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Refugee Repatriations Delayed after No Rohingya Volunteer; Netanyahu Defends Cease-fire with Gaza Militants; Endless Cycle of Mideast Violence; Ruling Expected Thursday in CNN Lawsuit against Trump; PM May Secures Cabinet Backing On Draft Brexit Deal; China Makes Opening Bid In Trade Talks With U.S.; Sources: White House And Cabinet Shakeup Coming; Michael Avenatti Arrested For Domestic Violence; 13 Million People Under Red Flag Fire Warning; U.S. Lawmakers Aim To Hold China Accountable For Alleged Uyghur Abuses. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired November 15, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It's alive, its alive. The British Prime Minister's draft breaks it deal survives for another day squeaking through a very divided cabinet. The next hurdle (INAUDIBLE) Parliament where there's overwhelming opposition. Let's make a deal. Chinese officials offer a series of trade concessions to the Trump administration. They're short of us demands but a sign both sides are still working towards an agreement. And the killing fields of Myanmar's Rohingya refugees refusing to return to the place for just over a year ago they were the victims of a military-backed campaign of genocide.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm John Vause, great to have you with us. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
The British Prime Minister's draft Brexit deal has survived for another day but only just. After months of doubts and setbacks, a deeply divided cabinet approved Theresa May's plan for divorcing the European Union. Mrs. Mays proposal avoids a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland or any trade agreement is negotiated and what's called a backstop provision which keeps the Irish border open to trade and commerce even if no trade deal is reached by the end of 2020.
Confusing? Absolutely. In fact, there's more than 500 pages of confusing in all this. So here's CNN's Bianca Nobilo.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today the Prime Minister managed to get her cabinet to agree on a draft Brexit text after a marathon five- hour Cabinet session here at Downing Street this afternoon. At around 7:00 p.m. London time, the Prime Minister addressed the nation telling them that she believed in her heart and her head that she was choosing the right course for Brexit. She said, she anticipated difficult days to come but said that the choice was essentially between no deal or her deal which would ensure jobs and security.
Now, that's an argument she's been taking to cabinet and she'll have to take to Parliament too threatening Remainers with the idea of a No Deal if they don't back her and Brexiters with the notion of a second referendum or unpredictable chaos if they don't support her plan. Now, cabinet is on side but sources tell CNN that the meeting was incredibly tense and cabinet is just the first hurdle that Teresa May needs to pass. The next is trying to get that deal through the houses of parliament and they are deeply divided even more so than cabinet and it's anyone's guess whether or not resume has the parliamentary arithmetic to move her deal through Parliament.
But regardless, today was a historic moment. A prime minister who never supported Brexit moving the United Kingdom one definitive step closer to leaving the European Union. Bianca Nobilo, London.
VAUSE: I'm joined now by Tim Gruenwald, he's Program Director of American Studies at Hong Kong University. Tim, thank you for coming with -- thank you for coming in to see us. After a five-hour long meeting with her cabinet, Prime Minister Theresa May, she stepped outside number ten basking in the warmth of a rare win, the first Brexit hurdle was cleared and there she was a woman alone. There are 23 other members of the British Cabinet, not one seem willing to stand by their Prime Minister. It's not exactly a vote of confidence is it?
TIM GRUENWALD, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, AMERICAN STUDIES, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: Indeed, indeed. It was a much more contentious cabinet meeting that she could ever have hoped for lasting almost five hours reports that indicate that some opponents were even reduced to tears. So it's -- that doesn't bode very positively for the coming days and the upcoming decision in the parliament.
VAUSE: Even in that moment when the Prime Minister was outside number ten, she continued to try and sell this draft agreement it seems to anyone who would listen. This is part of what she said. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The choice before us is clear. This deal which delivers on the vote of the referendum which brings about control of our money laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our union, all leave with no deal, or leave no Brexit at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The only problem is that what she said there is not true. Nowhere in this draft agreement is there a mention of the fact that the U.K. is actually getting back control of anything. It's staying in a customs union, it can't leave with our E.U. permission, borders remained open to E.U. citizens, billions of dollars we pay to Brussels every year. It seems almost irony now that the Brexiters campaigned on a slogan of take back control. GRUENWALD: Indeed, indeed. Especially for the agreed transition
period of 21 months, nothing will change at all. The borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland will remain open. They had to make tremendous concessions from the point of view of the Brexit hardliners that they will be loath to swallow and that will lead most likely to at least one or two cabinet resignations and which will further cloud the debates in the parliament.
[01:05:34] VAUSE: It just gets to the point of asking, at the end of the day, this is what the Brexit looks like. What's the point?
GRUENWALD: Indeed, indeed. Not much will change from an economic standpoint for the foreseeable future. The Brexit hardliners will be very displeased with the long transition period, the possibility of extending that even further. The good news is of course, is coming out of Europe that you know, there is now hope, a sliver of hope for avoiding a hard exit. And good news for the three million E.U. citizens living in Britain as well as the one million British citizens living in the E.U. for both of whom nothing will change, but you're completely right.
VAUSE: This sliver of hope to stay alive, the next hurdle will be trying to win over a majority of MPs in the British Parliament. Here is a sample of question time from the British Parliament on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: So does the Prime Minister still intend to what a false choice to Parliament between her botch deal or no deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister.
MAY: Can I say to the gentleman that he's wrong in the description that he set out. But can I also say to him, time and time again, he stood up in this house and complained but the government isn't making progress, the government isn't anywhere close to a deal. Now when we're making progress and close to a deal, he's complaining about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: It's no surprise that Theresa May did not say when that vote would happen. She gave no date because right now it seems she doesn't have the numbers. There was likely -- what's the likelihood that she ever will?
GRUENWALD: From looking at it from now, it's a slim likelihood. A lot will depend on the statements today that announced for today on Thursday in the parliament for further explaining. And indeed as you put it selling the deal, a lot of selling still remains to be done in order to close this deal for Theresa May. If of course, this fails, this would be a doomsday scenario for her and much, much more the future of British E.U. relations with the likelihood of a hard, hard Brexit. VAUSE: Tim, it seems as if Theresa May got through maybe one hurdle
hour and there is so much more for her to do that it still seems like an incredibly uphill climb for the British Prime Minister. Thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.
GRUENWALD: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: We have this just in. Sources telling CNN China has made what amounts to an opening bid and restarted trade talks with the United States. One source says the China offer is nothing new, well short of U.S. demands and both sides are still at an impasse, but adding the channels are now open. CNN's Matt Rivers live in Beijing with the details. So just as a reminder, Matt, both the U.S. and China have been locked in this trade war for months. So it's hoped if both sides are talking at least, maybe they can find a way to roll back billions of dollars in tariffs each side has placed on imports from the other.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what everyone is hoping. But based on what we're hearing from these two sources, John, people familiar with the Chinese offer that was given to Washington, it doesn't seem like we're anywhere close to that. Basically what we're hearing from our sources is that the Chinese offer is just a rehash of things they've asked for before things -- or they've offered before, things like relatively or limited a select -- selective -- that's the word I'm looking -- selective lifting of certain tariffs that they've put on products coming in here to China.
And for the Trump Administration, they have been consistent on this. It's going to take more than that. There was nothing in this offer apparently from China that has to do with force technology transfers, that has to do with industrial espionage, that has to do with intellectual property theft. Those are those real structural reforms that the Trump administration has been sticking to and that apparently, China is not willing to offer. So yes they're talking, that's a good thing, but if this is the best that China can put forward according to these two sources, then it's unclear how that really solves any issues.
[01:10:06] VAUSE: There's also a time crunch here though, trying to get something done between these two negotiating teams because the G20 meeting is not far away and that's where Trump and Xi are expected to maybe get together and actually talk about this.
RIVERS: Absolutely. And you know, especially given the nature of these two leaders. You know, on the U.S. side, you know, the administration, the cabinet officials have really shown no ability to negotiate as a unit on behalf of the president. The President ultimately has the final say and we know that he's a mercurial guy who can change his mind at the last minute. And when it comes to China, you better believe that it's Xi Jinping, the President of China, that ultimately decides what's happening here. So what lots of people are saying is well, maybe it doesn't actually matter how much they go back and forth. Both sides go back and forth with negotiations and offers and that kind of thing.
What actually matters is that meeting at the G20. And so if the criticism of g20 s in years past, John, has been well, it's nothing more than a photo-op, we could actually see some news come out of this particular G20 in Buenos Aires in just a couple of weeks' time.
VAUSE: You mean it's just a photo-op? I mean, coming for all those years it's just a photo-op? Matt, thank you. Talk soon. To U.S. politics now and what's being described by aides is a darker than normal cloud hovering over the Oval Office. With Democrats taking control of the House, a report looming in the Russia investigation, a widely criticized trip to Paris, all leaving the U.S. President in a foul mood and his staff may pay the price. With the president confirming on Wednesday, a major shake-up of White House staff is on the way. Here's CNN's Jeff Zeleny reporting it.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After projecting optimism a week ago after the Midterm elections --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was a big day yesterday, an incredible day.
ZELENY: Tonight, President Trump's mood is anything but. He's isolated and growing more furious by the day a White House officials tell CNN, with one bluntly saying yes, he's pissed at damn near everyone. And tonight he's searching for a scapegoat. In an Oval Office interview with the Daily Caller, the President revived old conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
The Republicans don't win and that's because of potentially illegal votes, he told the conservative Web site. When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It's really a disgrace what's going on.
After announcing his support for a bipartisan prison reform bill tonight, he did not answer questions about the fraud allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have evidence that people are doing voter fraud?
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.
ZELENY: There is no evidence to back up the claim aimed at the Florida recount, but it offers a window into the President's state of mind as the White House heads into uncharted territory with Democrats assuming control of the House and Special Counsel Robert Mueller inching closer to issuing a report on the Russia investigation. A day after First Lady Melania Trump launched a public grenade across the White House saying Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House, she reported to work today, a rare personal rebuke from Mrs. Trump.
CNN has learned she's been quietly calling for her firing for weeks because of a conflict over her trip to Africa last month. When the problem wasn't solved, Mrs. Trump went public. All that is a far bigger shake-up is looming. Even as the President says he will soon decide the fate of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, she was at the U.S.-Mexico border today alongside defense secretary James Mattis receiving a briefing from military commanders.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: And it's obviously evolving very quickly which is why the transport for CBP is helpful.
ZELENY: The President has made little secret of his dissatisfaction with Nielsen on his to signature issues immigration and border security. It could touch off a domino of departures including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who was Nielsen's topped advocate inside the administration. The President is already talking to a handful of potential replacements for Kelly including elevating Vice President Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers to the post. But even before his name, CNN has learned there's been aggressive pushback against him with some senior aides even threatening to resign if he's tapped for the job.
And talk of a staff shake-up has led to an actual development in the staff shake-up. Just a short time ago, the White House announcing if they are indeed going to remove that Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel from her position. Of course, she is the one who got in the crosshairs with the First Lady's office. Just yesterday, the White House has waited some 24 hours for resolution on that. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sending out a statement just a few moments ago saying indeed that she's going to transition outside of the White House, will still have some type of job in the administration but clearly a sign here that the First Lady's a very unusual rebuke certainly worked in this case. Jeff Zeleny, CNN the White House.
[01:14:52] VAUSE: Attorney Michael Avenatti has made bail after being arrested for suspicion of domestic violence. He calls allegations completely bogus and fabricated to harm his reputation. Police did not name the alleged victim. Avenatti is well known for representing the adult film star Stormy Daniel's and her legal action against President Trump in his 2016 hush money payment to keep her quiet about their alleged affair.
Firefighters in California appeared to be getting the upper hand, the worst wildfires the state has ever seen. The death toll has risen to 58 and is expected to continue to rise with more than 100 people now reported missing in the state's north. Late details now from CNN's Nick Watt.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Southern California, another completely separate fire exploding east of Los Angeles. Whipped by those same Santa Ana winds creating carnage across California.
And another dangerous flare-up on the western edge of the enormous Woolsey Fire around Malibu not near homes but those hot dry gusty winds can carry dangerous burning embers far and wide.
Two dead in Malibu, so far and inland in Agoura Hills, another body found, authorities suspect that fatality also fire related.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, God. Please, God.
WATT: 13 million people remain under red flag warnings, hundreds of thousands forced to flee from their homes.
REBECCA HACKETT, ESCAPED WOOLSEY FIRE, MALIBU: Please, God. Please, God, can you put me out of here.
I just thought maybe I was going to die. I just -- I was like I just have to keep going or I can't turn around, I can't stop, I have to just keep going.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were all left in the dark.
WATT: At a meeting for the Malibu, evacuated emotions high, tempers' hot.
NICK STEWART, HOMEOWNER, MALIBU: I mean, the evacuation was not smooth. I had to hear about this smooth evacuation on the radio 100 times while I'm sitting in that Zuma parking lot. Wondering if I'm going to die from the smoke.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, through the ash and rubble that was once a town called Paradise, they're still searching for the dead. The toll will rise. This already the deadliest fire in California's history.
KARYN BARTLEY, EVACUEE, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA: Our dream is gone right now. But I just want to say that everybody out here has been so gracious, and we're so thankful for our friends who have been so supportive.
WATT: Nearly 7,700 homes burned and counting lost to the fast-moving flames of the so-called Camp Fire at its peak consuming every second an area the size of a football field.
Cal Fire creating this interactive map. All that red is destroyed, those tiny chunks of black, the only areas unaffected. One official says, in his 30 years of service, he's never seen such destruction.
In less than a week, an area around four times the size of Boston has burned. There is a little bit of hope on the horizon. The winds are dropping and some rain is forecast for the end of next week. But until then, California is still a tinderbox. Nick Watt, CNN, Malibu, California.
VAUSE: Well, that the forecast there from Nick Watt, let's get the forecast now from Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So, Pedram, we know that it's dry, we know that it's slowly getting better, but, of course, when will the rain come? PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, so the rainfall is in the forecast that has been for a couple of days, and that consistency is what we're looking for. At this point, the transition and the shift of the weather pattern happens.
The middle of next week, and as we go in towards Thursday and Friday of next week's we're still about nine days out. The rainfall is going to be pushing it across this region if things play out as we hope. But you notice, the winds have died down and they're going to continue to die down, down from the 120 KPH that we saw on the gust a couple of days ago, to 40 kilometers per hour expected for Thursday afternoon.
But notice, you get up into the higher elevations of Ventura and Los Angeles, and also San Diego counties. That's where we have critical concerns still in place. And, of course, those are the areas that are seeing the large active fires, and humidity is going to remain low, fuels plentiful across this region, and again, with all of that said, still seeing firefighting efforts make some ground up to 52 percent containment there.
Well, to the north still locked in at 35 percent, but at least, we have an expected containment date -- full containment date of November 30th at this point. But I want to show you how things played out earlier in the year across the state of California.
Look at the rainfall. In particular, Northern California, quite a bit of it in the month of April, and then fast-forward to the right-hand side of the screen that was in July, non-existent. And this really plays a significant role in all of this, John. Because, of course, vegetation flourishes and just like that, you cut off the moisture and it has not rained in some of these areas since April believe it or not.
So, we've gone now on some six, seven, months of no rainfall. You have plenty of fuel, and that is what's being consumed right now. And, of course, the smoke, the haze, it's all apparent across this region and his impacted flights upwards of nearly 300 flights that have either been canceled or delayed in San Francisco.
And again, as the winds shift, the humidity's go up, a rain comes in, all of this will get a help here from Mother Nature, at least, John.
VAUSE: From moving here, the air is terrible and it's going to be a while, I guess before it gets better. Pedram, thank you.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
[01:20:01] VAUSE: When we come back here, reports of brainwashing sessions in China, all part of what U.S. lawmakers are calling in "human rights violation". A live report from Hong Kong in just a moment.
VAUSE: U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing legislation to hold China accountable for alleged wide-scale human rights abuses of the country's minority Uyghur Muslims.
A congressional report alleges as many as 1 million Uyghurs have been forced into re-education camps, where former detainee say they endured brainwashing sessions and were forced to study Communist Party propaganda.
The Chinese defend the camp, saying it's just part of the fight against Islamic extremism. CNN's Ivan Watson live now from Hong Kong with more.
You know, Ivan, the Uyghurs have long complained of being the victims of discrimination and harassment by Beijing. I guess, I mean now, it seems someone might be listening.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And what's remarkable is that this is a collection of Senators in the U.S. from the Republican and Democratic parties which rarely agree on anything these days, but they put together this bipartisan piece of legislation. That is called the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2018.
And it calls attention to what appears to be a widening Chinese crackdown in Xinjiang Province of what the legislation says is the mass internment of over 1 million Uyghurs of this ethnic and Muslim religious minority. And calls for sanctions in response to that.
And it also calls attention to and calls for an end to what the legislation says is a policy of threats and intimidation against U.S. citizens and residents -- legal residents of Uyghur extraction. And highlights what it says is a pattern of abuse targeting the relatives of six Radio Free Asia journalists of Uyghur descent.
WATSON: Everyday, Gulchehra Hoja, steps up to the microphone and speaks to her homeland. Hoja is a journalist with U.S. government- funded Radio Free Asia in Washington, D.C. She broadcasts in Uyghur, the language of an ethnic Muslim minority from the Western Xinjiang region of China. These days, Hoja lives in fear for her family back home.
[01:24:57] GULCHEHRA HOJA, JOURNALIST, RADIO FREE ASIA: So, this is my brother. This is my last picture with him. We don't know where he is now. My cousins, father's side and the mother's side. They are missing same day.
WATSON: Hoja says, at least, 23 of her relatives went missing on February 1st, 2018. She hasn't heard from any of them since. Six Uyghur employees of Radio Free Asia, say their relatives back in Xinjiang have disappeared in the last year.
MAMATJAN JUMA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, RADIO FREE ASIA: Three of my brothers and two of my sisters are missing, I lost contact with my mom.
HOJA: Those region, all have camps. WATSON: All feared detained in a shadowy network of Chinese prisons. Reports of the mass incarceration of up to a million Uyghurs, the subject of inquiry at a recent United Nations Human Rights panel in Geneva.
TAMARA MAWHINNEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CANADA: We are deeply concerned by credible reports of the mass detention, repression, and surveillance of Uyghurs and other Muslims and Xinjiang.
WATSON: After initially denying the existence of prison camps, Beijing now says it is sending an unspecified number of people for vocational training free of charge to combat the spread of terrorism. And adds that they are free to leave when they complete their courses.
This recent report narrated by Chinese state T.V. highlights one of these training centers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Most of the students are not proficient in Chinese. They are easily instigated and coerced by terrorist and extremist ideologies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If I had not come here to study, maybe I ought to follow those religious extremists and walked down the path of crime.
WATSON: Uyghurs outside of China express alarm at the number of people who are disappearing.
SEAN ROBERTS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Virtually, every Uyghur I've spoken to in the last year and a half has family members who've been detained in these camps. This is a social engineering project that has very little precedent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The focus will be on building economic corridors based on existing international transport routes.
WATSON: The Chinese government wants to make Xinjiang an important international hub for its ambitious belt and road initiative. But Beijing has struggled to assimilate Xinjiang's indigenous Uyghurs.
HOJA: You cannot just force people to love you or accept you.
WATSON: In Washington, Gulchehra Hoja, says her 74-year-old mother described harsh prison-like conditions when she was detained last February.
HOJA: As my mother described, they mistreated people, they torture.
WATSON: After months under house arrest, Hoja says her mother's phone went completely silent last month. She fears she is once again in detention. With no word from her loved ones, Hoja is far from home giving a voice to the voiceless.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WATSON: John, the U.S. legislation, it proposes imposing sanctions on some top Chinese government officials including the Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who is accused of being behind this crackdown in the autonomous region. Also calls for the prohibition of the sale of U.S. goods that could be purchased by the state in that region.
The Chinese foreign ministry responded to questions about this legislation this week. And the foreign ministry spokesperson engaged in some remarkable whataboutism. Highlighting the fact that U.S. lawmakers were spending taxpayer money on this when they should be focusing on getting their own house and order, and began citing statistics about examples of racial discrimination in the U.S.
For example, the fact that African-Americans are convicted of murder on a much higher rate than Caucasians in the U.S. And an example of whataboutism in the midst of what truly does by many of the anecdotal accounts we're hearing and from human rights groups appear to be a massive detention of Uyghur Muslims on an almost industrial scale in that Western province. John.
VAUSE: That is -- that is a tactic they have used before and I'm sure they would use again. But it is well worth noting. Thank you, Ivan. Ivan Watson there, live for us in Hong Kong.
Myanmar says it's ready for the return of thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh. But so far, the Rohingya refugees are staying put refusing to head back to the place where they were the victims of a military crackdown. Details in just a moment.
[01:32:05] VAUSE: Welcome back. I'm John Vause with an update on our top stories this hour.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has cleared a major hurdle as she steers the U.K. away from the European Union. The cabinet has accepted a Brexit draft negotiated with the E.U. Mrs. May now faces a much bigger challenge of getting it through parliament where there is a whole lot more opposition.
Donald Trump and Xi Jinping might make progress on resolving the U.S.- China trade war. They might. That's when they meet at the G-20 summit in Argentina in a few weeks.
Sources tell CNN China has presented an offer to restart negotiations. But one person briefed on those discussions says Beijing is not offering anything new.
Improving weather conditions are helping firefighters in California as they battle the worst fire outbreaks in the state's history. Crews are searching through charred debris and rubble looking for victims. More than 100 mostly elderly retirees are now considered missing in northern California. Statewide -- the death toll is at 58.
Myanmar says it's ready to welcome back thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh. But so far, none of the refugees is voluntarily coming back. The repatriation program was set to start about now. More than 700,000 Rohingya are in refugee camps in Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State.
The U.N., the U.S., human rights groups and especially the Rohingya themselves have all repeatedly warned against repatriation, calling it premature and dangerous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KALIMULLAH, ROHINGYA REFUGEE (through translator): I don't want to go back because we don't have any citizenship rights. They will not return our lands. They will put us into camps.
SHAKINA, ROHINGYA REFUGEE: Should we go? It is better to die here by taking poison as there we will have to stay in camps. We are already in camps here so it is better to die here. I feel that I won't die here, so don't try.
NURUL AMIN, ROHINYA REFUGEE: We will not go back to Burma. If gave us compensation for our losses and gave us all our rights then we would go. But we learned that they will keep us in camps. We will not go to stay in camps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now live from Hong Kong. So this has been sort of on again and off again process which sort of started back in January of this year. It's been started but haven't really got into it yet.
The key point here is that it had to be -- it had to be voluntary and it had to be done with dignity and it had to be done with safety. It seems those three conditions are not being met.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And certainly none of the people who would be affected by this plan seems to be convinced that any of those conditions have been met. You heard the fear in their voices. You heard the concerns that they expressed there.
What we're hearing now is from the ministers who are in Bangladesh, the repatriation commissioner who says they've been looking for volunteers to start making (AUDIO GAP) movement. They have found none.
[01:34:55] The goal was to move 2,000 people out of more than 700,000. Those are the people who had been approved to repatriate to Myanmar. There was a lot of confusion though about how people were being notified, how they got on this list, how they came to be approved. And then whether they wanted to go at all.
You heard that there were some people who were threatening even suicide. That's how panicked they were about returning to the conditions that they fled from. These are people who left when they were being shot at. Their villages were being burned down. It was a brutal campaign by that country's military. People have been living in Bangladesh for about a year now and while many have said that they would want to return to Myanmar, they want to return there with the full rights of citizenship -- something that Rohingya Muslims they have not had in Myanmar despite the fact that they have lived there for generations.
Those conditions have not been met. They want freedom of movement in Rakhine state where they lived. They want access to healthcare. They want access to education.
They do not want to return to live in the kind of camps that they were forced to live in before and that they hear they would have to live in again.
The U.S. State Department has weighed in on these repatriation plans that were hatched by officials in Bangladesh and Myanmar and they have again underscored the fact that this must be a voluntary movement.
You have U.N. human rights officials who have gone much further saying that this is a plan that should be halted pointing to the past atrocities in Myanmar, a lack of accountability for those atrocities and also ongoing reports of violations against Rohingyas who remain in Rakhine state today -- John.
VAUSE: Alex -- thank you. Alexandra Field there, live for us in Hong Kong.
And earlier I spoke to Chris Melzer, a senior spokesman with the U.N.'s refugee agency. He's on the ground there monitoring the situation at the refugee camp in Bangladesh.
CHRIS MELZER, SENIOR SPOKESMAN, UNHCR: We talked to a lot of refugees. I just did that recently yesterday, (INAUDIBLE). And you get from all of the refugees normally the same answer. They say yes, they would like to go -- we would like to go to our home country. But not under these conditions yet.
VAUSE: What conditions need to be in place for the Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar? And is there any evidence so far that the government there in Myanmar is making an effort for that to be a reality?
MELZER: Well, the conditions are actually very clear. We have a memorandum of understanding with both governments -- Bangladesh and Myanmar. The main demands are that the returns have to be voluntary, in dignity and in safety. And also based on a well-informed decision. And the last point is probably the main problem, the refugees and also UNHCR have the problem -- it doesn't have probability to get informed.
We ask for unlimited access to this law firm (ph) for Rakhine state in Myanmar that the refugees and UNHR can really see if the conditions are conducive.
VAUSE: How would you describe the conditions currently in Myanmar for the possible repatriation of Rohingya refugees?
MELZER: Unfortunately I can't really answer this question because we don't know how the conditions are in detail. We asked the government of Myanmar several times to grant us access, unlimited access to this (INAUDIBLE) of Rakhine state as it is also stated in the memorandum of understanding with UNHCR and with the government of Myanmar.
But until now we do not have the possibility at least to go there and to check the situation for the refugees and how the situation really is.
VAUSE: And last (ph), about the U.N. fact finding mission reported sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Myanmar armed forces on charges of genocide. It is seems safe to assume that those military officials have not been removed and that they are still there, you know, within the military?
MELZER: We tried to help the refugees as good as we can. And for that we need (INAUDIBLE) with the authorities -- the countries of Bangladesh and also Myanmar. And we also must be willing to work with the authorities even with the armed forces. But of course, always on the condition that it is for the good of the refugees and that everything is based on human rights.
VAUSE: So basically under what conditions would you say should this repatriation begin. One of the conditions that was laid out was that it has to be voluntary. So if they don't want to go then no one should be forcing them to leave, right?
MELZER: That's the point. It has to be voluntary and in safety and in dignity and all of these things are, of course, combined or together. The refugees, for example, asking also for citizenship of Myanmar. You probably know that most of the Rohingya are stateless people.
[01:39:48] But our preconditions are after well-informed decisions when the refugees would like to go. Also on individual basis, it has to be in safety and voluntarily. That's our main point actually.
VAUSE: So one last question, if they are forced to go, possibly at gunpoint by Bangladeshi security forces or whoever makes them leave, then this repatriation in your opinion, where would that leave it?
MELZEWR: Well, then we will raise our voice. And then it will be a problem we have but we are not that far. The government of Bangladesh has promised several times that they will not force anybody to leave, that everything has to be voluntary.
And actually we can't thank enough the government and also the people of Bangladesh because they've been over the last one and a half years, very, very hospitable, really supporting all the refugees.
And do not forget, we have Rohingya refugees here in Bangladesh for 40 years and always the country of Bangladesh was very hospitable to these people. And we can't stress that enough. VAUSE: And certainly (ph) look, no one else took them in, Bangladesh
did -- a poor country that could barely feed its own population and that was the only one. So, you know, absolutely.
So there is now this issue of forced repatriation which I guess a lot of people are concerned about right now.
Chris -- we'll try and check in with you to find out the very latest as the story continues. Thank you.
VAUSE: After the break, we head to Israel where peace breaks out, the Defense Minister resigns and the Prime Minister's future could hang in the balance.
Also after the explosions stop, there is a little girl with a simple wish.
VAUSE: Israel's Defense Minister has resigned in protest over the cease-fire with Hamas militants in Gaza and he's now calling for early elections. And that could lead the government on the brink of a political crisis.
We get the latest now from CNN's Oren Liebermann reporting from Jerusalem.
OREN LIBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the political fallout following a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza militants, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation and called for early elections.
Lieberman said the cease-fire was a capitulation to terror. He said Israel was buying quiet in the short term to pay a high price for the security of the country in the long term. He called for early elections but he doesn't have the seats on his own to take down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It leaves Netanyahu with a bare minimum 61-seat coalition. But he managed with that already for some two years after the last election in early 2015.
Netanyahu defended the cease-fire saying leaders sometimes have to do not what the public wants but what the right decision is. He said he made the decision to go for a cease-fire in consultation with the country's security leaders.
In Gaza, Hamas claimed victory with the Defense Minister's resignation calling it a recognition of defeat and a failure to confront Palestinian resistance.
Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Jerusalem. (END VIDEOTAPE)
VAUSE: There is the political fallout and then there is the human toll which is about a lot more than the number of dead. There's the emotional scars, the wounds no one ever sees that can be deep and painful especially the children caught up in war.
[01:45:01] Here's Arwa Damon reporting in from Gaza City.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The ruins of the Israeli bomb site are still smoldering but 5-year-old Nada's (ph) mother says her daughter taught wanted to see her classroom. She clutches her hands walking through the building she used to laugh and play in and shows us where she used to sit.
(on camera): The building next door is what seems to have been the main target. But this nursery was also significantly damaged in the Israeli air strike. You can still see the babies' bottles in the rubble.
There wasn't anyone killed or wounded here. The strike happened in the early hours of the morning but also the Israelis have warned residents in this area to evacuate.
(voice over): Her mother says Nada is normally a chatterbox, that her shy and quiet behavior are because she's in shock.
"We have to, as a population, get used to this," Mariam says. "Whether we like it or not, it is our land. If we don't protect ourselves who is going to?"
Dr. Basem Naim (ph), a member of Hamas' international relations bureau says that by agreeing to a cease-fire, Hamas is demonstrating their willingness to look for peace.
DR. BASEM NAIM, HAMAS INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS BUREAU: Our answer was clearly yes, immediately if it is possible. Before we have encouraged all the effort to return back to the cease-fire agreement, to return back to calm, to give a chance for the siege to be lifted and to -- to the -- to deprive the (INAUDIBLE) to destroy this process.
DAMON: At a small rally, a Hamas speaker claimed victory and credit for bringing down Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman though his reason for resigning was that Israel did not respond aggressively enough.
AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Hamas does not talk about co-existence or recognition of the state of Israel. They do not want to improve the employment situation in the Gaza strip. They continue to invest their budget of $250 to $270 million in building up their military capabilities.
DAMON: This cycle of escalating violence and cease-fires have become part of the routine of life here -- a routine no one necessarily wants or can do much about.
Hamas's main TV station headquarters was also targeted. Employees are sifting through the rubble trying to salvage bits and pieces. And the morning show went on as scheduled from the street.
There is a sense of what is perhaps best described as defiant resignation but to what end?
Arwa Damon, CNN -- Gaza City, Gaza.
VAUSE: When we come back, CNN versus the President of the United States. The legal case which is about a lot more than Jim Acosta's White House credentials, which is why almost every major news organization in the U.S. is supporting this network.
[01:47:56] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: A court ruling is expected Thursday in the dispute between CNN and the U.S. President over the legality of the administration's position to reverse the credentials of this network's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
A week ago President Trump lashed out at Acosta and other reporters during an unusually testy news conference, even by this White House's standard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're hundreds of miles away though. They're hundreds and hundreds of miles away.
TRUMP: You know what, I think --
ACOSTA: That's not an invasion.
TRUMP: Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN.
ACOSTA: All right.
TRUMP: And if you did it well your ratings would be higher.
ACOSTA: Let me ask -- if I may ask one other question. Mr. President -- if I may ask one other question -- are you worried?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
That's enough. That's enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President --
TRUMP: That's enough.
ACOSTA: The other folks -- TRUMP: That's enough.
ACOSTA: Pardon me, ma'am, I'm --
TRUMP: That's enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President.
TRUMP: That's enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President -- I have one other question.
ACOSTA: If I may ask --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Initially the administration said Acosta lost his credentials because he inappropriately touched the intern trying to take the microphone. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders even posted a video on Twitter to try and make a case. But that video had been edited in a way to exaggerate what was a brief moment of contact between Acosta and the intern.
[01:50:06] Lawyers for the President say the allegation is now no longer part of their legal argument.
And while this case is fairly narrow focusing just on Acosta's press credentials, it appears to be escalating into a much bigger legal showdown over the rights of journalists. And it could set a precedent for a president's right to pick and choose White House reporters which is why more than a dozen major news outlets across the United States have filed "friend of the court" brief in support of CNN and Jim Acosta. Notably on that list, the usually Trump-friend Fox News Channel.
Brian Stelter is CNN's chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES". He is with us from New York. Brian -- good to see you.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: You, too.
VAUSE: Ok. Here's the statement from the Fox News president Jay Wallace on why his network is supporting this legal action.
"Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don't condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people."
I guess there was some surprise when Fox News executives went public in support of CNN. Because take a look at their air. Listen to the anchors here. It's been a totally different story.
STELTER: Yes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRISH REGAN, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: What's your reaction to that video that we saw there where Jim Acosta is sort wrestling this young White House intern to keep the microphone. And as such, tonight we have just learned moments ago he's no longer going to be able to have his hard pass, his reporting pass to be there at the White House. What do you say about that? And then we'll move on to Sessions.
MISTY MARRIS, ATTORNEY: Trish -- I was hoping we'd have the opportunity to talk about it because I was floored by Acosta's conduct and revoking his pass was a necessity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Wrestling the intern -- what video was she looking at? I guess this is in the immediate aftermath of the incident. But this is a news channel which continually bends over backwards to justify whatever this President does regardless of how egregious it might be.
STELTER: Yes, the President's friends like Sean Hannity and Jeannine Pirro supported him at every turn. And Hannity, even this time yesterday was trashing CNN, trashing Acosta as some talk commentators have even gone so far as to say that the pass should be revoked and not returned.
But I do think what we've seen here is the news side of Fox, the head of the network, realizing that right now it is Acosta but next year, next decade it could be somebody else. You know, one day there might be a Democratic President who decides to target Fox News. And in that case Fox would want to be siding with real news and real journalism.
So it was a positive sign from Fox News; in fact that was one of the strongest statements today -- John. ABC and CBS eventually came out and supported CNN as well. But Fox News wanted to be on record on the side of a free press.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, here's part of the argument -- surprise, surprise -- here's part of the argument from the Justice Department on behalf of the President. And this seems to be of a fairly big concern. Justice Department lawyer James Burnham said that it would be perfectly legal for the White House to revoke a journalist's credentials if it didn't agree with their reporting. He made this assertion under questioning from Judge Timothy J. Kelly who asked him to state the administration's position in this hypothetical situation. The judge asked if the White House could essentially tell any individual journalist, we don't like your reporting so we're pulling your hard pass. Burnham replied as a matter of law, yes."
That is a serious break with the past. And it comes with some very big consequences.
STELTER: It really is a radical change from decades of tradition and precedent from both Republican and Democratic administrations. The idea whether it's the Reagan administration or the Bush or the George W. Bush or the Clinton or the Obama administration is that pretty much any reporter who requests a press pass was granted one. They erred on the side of permissiveness.
But now here you have Trump's DOJ saying Trump can take away anybody's pass at any time for any reason. Now, they say that was a hypothetical. They said that in Acosta's case, they are accusing Acosta of being rude and inappropriate. And that's why they suspended his pass. But I think it is very troubling what the DOJ said in court. Of course they have to defend Trump, I guess. That's their job. They're defending Trump against a lawsuit.
But the way they defended him by saying anybody might be subject to this at any time, that's definitely causing heartburn, not just at CNN, right. This is not just about CNN but in newsrooms all across the country.
VAUSE: Yes. And we also heard from President Trump on Wednesday. He spoke to the conservative Web site, the "Daily Caller". And when asked about the case, he said is it freedom of the press when somebody comes in and start screaming questions and won't sit down? Jim Acosta is just somebody who gets up and grandstands. He doesn't even know what he's asking you half of the time.
I really think that when you have a guy like Jim Acosta, I think that is bad for the country. He's just an average guy, he's a grandstander who's got the guts to stand up and shout."
Well, he certainly has a lot of courage -- Jim.
[01:54:54] You know, this is nothing -- what happened in the news conference compared to other news conferences. And it actually has always amazed me how deferential the White House press corps is towards the President -- any President compared to other countries around the world.
STELTER: Now, that's a very good point. I think our viewers have seen some of those other situations where reporters in other countries are far more aggressive at press conferences.
Acosta's style does bother some people though here in the U.S. I get that. I want different White House reporters to have different styles. I think that's a good thing. That's part of freedom of the press. But it is disturbing that so many of Trump's supporters are trying to target Acosta and say he's wrong and he's not really a journalist just because they don't like how tough he is and how aggressive he is in his questions.
By the way, let's remember, Trump called on Acosta. Trump actually reached out and called on Acosta. So it wasn't as if Acosta stood up there started ranting and raving at the President. The President called on him at that Press conference a week ago.
VAUSE: Yes, I can tell you in Australia prime ministers don't call on reporters, they just get yelled at and they answer the questions as best they can. Legal experts -- they believe CNN has a very good case here but could this ultimately just be simply a PR win for Donald Trump and plays to his supporters and plays to his claims that, you know, CNN is somehow out to get him which we're not. And what about the next two years? This administration could make life very difficult for us and I guess for all those other organizations supporting this legal action.
STELTER: That is true and I think that's why there's such a united front from these news organizations. Outlets that normally do not get along, normally do not agree on anything are united on this because they know that this week is Acosta but next week it could be the New York Times or NBC.
And that's why Thursday's ruling is going to be so important. Thursday 3:00 p.m. Eastern time this judge will issue a ruling. CNN has been asking for a temporary restraining order that would get Acosta's press pass back in his hand right away.
If the judge rules against CNN, this could have a troubling effect not just for CNN but for other news outlets as well because it can embolden Trump to target other reporters out as well.
So we are in a very unusual situation here. We will see what the judge decides to do. But in the meantime the Trump campaign is fund- raising off this. Sending out fundraising letters to his supporters today saying Trump's being sued. Help Trump win. He's trying to capitalize off of this.
But I think most Americans are watching, they're saying hey, I want more questions of the President, not fewer. I want more coverage, not less. And ultimately this is about press coverage of the President.
VAUSE: And I don't know if it has any relevance here, but Judge Kelly, the presiding judge, a Trump appointee. I guess we'll have to watch this case. Brian -- thank you.
VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
We'll take a short break now and then the news continues right here at CNN.
[01:57:32] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)