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CNN NEWSROOM

U.K. Prime Minister May Dismisses Talk of Second Brexit Referendum; Reports Show Social Media Push to Help Trump; U.S. Travel Ban Separates Dying Child from Mother; Hungary Protesters Fed Up with Orban's Government; China Closely Monitors Religious Organizations; Trump: I Will Review Case Of Accused U.S. Soldier. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired December 18, 2018 - 02:00   ET

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


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NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another bad day for Britain's Theresa May, the opposition trying to launch a vote of no confidence against her, as her Brexit deal remains gridlocked in Parliament and she announces a vote is still weeks away.

Plus every social media platform is utilized. These stunning new reports show just how deep Russian interference was during 2016 U.S. elections.

And...

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ALI HASSAN, ABDULLAH'S FATHER: Time is running out. Please help us get my family together again.

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WATSON (voice-over): A child is dying and right now the 2-year-old will never see his mother again, she won't see him before he passes because of the Trump administration's travel ban on Muslim majority countries.

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

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WATT: Britain's Parliament remains deadlocked on Brexit but Prime Minister Theresa May is standing firm behind the deal she has negotiated with the European Union for Britain to leave. She plans to bring the much-maligned agreement back to Parliament for debate once more but not until January.

She is planning for a vote in the middle of the month. May promised to get additional assurances from the E.U. before then, hoping to win over her many opponents and finally get this deal through the British legislature. Ms. May is rejecting the growing calls for a second referendum on Brexit.

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THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum, another vote, which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics.

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WATT: Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the delay, accusing Ms. May of trying to run down the clock to the March 29th exit day. Corbyn's calling for a symbolic no confidence vote on the prime minister.

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JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: So, Mr. Speaker, as the only way I can think of, of ensuring a vote takes place this week, I'm about to table a motion which says the following, that this house has no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straightaway on the withdrawal agreement and framework for future relationships between the U.K. and the European Union.

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WATT: Downing Street called Corbyn's move a political stunt.

Now Matthew Doyle was the political director for former Prime Minister Tony Blair and is now a communications consultant. He joins us now live from London.

Matthew, is this going to work for Theresa May?

Is she going to get this through Parliament?

MATTHEW DOYLE, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: No, she isn't. There is no way that she is going to get sufficient reassurances from Brussels to win over some of the skeptics in her party.

So what she has done by delaying the vote is bought some time, but she is still going to end up in the same place that she would have done if she had the vote a week ago.

WATT: I mean, it seems like she is sort of praying for a Christmas miracle and as you say just postponing the inevitable. But I -- I would love to know if you can see a way out of this. I cannot for the life of me see how this is going to end which is partly what makes this so fascinating but also so troubling for her. I mean, what is going to happen here in your view?

DOYLE: Well, you're absolutely right. The basic problem at the moment is that there isn't a majority within the U.K. Parliament for any of the different options that are being floated. We know there's no majority for her deal. We know that Parliament won't allow no deal to happen.

And there are various other options that are being floated but none of which command the confidence of members of Parliament. That's why you've seen in recent weeks talk of a second referendum increasing in the way that it has.

WATT: I mean, that's it, she can't get this deal through Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn can't get a no-confidence vote in the government through Parliament. So, as your old boss has been saying, you know, this referendum perhaps is the only way out. I mean, Theresa May would never sanction that, would she?

DOYLE: No, she won't, but there's a point at which the reality of the power of Parliament will come forward and will take the decision out of her hands, because if her deal goes down which it will in January, then we've got to do something to avoid crashing out with no deal --

[02:05:00]

DOYLE: -- and all the disastrous consequences that would have.

And that's why I think momentum is moving towards saying, well, look, if we as the politicians can't unbreak the deadlock, then what we need to do is go back to the public and get them to say, OK, we know you voted to leave in 2016, this is what leaving looks like, is this still what you want to go ahead with and do or not?

And that is the point at which we can hopefully break the current deadlock.

WATT: Is that practically feasible? I mean, let's say we have this vote middle of January. I mean, the last referendum took what, 15 weeks or something to get the wording together. I mean, we're running out of time before March 29 for a referendum, a second referendum to actually happen.

DOYLE: Yes. I have no doubt that the European Union would extend the Article 50 timetable if they thought there was going to be a fundamental change through another referendum or for that matter through a general election, although I think that is a less likely outcome of the current impasse.

Because at the end of the day, the European Union leaders have made clear, Britain stayed in the European Union. If they think there is a genuine chance a second referendum can ensure that we remain in the European Union, then they would go for that.

WATT: I mean, let's say it is unlikely, but let's say there is an election and the Labour Party wins and Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister, what does he do?

Because, I mean, his views on Brexit are nuanced.

DOYLE: That is a very polite way of putting it, to say that they are nuanced. Look, there is a challenge here within the Labour Party that they have managed to avoid partly because of the chaos within the current government and that is there are divisions in the Labour Party on this issue as well.

The party membership through the party conference have been absolutely clear that they want just to support a second referendum. But Jeremy himself personally has always been, let's put it politely, ambiguous at best at that as an option and he going to have to decide which of those, which side of this argument he is going to fall down on.

For sure there were Labour voters who voted 'leave' in the referendum, but there were way more Labour voters who voted 'remain' in the referendum in 2016 and so it is important not to forget their views as well.

WATT: Am I right in thinking that you believe that a referendum is probably the most likely outcome at this point?

DOYLE: Yes, I do. I mean, it has taken me a while to get to this view because I was always skeptical that Parliament would pick that option.

But I think now if you look at the numbers and if you look at what is happening, then the reality is, it is the only way that you can see a path out of this deadlock because as I say, none of the other options command a majority within the House of Commons.

And so what Parliament has to do is win an argument with the public to say, look, we are not ignoring your views from 2016, what we simply doing is saying, given everything that you now know, can we just confirm that this is a decision that you want to go ahead with?

And at that point, then people will be able to say yes or no. And if my side, if you like, if the remaining side loses the vote again, well at that point, we have to say fair enough, we're definitely leaving. But if people turn around and say, you know what, actually, on balance, maybe this isn't the right thing to do after all, well then we have a whole load of new options.

WATT: Matthew Doyle in London, thank you very much for your time on picking this very, very complex situation over there.

DOYLE: You're welcome. Thank you.

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WATT: Next to Washington and two new reports that show the depth of Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. election and beyond, apparently infiltrating the everyday lives of Americans, Russian trolls sowing division via social media on everything from trust in the media to religion to race relations. CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Efforts by Russia to meddle in American politics through social media are active and ongoing and far bigger than once thought.

That's according to a pair of detailed and stunning new reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee released today. The reports tracked Russian activity during the 2016 presidential race and after.

TRUMP: We're going to win back the White House.

MARQUARDT: Activity that during the campaign worked to support Donald Trump's candidacy and undermine Hillary Clinton's, including by trying to depress African Americans' votes and raise fears of a stolen election on the right.

RENEE DIRESTA, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, NEW KNOWLEDGE: They didn't just stop. After the 2016 election, if anything, on Instagram in particular, they really ramped up.

MARQUARDT: The analysis was based on troves of data handed over by Facebook, Twitter and Google. In one data set, analysts --

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MARQUARDT (voice-over): -- found that the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, which is linked to the Kremlin posted more than 10 million tweets, 116,000 Instagram posts, 61,000 Facebook posts and 1,000 videos.

Earlier this year, the same group was indicted by special counsel, Robert Mueller. The Russian group's efforts went beyond misinformation on social media. The group regularly tried to co-opt unsuspecting Americans to do certain tasks or hand over their personal information, developing them as so-called assets. In one example, Russian trolls created a page called Army of Jesus, targeting Christians and offering free counseling to people with sexual addiction. The hotlines posted, the report says created an opportunity to blackmail or manipulate these individuals.

CNN also tracked down this Trump supporter in Florida who was paid by the Internet Research Agency to build a cage to bring to an event to call for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton.

HARRY MILLER: There is nothing -- nothing at all to lend you to think that it's anything other than people trying to support a candidate.

MARQUARDT: The group's most prolific efforts specifically targeted black American communities, not just to depress their vote, but to develop them, too, as assets.

One such operation convinced and paid martial arts instructor Omowale Adewale to run self defense classes for African Americans to, quote, "protect your rights, let them know black power matters."

CNN's Drew Griffin spoke to Adewale.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: They convinced you.

OMOWALE ADEWALE, MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR: Very easily. Very easily. Some of the things were, you know, sketchy. But at the end of the day, it's still fitness.

MARQUARDT: And one of the most important things to note here, is despite the huge amount of evidence of Russian interference, one of the reports says that the big social media companies only handed over the bare minimum amount of data that was required by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So there are likely many more Russian accounts out there not identified as we start to look ahead to the 2020 presidential election -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

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WATT: We are going to delve into this real deeper with Richard Johnson, who is a lecturer in U.S. politics and international relations at Lancaster University in England.

Richard, I mean, OK, a huge volume of tweets; 10 million tweets, 116,000 Instagram posts, was it -- but what about the level of sophistication?

Was this a sophisticated operation in your view?

RICHARD JOHNSON, LECTURER IN U.S. POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY: I mean, it does -- it does seem that it was reasonably sophisticated in the sense that there was some of the same targeting efforts which are used by campaigns to identify key voter groups and demography -- based on their demographics and location were used by it seems by Russian agents to diminish turn out to turn people to a particular political persuasion.

So, I would say that these efforts in terms of how they communicated with voters were about as sophisticated as the campaign's communication tools themselves.

WATT: I mean, creating racial divisions -- I mean, racial divisions in this country, that is sadly a fairly easy scab to pick. I mean, I wonder the ongoing impact of this in this country.

I mean, is this going to cause societal problems well beyond 2016?

JOHNSON: Well, I would say first of all, I think that they were in some ways pushing on an open door when it came to some of the racial discontent.

I mean, one of the key flaws, I think, of the Clinton campaign strategy was it was premised on the notion that Hillary Clinton would be able to replicate 2012 levels of turnout among the African American community.

And if indeed she had, then she would have won the election. She would have won these key states like Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

But that was always going to be a difficult task because Hillary Clinton did not represent the same thing that Barack Obama did to African American voters and that the Clinton administration had difficult relations with some African Americans due to some of the legislation passed during his tenure.

So there was -- there was discontent already and I think that the operatives, it appears took advantage of that as a way of further diminishing turn out, which was already pretty shaky.

WATT: And I mean, the social media companies themselves are coming in for criticism for, perhaps, not doing enough, not cooperating enough with authorities.

Is that going to -- is that going to cause them problems?

JOHNSON: Well, I think that that's one of the places where reform and regulation needs to be targeted in speech, companies which provide platforms that are so easily accessible by anonymous actors, who can participate in democratic discourse with little accountability or even --

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JOHNSON: -- in full anonymity.

And so, I think that if there was to be some kind of federal level regulation, I think that would be the place to go. These are powerful firms and United States has very open speech laws because of the First Amendment.

So, any efforts at reform have to be very carefully crafted to prevent them from facing judicial challenge, which I'm sure some of these companies might contemplate.

WATT: Does that mean -- you just mentioned the First Amendment. I mean, obviously, we are not going to be able to stamp pad this kind of behavior in its entirety. There -- I don't believe there's a way that that can be done.

So, how do we learn to live with this and do we as voters, as consumers, have to be just a little bit more conscious that everything that we read online maybe not be true, maybe malevolent?

JOHNSON: I think that people have to go with the critical frame of mind and they have to question the sources that they read and where these sources are coming from. Of course, fore-meddling in elections is not new.

You know, indeed, United States has done its own fair share in the cold war, you know, famously, the 1948 election in Italy, the United States wrote letters to Italian families threatening that the pope would be very unhappy if the Communists won that election.

So, there have always been efforts to sway elections. That's not to justify by any means, but what it does means is that citizens have to really try to gather a wide range of evidence when they're making up their minds and when they cast their vote.

WATT: Richard, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate your time.

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WATT: Now former FBI director James Comey testified before House committees in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Behind closed doors they asked him about his decision-making ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and, in particular, about Hillary Clinton's e- mail investigation.

But as Manu Raju reports, the big news came afterwards, when Comey had some choice words to describe Donald Trump and called on lawmakers to stand up to the president.

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MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: James Comey teeing off on Republicans and the president in rather strong remarks after sitting down before the Republicans and Democrats at a House committee, second day of interviews, as the Republicans try to push forward in their final days in controlling the House over the FBI's handling of the Clinton and Russia investigations.

Comey was furious at the president and at Republicans not speaking out and speaking up against the president, who has gone after the Mueller investigation, has gone after the FBI, the Justice Department.

James Comey made clear his displeasure and distaste for the Republican silence. Now what also set him off was a tweet from over the weekend, in which the president criticized his former attorney, Michael Cohen, as "a rat" for cooperating with the Justice Department and the investigation into the president.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: He undermines the rule of law. This is the president of the United States, calling a witness, who has cooperated with his own Justice Department, a rat.

Say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we have ended up. This is not about Republicans and Democrats; this is about, what does it mean to be an American?

What are the things that we care about above our policy disputes, which are important?

There is a set of values that represent the glue of this country and they are under attack by things just like that. We have to stop being numb to it. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, you need to stand on your feet, overcome your shame and say something.

RAJU: I am told by a source briefed on the matter that James Comey also defended his decision not to go public with an announcement back in 2017, that the president was not under investigation. Trump at the time wanted Comey to do that. Comey says perhaps it was the best reason not to go forward then because it appears the president is under investigation now, according to public reports.

Now at the same time, though James Comey defended his handling of the investigation of the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, said it was done properly and it's, quote, "nonsense" to suggest otherwise.

And also I asked him directly, does he have confidence in the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, a President Trump acolyte, someone who is now overseeing the Mueller investigation.

Comey said, "No comment," and walked away -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

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WATT: A mother is desperate to reunite with her dying son, who may just have days to live. But the Trump administration's immigration policy is keeping them apart. That's coming up.

And anger is growing in Hungary. Why thousands of protesters are taking on prime minister Viktor Orban's powerful government.

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WATT: Right now in California, a little 2-year-old boy is on life support and doctors say he could have just days left to live. Despite that, his mother, who is in Egypt, may be prevented from seeing her son before he dies and the family says it is because of the Trump administration's travel ban. CNN's Dan Simon has more.

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HASSAN: Time is running out. Please help us get my family together again.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As this 2-year-old, Abdullah Hassan, lay dying in Oakland, his mother is thousands of miles away, unable to see him due to the Trump administration's travel ban, which includes five predominantly Muslim countries.

SAAD SWEILEM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, CAIR: This is a United States citizen, who is going to die, separated from his mother, because of our own hateful and bigoted policies.

SIMON: The toddler is on life support. He has a fatal brain condition and it is in the final stages. His American father is now pleading with U.S. officials to show compassion.

HASSAN: My wife is calling me every day, wanted to kiss and hold our son for the one last time.

SIMON: Abdullah was born in Yemen and brought to the U.S. for care. His parent never thought they would spend his final days apart. HASSAN: He is about to die soon. The mother is unable to touch him, see him, give him a kiss before he goes.

SIMON: How is your wife holding up?

HASSAN: Crying and crying every single day.

SIMON: The family says the State Department is processing their application for a travel waiver. The Council on American Islamic Relations now plans to file court documents to expedite the request.

SWEILEM: We are ready to fly her out at a moment's notice, as soon as we receive this waiver hopefully today.

SIMON: The family says they've been trying for over a year to get a waiver from the State Department, but basically they've been trapped in the bureaucracy. They say they keep getting the same response, that the department is reviewing the application.

Meantime, the boy's condition continues to worsen. We did reach out to the State Department. They say they do not comment on individual cases. They say they look at each and every case, though, on the merits -- Dan Simon, CNN, Sacramento, California.

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WATT: Anger is growing in Hungary at prime minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing government. Thousands protested in Budapest for a sixth straight night on Monday, furious over what they call a slave law, which would let employers ask workers for up to 400 hours of overtime every year.

Others fear another --

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WATT: -- controversial new law will chip away at the independence of the country's courts. Details now from CNN's Erin McLaughlin.

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ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the crowds have grown, so, too, has the anger. For days now, protesters have been gathering outside Hungary's parliament. What started as a relatively small rally last week against new overtime laws has morphed into a much larger campaign against Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've come to show a huge middle finger to the government and express that I'm really, really fed up. And I think most people are here for this.

MCLAUGHLIN: On Sunday afternoon thousands of people again took to the streets with a clear message about the direction of the government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think that discontent is growing and with this, not only anger and frustration but also those voices which would like to make change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is intolerable. It cannot go on anymore.

MCLAUGHLIN: As night fall, protesters turned their attention to Hungary's state TV channel, which some view as a mouth piece for Orban. Police resorted to tear gas and pepper spray. Inside the building, opposition MPs tried to force themselves on air before eventually being dragged out of the building by security guards early Monday.

The sustained protests are significant sign of discontent over Orban's government and cover a wide range of concerns. Some are angry at new overtime laws which require employees to work up to 400 extra hours every year.

Others have taken to the streets over the decision to set up new administrative courts which critics say undermine judicial independence. As one observer told CNN, the rallyists have united traditional political enemies on the left and right against Viktor Orban.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm protesting against the government and I'm protesting for independence course. I'm protesting for human rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be changed. They have to resign.

MCLAUGHLIN: The prime minister's office didn't respond to specific questions instead referring CNN to a statement blaming the violence on opposition law makers and those funded by Hungarian American billionaire, George Soros, a frequent target of the government.

Regardless, protesters are vowing to continue their campaign for change and hope that eventually Orban will listen -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.

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WATT: A corruption scandal in Malaysia is now tied to a U.S. investment bank, Goldman Sachs. Next, the outlandish ways prosecutors say those responsible laundered their stolen money.

Plus a crackdown on rap music in Russia. Why the Russian president says hip-hop needs to be controlled.

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[02:30:19] WATT: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt with our headlines this hour. British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she'll bring her Brexit deal back to parliament for a vote in mid- January. She is rejecting growing calls to hold a second Brexit referendum. The leader of the Opposition Labor Party called for a no confidence vote in the prime minister. But Downing Street says it won't allow time for debate on what it calls a stunt.

And Russian trolls used every social media platform available to support Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Twitter posting 10 million tweets. Two new reports commissioned by the U.S. senate Intelligent Committee show the groups tried to suppress the African-American vote and tried to discredit Hillary Clinton. And Human Rights Watch is calling on China to release dozens of Christians including a prominent pastor.

Members of the independent Early Rain Covenant Church were taken in police custody last week. The pastor is an outspoken critic of China's Communist Party. And now, to Malaysia, and one of the biggest financial scandals in history, more than four billion dollars in stolen funds the U.S. investment firm Goldman Sachs Malaysia has just filed criminal charges against the bank and an international playboy suspected of laundering a lot of the money. CNN's Richard Quest connects the dots.

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RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Now, you will be forgiven for not having kept track of this scandal, 1MDB. So consider this your crash course in what may be the biggest financial scam in history. 1MDB was basically Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund and the goal here was to raise money for the nation, energy, tourism, doing good. Instead, the police say government officials particularly the prime minister, Najib Razak, used it as their own personal piggy bank taking the money themselves.

And we're not talking one or two dollars here, not even hundreds of millions. We're talking over two billion dollars possibly more siphoned off. The former Prime Minister Najib Razak is amongst those who have also been charged. He pleads not guilty. Now, it's not just government that is also investors like Jho Low who allegedly used the funds money as his own slush fund for lavish spending on yachts parties, buildings, and the like. Now, he's believed to be in China in hiding.

He says he's innocent. And this is where Goldman Sachs comes in because Goldman was the bank that did the bond issue and says for 1MDB. Goldman raised the money for the fund. Malaysia now says Goldman was part of the problem ignoring the obvious that the money was going elsewhere. According to those charges, Goldman not only misled investors as to where the money was going, but also that they were part of the scheme that diverted more than two billion of what they raised. Goldman Sachs says the charges are misdirected. It's worth just looking at that and pondering the size and scale.

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WATT: CNN's Ivan Watson now joins us live from Hong Kong. I mean, Ivan, I have been following the story despite Richard claiming that people haven't. We saw Najib Razak, the prime minister -- former prime minister arrested in the summer. These tales of Jho Low buying jewels, throwing lavish parties, being involved in funding Hollywood movies. But with this Goldman Sachs news today that kicks everything up a notch?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure does because now you have one of the biggest banks, investment banks on Wall Street facing criminal charges in Malaysia. And then the question about how much further in deeper hot water it's going to get because there are reports of probes involving the SEC, the Federal Reserve. And it's also being sued in the State of New York by an Abu Dhabi investment fund for allegedly playing a role in kind of embezzling the money.

As far as the Malaysians go, the attorney general has claimed, has accused Goldman Sachs and four individuals of basically helping miss appropriate some $2.7 billion worth of money coming out of these 3 IMDB -- 1MDB rather bond sales that took place in 2012 and 2013. The Malaysian authorities are also accusing Goldman Sachs of vastly overcharging for some $600 million in fees much more above market price for these bond distributions in 2012 and 2013.

[02:35:11] And it is demanding at least $3.3 billion in fines for this as well as up to 10 years in prison. Now, Goldman Sachs has released a statement from CNN saying, "We believed these charges are misdirected and we will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case. They say they're cooperating with investigators." But here's the deal, a former Goldman Sachs partner who is in charge of Southeast Asia, his name is Tim Leissner, last month he pled guilty to U.S. authorities for being involved in corruption and in fraud in 1MDB and this scandal.

And his deputy, a man named Roger Ng, he is facing charges both in the U.S. now and in Malaysia for this. So the list of trouble both for the former bankers for Goldman Sachs and potentially for the bank itself just keeps getting longer.

WATT: And I mean Najib Razak, the former prime minister, he was only arrested in Malaysia after he lost that election last summer. Had he won that election, how would this all be looking right now?

WATSON: Yes. He could have kept fighting this is as he had been and trying to squelch reports about this as well. So he's facing charges, dozens of corruption charges, and we're expecting a trial to take place in February for him. And, meanwhile, the investigators just -- they keep trying to gather up all of the luxury goods and assets that were allegedly purchased with these billions of dollars of embezzled funds. So the Malaysian Police, they have unveiled what they say are some $250 million worth of luxury goods and handbags ceased from the former prime minister's homes.

You're looking at footage right now of this $250 million yacht that Jho Low, the Malaysian finance here who's also being charged here both in the U.S. and in Malaysia that he had purchased. Again, allegedly with this embezzled money and the list goes on. It includes paintings by Picasso, Monet, van Gogh. And also, the intellectual rights and property rights to a number of Hollywood films including perhaps appropriately or ironically, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dumb and Dumber To, Daddy's Home.

These are films that he was allegedly funding with some of this enormous amount of embezzled money. I might go on and add that Tim Leissne, this former Goldman Sachs banker who was involved in making these deals in the first place as part of his guilty plea, he's having to forfeit himself $43.7 million, Nick.

WATT: Wow. A massive and not particularly sessile scam allegedly. Ivan, thank you very much. Next, a rap battle over censorship is brewing in Russia. President Vladimir Putin says the state needs to guide or control rap music. And the arrest of a popular rapper is the latest move in what appears to be a government crackdown. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more from Moscow.

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FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sex, drugs, and a dose of protest. Those are the topics that landed Russian rapper Husky in jail for several days. Known for criticizing the Russian government and Vladimir Putin through his music, his concert was shut down for alleged extremism. Then he was charged with hooliganism when he tried to give an impromptu concert on a car roof. Overall, I was forced into the situation he later said I had to talk to the people who bought the tickets and I felt that it's my duty to talk to them and they needed to hear me, so I did that.

Russian hip hoppers are on a collision course with the Kremlin. Several artists banded together after Husky was arrested, raised money, and successfully lobbied for him to get him out of jail early sparking a debate about explicit and government critical lyrics and freedom of expression. A music producer during a meeting with Vladimir Putin blaming American culture for allegedly creeping into the minds of Russia's youth. We have to keep in mind that hip hop and rap are not our inventions, he said.

This is a global trend that came from America, this gangster rap. There were many iterations and it's based on three pillars, sex, drugs, and protest against everything. It's not the first time government critical Russian musicians have faced problems, members of the anti-Kremlin band Pussy Riot have spent a considerable amount of time behind bars and they accused Russian authorities of poisoning one of their musicians, a claim the Kremlin vehemently denies.

[02:40:04] But in the case of the rappers, Vladimir Putin taking a fairly moderate line consulting with language experts and then saying if you can't stop them, steer them. If you continue stop it, you need it to own it, he said, and lead in an appropriate way, but how does one do that? That depends on us. Some politicians suggest age limits for concerts or warning labels for alleged explicit lyrics as Russia's rap scene gears up for tough times ahead trying to prevent the government from intervening in their music. Fred Pleitgen, CNN Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. imposes new sanctions on top North Korean officials and Pyongyang is not pleased. We'll look at whether the move could really endanger the efforts to denuclearize. Plus, Donald Trump promises to review an accused soldier's murder case. But will his intervention do more harm than good? We'll have the details.

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WATT: Human rights Watch is calling on China to release dozens of Christians including a prominent pastor. Members of the independent Early Rain Covenant Church were taken into custody last week by police. Alexandra Field has an update from Hong Kong.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wang Yi is the pastor of the Early Rain Church, an underground church in Southwestern China. Well, it may be an unregistered church, its prominent pastor hasn't tried to hide his views. He leads fiery sermons and he's been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, the Communist Party, Xi Jinpging, and country's increasingly strict policies targeting religious practice.

It's legal to practice five religions in China but that's subject to Communist Party rules and surveillance. Wang's arrest along with a hundred of his parishioners is seen as another sign of a crackdown on religion in China. Through a U.S.-based NGO, Wang issued a statement calling the crackdown a, "Greatly wicked unlawful action." He faces allegations of inciting subversion of state power, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison.

The arrest followed demolitions of unregistered churches, crosses being removed from buildings, and a ban on selling bibles on the internet in China. Human rights activists are slamming this as just the latest sign of a crackdown and religious persecution. China is already accused of human rights abuses against hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the western part of the country. There China says its actions are meant at combating violent extremism.

The targeting of religious groups in China though is widely viewed as part of the Communist Party's efforts to strengthen its control and power all across society. In this case, by combating threats that religious perceived to pose like providing a means for people to organize.

[02:45:19] WATT: China officially an atheist state has an uneasy relationship with religion. Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Catholics, and Protestants are allowed to worship and belong to officially sanctioned religious organizations. But they are all closely monitored and heavily regulated.

The Early Rain Covenant Church is one of many underground Christian churches that occasionally come under crackdowns like this one. The Chinese government has also imposed increasing pressure on the Muslim Uyghur in Western Jinjiang in recent years.

They are subject to mass surveillance, and thousands of them are reportedly held in detention camps. The Vatican and China have long been at odds over who is the head of the church in China. They recently agreed that the Vatican would have a say in the naming of bishops in the country.

And in an unusual show of patriotism, the Shaolin Temple, the home of Zen Buddhism in China and famous for Kung Fu practicing monks raised the Chinese flag for the first time this year. The monastery is more than 1,500 years old.

And now, to North Korea where the regime is talking tough again in response to new sanctions imposed by the U.S., warning that the move could block the path to denuclearization in the peninsula. But is it just bluster or negotiating tactic? What does Pyongyang really want? CNN's Brian Todd investigates.

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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim Jong-un's regime is now making an overt threat to the U.S. government to pull back on its effort to get rid of its nuclear weapons. The North Koreans accusing the State Department and other U.S. government agencies of sabotaging Kim's deal with President Trump.

Pyongyang is furious over new sanctions on three top officials close to Kim for their human rights violations. Kim's regime saying in a new statement, those sanctions could, "block the path to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula forever."

BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW FOR NORTHEAST ASIA, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's typical North Korean negotiating behavior. They either want a door prize before they come into the negotiating room. Or they're sending a signal as to what they want. So, it's trying to put pressure on the U.S. to reduce pressure or provide benefits if we want the process to continue.

TODD: Experts say, Kim Jong-un badly wants a second summit with President Trump. They say the dictator likely feels he can get more concessions from Trump in a one-on-one meeting. And the North Koreans are trying to drive a wedge between Trump and his own diplomats. Saying that unlike the president's statements, the State Department wants to bring U.S.-North Korean relations back to where they were last year.

"Marked by exchanges of fire." Which analysts believe could mean the war of words from last year.

KLINGNER: North Korea has been very careful not to criticize President Trump personally. They will praise not only him but also the agreement that he made with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. And they will blame the lack of progress on denuclearization on either Secretary Pompeo or unidentified senior officials.

TODD: While, Kim's regime gets more irritated over international sanctions, sources are telling CNN, Kim and his aides are taking new steps to get around those sanctions. One example, smuggling at sea. North Korean tankers are illicitly receiving barrels of oil mostly from Chinese and Russian vessels.

JONATHAN SCHANZER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF RESEARCH, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Down here you've got the North Korean ship, over here is apparently a Chinese ship. They are tethered together to make sure that they don't come apart and they're transferring barrels of oil. A large amount of oil from one to the other.

TODD: U.S. defense officials say North Korea is changing tactics to evade surveillance from American planes and warships.

RANDY SCHRIVER, UNITED STATES ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The North Koreans are learning evolving getting better, so the ship-to- ship transfers are taking place further away from the peninsula.

TODD: Now, key questions over whether the U.S. and its allies should keep enforcing sanctions, and whether those measures threaten a second meeting between Kim and Trump, which could move them further toward a historic nuclear deal.

SCHANZER: They should not be paused. The whole -- the point of all of this is to demonstrate to the North Koreans that if they engage, if they work with us to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, then, the sanctions will go away.

TODD: But analysts are now really concerned that the resolve among the Americans and their allies to keep up this pressure campaign against the North Koreans is weakening. They say President Trump has been personally reluctant to call for new sanctions. Even though, his State Department has been doing that. They say the South Koreans have backed away from calling for new sanctions are wanting to enforce them. And they say Kim Jong-un is well aware that, that resolve is weakening. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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[02:49:58] WATT: President Trump is also now promising to review the case of a U.S. soldier accused of murder. Matt Golsteyn is accused of killing an unarmed Taliban bomb maker who was already in custody in Afghanistan back in 2010. Jim Sciutto looks at the effect Mr. Trump's interest may have on the case.

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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: President Trump threatening to insert himself into an ongoing criminal investigation. This time about a former Special Forces officer who admitted on national television to killing an accused bomb maker who is in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.

Trump tweeting on Sunday, "At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a U.S. military hero, Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder."

What sparked his interest?

PETE HEGSETH, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Serious story here. A decorated war hero --

SCIUTTO: Apparently, a story that aired on Fox News, Mr. Trump tagging the anchor who broadcast the story in his tweet. Major Golsteyn, the soldier who the president referred to is charged with murdering the accused bomb maker in Afghanistan in 2010.

According to the Washington Post, the man was suspected of making explosives similar to those used to kill two Marines with Golsteyn's unit. However, according to the New York Times and Washington Post, the suspected bomb maker was not on the predetermined kill list, and he was unarmed.

The U.S. Army has been investigating the incident intermittently since 2011 when Golsteyn admitted to the killing while taking a polygraph test for a job with the CIA. The army then closed the case after determining it did not have any evidence to prosecute according to The Post.

But the military reopened the case after Golsteyn, again admitted to the killing in an interview in 2016, also on Fox News.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Did you kill the Taliban bomb maker?

MATTHEW GOLSTEYN, LOCAL ARMY VETERAN, ACCUSED OF MURDER: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Golsteyn's lawyer says the killing occurred during a mission ordered by his superiors. And that there is no evidence to justify reopening the case.

PHILLIP STACKHOUSE, ATTORNEY FOR MATT GOLSTEYN: There was nothing described in Bret's interview that the army didn't have back in 2011.

SCIUTTO: President's statement that he will review the matter, raises troubling questions about whether his praise for Golsteyn in that tweet could unduly influence the case. The Pentagon for their part tells CNN, "The allegations against Major Matt Golsteyn are a law enforcement matter. The Department of Defense will respect the integrity of this process." Jim Sciutto, CNN, New York.

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WATT: And in other Donald Trump-related news, the president just called his former attorney a rat for cooperating with prosecutors. One former federal prosecutor, says that is more like what a mob guy would say, not the U.S. president. And he adds, "Stop with the mobster lingo." Details' next.

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WATT: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is talking about the bull market and what's happening to it. CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley asked him if the nine-year rally on Wall Street is now in trouble.

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JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Is the bull market still intact?

ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES, FEDERAL RESERVE: Not really. No, it's really to fumble. You can see it by reaction in recent days. It would be very surprising to see it sort of stabilize you and then take off again. But it's happened in the past. However, at the end of that one, run for cover. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:54:59] WATT: You can hear more from Alan Greenspan on "FIRST MOVE WITH JULIA CHATTERLEY". That's Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. in London, 10:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Now, Donald Trump often uses Twitter to trash-talk anyone. He perceives as an enemy. But some critics say he's sounding more like a mob boss than a president. Jeanne Moos, reports.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When President Trump referred to his former attorney as a rat for talking to the government, critics came scurrying.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Frankly makes him sound more like a mob boss than President of the United States.

MOOS: And not for the first time, the president had previously tweeted about a John Dean type rat, prompting someone to ask sarcastically, "Is this your James Cagney imitation?"

JAMES CAGNEY, FORMER ACTOR AND DANCER: Come out and take it you dirty yellow-bellied rat about give it to you through that door.

MOOS: Or maybe the president prefers The Sopranos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three months ago by you, the rat -- was a second -- coming.

MOOS: The president has tweeted admiringly of how Paul Manafort refused to break. He wondered who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone or Manafort. Former FBI director James Comey noted a similarity.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS: The way the Trump administration is organized, reminded him of something.

COMEY: I had a flashback to my days investigating the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra.

MOOS: But Colbert didn't think the president was tough enough to be a MOB boss.

COLBERT: Luca Brasi, sleeps with the fishes. But I sleep with the player fishes.

MOOS: Another phrase the president uses.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Flipping they call it. I know all about flipping.

MOOS: You know you could almost mix up quotes from Donald Trump with quotes from the actual dawn of a crime family. Who said it? Trump or Gotti? Asked the New York Times. "He doesn't know me but he would go down fast and hard crying all the way." Was Trump not Gotti, responding to a Joe Biden taunt about fighting Trump.

Working in construction, Donald Trump couldn't entirely avoid the mob.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS: Now, do you -- do you use mob, concrete, or not?

TRUMP: Well, it is the best concrete.

MOOS: And President Trump knows all the best words. Mob Wars.

TRUMP: I know all about flipping. For the 30-40 years, I've been watching flippers.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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WATT: Thanks for watching. I'm Nick Watt, you can connect with me anytime on Twitter at Nick Watt, CNN. I'll be back with another hour of news, next you are watching CNN.

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