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DUP Warns May Over Brexit Deal As Cabinet Prepares For Showdown; Report: Saudi Intelligence Officer Shocked By Recording; Putin Critic Says He's Barred From Leaving Russia; "Portrait Of An Artist" Poised To Smash Records; Hockney Painting Expected To Fetch $80 Million. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 14, 2018 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Theresa May, can she convince the cabinet to go along with a hard fought Brexit plan?

The rockets and airstrikes fall silent as Israel and Hamas pause the fighting. We have a live report from southern Israel.

And pilots say Boeing failed to tell them about an critical safety issue with one of its newest 737 planes.

Hello and welcome to our viewers, joining us from all around the world. I'm Andrew Stevens and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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STEVENS: The British prime minister is laying her leadership on the line. Theresa May is looking for cabinet backing for a draft Brexit deal. It has been nearly 900 days since Britain voted to leave the European Union and now finally a draft deal has been reached but it's not in the bag just yet. She has to sell it to the cabinet in an emergency meeting on Wednesday. Nic Robertson is standing by at the Houses of Parliament with more on this.

What could be an historic day and May has begun this by bringing in her cabinet members one by one, hasn't she?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: She has. She brought in those that deemed to view her negotiations so far in a less than positive light. It was an effort one by one to convince them of what she's got.

What has she got?

It is contained in the 500-word document and the concern she's selling Britain short is there may be detail in those 500 -- in the 500 pages that would potentially leave Northern Ireland less connected to Britain than it is now.

This is something that -- that she's been trying to avoid. Famously known as the backstop, a legal mechanism that the European Union has insisted that the British government does agree to, that would prevent a hard border on the border of Northern Ireland between the north and the Republic of Ireland in the south.

That's been the deep concern. Can she convince those ministers today?

The past few days in Brussels there's been late night negotiations between her negotiators and the Brexit negotiators and negotiators of the European Union. But it has these -- these talks have been held in secret. So that's the position she finds herself in today.

But it is a very difficult position that cannot be understated. It is not only those that wanted a harder formal Brexit. It is those that wanted to -- for Britain to remain in the European Union, who felt her position is moving too far away.

Johnson, a cabinet minister who resigned last week over this. So she's going to be torn on both sides. Let's not forget, this is an important for her but it is only a step. If she gets a tick in the box from the cabinet today, this could push Britain toward the talks with the European Union to cement this.

But the deal, as it is structured, has to go to the heads of state of the E.U.'s other 27 nations. Beyond that, if that -- if it is agreed on both sides there, then it goes to Parliament here behind me. That could be even more testing.

STEVENS: Absolutely. This could be the easiest step for May. But if she could get the cabinet, is it likely to make the passes through Parliament easier or are the divisions too entrenched now?

ROBERTSON: Listening to politicians speaking to British media last night, all of them, you know, are indicating at the moment that they really need to see the detail of these 500 pages. The Democratic Unionist Party, for example, from Northern Ireland that -- that -- that gives -- gives May key support, key votes in Parliament, is already hinting that this -- this may not work for them. They said it all along. Anything that weakens the ties between Northern Ireland and mainland U.K. won't work for them.

The Labour Party has said that there are six tests of any deal and that if this deal doesn't stand up to the six tests, they'll vote against it. The shadow Labour, Brexit secretary has described the negotiations so far as shambolic so the Labour Party seemed likely to vote against it. There's a possibility there's 20 or so MPs on their side that vote with the government.

It is not clear if May has the support of all of her other MPs as well. It would be possible that she could lose a vote there. Again, people holding fire a little until they see some of the detail. But it is that detail and it --

[02:05:00]

ROBERTSON: -- is the backstop on Northern Ireland and this sort of whole of U.K. customs union and how that ends when Britain gets to the end of the transition arrangement. Essentially, she's tried to push some of the toughest parts of this into the transition agreement. But because this deal will be legally binding, this is a moment for the critics to either put up or shut up.

STEVENS: OK. Basically with time running out, the clock is ticking down on this. Certainly running out of time to present any alternative deal to this. Nic, thanks so much for your analysis on this.

We'll speak with Nic through the day on the cabinet meeting in a few hours from now. Nic Robertson in London.

And a cease-fire deal looks to be holding at the Israel-Gaza border. Israel launched airstrikes after Palestinian militants started firing hundreds of rockets on Monday and continued through Tuesday afternoon but then went quiet. Palestinian health officials say Israeli strikes killed seven people in Gaza. Israeli authorities report one Palestinian was killed by the rocket fire in Israel.

For the latest now, CNN's Oren Liebermann joins me live from Ashkelon in Southern Israel.

All quiet there at the moment.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right; a different picture here than yesterday. It was about this time that we heard the red alert, the warning that we hear around the periphery of incoming rockets and mortars and saw multiple Iron Dome receptions from this spot in the skies above us.

Now very different, a normal day, people going to work, instructions were given to the communities around Gaza that they don't have to be near bomb shelters, that they can go to school and continue their usual day.

All of this changed on Tuesday afternoon, it was right about 6:00 pm local time when we got the notification from Gaza, from what's known as the joint operations room which is a headquarters for the militant factions in Gaza, notifying them that Egypt had achieved the cease- fire between Israel and Gaza that went into effect at 4:45 pm, so just a short time before that.

And truth be told, having stood there, having paid attention to what is happening across the border, that's when the skies fell quiet. We no longer heard Israeli airstrikes and the red alerts and warnings for rocket sirens, Hamas put out a statement and joint operations room put out a statement saying the cease-fire had been reached and they would abide by it if Israel did.

Israel has not confirmed the cease-fire and that's not surprising. They generally don't acknowledge any sort of agreement between Israel and Gaza; in the past they simply said quiet will be met with quiet.

That cease-fire holding now; it has been a quiet day or at least a quiet morning. We will see what develops. It is worth pointing out, this was the most violent, the most volatile hours since the beginning of the 2014 war in terms of the number of rockets and the number of airstrikes.

And there was serious speculation here that it would lead to war. But that, after 24 very difficult hours on both sides of the border, has come to an end.

STEVENS: Oren, it has been reported that the Israeli defense minister was not in favor of a cease-fire. He is a powerful figure within the cabinet and a powerful right-wing figure as well.

So with him pushing against a cease-fire, how fragile is the situation at the moment?

LIEBERMANN: There had been conflicting reports in local media about what happened in a six-hour security cabinet meeting last night. The first reports were that there was a vote and the vote was unanimous. That was quickly quashed by the statement from the defense minister and the education minister, another one of the rightwing leaders, saying we spoke out against this.

It is not clear at this point if there ever really was a vote or if Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked in and said this is what is happening. There's a cease-fire, we're not shooting at this time and we know they'll stop at the same time as well. It seems like that's the likelier explanation given the opposition we've seen from the defense minister, from the education minister, that Netanyahu walked in and said this is happening.

Does that make it a fragile cease-fire?

Only if you believe either of those politicians are willing to go against Netanyahu and their track record has shown not really. Netanyahu holds all the cards when it comes to Israeli politics.

STEVENS: Oren Liebermann, thank you, joining us from Ashkelon in Southern Israel.

Now the U.S. president Donald Trump is said to be getting ready to make major changes to his cabinet. This is likely to be the first to go, coming up next right here on NEWSROOM.

And in California, firefighters can't seem to catch a break. Gusting winds feed the blaze in the south and the death toll rises in the north. The latest from the disaster zone just ahead.

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STEVENS: Welcome back.

Big changes could be coming to the Trump White House in the days and weeks ahead. The U.S. president is expected to shuffle his cabinet and possibly replace his chief of staff. One change on Monday no one saw coming. CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has deep --

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Late today, Mira Ricardel was seen with the president at his only public event at the White House. Tonight, she was ousted from the West Wing, fired from her role as deputy national security adviser after drawing the ire not of the president but of the first lady.

In a rare rebuke tonight, the first lady demanded Ricardel, John Bolton's deputy, be fired, saying in a statement, "She no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House."

Ricardel recently feuded with the first lady over her trip to Africa, arguing over seating on the plane and National Security Council resources, one source tells CNN.

Sources say the president is also considering replacements for other senior positions, both inside the cabinet and the White House.

TRUMP: We're looking at a lot of different things, including cabinet.

BROWN: The potential shakeup could include chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, officials tell CNN. At the White House today, the president ignored questions about staffing changes.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you plan to replace Secretary Nielsen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you firing Secretary Nielsen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you planning to make a staff change at that level?

BROWN: The president is said to be unhappy with Secretary Nielsen's handling of immigration and border security and could ask for her resignation in the coming days, multiple officials familiar with the matter tell CNN.

The president's angst today was not just reserved for his own team, Trump trolling one-time close ally, French president Emmanuel Macron, launching a barrage of incendiary tweets, saying that the French, quote, "were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!"

And incorrectly charging the U.S. pays higher tariffs for French wine.

Quote, "France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France and charges big tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines and charges very small tariffs. Not fair. Must change."

Mr. Trump's frustration with friends and allies comes as he continues to be dogged by the special counsel's Russia probe. CNN has learned the president met with his legal team over the Veterans Day holiday to go over a series of written questions from Mueller's team.

The questions focused on colluding with Russia, but not obstruction of justice. Part of an agreement reached with Mueller's team to, quote, "move forward with the president's participation" --

[02:15:00]

BROWN (voice-over): -- according to a source.

BROWN: The president has been meeting with his legal team once again today to review those questions from Robert Mueller's team. A source familiar says the anticipation is to give the answers to those questions back within the coming days.

Now as for Ricardel, CNN has reached out to her for comment and has not heard back -- Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEVENS: Scott Lucas is professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England and also founder and editor of the news website "EA World View."

Professor, thanks very much for joining us. I want to pick up on the spat between Trump and Macron. What Pamela didn't mention was Trump tweeted about Macron's very low popularity rating, below 30 percent, a very personal and low blow.

Does this signal another downward, significant downward link between U.S. and its Western allies?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: I'm not sure how many more downward links we can have but, yes. The significance of Trump and Macron is at the personal level because Trump thrives on flattery and people playing up to him. Macron did that initially. You may remember, for example, in July, the big parade in Paris for Bastille Day, where the French gave Trump the marching bands, gave him the military.

But that was well over a year ago and since then Macron and other European leaders have watched Trump berate NATO and slap tariffs on anybody, right and left, who he doesn't like. They not only don't believe they can work with him even by flattering him.

That was clear last weekend because Macron, rather than playing up to Trump, made sure first of all that he couldn't get much one-on-one time with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. And then in that very pointed speech, Macron -- and this was directed at Trump -- nationalism will erode patriotism.

You saw the images of Trump looking agitated, basically not wanting to be anywhere except Paris after he hoped this trip would give him a bit of a boost. So he lashed out yesterday. In fact, everybody knew he would lash out.

STEVENS: Absolutely. And he did. He doubled expectations there. In fact, it seemed the only warmth that he reserved in Europe was for Vladimir Putin.

Let's turn now to issues back in Washington. A reported cabinet reshuffle that the president himself is being tight-lipped about. But there's several names in the frame: John Kelly, chief of staff; Jim Mattis, the Defense Secretary; Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, et cetera. et cetera.

Is it usual for a president to have a reshuffle of this size at this point in the presidency?

LUCAS: Of course presidents changes advisors. Sometimes advisers choose to leave; sometimes the president decides they'd rather have someone else in the post. But two things here; first, the background.

The Trump administration has set probably new highs in standards for dysfunction. We've had more than half of the personnel go out the door, some of them within days of taking up their post. I won't list all of them at this point.

But what adds to that dysfunction and the infighting within the White House that we already had is two things. First of all, Trump is angry. He's scared. He's erratic. He's not happy at losing or -- in the midterms last week, he is not happy about the Russia investigation. He is very fearful that it's going to reach him soon. So no one is safe from that.

Secondly, just that example yesterday, that the first lady, Melania Trump, apparently over seating on a flight, apparently over some personal words that were exchanged with Mira Ricardel, the deputy national security advisor and her staff, said she has to go, almost in a Lady Macbeth move.

At this point, Ricardel, who was very, very close to the national security advisor, John Bolton, is fired and now the question comes up, that John Bolton, who has only been in the post for several months, who's been key on policies from North Korea to Iran, does he just take this?

What happens to the foreign policy machinery of the United States, which was already creaking before this latest unexpected episode?

STEVENS: It was -- it was a bizarrely public way for the first lady's office to send out this statement, saying that Ricardel was no longer fit for the honor of the position. And you raise an interesting point about John Bolton.

Do you think that there is any suggestion that, by Trump agreeing with the first lady to remove Ricardel that's a direct dig at Bolton himself?

LUCAS: Not directly from Trump but from within the administration because Ricardel couldn't stand the deputy secretary, Jim Mattis --

[02:20:00]

LUCAS: -- and she was spinning to reporters that Mattis would be gone soon. Well, Jim Mattis is about the last adult in the playground, in the Trump administration.

STEVENS: I want to ask you about that.

So if this goes, if John Kelly goes and James Mattis goes, two former Marine generals, what will the makeup look like?

Because these serious military figures were seen by many as the adults in the room.

Without them, what is the cabinet going to look like?

LUCAS: We already know what it is going to look like. That's as Trump comes under more and more pressure, he will go to family and friends. He liked John Bolton because Bolton was on the TV on FOX, talking aggressively about what he and Trump could do together. That's why he got rid of another general, H.R. McMaster, and put Bolton into place.

He has put other FOX pundits into the administration. He moved Mike Pompeo, not a FOX pundit but a former congressman from the CIA to the State Department to try to get some stability there because Pompeo is very much loyal to Trump.

But if Mattis goes, can you put a FOX News pundit in to replace him?

Can you put a Trump friend from New York in to replace Mattis?

That brings us back to where we started with this conversation. This is exactly why Emmanuel Macron in France, why Angela Merkel in Germany, Theresa May in the U.K., nobody has faith in this administration to uphold the alliance that Europe had with the U.S. for more than 70 years because we don't know who will be the last adult to be lying on the floor if Donald Trump can hang onto office.

STEVENS: We'll have to leave it there; Professor, thank you so much for joining us.

Professor Scott Lucas of international politics at the University of Birmingham.

Now a U.S. district court judge has scheduled a hearing in the coming hours for CNN's lawsuit against Trump, the network is suing the president and several aides. It wants the credentials of chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta restored. His press pass was suspended last week.

Spokeswoman for the White House, Sarah Sanders, tweeted a doctored video of the incident and claimed Acosta put his hands on an intern. But she now says he was being disrespectful and unprofessional, refusing to yield to other reporters. Sarah Sanders calls the CNN lawsuit "grandstanding" and says the

administration will vigorously defend itself.

California's unprecedented wildfires are still growing and so is the toll they're taking. Officials now say 48 people died in the Camp Fire in Northern California. The fire is only 35 percent contained.

Current recovery teams, cadaver dogs and two temporary morgue units are on the scene now to find and identify victims. In the south, fierce winds are fanning the Woolsey Fire that killed two people. Bill Weir has the update there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the canyons above Malibu look like the surface of the Moon with almost nothing left to burn but all it takes is one hot ember riding one gust of wind to create a whole new front in this war on nature.

Imagine living down in that valley and realizing the only thing between your entire life and that wall of flame are these incredible pilots, not just helicopter pilots but big tanker jet pilots, who are bouncing around in these 40-50-mile-an-hour gusts, trying to precisely hit those spots.

In the space of two hours, we watched a full aerial assault above Hidden Valley, a swarm of helicopters sucking hundreds of thousands of gallons of lake water to drop on the flare-ups. The fixed wing tankers bomb the flames with a jelly-like retardant. Each run costing California thousands of dollars. Seawater is cheaper and the day brought the surreal sight of surfers and superscoopers sharing the lineup at Malibu Beach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to be picking up --

WEIR (voice-over): With crews from Orange County to Idaho spotting from the ground, the wind shifts. Residential areas are spared and they win this skirmish but no one can relax until the Santa Ana winds show mercy.

I'm Bill Weir from CNN. Thank you for your service, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're here for.

WEIR: You guys getting any sleep or...?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intermittently.

WEIR: And it is anyone's guess how many of these smoldering hot spots remain in the canyons and hillsides of Malibu and that's what has so many people worried. This fire is not even out and it has already set records in terms of the cost of human life and dollars, of course.

But what is worse is that it's only going to get worse. When the rains eventually come, all of this ash will turn to mud. All of the vegetation that held those hillsides -- [02:25:00]

WEIR: -- together, well, it doesn't exist anymore. So for generations, people who have known that if you want to live in paradise, the cost are mudslides when it rains and wildfires when it doesn't.

It seems like on a crowded planet that is just getting hotter by the year, that cost is going up and up. There are plenty of frustrated residents in Malibu still under the evacuation order who want to come home and assess what's left of their lives but what they don't appreciate is how many power lines, burned and cracked power poles are hanging in precipitous fashion over so many roadways. You've got busted gas lines, melted roads. So this is just the beginning of what seems to be a record slow motion disaster. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEVENS: Bill Weir there.

(WEATHER REPORT)

STEVENS: Now the Brexit backlash begins. Well, it's certain been going on for a while but it's continuing. Theresa May's agreement with Brussels is now facing accusations of betrayal, as she puts her political future in the hands of her senior ministers.

And a little later this hour, pilots say they were not warned about a potential safety problem in Boeing's newest 737 planes.

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[02:30:48] ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Andrew Stevens these are your headlines this hour. The British Prime Minister Theresa May will hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday still trying to win support for a draft Brexit deal between the U.K. and the E.U. She needs the backing of her ministers before she can try to seal the deal to parliament.

Brexiters in Theresa May's own party say that she's surrendering too much to the E.U. and that they would not approve the deal. Palestinian militants in Gaza have announced a ceasefire with Israel. It ends the area's most severe fighting since 2014. Gaza militants 500 of rockets on Monday after a botched Israeli special forces operation. The Israelis responded with dozens of airstrikes. Officials found six more victims of the wildfire in Northern California Tuesday bringing the death toll there to 48.

The so-called Camp Fire is the deadliest and the most destructive in the state's history. To the south, powerful winds continue to fuel another deadly wildfire near Los Angeles. All right. Let's return to our top story. The E.U. and the U.K. apparently see eye to eye on the draft Brexit deal. But opponents still aren't buying it saying it would give Britain under E.U. control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB REES-MOGG, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Well, if what we head is true, this fails to meet the Conservative Party's manifesto and it fails to meet many of the commitments to the Prime Minister May. It would keep us in the customs union and de facto in the single market. This is the vassal state. It is a failure of the government's negotiation position. It is a failure to deliver on Brexit and it is potentially dividing up the United Kingdom.

It is very hard to see any reason why the cabinet should support (INAUDIBLE) Dublin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEVENS: Annabelle Dickson is a political correspondent for Politico E.U. and she joins us now live from London. Annabelle, thanks so much for joining us here. (INAUDIBLE) couple of days Theresa May talking about 95 percent agreement. They've obviously reached a deal between the E.U. and U.K. on the other five percent. What do we know about that obviously involves around the Northern Ireland issue, the hard border, what is your understanding of the agreement?

ANNABELLE DICKSON, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO E.U.: That's right. So what they've finally agree just this 500-page. It's about concrete black and white deal, and the 95 percent included things like the divorce bill of how much the U.K. is going to pay to the E.U. citizen's rights and that last sticking point was what happens over Northern Ireland. Now, what they've agreed we're told (INAUDIBLE) yet apart from the cabinet and the negotiators.

But the leak is coming out that the U.K. has agreed to all U.K. customs plan which succeed what the E.U. is asking before which was a Northern Ireland only-backed talks plan. But and here's the big but. It's going to have some sort of special arrangements for Northern Ireland on things like regulations and goods.

STEVENS: Does that mean it keeps this deal would keep the U.K. in the -- in the customs zone of the E.U. which plays into the hands of Brexiters saying that nothing is different and there's not different enough?

DICKSON: Yes. So this is a backstop. So in an ideal world and what the U.K. government would argue is this is just temporary, so ultimately we're going to end up getting a great free trade agreement. This is what they're saying. Don't mean -- so we don't have to pull back on the backstop and we'll -- we will be able to leave the customs union and sign trade deals with the rest of the world. So this is an E.U. assurance that a hard border is not going to go out between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because what (INAUDIBLE) to keep same customs arrangements.

But the ultimate aim for the U.K. government is to agree something with the E.U. in the future that will replace it.

[02:35:04] STEVENS: OK. I take it that's not an open-ended backstop. But just when you are say -- could you also talk about what are the chances then of the cabinet siding off on this? Has Theresa May done enough to convince her supporters and her skeptics in cabinet that this is the best plan the only plan given the critical timing now (INAUDIBLE) to Brexit?

DICKSON: Yes. And that's actually a key point. We've only got 130 days until Brexit which is like its concentrate minds which I suspect is why she's waited until now to put forward this proposal. So this is a hugely significant cabinet meeting this afternoon. Now, sources seem to be saying in London that they think she will get it through her cabinet. The majority that sort of key figures of the cabinet will grudgingly accept this.

There might be one or two (INAUDIBLE) smart money seems to be that the majority of her cabinet will fall in line because as you say the clock is ticking and actually they're looking down the barrel of no deal, political price is, you know, a leadership challenge which the Conservative Party exactly need don't want right now. Certainly, the cabinet don't want right now.

STEVENS: OK. Annabelle, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us. Annabelle Dickson, columnist political commentator with Politico E.U. Now, the U.S. vice president is taking Myanmar's de facto leader to task over the Rohingya crisis in her country. Mike Pence raised the issue with Aung San Suu Kyi at the ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh is without a fuse. I'm (INAUDIBLE) about the progress that you're making holding those accountable or responsible for the violence that displaced so many hundreds of thousands created such suffering included the loss of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEVENS: (INAUDIBLE) at the summit likewise calling for accountability in this crisis. Suu Kyi herself has denied allegations that her military committed genocide and rape against Rohingya Muslims. A pilot association is accusing Boeing of withholding critical safety information about the plane default in last month's deadly crash off the Coast of Jakarta in Indonesia. The Allied Pilots Association says Boeing did not inform them about the potential hazards of a new flight control feature on the plane.

In question the 737 MAX. They uninformed them a week after the crash. Well, CNN asked the president of Southwest Airlines, a U.S. airline. The Southwest Airlines pilots' association to weigh in on that controversy.

JON WEAKS, PRESIDENT, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES PILOTS ASSOCIATION: The theory that we didn't need to know about the system because it would not occur in the normal flight envelope. We strongly disagree with. We need to know what systems are on the airplane, how the system supposed to function on a normal basis as well as how to address the problems that may occur when you have an abnormal function of that system. We certainly believe the MAX is a safer plane to fly.

We do have some issues the way that system was communicated to us about how we became aware of its existence and the possible malfunctions that might occur. Now that we know the system exist, now that we know the possible problems that may occur, that gives us a heightened awareness to be able to address the incidence if and when they happen.

STEVENS: So Boeing insist the plane is safe and a reminder the cause of the crash which killed 189 people does remain under investigations. Those black boxes still not yet found. So let's bring in Jeffrey Thomas now for his perspective. Jeffrey is editor-in-chief of Airlineratings.com. Jeff, great to see you again. This is proving a pivotal issue here. Basically, the Allied Pilots Association which is a part association of U.S. Airline Pilots rejecting Boeing's claims that they put this new safety bulletin out after the crash to reinforce what was already in the training manual.

The Allied Pilots Association says basically it wasn't in the -- in the manual. This was new information. That if it's true is a very, very damming allegation against Boeing isn't it?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: From a surface of it, it would appear to be and of course one must listen to the Allied Pilots Association. However, there are a couple of other perspectives here. First of all, this -- what we're talking about here is a new system put in to compensate for the fact that the MAX's has got higher powered engines and its engine seat a little bit higher off the wing.

[02:40:21] Therefore, there's a tendency when the plane has been flown manually for the nose to pitch up a little bit more. Now, this is only when the plane is being flown manually. And what you end up with is a runaway stabilizer trim. This is a fly wheel. This is the trim at the back -- the -- it's a -- it's a control service at the back of the plane and it -- then you have a fly wheel beside the (INAUDIBLE) there's two of them right beside the pilots and (INAUDIBLE) spins backwards in force as the plane is being trimmed.

So if it's -- if you have a runway stabilizer trim, it's not a warning light necessarily. You got the trim wheels spinning in one direction going down. Now, it's a very simple (INAUDIBLE) for that. There's a turnoff switch and that's what Boeing is referring to when they're talking about advice the pilots to reinforce what's already out there is if you have this runway stabilizer trim, you flipped the switch and then you -- and you disengage this fly wheel completely and you -- and the problem goes away.

That's putting it very simply I know.

STEVENS: Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

STEVENS: Sorry. Go on.

THOMAS: No, no. You go on.

STEVENS: OK. So I just want to come back to this issue of whether or not that was in the manual. What you're saying is -- it may -- it was in there but in a different -- under a different guise perhaps. But it - and this should be putting easy -- this should be pretty easy to decide whether the pilot should have known about it or it was not in the manual? Am I right in saying (INAUDIBLE) in the manual or it's not in the manual?

THOMAS: Yes, and it's a matter of interpretation. And certainly, this particular system which is called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS for shorts. The argument that Boeing is putting forward and another people who involved in the crew resource managements and whatnot, what they're saying is they didn't want to overload the pilots with more alarms, more systems because this system is designed to operate in the background a little bit like your computer virus system on your computer. It simply sits in the background and does its thing. What (INAUDIBLE)

STEVENS: Sorry, Jeff, I just want to interrupt you. Is this then a question of training that Boeing needs to be clear when it's training parts or when there's a training off pilots on their new airline because Lion Air is saying that their pilots were trained to deal with this?

THOMAS: Well, that's a very interesting point. That's a very interesting point and this system (INAUDIBLE) Lion Air pilots flew this airline three times before the crash. They had this problem. They flew through it and they landed. Lion Air replaced parts of least once and when this problem continued, they didn't ground the airplane. So there's a number of series questions there for Lion Air to answer. This system that's come -- that's come to (INAUDIBLE) we still don't know exactly what the pilots did because we don't have the copy of the voice recorder.

So there's a lot of things out there that are still big question marks particularly for the Lion Air operation. Now, this system, yes, Boeing needs to have a look at this, but we yet to determine where this was actually the cause of the accident.

STEVENS: It's good to say if -- just very quickly, Jeff. When the black boxes are found, do you expect to be able to be told definitively what happened to that flight?

THOMAS: The cockpit voice recorder will absolutely (INAUDIBLE) the icing on the cake. It will tell us what the pilots were doing and why they were doing it, and we'll understand the dynamics of what was going on (INAUDIBLE) we don't have the voice recorded and we do definitely need that and we need to have more information from Indonesia. Now, people are accusing Boeing of being silent on this (INAUDIBLE) under crash investigations, Boeing (INAUDIBLE) cannot comment on the investigation nor can the NTSB if the Indonesians are doing this investigation.

So we have to wait for them to give us the information. So, really at this day (INAUDIBLE) withholding information if anybody is withholding information.

[02:45:10] STEVENS: Geoffrey, we'll have to leave it there. Geoff Thomas, editor-in-chief at Airlineratings.com. Thanks so much.

THOMAS: My pleasure.

STEVENS: Now, a Saudi Intelligence officer reacts. Coming up, the latest on reports of recording of the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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STEVENS: Saudi Intelligence officer was reportedly shocked and called the audio recording of Jamal Khashoggi's killing a "true disaster". A pro-government Turkish newspaper quotes the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is saying that when the officer heard the recording, he thought the kill team was on heroin.

This follows a New York Times report that the recordings container remark that the U.S. officials believe links the journalists killing to the Saudi Crown Prince, himself. Jomana Karadsheh has details.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The New York Times in this report says it has spoken to three people who are familiar with the audio recording that Turkey says it has with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. And they say on this audio can be heard a phone call that was made by one of the 15 Saudi's -- a member of that hit team that carried out the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

He is identified as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb. He is a member of the inner circle of the crown prince. He's a former diplomat at the Embassy in London. He's a security official and an intelligence officer. In his first speaking to superior telling him "Tell your boss." Something along the lines of the deed is done.

Now, he doesn't specifically mention the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But, according to U.S. intelligence officials, they believe the term your boss is in reference to the crown prince. Several U.S. officials in recent weeks have told CNN that they believe an operation like this that would have involved members of the inner circle of Mohammad bin Salman could not have happened without the knowledge of the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia.

But Saudi Arabia for its part has repeatedly denied that he had any knowledge of this operation. They have blamed it on rogue elements. And some members of the intelligence community believes that this is -- you know, this latest revelation is as close as they get to a smoking gun. But it's not necessarily irrefutable evidence, the direct link to the crown prince.

On Tuesday, the National Security Advisor John Bolton, reportedly told journalists in Singapore on the sidelines of the summit there that he did not personally hear the recording. But those who did, it is their assessment that it does not implicate the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Nonetheless, these leaks as they continue they are definitely putting more and more pressure not just on the Saudis, but also on the U.S. administration to push their Saudi allies to answer some other questions that many have, and especially that Turkey has put forward. Especially, the key question of who ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.

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[02:50:29] STEVENS: A top Kremlin opponent says that he's been blocked from leaving Russia. Alexei Navalny is one of the most prominent critics of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. A CNN's Brian Todd reports, his high profile might be the reason he's still alive.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's been roughed up at protests, arrested, detained scores of times by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. Now, Alexei Navalny, Putin's most powerful and famous arch-rival, says he's been barred from exiting Russia and has had his passport confiscated.

The opposition leader posted a picture of himself on Instagram awaiting screening at border control. He was trying to get to a human rights court hearing in France. Analysts say, despite all the harassment and threats leveled at him over the years, there's a key reason Alexei Navalny is still alive. Unlike some of Putin's other notable critics.

BEN JUDAH, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, POLITICO: In a previous instances where he has been persecuted or detained by Russian officials, there's been such a blowback in Russian public opinion and protests that Putin has been apprehensive and nervous about going through with it.

TODD: Now, another well-known Putin critic has leveled a stinging broadside at the Russian president. Asked by Vanity Fair magazine if he'd compared Putin to Joseph Stalin, American born financier Bill Browder, said, "I see him as a modern-day Pablo Escobar. Putin has no ideology whatsoever. Putin is pedestrian. All he wants is money and to hurt his enemies."

Escobar, the late kingpin of Colombia's Medellin drug cartel was notorious for his thirst for blood. Once blamed for blowing up a passenger plane to strike at his enemies. Browder believes Putin wants to strike at him and spoke about it when we interviewed him in Washington.

What are the security threats you have received?

BILL BROWDER, CO-FOUNDER, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: They've -- the Russian government has made numerous death threats against me. They want to kill me, they'd like to kidnap me, they'd like to me have me arrested and sent back to Russia.

TODD: Putin even brought up Browder by name at the Helsinki summit with President Trump. Saying, he might make Russians available for questioning in the Mueller investigation if Russian officials could interrogate Browder. Trump didn't push back.

Putin has a seething hatred for Browder. Because Browder spearheaded the passage of the Magnitsky Act. An American law which sanctions powerful Russians close to Putin and prevents them from getting to the money they've stashed outside Russia.

BROWDER: I have found his Achilles heel. I've created a mechanism, a legal mechanism to seize that money, and he feels personally aggrieved, and he has a vendetta against me.

TODD: Even with his critics embolden, one analyst believes the only person who can toss Vladimir Putin from power is Vladimir Putin.

JUDAH: I don't think that Putin is vulnerable to an overthrow from the streets. And I don't think that Putin is for the moment vulnerable to some sort of coup d'etat. I think that Putin's greatest vulnerability is actually himself and his own physical health, which is one of the reasons he's so obsessed of sports and exercise.

TODD: We asked Russian officials for a response to Browder's comparison of Putin to Pablo Escobar. An official here at the Russian embassy referred us to a previous statement calling Browder a businessman with a stained reputation and referring to Putin accusing Browder of stealing 1-1/2 billion dollars from Russia when Browder was a financier there. An accusation which Bill Browder vehemently denies. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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STEVENS: The art world is preparing for a record-breaking auction. David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist is going on the block in New York. How much is it expected to fetch? We'll take a look in just a moment.

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[02:55:19] STEVENS: $80 million. Apparently, that's all that stands between you and David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist. Hockney is considered by many to be Britain's greatest living artist. And the painting is expected to set a record at auction on Thursday. CNN's Nick Glass spoke with the famously recruit -- reclusive artist last year.

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DAVID HOCKNEY, PAINTER, UNITED KINGDOM: I have always loved looking. I've always loved looking. When I could go on the Bradford buses on my own, I used to run right upstairs, run to the front of the buses so you could see more. You could see more.

NICK GLASS, CNN ARTS REPORTER: The irrepressible David Hockney in his studio in the Hollywood Hills. Hockney has been looking at the world and at us unblinkingly for over 60 years now. The gaze has always been intense. This is you, 16?

HOCKNEY: 17 years old.

GLASS: No space, you have a favorite painting there.

HOCKNEY: No, last one.

GLASS: The last one.

HOCKNEY: Last one I'm doing, yes.

I came to California in 1964 when nobody knew me, and I preferred that. I've always been running away a bit from London anyway.

GLASS: The sunlight, the boys and the swimming pools, Hockney's best- known work is perhaps, from the 60s and 70s including A Bigger Splash.

HOCKNEY: very famous small brushes, all little lines which I saw was rather amusing. I could have just done it like that, but I thought, no, I won't. I will do it painstakingly.

GLASS: Hockney has always been happy to embrace new technology. Including most recently, the iPad.

HOCKNEY: Well, I live in the now, you've paid in the now. And it's always now, anyway.

GLASS: David Hockney, remains as everybody knows a committed smoker. Equally, he's still obsessively, joyously, painting away.

HOCKNEY: I feel 30 when I'm in the studio. Well, you want to be 30, don't you if you're 80. So, I come in the studio every day and work. Because then, I feel 30.

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STEVENS: A living legend. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Andrew Stevens. I'll be back in just a moment with more news.

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