHURCH: And as that rescue effort continues, let's find out what the forecast is for India.

HOWELL: Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is live in the International Weather Center with details. Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. You know, I have some better news as far as the forecast is concerned. As a meteorologist, we look at Kerala very carefully every single may because that's the precise state where the monsoonal onset, the monsoon season starts as rain crosses that particular region of the Indian subcontinent.

And we know again the rainfall certainly brings tremendous amount of life across this region. About half a billion people depend on it here for their livelihood when it comes to the farming industry and the agricultural industry.

But the state of Kerala right there, it's seen the normal rainfall between the first of June towards the latter portion of August, around 1,600 millimeters, which is about 60 inches. But the actual rainfall has actually exceeded 2,300 hundred millimeters. This is about 90 inches and that is 42 percent above what is normal for that particular period.

So you put that in scale in an area that is the heart of the monsoon season, certainly put 40 percent in excess on top of it, you get seems like this where on satellite imagery you see essentially islands created across some communities where hundreds of thousands of people are now displaced as a result of what has happened.

There is the state of Kerala right here across the south and west, and notice that's in the green area. That's the no warning area. We haven't seen that all summer. So we are seeing the rainfall and the amount of rainfall, the heaviest of which work its way to the north. And the Indian Meteorological Department says we don't expect much heavy rainfall over the next five days across this region.

So again, fantastic news as far as improving condition. Some of the heaviest monsoons are now shifting to the north. Some of these regions will certainly take it. As always, we say too much of a good thing quickly becomes a bad thing and that's precisely what's happened down towards the south.

Take you out towards the United States. We do have a lot of wet weather to tell you about across the Great Lakes. Some severe weather even in places across the mid-western U.S. St. Louis on into Chicago, expecting some heavy rainfall into the afternoon hours. And then the big story becomes a cool air that is going to shift in.

A hint of autumn in the air across portions of the northern states of the U.S. The middle 70s come back in Minneapolis in Chicago and the low 70s even in places like Boston. And even further towards the south, even getting a little dip in the temperatures as well.

I want to take you to right here. That's Panama City, Florida. Scenes across that region over the past 24 hours, we've had some water spouts reported across this region. Pretty ominous perspective here, beach all across this region, beautiful Florida.

But the area of concern right here, certainly it's a lot of water spouts and the fact that you know August is the single busiest waterspout month for the United States and in Florida in particular. I want to show you something here on the map. As you go from Panama City and points towards the south, all the way down to South Florida, did you know that an area between Marathon and Key West gets 400 to 500 water spouts every single year?

That's more than one a day of course and that is where water spout alley and again peak month is right now in the heart of August so certainly that place to be if you want to see water spouts or maybe if you want to avoid them, get out of the keys this time of year, but that's where it all happens. Guys?

HOWELL: All right.

CHURCH Good advice there. Thank you so much.

HOWELL: Thanks, Pedram.

[03:40:00] JAVAHERI: Yeah.

HOWELL: In Venezuela, an economic crisis shows no signs of improvement and thousands of people are escaping south.

CHURCH: But they're finding South America is struggling to cope with the massive refugee crisis. We'll take a look at that when we come back.


CHURCH A ceasefire could be getting underway in Afghanistan. The government has offered the Taliban a truce during Eid-al Adha. It's not clear if the militants will accept but they say they will release hundreds of prisoners for the Muslim holiday.

And for the latest, CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Ivan. So, what progress if any has been made regarding this ceasefire and what more are you learning about accusations by Afghan officials that Taliban have kidnapped about 150 passengers from buses in Kunduz?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Let's start with the ceasefire proposal, Rosemary. This is coming from the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, who has proposed what could be a three-month ceasefire, something Afghanistan really hasn't seen in a war that has dragged on and claimed lives.

Record numbers of civilians this year for some 17 years. So in one of his tweets, he announced "We announce a ceasefire that will take effect from tomorrow, Monday, the day of Arafa, until the day of the birth of the prophet, Milad-un-Nabi, provided that the Taliban reciprocate." That's pretty important there.

The offer has been welcomed by the NATO secretary-general, by Pakistan, a major stakeholder in the Afghan conflict, and by the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who wrote in a statement, "We remain ready to support, facilitate, and participate in direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban."

For each part, the Taliban has always argued that as long as there are U.S. troops in Afghanistan, it wants to talk to the U.S., not to the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

[03:45:03] There were reports of negotiations between U.S. diplomats and Taliban representatives in Doha last month. The Taliban put out its own statement on the eve of this Muslim holiday on Sunday. It wasn't in response to Ashraf Ghani's offer.

Instead it was celebrating what it claimed were big victories on the battlefield and calling for talks with the U.S., arguing, "Since the ongoing war in Afghanistan is the birth child of America occupation, therefore we have and continue to insist on direct talks with america to bring it to an end."

I mention this has been a very deadly year. More than 1,600 civilians killed in the first six months of this year. Deadly attacks that took place in Kabul, the capital last week. Also an assault by the Taliban on a city called Ghazni, very close to the Afghan capital.

And now we have from a local government official accusations that the Taliban held up three buses in the northern province of Kunduz, took more than 100 people hostage. That official claims that Afghan security forces managed to rescue most of them. But it's just an example, another example, Rosemary, of the daily kind of drip of violence that plagues this country, again, for some 17 years.

CHURCH Yeah, it's a big problem. Ivan Watson bringing us that live report from Hong Kong, many thanks.

HOWELL: Now to Venezuela where an economic and humanitarian crisis could soon become even more devastating. Economists warn that new economic reforms announced by the nation's president, Nicolas Maduro, that they're likely to backfire.

CHURCH: Meanwhile, Venezuelan refugees are facing more backlash as they try to flee to other Latin-American countries. Our Rafael Romo reports.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The constant stream of refugees out of Venezuela is putting a lot of pressure on neighboring countries. Let's take for example the border town of Pacaraima, Brazil where a mob attacked a group of Venezuelan immigrants over the weekend.

They also destroyed a camp where the immigrants were staying, setting their belongings on fire. This attack prompted a group of about 1,200 Venezuelan refugees to rush back into their own country. Last week, two other countries in the region announced restricted measures affecting Venezuela nationals.

Ecuadorian officials said Venezuela migrants will have to show their passport not just an I.D. card before being allowed to enter its territory although we noticed the new rule wasn't being enforced and immigrants were still crossing into Ecuador. Peru announced Friday it will do the same. Some immigrants say they were taken by surprise by the new measures as they were traveling in Columbia on their way to Ecuador and Peru.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We were already on our way here when they started asking us to show our passports because they were no longer going to accept the I.D. card. That's why we're so worried. Many of us may spend the night here waiting for an answer.

ROMO: Meanwhile, Venezuelans at home are bracing for the effects of new economic measures announced Friday by President Nicolas Marudo that are supposed to go into effect Monday. First of all, the president agreed on a 60-fold increase on the minimum wage. Employers don't know if they will have enough money to pay although Marudo says the government will provide assistance for 90 days.

Also Monday, the government is removing five zeros from the Venezuelan currency, dropping its value by more than 90 percent. Many merchants closed their doors over the weekend, unable to understand how to change prices to reflect the new currency while shoppers rushed to supermarkets and gas stations that remained open. According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela's inflation may hit one million percent by the end of the year.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH Greece exits its last bailout program.

HOWELL: What's ahead after nearly nine years of reform and austerity measures?


JAVAHERI: Good Monday morning to you. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, watching what's happening across North America right now with showers being the story across the eastern half of the U.S. mainly from the north where milder air beginning to filter in towards the south where showers are going to at least begin much of the work across the region.

Certainly some localized flooding possible across the Carolinas, across the coastal regions of the Great Lakes there, not far from Chicago where thunderstorms are expected at 26 degrees. Vancouver, BC stores up to 27, certainly could be hazy at times but partly cloudy skies are expected there. And San Francisco is not too bad at 21 degrees.

But you notice a hint of autumn certainly in the forecast here. At least the first sign of it across parts of the mid-western U.S. where the St. Louis of the world, the Chicago of the world dropping down to 24 degrees. You certainly feel a little bit of Christmas in the air. While back towards northwest, it is still the heart of summer, at least feels like it towards much of this week, notice Thursday maybe into Friday.

Portland and Seattle, we will see finally some cooling in store in that region. Belize City around 29 degrees. Managua comes in at 33. Mexico City returning into the thunderstorm pattern, around 22 degrees, what we expect. San Juan into Puerto Rico remains sunny and intense. Warm up just a hair above 30 degrees there.

Farther towards the south, we go in Panama (ph), expecting highs to be generally into the 30s. You want a little chillier air, head up into the mountains and higher elevations. And areas around La Paz, highs around 12.

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, Greece has reached an economic milestone. The country exited its third and final bailout program Monday after a nearly nine-year debt crisis that came with painful austerity measures.

HOWELL: That's right. Our Richard Quest looks at how Greece kept bankruptcy at bay and what the country faces moving forward.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Greece, a country about to stand on its own two financial feet again. But midnight on Monday, Greece exited its final bailout program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no more program for Greece. There won't be anymore more program for Greece.

QUEST: It marks an end at least for now to nearly a decade of financial life support.

THANOS VAMVAKIDIS, HEAD, EUROPEAN G10 FOREIGN EXCHANGE: This is of course a development particularly now that the Greek economy has finally started recovering and the end of the program coincides with an agreement on the debt.

QUEST: Greece's odyssey began in the wake of the financial crisis. Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the E.U. and the IMF initiated the first of three Greek bailouts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, we reached an agreement.

QUEST: Hundreds of billions of dollars were provided in exchange for a promise of Greek government reforms, tax increases, and relentless austerity for the Greek people. The drama played out on the streets of Athens.

And threatened to tear apart the architecture of the euro zone. Catching the cord from financial rescue wont be easy. Since 2010, the Greek economy shrunk by more than a quarter and unemployment still hovers around 20 percent.

VAMVAKIDIS: There is no doubt that the fiscal investment in Greece has been brutal. Historically, this has never happened before in any country.

QUEST: Despite Europe's generous relief package, Greece's debt levels are still the highest in the E.U. And in a July report, the IMF was skeptical about the country's long-term prospects.

[03:55:00] VAMVAKIDIS: Is it going to be going back to old habits which is going to be very negative for markets or are we going to finally see an ambitious agenda for reforms that will lead to more investment and more growth in the long term?

QUEST: Many Greeks saw the terms of the bailout as a humiliating life sentence. Monday's exit may be the start of a long parole.

Richard Quest, CNN.


HOWELL: The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, made a special stop on his way to meet with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

CHURCH: He went to a wedding and even danced with the bride. Austria's foreign minister was getting married and she personally invited the Russian president.

HOWELL: His appearance there didn't make Austrian opposition lawmakers very happy. They say Mr. Putin's invitation undermines the E.U.'s policy on the Kremlin which includes sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea.

CHURCH: U.S. audiences have fallen in love with the glitz and glamour of Singapore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been dating for over a year now and I think it's about time people met my beautiful girlfriend.

What about us taking an adventure east?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Singapore. Do you want to meet my family?


HOWELL: The romantic comedy, have you seen it? "Crazy Rich Asians" clinched the top spot in the box office this weekend.

CHURCH: Haven't seen it but want to see it. The movie made $34 million over five days, beating expectations. It is the first major studio film in 25 years with a mostly Asian cast.

And we'd like to thank you for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "Early Start" is next. For viewers around the world, the news continues with our colleague Max Foster live in London. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.

CHURCH: Have a great day.