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CNN NEWSROOM

Russia Investigation; Trump Talking Trade; War in Syria; Remembering John McCain; E.U. Moving to End Daylight Saving Time; Myanmar's LGBT Community; Aretha Franklin Laid to Rest. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 1, 2018 - 04:00   ET

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


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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A U.S. lobbyist pleads guilty to steering foreign funds to President Trump's inaugural committee. He is cooperating in the investigation.

The late U.S. senator John McCain lying in state at the U.S. Capitol. And colleagues paying their respects.

And saying goodbye to a queen. A packed house in Detroit, Michigan, as friends and family and friends of Aretha Franklin celebrate the Queen of Soul.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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HOWELL: The investigation around the 2016 election nets another guilty plea, this time from a Washington lobbyist, funneling Russian money into the Trump inaugural committee.

In federal court Friday, Samuel Patten admitted that he helped to steer money into the committee from a pro-Russian Ukranian oligarch. These charges were not brought by the special counsel Robert Mueller; it is, however, the first time that the Justice Department has publicly charged someone with helping a foreigner funnel money into the Trump political event. Evan Perez has more on Patten and what he allegedly did.

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EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Washington lobbyist Samuel Patten pleaded guilty in federal court for failing to register as a foreign agent. Prosecutors said Patten was paid more than $1 million for working with a Ukrainian political party aligned with Russia.

As part of his plea deal Patten admits to helping funnel money from a Ukrainian oligarch to President Trump's inaugural committee. The case began as part of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who referred it to the U.S. (INAUDIBLE) office in Washington, D.C. Under federal law, it is illegal for foreigners to donate to a inaugural committee.

So Patten got around the law by having someone else spending $50,000 on four tickets to the Trump inauguration and a Ukrainian reimbursed the money. We have known for some time Robert Mueller's investigators have asked witnesses about possible illegal foreign donations to the Trump campaign and the inauguration.

But the Samuel Patten plea deal is the first public indication about that line of inquiry. President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says the plea deal has nothing to do with President Trump.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: It turned out to be this irrelevant indictment, where I think Mueller's turned into the private prosecutor.

What does this have to do with the president?

Not a single thing. It has nothing to do with collusion.

Some guy who donated to the inauguration?

My goodness, there are about 500,000 people who donated to President Trump. Every time they get a speeding ticket, the special prosecutor (INAUDIBLE).

PEREZ: Now as part of the plea agreement, Samuel Patten has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. That would include any requests made by special counsel Robert Mueller -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And still more questions and contradictions unfolding in the Russia probe. In a court filing late Friday, convicted former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos contradicted attorney general Jeff Sessions' sworn testimony to Congress.

Papadopoulos says in a March 2016 meeting, Sessions and then candidate Trump both apparently supported his proposal for a meeting with Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign. When Sessions was asked about that meeting under oath, he said that he, quote, "pushed back on the idea."

Papadopoulos' attorney requests that he be given probation instead of jail time.

The Trump legal team is already preparing a defense, maybe you could call it an offense, to counter the Mueller probe, even though no one knows what is in the Russia probe or when it will wrap up.

But we're also learning that the man behind the so-called Steel dossier told the Justice Department official that they believe they had Donald Trump, quote, "over a barrel." We get the details from Sara Murray.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With little sign the Russia probe is wrapping up, Rudy Giuliani is hatching a backup plan. The president's lawyer telling CNN's Dana Bash the legal team is already halfway through preparing a report to rebut a number of possible findings from special counsel Robert Mueller.

It is slated to include sections on everything from collusion with Russia in the 2016 election to fired national security advisor Michael Flynn to obstruction of justice. The report all part of Giuliani's strategy to dull the blow of whatever Mueller makes public.

GIULIANI: I'll be here when it -- my version of the report and they'll have their version of the report and the American people are now essentially going to decide it.

MURRAY (voice-over): Once adamant that Mueller must wrap up his investigation well before 2018 midterms...

GIULIANI: If it isn't over by September, then we have a very, very serious violation of the Justice Department rules. They shouldn't be conducting one of these investigations in a 60-day period.

MURRAY (voice-over): Giuliani now admitting to CNN he has no idea what Robert Mueller's timeline is. It's customary for the Justice Department prosecutors to go quiet for 60 days before an election.

But it's up to U.S. attorneys to ensure they don't take over investigative steps that could impact an election.

As the investigation stretches on, Trump continues to rail against the Justice Department.

TRUMP: People are angry. People are angry.

MURRAY (voice-over): Especially one of his favorite new targets.

TRUMP: I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace.

MURRAY (voice-over): Bruce Ohr is the career Justice Department official who met with Christopher Steel, the former British spy who compiled the now-infamous dossier. Ohr testifying to a congressional committee this week that Steel told him that a July 2016 breakfast that Russian intelligence believed they had then candidate Trump over a barrel, according to a source familiar with the testimony, a claim that's in line with allegations Steel included in his dossier.

But its broad assertion that Russia aimed to interfere in the 2016 election has been accepted as fact by the U.S. intelligence community.

MURRAY: Now when it comes to that report that the president's legal team has been working so diligently on, Rudy Giuliani acknowledged to CNN on Friday afternoon that it may never see the light of day. But he wants to be prepared no matter what Robert Mueller is up to -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Now let's bring in Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the U.S. and Americas program at Chatham House and professor of international relations at SOAS University live in our London bureau.

A pleasure as always to have you. Let's start by talking about this new news around George Papadopoulos, the one-time campaign adviser has contradicted the attorney general of the United States Jeff Sessions' sworn testimony to Congress.

Papadopoulos saying that Sessions supported the proposal of Mr. Trump meeting Vladimir Putin but Sessions told Congress under oath that he pushed back.

Where does this leave the attorney general?

LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, I think it certainly confirms the wisdom of Sessions in recusing himself from overseeing this investigation that Mueller is conducting. And it raises a lot of questions.

Now we know that the president has said now that Sessions will remain in office through the midterms, despite a very difficult and ongoing question mark about what Trump would do when it comes to Sessions. But it raises a lot of questions.

People have been thinking for a long time that Papadopoulos would be very important in terms of his testimony potentially. And I think that we're seeing some of that now.

HOWELL: Also would like to get your thoughts about this report being prepared by President Trump, his team with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani saying that it will touch on everything in the Mueller investigation, though, keeping in mind we don't know what is in the Mueller investigation. So very interesting there.

But is this a flip on the phrase that a good defense is an even better offense?

VINJAMURI: Well, I think it is. And it is not surprising, again, it sort of follows what we've seen for many months now, sort of taking the defense of getting ahead of what we even know to be true. But the real concern is what impact anything that Mueller comes out with might have on the midterm elections.

Mueller, I'm sure, will be very careful. There is a lot of attention and awareness of needing to keep that investigation clear of any politics.

But Giuliani and Trump are very concerned about the midterms, very concerned about how the public is reading the investigations and how that will affect them when they go to the polls in November.

And even though, for the most part, the public has divided on this, taken a very partisan approach to the investigations, that might be beginning to change a little bit. So I think that Giuliani is absolutely going on the offensive. HOWELL: This big headline that we led with, around Sam Patten, this D.C. lobbyist pleading guilty to funneling money from a Russian oligarch into the Trump committee, Giuliani calls the indictment irrelevant, that it has nothing to do with Mr. Trump.

But with Patten now cooperating with investigators, should this worry team Trump?

VINJAMURI: I think that everything right now is worrying team Trump, anything that -- certainly, regardless of what this leads to, in terms of a direct connection, the optics, again, of anything that connects the president to the idea that he may have colluded with the Russians or governments friendly to the Russians is something that they are tremendously worried about because so much of this is political.

And it is about how the American public will read the politics and the claims that Trump was linked up --

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VINJAMURI: -- with Russia as they approach those November elections. That is the primary concern right now.

HOWELL: So we dug into the micro there. So many new lines that constantly cross each day. But let's look at the big picture of how people view this investigation, how they view the President of the United States. First looking at the special counsel approval rating there, you see 63 percent of people support the Mueller investigation.

Another poll that we like to show, again this is an ABC "Washington Post" poll, the president's job approval numbers and you see 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the president's performance at this point; 36 percent approve, which is within that window of his base.

But given those numbers, what are your thoughts heading now into the midterm elections in November?

VINJAMURI: Well, we are still more than two months out, just over two months out from those elections but that polling is significant. The disapproval is very high. But the approval ratings have come down a bit. There are a number of polls but some of those are looking at, the averages seem to be coming down.

It is difficult to know if that is on the back of recent events, the findings of Michael Cohen, the investigations that Mueller is conducting, how the very sad passing of John McCain is affecting the country.

So it is hard to know whether that is a lasting finding. But separately, what you point to, the fact that Americans are approving of Mueller's investigation, is also very notable. That investigation is being conducted and, more importantly, is being seen to be conducted with a great deal of credibility, independence. And that is being acknowledged by the American public. So I think that is a tremendously important number there.

HOWELL: Leslie Vinjamuri, always a pleasure. Thank you.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

HOWELL: Next week, the United States and Canada will again try to hammer out a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

On Friday President Trump told Congress that he will sign a deal with Mexico in 90 days with or without Canada. The deal with Mexico is already set. In leaked comments, Mr. Trump told a reporter, any deal with Canada would be, in his words, "totally on U.S. terms."

The Canadian foreign affairs minister is in Washington for talks. She responded to the president's comments. Listen.

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CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: It is going to take flexibility on all sides to get to a deal in the end. And I can speak to the Canadian position. And I really want to assure Canadians that we are working hard to get a good deal.

We are confident that a win-win-win deal is possible and we will always stand up for Canadian values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The U.S. president will head to Ireland in November.

In a tweet Friday, the Irish deputy prime minister said this, "Our two countries have such strong historic, economic, cultural and family ties, maintaining those connections is always a top priority," end quote.

Mr. Trump is canceling an autumn trip to Australia. Vice president Mike Pence will go there instead. The president does plan on attending high level meetings in Singapore, Papua New Guinea and the G20 in Argentina.

Following the story in Syria, where government troops appear poised for an attack on Idlib and Idlib province, the last remaining stronghold of so-called terrorist fighters. U.S. officials say that they are ready for a military strike if Syria uses chemical weapons. They tell CNN a list of targets has already been made.

Syria's ally, Russia, appears getting ready as well. The Kremlin has announced large scale naval drills in the Mediterranean. At least one U.S. official says the ships could use radar to help track and intercept U.S. missiles.

The Kremlin and Syria deny they are responsible for the chemical attacks. They say that are the work of rebels and Western-backed factions. Syria's foreign minister has been in Moscow over the last couple of days.

And state media quote him as saying, "The Russian friends are determined to support the efforts of Syrian armed forces in combating terrorism and putting an end to the crisis in Syria, while the West led, by the U.S., seeks to block these efforts and protect Al-Nusra Front, as it has already provided protection for ISIS in order to prolong the crisis," end quote.

For his part, Russia's top diplomat is defending a potential Idlib offensive. Here is Sergey Lavrov on Friday.

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SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Speaking about the legal Syrian government, they have the full right to protect their sovereignty and to drive out --

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LAVROV (through translator): -- to liquidate the terrorist threat on their territory. This is the main problem about Idlib. In this area, which was marked a deescalation zone, there must be separation between armed opposition, which is ready to hold dialogue with the government, and the Al-Nusra terrorists.

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HOWELL: U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo gave this response on Twitter, "Sergey Lavrov is defending Syrian and Russian assault on Idlib. The Russians and Assad agreed not to permit this. The U.S. sees this as an escalation of an already dangerous conflict."

The former president of Brazil will not run as a candidate in October's presidential election. Brazil's top electoral court has ruled that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is not eligible to run. Lula has been in jail since April and is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering. He served as president between the years of 2003 and 2011.

Remembering a war hero and a dedicated public servant. The late U.S. senator, John McCain, is back in Washington, D.C., for more memorials before he is laid to rest.

Plus we look at the life of John McCain's mother, Roberta, who was a maverick in her own right. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: A live look there, Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, and guarded overnight in the rotunda by an honor guard, the late U.S. senator, John McCain, being remembered in the U.S. Capitol. McCain's body was brought to the building on Friday where he is lying in state. That honor reserved for presidents, for top government officials and

for military officers. Friends, family and visitors alike came together by the thousands to pay their respects to the self described maverick.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more.

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SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A poignant sound, the skies opening up and rain pouring down just as Senator John McCain's casket was brought step by step into the U.S. Capitol for the last time, a somber end to the senator's 35-year career on Capitol Hill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced.

SERFATY (voice-over): The Capitol rotunda filled with McCain's colleagues from the House and Senate.

RYAN: I remember thinking more than once, yes, he really does talk like a sailor. But you see, with John, it was never feigned disagreement. The man didn't feign anything. He just relished the fight.

SERFATY (voice-over): Paying tribute to McCain's legacy in Washington, oftentimes as the Maverick, a thorn in the side of his own party.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Depending on the issue, you knew John would either be your staunchest ally or your most stubborn opponent.

SERFATY (voice-over): In the absence of the president, which was McCain's wish...

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In every generation there are those who put country first, who prize service ahead of self, who summon idealism from a cynical age. John McCain was such a man.

SERFATY (voice-over): -- vice president Mike Pence speaking on behalf of the White House...

PENCE: The president asked me to be here on behalf of a grateful nation.

SERFATY (voice-over): -- and as was McCain's wish as well, to send a final message of bipartisanship. He wanted to break protocol and have leaders of both parties, Republican and Democrat, in both chambers, to lay wreaths together at his casket.

John McCain's grieving family, including his 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain, tearfully continuing their goodbyes, as did Republican congressman Sam Johnson, a POW for nearly seven years, who shared a prison cell with McCain. SERFATY: And on Saturday John McCain's body will be taken from here

at the U.S. Capitol to the National Cathedral for his service there. He will be eulogized by two former opponents, former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They were both asked personally by John McCain before he passed away to speak on his behalf.

And then on Sunday, the service at the U.S. Naval Academy and his final resting place, his burial in Annapolis, Maryland -- Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

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HOWELL: And there was also this moment during Senator McCain's ceremony on Friday, this photo his daughter, Meghan, posted with former senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Lindsey Graham. Both men have been long time friends of her father.

She writes, "My uncles forever. We love you so much, Dad."

Another special moment at that ceremony, McCain's beloved mother burying her own son. Nothing about Roberta McCain's life has been exactly ordinary. Our Randi Kaye explains.

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RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 106, you might say Roberta McCain is the original maverick. With her husband, a Navy admiral, gone for long periods at sea, Roberta raised her son and his two siblings largely on her own.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength and her belief that we're all men, to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country. I wouldn't be here tonight but for the strength of her character.

KAYE (voice-over): The two were very close. To Roberta, he was simply Johnny.

ROBERTA MCCAIN, SENATOR MCCAIN'S MOTHER: He was just one of those nice children that people liked to have around. The neighbors liked him. Everybody liked Johnny.

KAYE (voice-over): Roberta McCain was born in 1912, when William Howard Taft was president and her independent streak kicked in early in life. She was just 19 when she met her future husband, a sailor on the U.S.S. Oklahoma. Roberta's mother banished him from their --

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KAYE (voice-over): -- home because she didn't want her daughter to marry a sailor.

So what did he Roberta do?

R. MCCAIN: We eloped. It was a real love affair. It really was. KAYE (voice-over): Roberta created what her son later called a mobile classroom, often taking her children on road trips as part of their education. As Senator McCain shared in his memoir, they went to museums, art galleries and natural wonders of the world.

Later Roberta and her identical twin sister spent years seeking adventure around the globe. She reportedly once rode through the Jordanian desert in the dark of night. At one point, when Roberta was in her 90s, she flew to France, where they told her she was too old to rent a car. Well, she had an answer for that.

R. MCCAIN: They wouldn't rent me a car. So I bought a Peugeot.

KAYE: When her trip was over, she shipped that car to the U.S. and reportedly drove it out west. And if there is any truth to the stories her son told about her on the campaign trail, she probably got there pretty fast.

Senator McCain liked to tell the story of his mother being pulled over for going 112 miles per hour.

KAYE (voice-over): It is no secret she is a force to be reckoned with.

FRED THOMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: All I got to say is if Ms. Roberta had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered.

KAYE (voice-over): Her strength helped her navigate one of the toughest periods of her life.

R. MCCAIN: A friend of ours said, "Roberta, two planes were shot down and we didn't see any ejections."

And when we came home, Tom Moore, who was Chief of Naval Operations, called and he said, "We're sure that Johnny is gone."

KAYE (voice-over): And when she heard that her son had been taken as a prisoner of war...

R. MCCAIN: Can you believe that that is the best news I ever had in my life?

See, it depends on where you're standing, how things affect you.

KAYE (voice-over): Years later, when Senator McCain ran for president, Roberta joined him on the campaign trail. At her age, she always imagined her son would outlive her. But instead this week, she is burying him, a pillar of strength once again for the McCain family -- Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And as mentioned, high-profile politicians are set to speak at John McCain's memorial, including former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. CNN's coverage of the service at the National Cathedral starts at 8:00 in the morning in Washington, D.C. That is 1:00 in the afternoon in London.

John McCain will be buried on Sunday. Of course, you can watch this here in progress on CNN.

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HOWELL: A good morning. Coast to coast across the United States, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

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HOWELL: The President of the United States blasting the Russian probe, nothing new there. But he is stepping up his attacks on the Justice Department to a new level, even as new poll numbers suggest that his words may not be working. Our White House correspondent Abby Phillip picks up this report.

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ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There are new indications that President Trump's escalating attacks on the special counsel may be falling flat with the American public.

But while the president continues his attacks on the Department of Justice and Jeff Sessions, there are now some indications that the president may be keeping Jeff Sessions' job safe, at least for now.

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump issuing a new warning to the Justice Department.

TRUMP: At some point, if it doesn't straighten out properly, I want them do their job, I will get involved and I'll get in there if I have to.

PHILLIP (voice-over): That as a new poll suggests his strategy of attacking special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation may not be working. A new "Washington Post" ABC news poll finding 63 percent of Americans support Mueller's Russia investigation.

And President Trump's disapproval rating reaching new highs at 60 percent. But the president insisting...

TRUMP: Those people are angry. People are angry. What is happening is a disgrace.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The president telling Bloomberg that the Russia probe is an illegal investigation, adding that great scholars have said there should have never been a special counsel. This after Mr. Trump spent a week attacking the Justice Department and the attorney general.

TRUMP: All I can say, our Justice Department and our FBI at the top of it, because inside they have incredible people but our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The attacks on Sessions raising new questions about whether the president is preparing to fire him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you fire Sessions?

TRUMP: As I've said, I wanted to stay uninvolved.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The president now telling Bloomberg that he won't act against Sessions before the November midterm elections.

TRUMP: I'd just like to have Jeff Sessions do his job. And if he did, I'd be very happy. But the job entails two sides, not one side.

PHILLIP (voice-over): And President Trump's willingness to leave Jeff Sessions in the job at least until November could be a sign of concern about the upcoming midterm elections. President Trump actually announced that he would be going to Texas to campaign for Senator Ted Cruz in a ruby red state.

PHILLIP: That race has --

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PHILLIP: -- become unexpectedly difficult for Republicans and is a sign of how difficult the November elections could be for the party -- Abby Phillip, CNN, the White House.

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HOWELL: The sun may be setting on daylight saving time in Europe. The E.U. wants it to go away and is taking steps to make that happen. More details when we return.

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HOWELL: Dramatic images to show you of a commercial plane on fire, this in Sochi, Russia. State media say that at least six people on the Boeing 737 were injured when it skidded off a runway and then caught fire. The plane was reportedly carrying 160 passengers. The fire has been extinguished. The cause is not clear.

The clock could be running out for daylight saving time in Europe. It's the practice of putting watches and timepieces an hour ahead so daylight stretches way into summer evenings. But some people think springing forward and falling back is pretty much a waste of time. Our Bianca Nobilo has this report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Time may be up for daylight saving in Europe. The European Union said it plans to end the practice soon, that twice a year leaves the forgetful an hour early or late.

The E.U. says it took a survey of over 4.5 million Europeans and the results were overwhelmingly in favor of staying with summer hours year-round.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The result of the public official is very clear, 84 percent of respondents are in favor of putting an end to the biannual clock change.

NOBILO (voice-over): Currently the law requires all member countries to move clocks forward on the last Sunday of March and switch back at the end of October. But research shows the change disrupts sleep and can affect productivity and work, annoyances many Europeans hope are on borrowed time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think it is a good idea to go back to normal. Other countries have already done it. Changing the clocks wasn't that helpful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't think much about it but it's true. It is always annoying to make sure you are on time when time changes, because it can be a bit tricky.

NOBILO (voice-over): Some 70 countries around the world use daylight saving time. That includes most of North America, Europe and parts of the Middle East. The E.U. still needs to get approval from the European parliament before the seasonal nuisance of springing forward and falling back becomes a thing of the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I always like summertime. We should have a bit more time for ourselves. And that sounds like summertime.

NOBILO (voice-over): Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: A super typhoon that is already the strongest storm of the year may shortly take aim at Japan.

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HOWELL: This next story about Myanmar, that nation often in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Just days ago a U.N. report called for senior members of its military to be tried for genocide for atrocities committed against Rohingya.

And members of the LGBT community there face discrimination. But as CNN's Will Ripley reports, they are finding some freedom at a popular festival. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Men in makeup, idolized by crowds, showered with cash. This could easily be mistaken for a gay pride event, celebrating diversity and acceptance. But here homosexuality is illegal.

This is Myanmar's spirit festival and these are spirit wives, known as Nat Kadaws. Nat Kadaws are said to have --

[04:45:00]

RIPLEY (voice-over): -- supernatural abilities and are revered as celebrities, even in deeply conservative Myanmar, where being LGBT can mean a life of hardship.

The audience believe these people in jewelry and colorful costumes can be possessed by spirits, spirits that deliver valuable advice for the right price, with Nat Kadaws acting as mediums.

For U Win Hlang (ph), it is a lucrative career and a rare chance for acceptance in a restricted society.

U WIN HLANG (PH), NAT KADAW (through translator): I want to help people, to solve their problems. People might have different difficulties such as (INAUDIBLE) right food, clothes and shelter, their business or relationships. I talk with supernatural beings on how to solve this problem.

RIPLEY (voice-over): When it comes to gender, Nat Kadaws identify themselves as men or women, because stigma prevents them from identifying as transgender.

In Myanmar, members of the LGBT community face discrimination, making it hard to find jobs. They also have higher arrest rates and suffer abuse.

Shia Ong (ph), who identifies as a woman, says she was beaten as a boy for being too girly. Her name means "Let's love."

SHIA ONG (PH), DANCER (through translator): I met my husband at the Nat festival. I am a dancer, he is a drummer. After meeting several times and making eye contact, it felt like there was something special.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Gay marriage is not recognized in Myanmar but if a community accepts a couple's relationship, it can be considered socially, though not legally, legitimate. A growing number of LGBT advocates hope large crowds like this are a sign that things are changing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

RIPLEY (voice-over): For many in Myanmar's LGBT community, living like this is the only way to be accepted for who they are, trading a life in the shadows for a life in the spotlight -- Will Ripley, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Family, friends and admirers of the late Aretha Franklin came together in Detroit, Michigan, celebrating the life, legacy and music of the Queen of Soul.

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HOWELL (voice-over): People came together by the thousands. When we return, we'll tell you more about this event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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HOWELL: This is the Band of the Welsh Guards, at Buckingham Palace in London, honoring the late Aretha Franklin with her classic song, "Respect."

And here in the United States dozens of people in pink Cadillacs -- we say dozens but really there were more than that, many, many, many pink Cadillacs down that street came together on Friday, the day of her funeral, paying respects to the late Queen of Soul.

Aretha Franklin was remembered in an hours-long service including friends, family, performers, civil rights leaders and a former U.S. president. A look now at some of the highlights from this event.

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AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: We don't all agree on everything but we agree on Aretha. And she fought -- she fought for everybody.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She charmed us, she thrilled us, she entertained us, she inspired us, she motivated us, she helped us, she hope (sic) us, she blessed us one and all.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember when I was a kid, people used to always ask me, what does it feel like to be Aretha Franklin's granddaughter?

And I'd always shrug my shoulders and go, "I don't know, it's just my grandma."

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The celebrated and the uncelebrated danced to the queen's music, cleaned house to the queen's music, laughed, cried, made cornbread and greens to her music. Break up, make up, dreamed dreams to her music.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the palaces in England singing for the queen, to popping up in the back seat of a car in the middle of a commercial, Aretha was everywhere. She was classy enough to sing on the most prominent stages in the world. But she was homegirl enough to make potato salad and fry some chicken.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

[04:55:00]

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We started out not as a president and a first lady; a senator, a secretary of state; we started out as like Aretha groupies or something.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: The secret of her greatness was she took this massive talent and this perfect culture that raised her and decided to be the composer of her own life's song. And what a song it turned out to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: The late Aretha Franklin laid to rest, as the saying goes, and the church said amen.

I'm George Howell. Let's do it again. More news right after the break. Stay with us.