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Sources: Saudi Intelligence Officer Led Khashoggi Mission; Judge Dismisses Stormy Daniels Defamation Suit; Saudi Arabia's Financial Ties to Washington; Brexit Talks Stall over Irish Border Dispute; Trump Threatens Honduras over Migrant Caravan. Aired 12m-1a ET
Aired October 17, 2018 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Trump says blaming the Saudis for the alleged murder of a journalist is another case of guilty until proven innocent, as his secretary of state smiles for the camera, sitting with the man who may have ordered the slaughter.
Also untying a Gordian knot: an ancient tale is given new relevance in the age of Brexit. The head of a crucial meeting between Britain and the E.U.
And puff, puff, give. Legally, in the Great White North, Canada legalizing pot at the stroke of midnight.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us, more around the world. I'm Nick Watt and This is CNN NEWSROOM.
WATT: More new information in the killing of a Saudi journalist points to the Saudi government. Three sources tell CNN the mission that ultimately led to the disappearance and death of Jamal Khashoggi was organized by a high-ranking officer in Saudi Arabia's intelligence service.
One source says the officer is close to the inner circle of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said investigators are now looking into toxic materials that have been painted over inside the consulate. The search will expand to the Saudi consul general's home on Wednesday.
U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo has met with the Saudi king and crown prince in Riyadh and travels to Turkey on Wednesday. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
What is the latest from Istanbul?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nick, as you mentioned there, on Monday, investigators did finally get access to this building behind me, the consulate. We know they spent eight hours. They had forensic experts in there. So we're waiting to hear what the outcome of that search out was.
This is something that CNN has learned from a Turkish official that Jamal Khashoggi was not only killed butt his body was cut into pieces, in the words of that official.
Now on Tuesday we were expecting, we saw the preparations for police to get access to the residence of the consul general, who left the country on Tuesday and headed back to Riyadh.
But that did not happen. Expectations is that this would happen today. We're going to have to wait and see. As we know we've had very little information coming from Turkish authorities to what they have been able -- been able to piece together so far.
Much of what we're learning is coming through leaks and sources. But officially, on the record, what Turkish officials have said is that they are looking at a group of 50 Saudis that they described as persons of interest in this investigation.
They arrived in the country on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance. They were inside the consulate and they left later on that day and that some of them included Saudi officials.
And on Tuesday a government official did provide CNN with photocopies of their passports, stamps that they say were taken on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance.
So we're going to have to wait and see if authorities did get access to the consul general's house and if they will be releasing any more information, especially after what you mentioned earlier, those hints from President Erdogan about possible cover-up. (INAUDIBLE) consulate, painting over toxic materials.
WATT: Jomana, how is this narrative that we were told the Saudis were going to spin about this was some sort of interrogation gone wrong. That is not really holding up.
KARADSHEH: Well, we will have to wait and see what Turkish authorities think of that. Initially they were saying that what they were hearing from Saudi officials was unconvincingly. They haven't heard their take on this latest narrative which we've seen build up over the past couple of days, the possibility of rogue elements being behind it.
But this is something many human rights activists in this region are very skeptical about for several reasons. One is the fact that nothing takes place at this kind of level in Saudi Arabia without the knowledge of Mohammed bin Salman. And is that is something U.S. officials have all been told at CNN.
And the fact is it took about two weeks for us to hear this narrative coming out. Initially the Saudis were completely denying any knowledge of anything happening in the conflict. They maintain that Jamal Khashoggi left the consulate and when people
were asking them, Turkish officials to release any sort of --
KARADSHEH: -- evidence to back up these claims, including surveillance footage, the response from Saudi officials was that their cameras do not record.
So this is going to be something very difficult for many people to really believe.
WATT: Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul, thank you very much for bringing us the latest.
CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin joins me now from Washington.
Josh, CNN heard from a senior advisor today. And they said that this may be the most consequential decision of his presidency, meaning how President Trump handles this Khashoggi situation.
Do you agree with that assessment?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do, I think that the president has facing a crisis in foreign policy, unlike one that he has seen before, for a couple of very important reasons.
First of all, he has placed his entire Middle East strategy in the hands of the U.S.-Saudi relationship and that relationship is now teetering on the brink of a major crisis, if it is not there already.
Secondly, the Trump administration is three weeks away from imposing harsh new sanctions on Iran and any country that does business, especially in the energy sector, with Iran. And Saudi Arabia is a key part of that strategy. And that strategy is effective -- is now called into huge question.
We have seen the president and his administration work on the basis of a lot of assumptions about how the Middle East works. And now they are being faced with the reality that clashes with those assumptions.
And they do not have a clear plan out. They don't seem to have figured out what they are going to do. And how they behave and how they navigate a series of really bad decisions over the next few days will have huge consequences, for not only their Middle East strategy but also for the U.S. relationship with one of its closest historical allies.
WATT: I want to talk a little bit about what we saw play out today. I mean, you know, we sold Mike Pompeo in Saudi, smiling a lot during his meeting with the crown prince there.
We also heard President Trump who spoke to the Associated Press. He said, "Here we go again with, you know, you are guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that." He also said to FOX Business Network, "If they knew about it, that
would be bad," meaning the king and the crown prince. The operative word there seems to be "if" and if they did not know about it, it is fine.
I mean how do you think they handle today?
I mean a lot of Republican senators seem to be separating from the White House in how this is being handled.
What's your assessment of Trump and Pompeo's performance today?
ROGIN: There is no doubt that the administration's reaction to this has been dysfunctional and chaotic. Mike Pompeo traveled all the way to Riyadh to get information from the Saudis on what they knew about the disappearance.
And as far as we know, he did not learn anything new, although there might have been something discussed in the private meetings. According to Pompeo, the Saudis are still denying any knowledge, despite a lot of rumors here in Washington that the Saudis are preparing to put out this explanation or that.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, President Trump is undermining his own diplomats' effort to raise pressure on the Saudis by seemingly taking them off the hook, by declining to use pressure on arms sales, by defending the Saudi Arabian government by comparing them to Brett Kavanaugh, a man he feels was wrongfully accused.
And by saying pretty clearly that he has no intention of supporting what everybody in Congress is going for, which is sanctions on the Saudi regime. So if you are looking for a comprehensive, cohesive message from the United States, you are simply not going to find one.
And, you know, that is not new in the Trump administration but it does matter more in a crisis when everyone is looking to the president for direction. And what he is doing is basically just reacting to the questions that he is getting and reacting in a way that actually harms his objective, which is to raise pressure on the Saudis -- and the Turks, for that matter -- to tell us what happened to Jamal.
WATT: I wanted to play actually two quick sound bites from Republican senators and their reaction to how the White House is handling the Saudi situation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: I have been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate. And this guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused.
I was on the floor every time, defending Saudi Arabia because they're a good ally. There is a difference between a country, an individual. The MBS figure is, to me, toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage. (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA.: This would really blow apart our Middle Eastern strategy and it's something we have to address from a human rights standpoint. Just because a country we're working with, it does not mean the U.S. can just shrug a shoulder and say, well, nothing happened here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: I mean, Lindsey Graham breaking lockstep with President Trump, Josh, what does that tell us?
ROGIN: What I hear all day every day now in Washington is that all of the people who consider themselves allies of Saudi Arabia for all these years are angry because they feel that MBS and the rest of the Saudi regime has put them in a horrible position, OK, where they're either forced to defend this or to excuse it in some way or to break with them.
And you know that is new. I have never seen anything like that before. And I think somewhere in between, where Lindsey Graham is and where President Trump is, is where most of Washington is.
There -- they resent the fact that, if this is true and the Saudi regime did have Jamal killed in that consulate, then they have created a huge problem, not just for themselves but for everybody who is connected them, especially everyone in Washington that's been touting MBS as a reformer and touting this new Saudi regime as the hope for the new Middle East because now they cannot make that argument.
And also as Marco Rubio said, even those people who want to still support the Saudi regime or the U.S.- Saudi relationship cannot ignore this because it is such an egregious violation. And it's just ruined all of the goodwill or any of the goodwill that the Saudis had in Washington and given fuel to all of their critics.
And that was a delicate balance that had gone on for sometime. And that balance is shattered and now there is nobody who can stand up and defend the Saudi regime. And that has big implications on a number of fronts going forward.
WATT: I want to shift gears slightly now and the juxtaposition, I think, is relevant here. And also today the president got some good news that a judge has thrown out a suit filed -- a defamation suit filed against the president by the adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, who he allegedly had an affair with.
The president tweeted, he says "Great, now I can go after Horseface."
That is what he calls Stormy Daniels.
"Now I can go after Horseface and her third-rate lawyer."
That lawyer is Michael Avenatti. Let's just hear a little bit of what he had to say today about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: How do you tell your kids to look up to the president of the United States when he behaves in this manner?
It is an absolute joke and it is a disgrace and it is about time that we stop shaking our head and we stop or start punching back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Josh, we got on the one hand, the president dealing with a major international incident; on the other hand he is on Twitter, calling an adult film actress who he allegedly slept with, calling her Horseface.
Why is he doing this? Is it a diversion?
And also how does that play overseas? Can people still take him seriously when he is on these two paths in the same day?
ROGIN: I do not even know that people inside America can take him seriously. I mean, I think to call it a diversion would be to ascribe too much intentionality to the -- what the president states does on his social media all day, every day, which is just a endless litany of insults and ad hominem attacks and defensive, angry, you know, assaults on whoever it is who he thinks has wronged him.
And so I do not see any reason to believe that him doing this is connected to what is going on in Jamal's case at all. In fact, I think that it shows that the president is not focused on the issues that are most important and is simply spending his time worrying about his own personal problems and his own personal pet peeves.
And if you want to look for consistency in President Trump's behavior, that is the consistency. He was agnostic about the Saudi case until it became a criticism of him and his reaction. At that point he got very defensive and, in that defensiveness, ended up defending the Saudis, OK.
And is that the common thread in what we see from President Trump over the last three years, from before he was even president, is that, for him, everything is about him and that is what he is thinking about all day. And that's how he's making his decisions.
WATT: Josh Rogin, joining us from Washington. Thank you very much for your time.
ROGIN: Thank you.
WATT: Now President Trump is also trying to distance himself from any financial ties to Saudi Arabia, tweeting this on Tuesday, "For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia -- or Russia for that matter -- and any suggestion that I have is just more fake news, of which there is plenty."
You'll notice the specific language there. The president said he has no financial interests in Saudi Arabia. But that does not mean he has no financial interests with the Saudis, a topic he bragged about more than once on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Saudi Arabia and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.
I like the Saudis. They're nice. I make a lot of money with them. They buy all sorts of stuff. All kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions and hundreds of millions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: That Saudi money and influence has been running through Washington long --
WATT: -- before Donald Trump was president. CNN's Jake Tapper takes a closer look.
TAPPER (voice-over): Mr. President, you may not have financial interests in Saudi Arabia, but you certainly have them with Saudi Arabia. In fact, financially driven friendships have fueled Saudis influence in Washington for decades, lining pockets of Republicans and Democrats alike from K Street to Capitol Hill and beyond.
BEN FREEMAN, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY: They have lobbyists that will contact your member of Congress on the Hill. They have public relations firms that will contact big media outlets on their behalf. So wherever they need influence, they have it.
TAPPER: Abby Asher Shapiro from the Committee to Protect Journalists named names, tweeting out foreign agent registration records from former Reagan official HP Goldfield, from a former staffer for Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and even from Norm Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota turned lobbyist, among others.
And just before Donald Trump visited the kingdom on his first foreign trip as president last year, the Saudi government hired three U.S. lobbying firms near the White House, one made up of former Trump advisers, receiving annual compensation of $5.4 million, according to federal records.
FREEMAN: One of those goals is to make sure that arms sales keep flowing from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia. Another is to make sure that the U.S. turns a blind eye to a lot of civilian casualties being experienced in the war in Yemen. Other issues include domestic human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.
They want U.S. policymakers to turn a blind eye to.
TAPPER: Of course, it's not just the government. It's the president's private businesses, as well.
TRUMP: Saudi Arabia and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me, they spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.
TAPPER: Now relationships with one of the world's largest oil suppliers are being put to the test. As, sources say, the regime prepares to acknowledge "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was killed in Turkey. Saudi officials will continue, of course, to come to the United States and they have plenty of places to stay. The Saudi government purchased the 45th floor of Trump Tower back in 2001 for $4.5 million.
Although more recently, Saudi lobbying firms spent more than a quarter million dollars at the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The road to the White House, after all, is familiar territory for the royal family.
FREEMAN: We found in our research that the Saudis do a great job of hiring lobbyists who make campaign contributions to people who can get things done they need to get done. In fact, we found several instances where lobbyists made campaign contributions to folks on the exact same day they were contacted by a Saudi lobbyist.
TAPPER (voice-over): Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.
WATT: A critical Brexit summit between British Prime Minister Theresa May and E.U. leaders is taking place within the coming hours. The main sticking point between London and Brussels is the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The E.U. is pushing for a so-called backstop that will ensure the open border remains between the two. But May wants any such backstop to be time limited. European Council President Donald Tusk says Theresa May should bring new ideas. And here is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: It looks like a new version of the Gordian knot. Unfortunately, I can't see a new version of Alexander the Great, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: The Gordian knot legend had it that whoever untied the devilish knot would rule all Asia. And Alexander somehow untied it or just sliced it with his sword, depending on the version of the myth that you read.
Our Hadas Gold joins us now from London.
So, Hadas, is Theresa May the new Alexander the Great?
Can she achieve the seemingly impossible?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's definitely seemingly impossible. I never heard that legend before, before we just heard that quote there. But there were a lot of actually high hopes going into the summit as of just this Sunday about a deal possibly being made.
There was a last minute sprint by the U.K.'s chief negotiator to Brussels to talk with the E.U. chief negotiator. People thought maybe that meant that a deal was going to happen. Maybe tonight at this big dinner between all the E.U. leaders, there's going to be some champagne popping and they were going to start getting the deal together because the European Council president, Donald Tusk, had said that this summit is the moment of truth.
That is what he said last month. But now it is clear that we're pretty much in "Groundhog Day." We are where we were before. We're still dealing with this Northern Ireland issue, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. That backstop issue is more like an insurance policy in case the U.K. and the E.U. cannot get a trade deal together.
So we're not even necessarily talking about the original Brexit deal. We're talking of this sort of insurance policy. That is still what is tripping everything up.
And what's making this even more impossible for Theresa May, what's making it even harder is not only the E.U. that she is negotiating with but --
GOLD: -- also with her political problems back in the U.K., back here in London. She's dealing with not only issues within her own party. There has been reports that cabinet members are starting to resign over Brexit negotiations. Now Downing Street has denied that that is going to happen.
But she also has issues from this Northern Irish party that helps prop up her majority in Parliament and they are being very strong on this Northern Ireland issue. She also obviously has her own political rivals who are looking to take her position as prime minister, who are really bashing her ability to negotiate this type of deal.
We spoke to Jeremy Corbyn just on Monday. Here is what he told us about Theresa May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: I don't think she deliver it at all. I think what she is trying to do is negotiate with her own cabinet and negotiate with her own party. She has, on the one hand, a group of people who are the ultra-
Brexiteers, who want to turn this country into some kind of offshore tax haven in Europe, and those that essentially strongly wanting to remain within the European Union.
And she is trying to put together a deal that isn't credible, isn't going to hold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Obviously, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, he wants a general election. He wants to become prime minister. Keep in mind all of these negotiations could be about just political gamesmanship and that as we've seen in the European Union before, sometimes they really need to come up to that cliff, to see over the cliff before they actually come to a deal.
They really need to come to that 11th hour negotiation to get things together. So we might see these negotiations go longer and longer to November, into December. But no matter what happens, come March, the U.K. will be out of the European Union.
WATT: That's the point, isn't it, it's been more than two years now since Brits voted. It is less than six months since they're supposed to leave.
Is Donald Tusk right in saying that, you know, a no deal Brexit, Britain just crashing out of Europe is now more likely than ever?
GOLD: That is the view that we are hearing from a lot of places and, actually the Northern Irish party that helps prop up Theresa May's majority has also said that they now believe that a no deal Brexit is more likely.
Now Theresa May is still sounding optimistic. She said on Monday that there is that -- that the Brexit deal is still completely achievable. But we're getting down to the wire here, as we have been for a long time.
And what is really kind of stumping us is this Northern Irish issue and whether they can get through it. It's a question of who is going to compromise in which way and who can really stand that.
It really seems as though May is in the weaker position in terms of being able to negotiate and Donald Tusk really put it to her. He said the other day that he wants her to come up with some creative ideas to present them at dinner tonight.
So what's going to happen now? She is going to talk to all the E.U. leaders for a few minutes. She doesn't even get to stay for the full dinner. Then she has to leave. All the rest of the E.U. leaders will then talk and they're continue talking for the next few days.
But it is very clear that what we originally thought and while clearly the E.U. was hoping that there would be some sort of deal coming together during the summit, that is not going to be the case. WATT: Hadas, thank you very much for that assessment of a very complex topic.
Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM thousands of Hondurans marching towards the U.S., hoping to escape extreme violence and poverty and what President Trump says he'll do to stop them.
Plus CNN gets rare access inside a Rohingya Muslim refugee camp. See why these refugees feel stuck and are afraid to return home.
WATT: American president Donald Trump is taking a hard-line stance against a new migrant caravan heading towards the U.S. from Honduras. Mr. Trump warns that the U.S. will cut off aid to the Central American country if the Honduran government fails to stop the thousands trekking north. Ironically, a cut in aid would add to the misery that is forcing people to flee the violence plagued country where corruption is rampant and two-thirds of the population lives in poverty.
The caravan has made it as far as Guatemala and CNN's Leyla Santiago has the latest on this grueling trek.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They've been traveling by foot for days, among them, mothers carrying young children, many being pushed in wheelchairs.
This group of about 3,000 Honduran migrants is headed to the United States in search of a better life, leaving poverty and violence in their home country. They made the long trek through Honduras to the Guatemala border, then on to the city of Esquipulas. The group clashed with Guatemalan police, who blocked one of the border crossings.
It's a long journey but they say they do not have much of a choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is much corruption here in Honduras. We want to work. There is none. We want land to plant bananas, plantains, beans. There isn't any, brother. We need to migrate to another country, brother.
In the hospitals, there is no security. There is nothing. Our patients die, brother.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): President Donald Trump threatened the Honduran government. If the caravan continues on, he says, tweeting, the United States has strongly informed the president of Honduras that if the large caravan of people heading to the United States is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately.
The Department of Homeland Security expanded on Trump's tweet, calling the caravan a, quote, "result of well advertised and well known catch and release loopholes."
Andrea Aleman (ph), who is making the journey with her four children, believes she should be allowed into the U.S.
ANDREA ALEMAN (PH), HONDURAN MIGRANT (through translator): Heading to the United States, we're going to arrive with Donald Trump. He has to receive us, just as we received the Americans over here. They will have to accept us over there.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): One of the group's organizers said that the plan is to walk across Guatemala and reach Tapachula in Southern Mexico. There they hope to apply for humanitarian visas or get asylum.
According to the U.S. State Department, Honduras has had one of the highest murder rate in the world since 2010. The World Bank reports that over 66 percent of the population lives in poverty -- Leyla Santiago, CNN.
WATT: As we just noticed -- noted -- I am sorry -- the migrants have made it as far as Guatemala and authorities there detained one of the caravan's coordinators, Bartolo Fuentes (ph) early Tuesday. Two other people were detained with Fuentes (ph). It is believed all three will be returned to Honduras in the coming hours. The reason for their detention, though, remains unclear.
Meanwhile, CNN's Matt Rivers has been visiting an area between Myanmar and Bangladesh, known as no man's land. That is where 5,000 Rohingya Muslims are stuck in limbo, too afraid to return home. You'll recall more than 700,000 Rohingya have crossed to neighboring Bangladesh in the past year, fleeing a military operation in Myanmar that the U.N.'s top human rights official likens to ethnic cleansing.
There are allegations of rape, torture and murder. Most of the refugees are women and children. In June, Myanmar signed an agreement with the U.N., saying it would create safe conditions for the refugees to return to their homes. But the process is yet to begin in earnest.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If they do come back, officials admit they will not be resettled on their original land and the Rohingya say they fear they will end up in camps indefinitely. Plus, the security forces who would be in charge of the repatriation are some of the same people the U.N. says carried out the genocide.
[00:30:00] RIVERS: So back in no man's land, no surprise, the Rohingya will stay in put.
The conditions inside that camp were obviously horrific. There's no access to education, no health care, no electricity, food is scarce, and yet still, they'd rather be on that side of the fence than this one, because they're too afraid to come back.
NICK WATT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tune in Wednesday to see the first of Matt Rivers' reports from his series inside Myanmar, witness to the Rohingya crisis. Matt will provide us all with rare access and insight into this on-going humanitarian crisis. That's 1:00 p.m. in London and 8:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.
And still to come, it's now OK to get high. The Great White North will look at the new rules in Canada, which is just legalized recreational marijuana.
WATT: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt with our top headlines this hour. Sources tell CNN a Saudi intelligence officer with ties to the country's Crown Prince, organized the mission that ultimately led to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
The journalist vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, two weeks ago. Turkey's president said investigators have found toxic materials now painted over inside the consulate.
Thousands of Hondurans are on the march towards the U.S. hoping to escape extreme poverty in their homeland. The migrants have made it as far as Guatemala, where authorities have detained one of their leaders.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut-off aides to Honduras if its government fails to stop the caravan.
European Councillor President Donald Tusk is warning that a Brexit deal seems unlikely. His comments come as a critical summit between British Prime Minister Theresa May and E.U. leaders take place in the coming hours.
The main sticking point is over how to manage the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, after Britain leaves the E.U., and the Republic remains.
Now, Canada is known for mousse, Maple Syrup, and now, Mary Jane. Canada is right now becoming as midnight gradually strikes across the country, the first major industrialized nation to legalize recreational pot. The only other country in the world would similar laws is Uruguay.
Canada has allowed medical marijuana since 2001, but now, growers will be able to sell to anyone over the age of 18.
Sarah Campbell joins us from Vancouver Island. She's the Director of the Craft Cannabis Association of British Columbia. We'll get to that in a second and ask exactly what it is.
[00:35:12] But first of all, excuse my ignorance and stereotyping, but this doesn't seem very Canadian? Tell me why I'm wrong.
SARAH CAMPBELL, DIRECTOR, CRAFT CANNABIS ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH COLUMBIA: Well, Cannabis has been an enjoyed substance for many years. I personally have been advocating for Cannabis legalization for over 20 years, so I think we're all a little excited up here. It seems surreal.
WATT: And now, tell me what your organization is and what you do, you're Craft Cannabis producers?
CAMPBELL: We formed in 2016, when we understood that our government was going to move towards legalization of Cannabis. And we formed specifically to give a voice to these small farmers, the small batch Cannabis farmers, in Canada.
We had a fear that the industry would be, sort of, gifted to the larger corporation, and we just wanted to make sure that as regulations were put in place, that there was room for small batch producers.
WATT: And now, I imagine, and I've read, I mean, this is going to be heavily regulated and indeed some of the Cannabis stores are going to be run by the government?
CAMPBELL: So, each province in Canada is taking a different approach, which I think is a good way to go. We'll see, sort of, what works the best and we have very different cultures from coast to coast.
So, in our province here in B.C., we're going to have a mixed model, we'll have both government-run retail outlets, private retail outlets and a mixed, the private and the government-ran retail outlets. I think I might be bias, but I think we have one of the best models here, in B.C.
WATT: Now, I mean, down here in the U.S. and states where it is legal, of course, it's not legal, federally, here, so growers and sellers has to be in all cash business, you know, there isn't money going through banks. I'm assuming because it is nationwide in Canada and the government is so involved that you will be able to use the banking system as part of this industry.
CAMPBELL: Yes. I think, you know, we've done this very quickly here, in Canada. Some people would say that we're -- it's happening too quickly. There have -- there are large facilities licensed producers who have been operating for several years.
So, they are obviously supported by the banks, but I think it's still going to take a little bit of time. I was reading today that the banks are getting ready, certain ones, in particular, coming out saying that as soon as legalization occurs, they're ready to jump on board.
So, we can hope that that's going to happen. But literally, just in the last year, it's been very difficult for even our non-profit association to get a bank account, so hopefully, that will change after tomorrow.
WATT: And, I mean, finally, do you feel -- certainly the whole world is going to be watching Canada to see how this pans out and that could affect legislation elsewhere. I mean, do you feel some pressure, as you say, you know, you had been an advocate for Cannabis for some years now, do you feel some pressure to make sure that this is done right in Canada, so maybe the other countries follow suit?
CAMPBELL: Absolutely. And I think, you know, the fact that we have micro licenses in place now, for small scale cultivators, is a really good step. And I think that Canada has a huge responsibility when it comes to corporate social and environmental regulations and responsibility in general.
Just the putting policies and regulations in place to put those ideas forward and to just consider the environment and consider, you know, the people who really helped have this industry come to the point it is today, and not just allow big business to come and take over.
So, absolutely, I think, we have to lead -- we have to lead and set an example.
WATT: Sarah Campbell, joining us from Vancouver Island. Thank you very much and good luck.
CAMPBELL: Thanks, Nick.
WATT: Up next on CNN NEWSROOM, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a baby on the way, but in the meantime, their royal tour rolls on in Australia. We'll have the latest.
Plus, here's your chance to own a piece of the moon. Actually, the biggest chunk of moon rock, ever, put up for sale here, on earth.
[00:40:00] WATT: A baby may be on the way for Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle but that hasn't slow down their first overseas trip, one bit. The royal couple arrived at Australia's Dubbo City Regional Airport, where they were greeted enthusiastically by local school children, enjoyed a picnic in a park, and spoke with local farmers suffering one of the worst droughts in Australia's history.
This is the second stop on their 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.
Now, everyone's planning missions to Mars these days, the next dream destination for adventurous space explorers is, Venus. We'll, not quite yet, but NASA is working on a concept of a manned-mission to the Morning Star, it's called High Altitude Venus Operational Concept. Yes, the acronym is HAVOC.
The temperature on Venus is about 450 degrees Celsius, and its surface is a rocky landscape, dotted with volcanoes, but NASA believes current technology will allow a manned-mission to explore the planet. The plan is to float in the atmosphere between 50 to 60 kilometers above the surface of Venus. Surprisingly, conditions, they are similar to the Earth's lower atmosphere.
Airships would then be dropped into Venus' atmosphere where they will be blown around the planet by the wind. NASA believes that such a mission would allow scientists to learn more about potential climate change scenarios here on Earth. Right now, there's no date set for an actual HAVOC mission.
And a rare lunar meteorite is up for auction, in the U.S. A Boston auction has R.R. Auction describes it as the largest chunk of moon rock ever offered for sale. The meteorite was found in northwest Africa. It contains six pieces that fit together, weighing a total of about five kilograms. A seventh piece, weighing a few dozen grams, has been sent to the University of New Mexico for testing.
GEOFF NOTKIN, CEO OF AEROLITE METEORITES: In all of history, there've been approximately 60,000 different meteorites, found, and recorded by science. And out of those 60,000, less than 350 of them are lunar meteorites, so that gives you an idea of the extreme rarity of this.
WATT: And the sale price of that meteorite, estimated at half a million U.S. dollars.
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT". You're watching CNN.
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