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Mueller's Team to Announce First Charges on Monday; Women Rescued After Five Months; Controversy Sprawling Death of U.S. Soldier; Spain Rules Catalan; Kenya No President Yet. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 30, 2017 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, HOST, CNN: Early Monday in the U.S. East Coast. But before the day is over, someone could be in custody in the Russia investigation.

A massive unity rally in Barcelona Sunday, showing not everyone in the region supports Catalonia's bid for independence from Spain. We'll go live to Barcelona for the latest this hour.

And lost at sea for five months. Two women and their two dogs finally made it back to land. And CNN was there to capture the moment. We'll go live to Okinawa, Japan, to hear their story. It's all ahead here.

Thank you for joining us, and welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Our top story, a sense of anticipation and worry looms over Washington. The first arrests or arrest were related to Robert Mueller's investigation could come within hours.

Our Shimon Prokupecz looks at the significance of the initial charges.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: We expect to learn later today what charges were filed in connection with the special counsel investigation once a federal judge unseals the indictment. A federal grand jury has approved these charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. But the charges are sealed. So we don't know yet who will be charged.

We've been told that the expectation that it was going the happen Monday. And anyone who is facing the charges will be arrested and taken into custody by FBI agents. And at some point will face a judge here in Washington, D.C.

Now this indictment, once it's unsealed, will likely give us a window into some of what the special counsel has been looking at and how it potentially relates to the Russian investigation.

Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, Washington.

ALLEN: Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara who was fired by President Trump earlier this year gave us some insight into what happens next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Prosecutors like those of my former office and those that work in Bob Mueller's office now try to see who they can bring charge against first, and see if they have information about someone else. And typically you want to be pursuing people and pressuring people who have information of an incriminating nature above you in the food chain.

And if that's true so, you know, that's typically how it works. It's also possible that they're charging a number of people at once. And they want to see who is the first one through the door. It's also, you know, a possibility that they made an attempt to try to get cooperation from the person that they charged on Friday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: It is still a waiting game for now until we know who is indicted. But in the meantime, President Trump and the republicans are going after, guess who, Hillary Clinton. Yes, the same Hillary Trump beat in the 2016 presidential elections. The same Hillary Clinton who hasn't been in politics sense. But president Trump seems not to let it go.

For more on this angle about the story, here is CNN's Boris Sanchez.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: No public events for the White House on Sunday. But the president was fired up on Twitter, lamenting what he calls a lack of investigations into Hillary Clinton and the democrats.

In a series of tweets he specifically cites several accusations that he has made before about the former first lady and secretary of state, citing the now infamous dossier put together by Fusion GPS, a company that was at one point hired by the Clinton campaign to dig up opposition research on then candidate Trump.

He also then talks about the uranium deal, this idea that Hillary Clinton took bribes from Russian officials in exchange for more favorable uranium deal, a charge that he has made before. He also talks about her e-mails.

And in one revealing portion, he says that instead of focusing on this, on those controversies, people are focusing instead on what he calls phony Trump Russia collusion, which is nonexistent.

So, while this news is coming from the special counsel, the charges are imminent, the president is choosing to focus his attention on an opponent that he defeated almost 12 months ago.

Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

ALLEN: Joining me now is CNN global affairs analyst and online news editor of the New Yorker, David Rohde. David is also a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. [03:05:02] David, big week ahead. We know someone has been indicted in

the Mueller investigation. Let's talk about the investigation getting to this point, the significance of this.

DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: Well, it's a big step forward. I think it shows that, you know, Robert Mueller and his team are very serious. They have found some sort of criminal activity. It's very unclear who it will be, though. And I think a lot of the story will be how does President Trump react. Will he take this calmly or will he overreact as the president has in the past sometimes.

ALLEN: Well, I was going to ask you about that. Because he hasn't tweeted about this revelation this weekend. He has, however, tweeted about his favorite nemesis, Hillary Clinton. Is that a move to deflect? Or is there any merit to what he is alleging as far as she included with the Russians?

ROHDE: Yes, there is this long running theory he has been peddling that had been checked out by various fact check organizations about her selling some uranium deposits. It was essentially a transaction that was approved by multiple government agencies during the Obama administration. It wasn't something controlled by Hillary Clinton herself.

So it's found to not be true. But he is distracting I think from this Russian news. And it's not working I think with Americans who oppose him. But I do think to his base that it does work. People sort of make fun or joke about the president using Twitter. But I think he is successfully distracting his political base from these looming charges against his former aides, it looks like.

ALLEN: But will time run out on that distraction if that investigation continues to bring more charges. And the big question I want to ask you is how significant will be it be if this charge isn't directly related to the Trump team colluding with the Russians if it's something very indirectly related.

ROHDE: I think it's too early for, you know, Trump himself or his supporters to declare a victory. And it's too early for Trump's critics. It's going to be unclear based on the one charge. There are charges coming out. But they're assumed to be against one person to decide.

This could be the end of Mueller and Trump is being exonerated or it's the beginning of something larger. Mueller is very methodical. I think we might know within, you know, three, four, five, six months. But this is just the beginning.

The worst thing I think Trump could do politically is to overreact there is talk of this of him potentially firing Mueller that could cause a constitutional crisis. But, you know, it's just unclear.

To be fair to him, he could be exonerated in the end by Mueller. And I think his best player is to wait. Even if his aides are indicted, did Trump himself know of any kind of collusion. That's the line. And if there is no proof of Trump himself, then he can move forward from this.

ALLEN: Right. Well, Mueller has a reputation for being fair and apolitical. So it seems like it would be a dangerous thing to go after Mueller at this point.

With an arrest, David, does the cloud of suspicion get grayer at this point? In any way inhibit his focus on what he is trying to do say vis-a-vis tax reform?

ROHDE: Yes. This is not great timing. This is a critical, you know, this weekend and the weeks ahead, he and the GOP are pushing a major tax reform would be his first major legislative victory. He needs, as has been talked about, he has this problem with only a two-vote majority in the Senate.

This will further alienate opponents of Trump who don't want to take risks for him. So, this could, you know, hamper his presidency, not bring him down. But it's never a good sign when a president has a former aide charged criminally. That's not going to help him move his agenda forward in Congress.

ALLEN: And certainly, the White House has likely been talking about how they will officially respond. This president, of course, likes to tweet things. His chief of staff has been trying to put a little more order into the White House.

We've got his White House spokeswoman, who doesn't really seem to favor many probing questions from the news media. What is on their plate as far as how they respond?

ROHDE: The lawyers around Trump are urging him to let this play out. You know, saying there is no collusion here. Mueller will be fair, and the president will actually be exonerated and be strengthened by this investigation.

But you know, the president is not patient. He can say whatever he wants on Twitter. Again, the red line is if he tries to interfere in Mueller's work, if he tries to remove Mueller. That's when he could overreact and actually create a situation where he is obstructing justice.

And that could lead to -- you know, that adds strength to an argument that, you know, he shouldn't face impeachment. That's a very extreme step. He hasn't done that yet. But this is a key moment where he has to, I think again, remain calm. Firing Mueller will worsen his problems, not simplify them.

[03:10:01] ALLEN: All right. Journalist David Rohde, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it. We'll talk with you again this week.

ROHDE: Thank you.

ALLEN: And of course CNN will be covering this story as these indictments are unsealed.

Well, the U.S. Defense and State Department secretaries are set to testify on whether the White House should ask Congress for a new authorization to use military force.

U.S. military operations abroad are being scrutinized after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger, in Africa.

Rex Tillerson and James Mattis will be questioned by Congress Monday. They have said a new military authorization is not needed. The last one was approved 16 years ago after the September 11th attacks.

Our David McKenzie joins us now live from Niger where he is following the investigation into the death of these four U.S. soldiers. And David, are we learning anything more about what happened?

DAVID MCKENZIE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, the details are coming, but slowly and methodically as it were from U.S. officials. This investigation, Natalie, will be going on for quite some time, at least a month or perhaps longer with investigators combing over the scene of that deadly ambush that happened just a few hours away from me earlier this month.

Now we are learning from U.S. officials that this was a particularly dramatic firefight. A large group of ISIS affiliated terrorists, according to U.S. officials attacking, ambushing these Green Berets and other forces. They were split up in this ambush, and several lost com with the rest of the larger group.

Also learning that there were assets by the U.S. military that were scrambled, both from Europe and the continental U.S. in the event that they have to be a search-and-rescue operation.

Tragically, though, of course, four American soldiers were killed. Five Nigerian soldiers as well. As you say, the secretary of state, secretary of defense will be testifying in front of an open hearing later today in the U.S. at the Senate foreign relations committee.

Now those questions of authorization predate this ambush for some time. There have been some murmur, particularly among democrats that they want a more specific congressional oversight over the wars that the U.S. are fighting across the world, including here in Africa, where there are some 6,000 troops scattered around the continent, primarily to fight against terror. Natalie?

ALLEN: All right, David McKenzie following it for us there. Thank you, David.

Meantime, the U.S. Navy is investigating another mysterious death of a U.S. soldier in Africa. Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar with the army Special Forces was found dead in June at a U.S. government compound in Mali.

Authorities now want to know if he was killed by two members of the most elite Special Force of the U.S. Navy.

Our Ryan Browne is looking into this one.

RYAN BROWNE, PENTAGON REPORTER, CNN: The United States Navy is investigating two U.S. Navy SEALS, part of the elite SEAL team six for their role in the death of Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar who is working in support of the U.S. embassy in Bamako, Mali.

Now the U.S. army's medical examiner ruled Melgar's death a homicide, and his widow was informed that he had been murdered. But the navy took over the investigation in September once navy personnel were linked to his death.

Now the United States Navy's Criminal Investigation Service, or NCIS would not comment, citing an ongoing investigation. But the U.S. military is looking at two navy SEALS to determine exactly what happened.

Back to you.

ALLEN: In Puerto Rico, the power authority is working to cancel a controversial contract awarded to a small utility company out of the U.S. State of Montana. Whitefish Energy was given a $300 million deal to help restore power after hurricane Maria. The company is located in the U.S. interior secretary's hometown, raising questions about the selection process. But the White House says the decision was made solely by the Puerto Rico's power authority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He did ask Secretary Zinke, just for clarification purposes. And he reiterated once again, that we have no role, the federal government. And specifically he had no role in that contract.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Next here on CNN Newsroom, now that Spain has dissolved the regional Catalan government, what does that mean for government employees heading into work today? We'll go live to Barcelona for that.

Plus, the Iraqi Kurdish president is stepping down. He took a gamble for Kurdish independence, but it backfired. So we'll look back at his 12 years in power.

[03:15:01] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: All eyes are on Catalonia as it opens for business Monday after a weekend of uncertainty in the region. Thousands of government officials are expected to turn up for work. The big question remains, will they be allowed into their offices?

Spain took control of Catalonia and dissolved its government after the regional parliament defied Madrid and voted for independence Friday.

Our Erin McLaughlin has been following the developments in Barcelona. And yes, it's the beginning of the new workweek in Barcelona. The question is will people go back to work?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Natalie, I'm here outside central government headquarters. We're speaking to staff members at the entrance. They were telling us that aside from the large media presence here, the situation appears to be normal. But of course things really are anything but.

Essentially, what you have here is two parallel realities that play ever since Friday. On the other hand you have Madrid moving into exert direct rule over Catalonia over the weekend appointing the deputy prime minister of Spain to oversee the region, and sacking the head police chief, the head of the local mossos here, as well.

[03:20:04] We also expect the local prosecutor in Madrid to file charges today against the now dismissed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and his ministers.

Meanwhile, Puigdemont over the weekend not backing down, saying that he is going to continue to try to build an independent country, calling on the people of Catalonia to resist emergency rule in a democratic and peaceful fashion.

He spent the weekend at his hometown of Girona, seen as a pro- independent stronghold and there was this incredible moment yesterday. Girona played Real Madrid in football. And incredibly they won.

Puigdemont on Twitter last night reacting to that, saying, quote, "Girona's victory over one of the biggest teams in the world is an example and a reference for many situations." And then he winked. Natalie?

ALLEN: How about that one? All right. We know you'll be covering it for us, Erin. A pivotal day there. We'll get become to you. Thank you so much.

In Kenya, there is still no winner in Thursday's presidential vote. The country's election committee is expected to announce the result Monday. But there is controversy about how many people in the country actually voted or stayed away from the polls in protest.

Farai Sevenzo is following this for us in Nairobi. And Farai, you know, where does the vote stand today? And does an outcome have any validity?

FARAI SEVENZO, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Very good question, Natalie. I mean, at the moment we are waiting for the numbers, the numbers or the lack of numbers. At the moment there's been a great big dispute over how many people actually turned out to vote. It is certain that it's less than the 80 percent we witnessed back in August.

Remember, cues around the block, and of course opposition are throwing out queries like how can Mr. Kenyatta's vote suddenly be seven million. How many people are in each constituent and what is the IEBC going to declare. So, it's a numbers game, Natalie.

And we are also waiting for the IEBC to announce the result. And of course, we all know that more than his wife knows who's won this election. It was Mr. Kenyatta because he was the only man standing.

ALLEN: Exactly. And you know, there has been so much, so many, many problems in the streets because the citizens have been confused and bewildered. Are there still concerns about any violence among different ethnic groups?

SEVENZO: You know, just now, a few hours ago, Amnesty International, one of the world's leading rights groups put out a very strong worded statement in which they said, and I quote, "What you are witnessing appears to be punitive policing, a blatant attempt to intimidate and punish residents in the opposition stronghold."

So, you know, we're having trouble in ways in Kisumu, and as well in suburbs of Nairobi like Kibera and Kawangware. As we locked up the bureau on Friday night, there was some kind of ethnic tension going on in Kawangware where a man had his -- the Congo west bar and butchery burned down.

And of course, a retaliatory kind of fighting. And that is the biggest concern right now. I mean, in fact, the deputy president was on CNN just yesterday blaming the militia. And of course, the opposition is blaming very, very strident and brutal policing.

So the battle lines are drawn and both sides are entrenched in their positions and is desperately need something to diffuse the situation or otherwise we are heading towards that kind of tension.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. You know, all the citizens want is a fair process. And that's led to these issues among so many people. So we'll be talking with you again to see what happens next. Farai Sevenzo, thank you so much.

It is the end of an era in Kurdish politics. The Iraqi Kurdish president is stepping down Wednesday. Masoud Barzani has been the face of Kurdish nationalism for decades.

He took a big gamble last month when he pushed for an independent referendum. It backfired. Barzani still has supporters like these demonstrators who stormed in the Kurdish parliament.

CNN's Becky Anderson looks back at his 12 years in power.

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST, CNN: He took them to the brink, but not to the end. Iraqi Kurds charging ahead, voting to make themselves a state anew from parts of Iraq. A dream so long in the making for Barzani.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MASOUD BARZANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAQ'S KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT (through translator): The time is here for the Kurdistan people the determine their future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The time wasn't now. That dream crushed under the weight of Iraqi forces. And a political assault from Turkey, Iran, and Baghdad destroying the political legacy of Masoud Barzani himself. He'd been widely respected for doing something no one has ever done before, given the Kurds a space in which to rule themselves and be largely left to it. [03:24:59] Kurdish business, life all booming there. Decades of

handshake, nods and schmoozing finally paying off. Then a moment about like any other. The Kurds key to crushing ISIS. So surely a country of their own would be their prize? Also Barzani, after years of hope and work before these scenes reckoned on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I congratulate Iraq's leaders on the agreement reached yesterday in Baghdad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Such words from Washington leading to Barzani's epic miscalculation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT MCGURK, UNITED STATES SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR THE GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISIS: Having a referendum on such a fast timeline, particularly in disputed areas would be, we think would be significantly destabilizing. We've made those views very clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Caution though, to the wind, it is now or never when the thinking in Kurdistan. This is what they had suffered before. Just some 30 years or so ago, Iraq's barbaric despot, Saddam Hussein, slaughtering Kurds with chemical gas. A man just a few years later Barzani then made friends with to fight a civil war amongst the Kurds themselves. A war he won.

Barzani has lived a fighter, born into the struggle for Kurdistan. His father a legendary fighter, raising the kingdom for Kurds that evaporated under the British assault. The dreams of the father now not to be lived by that son. So instead, perhaps by his. For the Barzanis, independence is a family struggle.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

ALLEN: Coming up on CNN Newsroom, an incredible story of survival against all odds. We'll hear from the two women who survived a terrible ordeal five months lost at sea.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top stories.

Hundreds of thousands of anti-independence protesters are calling for a unified Spain. Madrid dissolved Catalonia's parliament after the region declared independence Friday. New elections are set for December. Spain has threatened to charge the suspended Catalan leader with rebellion. The U.S. Navy is investigating whether two of its elite members killed

this U.S. soldier. Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar with the Army Special Forces was found dead in June at a U.S. government compound in Mali. A medical examiner says the Green Beret may have been strangled to death.

Saudi Arabia says it will let women into three sports stadiums as spectators starting early next year after long baring women from arenas. The Saudi crown prince is promising other ambitious reforms for women. Starting next June, women will finally be allowed to drive on Saudi streets.

We are waiting to find who will be indicted into investigation into Russian election meddling. The charges were approved Friday and an arrest or arrests could come within hours. The White House has not made an official statement, but President Trump has been tweeting. He calls the probe a witch-hunt and demands an investigation into an Obama era uranium deal reportedly involving bribes to Hillary Clinton. So says the president.

Russia is at the heart of both of these political controversies in the U.S.

Let's go to Moscow now where Oren Liebermann joins us. And Oren, Russia has often called this story hysteria by the U.S. media. Any new response to news about these pending indictments?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Russophobic hysteria, a term we've heard quite often in terms of how Russia views the U.S. investigation into election meddling. But there has been no response since CNN broke news on Friday that charges could be maybe public as early today.

And that's not surprising because Russia tends to be conservative with their answers and their comments and they hedge quite a bit until they have the full details. So, although they might say something like they're concerned or they're watching, a full response will only come after we learn more that is after the charges are made public and we find out who is being charged, who those charges are against.

But from a big picture perspective, it's important to remember that Russia has continuously and repeatedly denied the purpose of the investigation which is to say into election meddling. Russia has continually denied any involvement in the U.S. elections and any attempts to meddle there.

So that's not likely to change regardless of what these charges are or who has charged. They call the investigation. And again, hysteria and an attempt by the U.S. to essentially smear Russia. That's not likely to change, regardless of what we learned either today or later on this week, Natalie.

ALLEN: Right. At all times, you know, the U.S. and Russia are not in a good place when we've got the North Korea situation where they should be working together on that. So that's quite unfortunate. Oren Liebermann for us there in Moscow. Thank you, Oren. Now we turn to the amazing saga at sea. Two friends along with their

two dogs lost and adrift in a damaged boat for five long hope-starved months. The two women set off on a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti, but were knocked off course by a storm that incapacitated their boat.

They lost communications. And after months of drifting, they also lost hope. But last week, the women were rescued by the U.S. Navy. And now their feet and their dogs' are on dry land.

Ivan Watson is there at White Beach, a U.S. naval facility in Okinawa, Japan. You've got the talk to these women. And certainly every time I've seen them make comments, they are just ecstatic to being rescued, ecstatic to be alive.

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Absolutely. Euphoric and incredibly grateful to the mean and women of the U.S. Navy who aboard this large vessel the USS Ashland, rescued these women from their stricken sailboat, 50-foot sailboat which was effectively floating at sea for more than five months of what was supposed to be an 18-day journey from Hawaii to Tahiti.

Instead, because a very different ordeal when successive storms knocked out the mast and the engine, and the communication devices aboard their sailboat. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER APPEL, RESCUED AFTER FIVE MONTHS AT SEA: We had no VHF, no range on it. No weather com, no SSB, single side band. We didn't have our ham radio. And our radio telephone inside the boat was not working.

[03:35:03] And also our Iridium sat phone was not working. So we had no way to realize that we were about to enter a typhoon that had winds of 100 to 150 miles an hour and minimum wave heights of 40 foot in height.

WATSON: How it is possible that all of these different communications devices malfunctioned?

APPEL: They are dependent on the antenna.

TASHA FUIAVA, RESCUED AFTER FIVE MONTHS AT SEA: Yes.

APPEL: And when the antenna went out, everything went out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: So how did the women and their two dogs survive this long period at sea? They say they depend very heavily on a desalinization unit that basically purified ocean water for them to drink on board the sailboat. They also had months and months of stocks of dried food that they relied on as well.

They claim that at some point along the journey their vessel was being hit by tiger sharks, which were circling the vessel and of course scaring them. They also say there were opportunities for possible rescue when they drifted past Wake Island, a U.S. island in the Western Pacific, and they were able to connect with a coastal station there.

But by their communications device, but were told that they needed to get to the southern end of the island to the harbor to be rescued. And they could not do that since their engine and sails would not function.

That was one of their darkest days. That's when Jennifer Appel said she started crying for the whole afternoon as they drifted out of sight of the island. And she credits the dogs who licked the tears from her face for giving her hope. Natalie?

ALLEN: And you also told us that they turned to their bible to try to keep themselves hopeful and optimistic. I know that they were really sad that they had to leave their boat behind that was their home and that was their dream. When will they be reunited with their families? And what's next for them, do we know?

WATSON: I think that's a very big question mark. And as one of the women said, we feel very lost right now like we're in kindergarten again. Because it's true. That 50-foot sailboat was their home. They lived on it on Hawaii before embarking on this incredible nautical adventure.

And when the USS Ashland got a distress call and steamed to their rescue, and technicians went aboard the sailboat, they deemed that vessel unseaworthy. And the women had about an hour, they said, to decide to leave their home behind as well as most of their material possessions.

The good news, as they came out alive with their two very lovable dogs. I got to pet them and hang out with them some. But yes, they had to leave their homes behind. And now they have to find their way in this world again.

Again, there is a happy ending. They were able to make satellite phone calls from the ship to very concerned family members on the U.S. mainland to say we're alive. And as far as I know, the father of one of the women told the commanding officer aboard this ship, thank you. You save my daughter's life. Natalie?

ALLEN: All right. We don't know what's next for them. But these women are resilient, and they survived. I think they're going to be all right. Thank you so much. Ivan Watson for us there in Okinawa.

Oscar Winning actor Kevin Spacey is apologizing after another actor accused him of an unwanted sexual advance. Anthony Rapp claims the incident happened back in 1986 when he was 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey responded with a statement on Twitter saying, "I'm beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter. It would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate, drunken behavior." Spacey added that Rapp's allegation encouraged him to go public about

his sexuality. He wrote, "As those closest to me know in my life, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life. And I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly, and that starts with examining my own behavior."

CNN has not independently verified those allegations from Rapp, and we reached out to both Rapp and Spacey's representatives.

Still ahead here, Puerto Rico's national rainforest used to be sprawling with tree and animals and life. But after hurricane Maria, you can't recognize it. That's coming up.

[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Karen Maginnis is with me now to talk about a powerful storm hitting the U.S. northeast.

KAREN MAGINNIS, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Yes. And this is the fifth anniversary of super storm Sandy. And a lot of people were saying is this going to be like it. It's nothing like it. It's nothing like it but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of damage associated with it as well.

Let's go ahead and transition towards the big board I want to show you. This area of low pressure is an amalgamation of a couple of things. Frontal system that was moving towards the eastern seaboard, area of low pressure. That kind of developed off the mid-Atlantic coast, and kind of some energy that was brought up from tropical storm Philippe.

Phillippe is long gone. But there was some of the moisture that was attach to it that is moved towards the north. Boston, you are right in the line of some pretty heavy rainfall coming up over the next hour.

As a matter of fact, right now. I'm looking at it, and you could see an additional 2 to 4 inches. The wind that we've seen across this region especially strongest right around Connecticut, also into Rhode Island and western or eastern sections of Massachusetts.

As the afternoon goes on, we'll start to see that diminish. It's going to be windy all afternoon. But not like those 50 and 60 and close to 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts that we've seen.

Wow. The power outages just in the past hour. I told you about a quarter of a million. I thought it was probably more than that. But it jumped up exponentially with about three quarters of a million people in this northeastern corridor without power. Most of those in coastal regions where the wind reports were the strongest.

All right. We go to Germany. There was a very strong weather system that plowed through here with reports of fatalities associated with the wind and the storm system is now beginning to pull away into western sections of Russia. On the back side of this system, that's where we're looking at a

little bit of rain, snow mix for Moscow. And the temperatures remain in the deep freeze there for quite some time. But you can see milder weather extending across the Iberian Peninsula.

[03:44:57] And for the United Kingdom, we've got some wet weather in store here. The wind is going to be very blustery all the way from Poland where coastal regions of Poland might expect some winds right around 100 kilometers per hour or 60 kilometers per hour. Natalie?

ALLEN: It's got a lot of swirling circles.

MAGINNIS: Not a good thing to see.

ALLEN: No. All right, Karen, thank you, as always.

All right. Now back to another weather story that of course we've all been paying attention to, Puerto Rico's spectacular national rainforest has been obliterated. Trees and animals unique to that environment had their home ripped away with hurricane Maria tore through the island more than one month ago.

CNN's Martin Savidge is there and has a firsthand look at what's left of the tropical rainforest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Carlos Touche makes a living driving this road.

CARLOS TOUCHE, TOUR GUIDE: I myself will go between two to four times a week. But my staff was pretty much up there every day with two to three vehicles.

SAVIDGE: More than a million tourists a year make the day trip up to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. forest system. Or at least they used to until hurricane Maria.

Two weeks after the hurricane, CNN flew a drone at the park's entrance, but most of the forests remain out of sight. Now we have been given permission to take you inside. If you knew El Yunque before, you would not recognize it now.

The farther into the forest you go, the greater the destruction. The category four storm obliterated the forest, defoliating pretty much all 28,000 acres. The first teams in thought to open roads blocked by trees.

Now they fight to hold off landslides and maintain access to one of El Yunque's most urgently needed resources. The forest supplies one-fifth of the island's entire water. Twenty percent of the water.

(CROSSTALK)

CAROLYN KRUPP, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE: Twenty percent of the water comes from El Yunque. SAVIDGE: OK.

KRUPP: So it's important that we clear access into those and take so that the water supplies can be restored.

SAVIDGE: Water isn't the only treasure, there are 23 species of trees here found nowhere else. Their fate - unknown. The same is true for America's only native parrot still living in the wild. It's no wonder the very first people who got to the park were shocked by what they found.

Even now five weeks after the hurricane, it is still stunning. An entire rainforest canopy that has been ripped away.

Scientist Hannah Wood was studying El Yunque and climate change when literally overnight three years' work was blown away.

HANNAH WOOD, SMITHSONIAN SCIENTIST: I mean, it basically cut this forest in half. It completely, completely took out all the leaves. Like there was nothing green here at all.

SAVIDGE: Her team built this tower to study the top of El Yunqe's tree canopy. Now there is nothing to study but open sky. Her original experiment may be in ruins, but she's got the front row seat for a brand-new one.

WOOD: This is nature. You know, this is what happens in this forest. We have hurricanes that come through. And my job is to study what happened.

SAVIDGE: And there are signs the rainforest is already hard at work on recovery. Always a source of pride for Puerto Ricans, El Yunque can now be something else, inspiration.

WOOD: Seeing it get greener I think can be a sense of hope for people as they recover from this hurricane.

SAVIDGE: A living lesson on starting over.

Martin Savidge, CNN, El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: And coming up here, imagine French cooking without butter. Say it is not so! For many it is simply unthinkable. But we'll show you why some chef's face that very challenge, coming up here.

[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: A year-long mourning period for Thailand's late king is officially over. His cremated remains were placed in their final resting places Sunday, ending a five-day, $90 million funeral ceremony.

The king's remains were moved to the royal palace and several Buddhist temples. He ruled for 70 years and was the world's longest reigning monarch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I didn't want today to come, but still it came. However, I will always have the king stored in my heart, whether as picture, whoever old and torn, the memory of him will always be kept in my heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: He was revered as a stabilizing figure during years of political turmoil. He died last October at the age of 88.

We turn now to France and a bit of a crisis. In fact, it's called a croissant crisis. And French chefs and home cooks are not taking it lightly. There is not enough butter to go around in France, and there are a number of reasons why.

Our Jim Bittermann went to explore this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes a very important step, which is softening the butter.

JIM BITTERMANN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Anyone who remembers Julia Child's whacking the daylights out of a stick of butter on her TV show the French Chef will also know she wasn't angry at it. She loved the stuff. Saying as the French often do, with enough butters anything is good. But if chef here is seem to be treating their butter better these days, it's because there is not enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHE VASSEUR, BAKER: When we ask to the supplier we want to buy 200 kilos of butter, they answer maybe 150, but not 200.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BITTERMANN: And a butter shortage in a nation that consumes more butter than any other in the world, eight kilos, or about 18 pounds per person per year a shortage is a real crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Cooking without butter, eating without butter, it's unthinkable for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BITTERMANN: But don't blame these guys. They've been doing their job. It's more a question of how the government has churned the butter market over the past few years, spreading milk subsidies too thickly and then thinning them next to nothing.

And as a consequence, supplies have gone up and down, while prices have gone down and up. A ton of butter now costs more than double what it did in the early part of this year. [03:54:58] Christophe Vasseur, who each day turns out about a thousand

croissants and other leafy pastries at his bakery has to pass along the increased cost to his customers. A croissant is ten cents more today than it was in September.

VASSEUR: The second part of butter we're going to put...

(CROSSTALK)

BITTERMANN: Because 30 percent of the content of one of those pastries is pure butter. Vasseur believes part of the increased appetite for butter stems from new house studies which has improved the product's fatty image.

VASSEUR: Everybody is saying, we should have butter on the daily diet a little bit. But on the daily life means that the demand is exploding. And on top of that, last explanation, some new markets open like China, like Southeast Asia, like Japan.

BITTERMANN: But improving the butter situation is a slippery challenge, especially with the end of the year approach when the French really chew the fat.

Perhaps to avoid a run on dwindling supplies, something that could lead to a butter meltdown, the government has been trying to be very reassuring about the situation, saying it has it in hand, and that supplies will be back to normal before the holidays.

But professionals are not so sure. And some are taking things into their own hands. Something Vasseur is happy to show you in his refrigerator.

VASSEUR: So usually I order every week. I receive like two or three. So I had to order for two months because I don't know whether in two weeks' time they're going to be able to supply me.

BITTERMANN: Observers here say it's unthinkable that butter shortages might lead to rationing for the holidays. As one editor put it, sacre de buerre!

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

ALLEN: All right, France, you got to fix that problem for us.

Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen. The news continues after the break.

[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)