Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Government Has Dire Warnings about Climate Change; Spanish Prime Minister Warns E.U. Brexit Summit May not Happen; Murdered Journalist's Daughters Honor Their Father in Op-Ed; Military Transgender Ban May Reach Supreme Court; South Sudanese Man Defends Child Bride Purchase; UAE Considers Clemency for Jailed U.K. Student; Pop-Up Shop Sells Lifesaving Items for Refugees. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 24, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): U. S. President Trump is skeptical about climate change but a new report from his own government lays out the facts and delivers a dire warning. The CNN Weather Center explains what you need to know.

Britain's Theresa May continues to push her Brexit plan and she's heading back to Brussels and we'll discuss what is next and how Spain could derail it.

Khashoggi's daughters coming to his defense and opening up about his death.

All that and more ahead. We're live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta and I'm Cyril Vanier.


VANIER: U.S. climate experts issued dire new warnings about the consequences of global warming. They say thousands of lives will be lost, disasters like wildfires and flooding will grow more severe and the U.S. economy alone could lose hundreds of billions of dollars from crop losses and rising sea levels by the end of the century.

The report was released on Friday. The findings conflict with President Trump's skepticism of climate change. Just this week, he tweeted this about the weather.

"Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS. Whatever happened to Global Warming?"

Let's talk more about this with meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

Derek, you were telling us about the report yesterday and now you've had a look at it, what do you say?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We finally got to sink our teeth in a thousand-page plus report. What I found most astounding was the big letters at the beginning of the review that said this. I'll quote it.

"The Earth's climate is changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activity burning of fossil fuels."

This report is meticulous, comprehensive and it covers a multitude of things. We'll get there with the graphics. You'll see climate change specifically across the U.S. is threatening our health, our well- being, our agriculture and food production and our availability of fresh water, even the rate of our economic growth across the U.S.

So what this report did, it highlighted regionally and hyperlocally some of the extreme weather events in terms of risk and the potential adaptation measures that should be taken in response to extreme temperatures, weather event, the degradation of our air quality, the increasing wildfire threat, even mosquito-borne illnesses were covered within the report.

Remember, it is specific to the United States. But this has obviously global impacts.


VANIER: What is the one thing you want viewers to take away from all of this?

VAN DAM: For instance, Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, we reported there last year. That's one of the benchmark storms that is talked about so much within this report because 60 inches of rain fell during that particular event. I've been in the thick of it and seen it with my own eyes.


VAN DAM: One thing I could say to the viewers and what I experienced in the field, it is harder and harder to be a skeptic these days and harder not to believe in the immeasurable amount of evidence piling up behind climate change and this being a human caused impact.

The good thing is the actual report states that the future of the impact is still within our hands. So there's time to counteract what happened.

VANIER: Derek Van Dam, joining us from the CNN Weather Center, such a pleasure having you with us with your experience, your insights, with all of this. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Spain's prime minister warning the E.U.'s historic summit to approve Brexit set for Sunday might not happen. Madrid is digging in its heels over the tiny British territory of Gibraltar on Spain's southern tip.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez says he'll oppose the current Brexit plan unless it is clear that Madrid gets to sign off on future negotiations over Gibraltar. He was asked what would happen if Spain doesn't get what it wants? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): There is no agreement; evidently what will happen is the European Council will not take place.

VANIER (voice-over): Gibraltar is just one obstacle that British prime minister Theresa May is dealing with on the eve of the E.U. summit. CNN's Hadas Gold has more.



HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime minister Theresa May heads to Brussels this weekend saying a Brexit deal is within reach. But the latest stumbling block is a little rock in the Mediterranean.

That would be Gibraltar, the British outpost on the tip of Spain. In the 11th hour, Spain said they're displeased that language in the current Brexit agreement doesn't give them enough of a say over Gibraltar's future.

Spain has long claimed sovereignty over Gibraltar, which has been a British territory since 1713. The U.K. says they won't exclude Gibraltar from future negotiations.

On Thursday evening, the Spanish prime minister tweeted, "After my conversation with Theresa May, our positions remain far away. My government will always defend the interests of Spain. If there are no changes, we will veto Brexit."

Now Spain can't technically veto the withdrawal agreement but the E.U. and the U.K. want unity as they head into these final hours before approving the deal. It is likely they'll get everything together by Sunday.

But Spain's power is real in later to trade negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union. But Theresa May has an even tougher job than the rocky outpost in Spain and that's selling the deal at home. She took to the airways for the second time in a week on Friday to try to sell her deal, telling listeners of the BBC, her way is the only path forward.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think that if this deal doesn't go through, what happens is we end up back at square one. I think, as Sarah's just said, what we end up with is more uncertainty and more division, frankly.

And so, I believe that, if we were do go back to the European Union and say, well, we didn't -- people like that deal.

Can we have another one?

We won't get -- I don't think they're going to come to us say we'll give you a better deal.


GOLD: If May succeeds in getting that final deal in Brussels this weekend, it has been a sprint to convince enough members of Parliament to support the deal, a job that appears to be getting tougher by the day -- Hadas Gold, CNN, London.


VANIER: E.U. ministers are to spend most of Saturday trying to iron out any disputes ahead of Sunday's summit. As of right now, it is still on. Earlier I spoke with CNN's European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas, about why this has been raised at this late stage and what Madrid hopes to achieve.


DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: If we just go back to 2017, April, in the Article 50 agreement with the European Union and the U.K., it was specifically stated on that occasion that future discussions between the E.U. and the U.K. involving Gibraltar would bring Spain into the conversation.

The political declaration that will be discussed this Sunday doesn't mention it and the withdrawal agreement does not mention it in those specific terms. And the Spanish prime minister, of course, took umbrage to that.

The second aspect about it, too, of course, is that, as a member of the European Union, Gibraltar, as an overseas territory, has a border with Spain. It is a border on the outskirts of the Schengen agreement that Spanish citizens have been able to move across and to work in that particular region.

With Brexit, as with Northern Ireland and other areas, there's a tremendous uncertainty around what will happen to Spanish workers that have been accustomed to getting into Gibraltar. And this has a specific impact on the bordering region of Andalusia in terms of work, tourism and so on.

This also, this is the third point, I would say, which is so important, is that there's regional elections coming up there and that this new prime minister with a minority government is eager to demonstrate to the people of Andalusia that he's thinking about them and looking out for them.


VANIER: That was Dominic Thomas, our European affairs commentator --


VANIER: -- speaking to me earlier.

The daughters of Jamal Khashoggi are speaking out about their father. "The Washington Post" contributor was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. In an essay for the newspaper, his daughters said he always thought of Saudi Arabia as his home.

They wrote, in part, "He also told us about the day he left Saudi Arabia, standing outside his doorstep, wondering if he would ever return. For a while, Dad had created a new life for himself in the United States. He grieved for the home he had left.

"Throughout all his trials and travels, he never abandoned hope for his country, because, in truth, Dad was no dissident. If being a writer was ingrained in his identity, being a Saudi was part of that same grain."

U.S. officials tell CNN the CIA has high confidence the Saudi crown prince personally ordered Khashoggi's killing. Saudi officials deny that.

Jamal Khashoggi is also on the mind of Turkey's foreign minister. He slammed U.S. President Donald Trump for what he calls "turning a blind eye" to the murder. This comes a day after Mr. Trump doubled down on his defense of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom admits the journalist was murdered at their embassy in Turkey but denies that the crown prince was involved.

In Washington, Democrats plan to investigate Mr. Trump's reaction and how it relates to U.S. intelligence. Jeff Zeleny, who's traveling with the president, explains.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As President Trump continues to spend a long Thanksgiving weekend at his resort in Florida, one thing is clear: the new Democratic political order in Washington beginning to take shape.

The incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Adam Schiff, saying he wants to investigate what the president exactly knows and any potential financial ties between the White House and the Trump family and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This of course comes as the president embraces the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in saying that he did not or may not have known anything about the death of "The Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Of course, that's contradictory to what the CIA has already determined, that the Saudi crown prince did indeed know about the murder. The president says he simply does not know if that is true but even if it would be, it is not worth risking the economic ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

But the new Democratic chairman, incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he indeed wants to look at this. This is all coming as the president is still focused on immigration, railing against judges on the 9th Circuit and still talking about potentially closing the U.S. border with Mexico.

Now the president spending plenty of time on the golf course as well as potentially interviewing possible new replacements for his cabinet as he heads into the second half of his first term in Washington.

One thing is clear: Democrats also getting ready. The president has one month left of Republican control in Washington before the new political order changes and puts a check on the Trump White House -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


VANIER: We're joined now by Jessica Levinson, professor of law and governance at Loyola University Center for Government Reform.

Thank you for being on the show. Trump has been explicit on Khashoggi. He wants to preserve the relationship with Saudi Arabia, regardless of the murder and regardless who the CIA says is behind the murder.

What can Adam Schiff and the Democrats in the House of Representatives do about that?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: What Adam Schiff can do is what he promised. He said I'll take a deep dive into the financial ties between President Trump and his family and Saudi Arabia.

Essentially what he wants to do is shine a light on any potential financial conflicts of interests between Trump and Saudi Arabia. And what he really wants to do is to keep this also in the news, to keep us talking about this extraordinary fact that President Trump has essentially decided to side with Saudi Arabia instead of, again, our intelligence community.

I think what we'll see in January is a big shift in American politics, because the House of Representatives will be controlled by Democrats. And people like Adam Schiff will have subpoena power and be able to say to the president, I want to keep pressure on you. This is just a first example of how that is going to happen.

VANIER: I like to get you to address something else. It is a total 180. Also in Washington on Friday, the Trump administration officially asking the Supreme Court to rule on the president's transgender ban.

So a quick recap for the viewers. Last year, Donald Trump banned transgender individuals from serving in the military. District courts then entered injunctions, meaning the policy couldn't be applied.

But the matter hasn't been settled legally and hasn't followed the course to the end of the road. Typically this would be looked at by appeals courts. But the administration wants to fast-track it and send it right to the Supreme Court.

What is the administration's argument for wanting to fast-track this?


LEVINSON: Frankly, whatever legal argument they have, the real argument is they think they'll have a better shot. If you look at what happened for Trump and his administration in a number of different policy proposals, for instance, the travel ban, what we see is that President Trump thinks he has a better shot with the Supreme Court.

And that's in part because he has two -- he's picked two members to the Supreme Court, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh and he knows it is a solid 5-4 conservative majority.

And he hopes that, on issues like the transgender ban, that he will have a favorable ruling and he knows because of what happened in the lower courts already on this issue, he knows he'll face an uphill battle in the courts of appeal. So he doesn't want this to play out in the normal course.


VANIER: That was Jessica Levinson speaking earlier.

There could be another plea deal as a result of the U.S. investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It involves Jerome Corsi, a conservative writer and associate of long-time Trump ally, Roger Stone.

Corsi says he's in plea negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller and expects to be indicted for lying. Mueller wants to know if Corsi was the link between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks and if he tipped off the Trump campaign that WikiLeaks was planning to release stolen Democratic Party e-mails. Roger Stone responded in a radio interview.


ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: I have no idea what this is about, other than to say that the assertion that Jerry Corsi knew in advance that John Podesta's e-mails had been obtained and would be published would be news to me because he never told me anything of the kind.


VANIER: For his part, Corsi says he gave Stone a prediction, not actual insider information.

Still ahead, 500 cows, three cars and $10,000. That's how much that man reportedly paid for a teen bride. His defense of the transaction when we come back.

Plus a shop where you could spend a lot but leave with nothing. We'll tell you about a store where holiday shoppers can buy gifts for refugees instead of themselves.




VANIER: Now for a CNN alert, officials say a U.S. service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan. Authorities have not yet released details of the incident and the service member's identity won't be released until the next of kin has been notified.

So far this year, eight people have died in U.S. combat in Afghanistan.

The sale of a child bride in South Sudan sparked an international outcry after posts discussing an auction for her were shared on Facebook. But the man that married the girl said that's not the case. Farai Sevenzo has the details.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After much concern over social media about the fate of Nyalong Ngong Deng --


SEVENZO: -- the young South Sudanese girl who was married by a businessman from South Sudan who paid 500 head of cattle, three cars and $10,000 in cash for her hand in marriage.

The story came full circle again today when we spoke to the husband who won her hand in marriage beating four other suitors. Her husband flatly denied that this had been an auction. He told CNN that if there had been an auction, everybody would have been allowed to bid. He strongly defended what he called Dinka culture, Dinka ceremonies allow for negotiation of a bride's prize, of a dowry and he said everything had been done in the correct way.

When pressed again at what age Nyalong was when he married her, he flatly refused to acknowledge either way of what age she was. He felt very put on and hard done by the media and saying that they portrayed his culture in a very negative light.

Now, what is at the center of this entire story is what age young girls are getting married at. Remember, UNICEF in the 2017 November figures said 52 percent of the young girls getting married in South Sudan were under age, that is below the age of 18 and that is at the core of this entire story.

It hits right in the middle of Africa's modernity and what they do about their cultures which have not caught up yet to the rights of the child or indeed, the rights of women -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


VANIER: There are signs of a possible reprieve for the British PhD student who was sentenced to life in prison for spying. The United Arab Emirates says it is now considering clemency for Matthew Hedges and hopes to work toward an amicable solution.

The case has threatened to upend relations between Britain and the UAE. Our Sam Kiley reports.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "This is the face of a British spy," according to an Emirate court, which handed down a life sentence to Matthew Hedges for espionage.

Officials here insist that he was working for MI6, that he was caught with electronic devices carrying evidence that proved his guilt. Now though, a glimmer of hope for his family and a way to end a diplomatic row between London and Abu Dhabi.

SULAIMAN HAMAD ALMAZROUI, UAE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: This was an extremely serious case. We live in a dangerous neighborhood. And national security must be a top priority. This was also an unusual case. Many researchers visit the UAE freely every year without breaking our laws.

Under UAE law, everyone has to right to appeal the conviction and everybody can request a pardon from our president. Mr. Hedges' family have made a request for clemency and the government is studying that request.

KILEY: Traditionally, the UAE pardons some prisoners on its national day, December the 2nd. Clemency can prevent close allies from turning on each other. The whole purpose of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where the drivers are practicing for Sunday's final race, just across the water there, is to showcase the Emirates to the whole world.

But instead, the focus has not been on racecar driving, but on human rights. And there have been unwelcome comparisons from the Emirate perspective with their attitude toward Matthew Hedges and the Saudi treatment of Jamal Khashoggi.

Hedges' wife insists he's innocent and was mistreated during his five months in prison.

DANIELA TEJADA, WIFE OF MATTHEW HEDGES: Very tough to just think about what might be going through his head; the terror that he must be feeling and just the sheer sadness that a country that he considered to be his second home since he lived there for so many years has paid him back with such mistreatment and injustice.

KILEY: The U.K. helped create the United Arab Emirates out of former protectorates 47 years ago. They remain close allies who share intelligence and maintain close military links. Nonetheless, the British foreign secretary had been on the offensive before there was a suggestion of a pardon.

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We have raised the issue repeatedly. I raised it last week with Crown Prince Mohammed himself. And yet, despite that, we have today's news. There will be serious diplomatic consequences for a country that says that it is a friend and ally of the United Kingdom.

KILEY: This threat could be undermined if the Emirates shared what evidence they have of alleged spying by Hedges but they insist that they want to find a way out of this dispute. The 47th anniversary of independence from Britain may just provide what the Emirates seek, an amicable solution -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Abu Dhabi.


VANIER: Before we go, let's talk Black Friday for a second or even a minute. Every year stores encourage folks to shop to their hearts' desire.

But what if the holiday shopping frenzy was used to sell items for those in need for a change?

One pop-up shop in London is doing just that. Our Hala Gorani reports on the store where consumers can buy lifesaving gifts for refugees.




GORANI: -- hot deals; London retailers are doing all they can to lure in those festive shoppers with an eye for a bargain. But on this street corner, a store with an altogether different offer.

Here, you are encouraged to choose love and buy a gift not for yourself but for a refugee instead.

MATTHEW MCCABE, VOLUNTEER, HELP REFUGEES: Blankets, hot meals, children's coats. So everything is individually priced. Or you can buy a bundle of things.

GORANI: It's a project by charity Help Refugees that works on the frontline of the crisis.

On the shelves here, items in desperate need by refugees across Europe and the Middle East. From first arrival often by boat to life in a camp for months and often years.

JOSIE NAUGHTON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, HELP REFUGEES: So much stuff in the media are about buy this, buy that and it really feels like there's a lot of people who, you know, want to kind of turn consumerism on its head and do something for someone else and rather than just something for themselves.

And we've just been really overwhelmed all day. People have just been coming in and feeling so emotional about doing something for someone that they don't even know.

GORANI: It's the second year of the project. Last year's pop-up raised almost $1 million. As well as practical gifts, shoppers can buy mental health support or legal services for refugees. Helping with family reunions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here is a great way to actually buy something that's not for yourself that's going to make a difference to other people. And especially at this time of year. There's so much buying. It's why not buy something that's going to be a value to somebody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bought the meal ingredients because one of the main things that you need is food when you come to a new place.

GORANI: Like most stores on Black Friday, here, they want you to shop your heart out, except in this case, it's not for yourself but for someone in need -- Hala Gorani, CNN, London.


VANIER: Now to this: a NASA probe is expected to land on Mars on Monday after a six-month long journey. The Insight's lander will use special instruments, including a seismometer to look deep into the Red Planet's interior for the first time ever.

Its findings will help scientists better understand how rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.

That's it from me today. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll have the headlines for you in just a moment.