Return to Transcripts main page
HALA GORANI TONIGHT
U.S. Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates to Combat Inflation; Trump Orders Full and Rapid United States Troop Withdrawal from Syria; China Says Hacking Report Is Suspicious and Groundless; "New York Times" Report Revives Questions about Facebook Privacy. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired December 19, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, a full and rapid withdrawal. That is the order
from the U.S. President to U.S. forces inside of Syria. What does that mean for the war there? We'll discuss that next.
Also, the heart of Europe hacked. A new report says European Union's diplomatic network was targeted for years. We'll update you.
And we're expecting any second now the Federal Reserve to announce its decision on interest rates. It is widely expected to raise the key rate by
a quarter percentage point. I'm sorry? All right. The Federal Reserve -- I'm just confirming that again. Raised the rate as expected by a quarter
point? Correct! So that is in line with expectations. Here's a look at the stock market for you. This is the Dow Jones industrial average. Fully
expecting this decision from the Federal Reserve. Up 100 points. About half a percent. The big question is going to be, what motivated this
decision? Also, importantly, going forward whether the Federal Reserve is happy keeping the main benchmark rate at 2.5 percent or indicating that in
the future it will continue to raise. This is not, of course, its first rate hike this year. The Federal Reserve is going to be publishing minutes
from its meeting and at the half hour at 2:30 p.m. eastern we're expecting the Federal Reserve chairman to hold a news conference and that is where
we'll hear a lot more on the reasoning, the thinking behind this move. Let's bring in our business editor at large, Richard Quest. He is in New
York. All right. What more can you tell us about what we're learning from the Federal Reserve? The U.S. Fed signaling a potentially from what I'm
seeing a slower pace of rate hikes this year.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, indeed. So-called dot plot is forecasting. This is where the members of the committee think
rates will be at the end of next year suggests two more hikes next year. That is slightly less. Maybe one less than previously thinking. I think
that the dot plot is one thing and, Hala, within the committee, within the statement that we have just got there's some new language. Now, remember,
this is all about passing what they say. And it looks to me it says that the committee judges that the risk to the economic outlook are roughly
balanced. Well, we have had that before. But listen. To this bit. But we'll continue to monitor global economic and financial developments and
assess their implications for the economic outlook. What that basically means is they're on guard. They're on notice. They are going to be more
wary and more watchful of what is happening. That they can see that there are some nasty clouds starting to come across the U.S. economic growth and
the global economy. And what those words mean is we're going to watch it, wait and see. Now, although the dot plot says two rate rises next year,
instead of the original thought of three, you can see the market is still not quite sure what to make of this statement. If it had been good, we
would have been at 400 points by now. If it was bad, the gains would have evaporated and would be off 300 points. So, they're interpreting this as
being a bit on this and a bit on that. Watch and wait. Let's see.
GORANI: And quickly, I'm looking here at some of what is coming out of this meeting and the decision. The Federal Reserve acknowledges that the
labor market is strong. Unemployment is low in the United States. Inflation is not an issue. It is under 2 percent. But acknowledging that
in 2019 growth could slow to 2.3 percent. Which would signal that the Federal Reserve not in any way kind of hurry to raise rates significantly
QUEST: Yes. They're balancing on an edge because, you know, earlier this year, late last year it was a no-brainer. The economy was growing very
fast. All the metrics they had to go by, inflation, unemployment were low. With the prospect of inflation rising and starting to move. Now you're on
an edge. As you say, they're already forecasting slower growth.
[14:05:00] So only a fool raises rates with a slower growth unless you're really expecting inflation to take off. And what they're by my reading of
this statement, let's take it cautiously. Rates will go up but we're watching and waiting.
GORANI: Sure. Inflation not an issue right now but, again, it's always a question of keeping an eye on that important figure and what happens with
growth, as well. Richard, we'll see you at the top of the hour with a lot more on this decision.
QUEST: Now to a surprise decision on Syria that has reportedly left American allies in the region blindsided. President Donald Trump ordering
a full and rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops, perhaps within 24 hours. He tweeted today, quote, we have defeated ISIS in Syria. My only reason being
there. The pentagon says the process is under way and just five days ago the U.S.-led coalition shot down reports of a possible withdrawal as,
quote, false and designed to sow confusion and chaos. This certainly has sowed confusion. 2,000 U.S. troops remain in Syria, mostly to train and
advise an alliance. The withdrawal is a goal of Syria and Russia and critics are saying that the move risks diminishing the influence of the
U.S. in the region. We're joined by correspondent Nick Paton Walsh and Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne. Ryan, I want to start with you. When's
behind the whiplash decision when just a few days ago officials telling us, no, no, no this is not going to happen? Otherwise it would be chaos.
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely correct. Officials, defense department and the State Department, have long said that
the fight against is in Syria is nowhere near being over. While ISIS may be losing most of the territory that it controlled, that there would have
to be a longstanding effort to develop local security forces, to kind of take over security responsibility in areas that are liberated from ISIS.
In fact, we heard from America's top general, General Dunford, this month saying about 20 percent of that process had been completed. So everything
we have been hearing prior to this point was that the U.S. would be there for some time to come as both to help defeat ISIS but also as a bit of a
check on Iran's influence in the region and the Iranian-backed groups and this tweet of President Trump, this decision that the U.S. is preparing to
pull forces out, if ordered, that is a very sharp departure from everything we have been hearing from defense officials, from State Department
officials in the weeks and months prior.
GORANI: And, Ryan, was the pentagon aware this was coming or was it a surprise?
BROWNE: Well, there was conversation. It's a very recently development. President Trump expressed interest in the past about getting troops out of
Syria. But he's -- a lot of senior officials have kind of thought they walked him back on that a little bit talking about this longer effort,
conditions-based effort. So again, I think this kind of suddenness of this, it is a very recent development that this was communicated and acted
GORANI: Thanks very much. Ryan Browne at the pentagon. Nick, let's talk about the impact inside Syria, especially in the fight against ISIS which
in no way is defeated at this stage.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The fight is getting a sort of slightly more diffuse stage. There's fierce fighting in
the border area and will continue. The broader question is what kind of long-term presence do you want to keep this? You could be there for a
decade possibly. The U.S. would say the job is done here but that presence they have there, those 2,000 special forces an awful lot of fire power
doing so much more than hunting down ISIS and a fig leaf really continually for the strategic role it had for them and also to make sure that Turkey,
its neighbor to the north of Syria and NATO ally, was slightly less nervous perhaps about the Syrian Kurds and that the Americans fighting alongside
and Americans were there and unlikely the Syrian Kurds to do anything like attack Turkish forces to the north and Ryan mentioned they were lessening
the influence of Russian and Iranian forces in the area.
GORANI: 2,000 troops? Did that job with 2,000?
WALSH: They had the bases. The capacity to fly around. Drones. Surveillance. They could stop what's most concerning of Israel is material
and weapons to come across that part of northern Syria.
GORANI: They had two air bases.
[14:10:00] WALSH: They have permanent positions there and when you're there I was startled. They weren't going anywhere. They were dug in.
GORANI: I'm wondering. By the way, when the President announces on Twitter that the fight against ISIS is over, granted, not talking about
Raqqah as the capital with a huge territory they control and laws and minting coins and things, but they still have a sizable portion of the
Syrian territory there that they could expand out of again. Right?
WALSH: They're regrouping. Ten minutes before he put that tweet out, they claimed an attack on Raqqah. They're becoming a low-level insurgency again
and could lead them to retake ground again potentially. You have to ask why today? There was no historic moment in the ISIS fight. They didn't
kill Baghdadi. And so, was this something to do with the continued threats we have heard from Turkey they're willing to march in any time now and take
on the Syrian Kurds?
GORANI: Why would the U.S. leave? Why would the U.S. leave and let them do that?
WALSH: Because essentially choose between keeping Turkey as a close ally or losing that relationship to Russia. They were moving in and Turkey
expresses discontent. And trying to make gain out of that. There's been a clear decision of Donald Trump's mind and quite what led him to that only
GORANI: Thank you very much. High-level officials are unhappy about the decision. Mr. Trump announced it days after speaking by phone with
Turkey's President who's been threatening as we were just discussing with nick a military incursion against those U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in
Syria. Look at the big picture now of how a U.S. troop withdrawal to change the situation on the ground. I'm joined by CNN military analyst and
retired U.S. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Could you expand on this? Perhaps this is something that Turkey requested or wanted to see
materialize, this U.S. troop withdrawal. I find it confusing. Why is it in Turkey's best interest they believe?
FORMER LIEUTENANT GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I believe Nick is exactly right, Hala. It's -- it gives the Turks the opportunity to
counter the very successful Kurdish operations taking place. The Kurds just launched an attack in a town and consolidating the gains in a --
potentially good way for their capability in northern Iraq. Turkey does not like that. I'd also like to add another thing in this, Hala, which
isn't receiving a lot of attention. Over the last several days there's been a little bit of a transaction between the United States and Turkey.
Starting this weekend. Allegedly signed or at least forwarded yesterday and that was $3.5 billion purchase of a patriot missile system, a U.S.
patriot missile system by Turkey. This could be part of that transactional approach. Talking to the friends within the pentagon at the senior level,
this did come as a surprise. It was a whip saw announcement. Many of the military and the civilian officials in the pentagon were attempting to
influence President Trump not to make this decision but as many of us know he's been not enamored with the troop presence in Afghanistan, Iraq or
several of the other places that we have soldiers fighting today.
HERTLING: This will come to the surprise of the commanders on the ground, as well, and it will certainly come as a surprise to our Kurdish allies
that have been fight ing with the special forces.
GORANI: They're seeing the U.S. within 24 hours pack up and leave, especially in this type of surprise move. But what does it mean for -- I
mean, I read a lot Twitter and online and handing over to Russia and you could argue it happened under the Obama administration with no enforcement
of the red line and saw that as a green light to go in in earnest. This potentially to consolidate that reality for Syria, couldn't it?
HERTLING: It could potentially do that. I would say when people talk strategy, there hasn't been a strong strategy by the United States in Syria
for many years. Not just the Trump administration but the Obama administration. Which also you have to look at the strategies of our foes.
And this certainly will make Russia, Iran, Syria and perhaps very -- in a less dramatic means Turkey very happy that the President has announced this
departure. It will allow them to -- all those countries to meet the end states they have been seeking for as part of their strategies and we could
go on and on about what each one of those were.
[14:15:00] We haven't had a good strategy from the United States' perspective but we have been interfering with the other countries who have
been attempting to have somewhat dastardly end states. That will probably be less so in the next few weeks. And it won't be as a precipitous
departure as many are saying. It will take a while to get the special forces out of there and I think some in the pentagon may try to slow walk
this with the President to include the secretary of defense.
GORANI: What about the Kurdish fighters? And their Arab fighters, as well. They're combatting against ISIS. Leaves them open to aggression
from Turkey, the Kurds in particular, and this is giving is an opportunity. I'm sure they're reading -- it is interesting because in the region it
seems pretty much everyone is happy with the departure of the United States special forces except the Kurds and the Arab fighters battling is.
HERTLING: With the exception I would say of the civilization there. They have seen an increase in security in the regions and talking to the
population, again, let's get away from strategy or tactical operations between people wielding guns and talk about the security of the everyday
citizens in the areas. They're quite pleased by the fact that ISIS has been deterred from attacking any of these towns and taking over the towns
and the United States provided that security in many cases with the Kurdish fighters, with the Syrian defense forces, the Arab fighters that are in
this area. I think you will see some real chaos in terms of which side various elements go to right now. What Russia will do. What the Syrian
army will do. And certainly, it will be interesting to watch very closely what the Turkish military will do in terms of whether they come south and
try to occupy territory and push back against the Kurds.
GORANI: A brief one. Is there any way this is reversed?
HERTLING: In terms of decision making?
HERTLING: Yes, I don't know. It would be very tough. Twitter is a powerful tool. It is a communication device that tells something to the
world and certainly as I said like we have seen many other Department of Defense decisions made that have slow walked the President's Twitter feed,
we can talk about transgender bans or the bringing in of immigrants into the military. Those things were announced by the President and walked back
because of various means but when you're talking about on the international stage, where words are important and you must be precise, a blast on a
tweet by the President of the United States is seen around the world as deleterious to the allies. It won't be as strong from the people trying to
work the operations underneath him.
GORANI: Mark, as always, thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.
More to come this evening. A massive hack exposes some of the world's biggest diplomatic concerns but who could have hacked these official e-
mails and why? We'll have that story coming up.
[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GORANI: Now to a hack and I mean a hack. At the highest levels. "The New York Times" reporting that hackers infiltrated the European Union's
diplomatic communications and for years and the content of the hacked cables apparently lifts the veil on the most serious concerns of countries
around the world, worries of the Trump administration, struggles with Russia and China and unease that Iran to revive the nuclear program.
Samuel Burke is following developments and joins me now with more. What are we learning about what's in these cables?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't seen the cables for ourselves but there is a very detailed "The New
York Times" report on this and I think what's interesting, President Trump would probably be the first to admit he has a different style from his
predecessors but what happens after those interactions with President Trump? This is like being a fly on the wall and getting know what other
world leaders feel when they walk away. Let's put up on the screen what we have seen as the most sensitive cables here. Starting with, of course, the
interactions between President Trump and China over trade. Trump negotiations. Walking away. President Xi quoted as saying working with
Trump is like a no rules freestyle boxing match. More importantly, Xi says that Beijing will not submit to bullying. He says it is United States is
doing that. And they'll not submit even if a trade war hurts everybody. With Russia, European diplomats saying it's a successful relationship for
Russia. Not necessarily for the United States after that meeting between Putin and Trump in Finland. Saying successful for Putin and not for Trump.
Perhaps most worrying with Russia, Crimea described as a hot zone where nuclear warheads might have been deployed already, Hala. Coming to Iran,
it shows that the diplomats were trying to get permission for financing for exports to Iran to keep them in the deal even though the United States
backed away. The word we saw over and over again in the report is really not just uncertainty but insecurity because of how they feel Trump feels
about the European Union. Insecurity. Over and over again.
GORANI: But I mean, who's behind this? This was going on for many years. And two questions. One, who do we believe is behind it? Two, how could it
go on for so long undetected?
BURKE: Seems like it was simple. This cyber security firm area 1 which discovered this is linking this to one country, I just spoke to the CEO of
the cyber security firm. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OREN FALKOWITZ, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, AREA 1 SECURITY: There's nothing really technically remarkable of the way the Chinese actors proceed to
cause damage. And that is the case in 95 percent of the cybersecurity incidents that phishing is behind it and we link it to the strategic
support force of the Chinese government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURKE: Definitively link it to an elite unit to the Chinese military. Definitive is not a word we hear often in the cybersecurity world. A
simple attack of phishing. The Chinese foreign ministry saying that this is suspicious, groundless and extremely irresponsible of "The New York
Times." They say we're the victim of hackings very often. Jack Ma said that the company is hacked thousands of times a day and think that possibly
one person's e-mail, the victim of an attack was able to get them access and more incredible the CEO not able to say if this attack finished or not.
Could be ongoing.
GORANI: We have seen it a lot of times, a single phishing e-mail with a DNC for instance.
GORANI: And Sony. Absolutely. And that leads to so much more. Thanks very much, Samuel Burke, with that. Unbelievable hack at the highest
levels of the EU.
A new report said Facebook is deceptive of how much of your personal data it actually shared with other companies. Documents obtained by "The New
York Times" show that Facebook granted companies access to friend lists, private messages and other user data and that's despite privacy settings
that should have kept the information secure.
[14:25:00] Let's bring in chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. Facebook knowingly did this? What companies had access that we didn't know
about according to this report?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Tech giants. Everyone from Amazon to Microsoft, Spotify to Netflix and a number of smaller firms.
Even a couple of banks and a few news outlets including "The New York Times." the product team of "The New York Times" had access years ago.
Now it's the newsroom of "the times" breaking this story and see here on screen some of the examples. The companies that access the data. Some
were able to read private messages in your Facebook account. Others were able to see whose friends you were connected with on the social network.
For the most part they said they didn't abuse it or that they had the access and the problem is Facebook, why Facebook left this door open at
all. And why it was willing to grant so many partners so much access. The answer, of course, is money. Profit. By doing this, these partnerships
were able to improve Facebook's positioning, able to Facebook's market share and that was years ago. Now this is another example of why Facebook
is under such harsh scrutiny.
GORANI: I mean, so, let me get this straight. Companies were given access to private data, even the ability to read direct messages, if we messaged
each other over Facebook.
GORANI: Some of the companies said they didn't know they had that access? I find this entirely confusing.
STELTER: Right. Saying Facebook gave us the permissions and didn't use them. We certainly didn't abuse them and spy on people. The point is that
Facebook is a black box and don't know what goes on inside this side. There are numerous examples of these privacy scandals we have seen now.
Cambridge Analytica broke nine months ago. Today the U.S. Attorney General in Washington sued Facebook over Cambridge Analytica. There have been so
many times that users have felt betrayed by the social networking company and a latest example of how it's worse than they thought.
GORANI: So how did they signal to companies that they had access to very private user data including some of their messages? That means that
Facebook knew that it was allowing third parties to access this information from their users, right? Not like an accident or someone at the lower
levels or some -- I don't know -- coding, you know, accident. This was deliberate?
STELTER: Yes. Intentional. For example, designed to fuel some of Facebook's features like a feature of people you may know on the site. For
years bloggers said this feature seems really smart. Like almost too smart. How do they know I'm connected to certain people I never searched
on Google for or Facebooked about? This kind of integration of Facebook and Bing and Facebook and Spotify, it was designed to make it better and
Facebook says when you click certain buttons, OK, when you link up to certain other sites, you are agreeing to these terms of service, agreeing
to your privacy eliminated. I don't think most users are really aware of how Facebook operates and how Facebook uses its data. That's the bottom
GORANI: And have they -- is this -- this is not ongoing, right? This is something that they have remedied?
STELTER: Yes. The company says this was ending a year ago and this is still being kind of -- loose ends are being tied up now. But look. That
makes you wonder what's going on now to find out about five years down the line. Right? Facebook continues to struggle with growth in the main
platform but has billions of users and Instagram and what's app and other arms of Facebook growing. I see people calling for a boycott of Facebook,
delaying the accounts and not seeing that in a widespread basis and if you delete the Facebook, but keep the Instagram, there's a connection to you
through that app instead.
GORANI: We are kind of handcuffed to some of these platforms. I mean, either we're fully offline or, you know, if we want to maintain
relationships and promote our work, do all sorts of things, we kind of have to embrace some of these.
STELTER: It is a trade-off, right? People want to renegotiate the terms and have more control over their privacy.
GORANI: Sure. Certainly, share less stuff that's personal. I mean, I know for -- absolutely no way to catch me e-mailing, Facebook direct
messaging anything that I wouldn't be comfortable with pretty much everyone seeing because Yes. We have seen too many leaks and hacks as we have just
reported before you. Thanks so much.
STELTER: Thank you.
GORANI: Still to come tonight, despite the British prime minister's best efforts it's beginning to look a lot like no deal. Christmas is not coming
early as far as Brexit negotiations go. Hear why businesses say they're looking on with horror. We'll be right back.
[14:30:42] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, more now on the top story. I was just checking to see what stocks are doing. The U.S. Federal
Reserve's decision to raise key interest rates by a quarter point, we're hearing now directly from the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome
Powell. He's holding a news conference this hour to explain the decision and the fed did signal that perhaps the pace of rate hikes could slow in
2019 and the reason for that is because growth will not perhaps be as robust as had been hoped.
Initially when the rate decision was announced, the Dow Jones and stock indices on Wall Street lost ground. But now, we're seeing them bounce back
up. You see they were very, very briefly in the red there after the decision. You see it on the graph. Currently, the Dow is up triple digits
at 23,800 and change.
One hundred days, that's how long the United Kingdom has before in theory it leaves the European Union and with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit
still very high, businesses are chastising the country's politicians.
Five leading groups say, quote, "Businesses have been watching in horror as politicians have focused on factional disputes rather than practical steps
that business needs to move forward.
The statement also warned that many firms are, quote, "now putting in place contingency plans that are a significant drain of time and money. And
remember, they are preparing for that might not happen. And if you're a business, do you want to spend time and money doing that? The answer,
obviously, is no.
Now, that warning comes as the rest of the E.U. releases a list of preps in the case of a no-deal. Bianca Nobilo joins me now.
So, the no deal scenario more likely or less likely just in the last 24 hours?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Well, every day that Theresa May's plan looks unpopular and unlikely to get through parliament, the
irony is both of the extremes look more likely. So no-deal looks more likely but so does a second referendum. So it's quite an interesting
situation that both sides clearly think they've got a good chance of affecting what they want to see. Brexiteers, it might be getting close to
But those who want to remain or a second referendum, think that if May's deal has no chance of getting through, then that could be the inevitable
conclusion of how to resolve this.
GORANI: And in parliament today, we saw some remarkable -- and we've been seeing some very dramatic scenes in the House of Commons. This is what
happened when Theresa May finished speaking in parliament today. And then we saw Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition mutter something under
his breath. Let's watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They said they put down a vote of no- confidence. Then they said they wouldn't. Then they said they would. Then they did it but it wasn't effective. I know it's the Christmas season
and the pantomime season, but what do we see from the Labour frontbench and the right honorable gentleman? He's going to put a confidence vote? Oh,
yes, he is. Oh no, he isn't. I've got some -- I've got some news for him. I've got some advice for the right honorable gentleman. Look behind you.
They're not impressed and neither is the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So the big question is, what did he say when he -- people were trying to read his lips and we're speculating that he said "stupid woman."
NOBILO: Yes. So conservative MPs stood up almost immediately and said to the speaker, because MPs never directly address each other, they said to
the speaker I saw it, sir, I saw it. That's what he said, almost reminiscent to something you see in your school.
[14:35:11] And many others, also, retweeted that clip that you just played saying clearly he's saying stupid woman. The Labour Party, however, the
spokesperson said he said stupid people. That's what Jeremy Corbyn then repeated himself when he came back to the chamber.
But as the minister for women said today, stupid woman or stupid people, none of it's nice. You saw the scenes of pantomime just then. We are
facing what most analysts and parliamentarians agree is the biggest crisis since World War II and these are the scenes that we're seeing on the last
prime minister's questions before the parliament rises, so there's frustration.
Dame Margaret back it, who's a Labour MP said that she would be astonished if any constituents were watching today and weren't watching in utter
contempt and how they were behaving.
GORANI: And we hear the similar message from businesses saying, look, get your act together. There was an interesting article in The Economist about
how this leadership in the U.K. has been so disappointing, that they're all cut basically from the same cloth, that they're really all in it to self-
aggrandize and further their own political careers and maybe not for the good of the country.
But the E.U. on its -- where you find also politicians that are criticized for the same reason, by the way, it's not just strictly a U.K. phenomenon.
The E.U. is also making deal -- preps for a no-deal.
NOBILO: Yes. And they said they're trying to mitigate the damage. There's no way -- well, really go to any extent to try and reduce the chaos
that would ensue from a no-deal. But some of the measures they're putting in place, for examples, with airlines which is something that's been spoken
They've said that British airlines will be able to fly to and from the E.U. but not within it. That's something. Financial services has been spoken
about a lot and they said that for a period of one to two years, they would a temporary equivalency so they would -- that would enable transactions and
financial services exchanges to continue between the E.U. and the U.K.
Also, there's a lot of concern justifiably about residency rights. So if you get assistance in the E.U. and they said provide that the U.K.
reciprocates, they urge member states to be generous in their residency rights, which isn't as fulsome as what we've heard from the prime minister
Theresa May what she did give an equivocal promise to E.U. residents and the U.K., but even in the event of no-deal their residency rights would be
GORANI: Those already in the U.K.?
NOBILO: Yes, that's correct.
GORANI: But not those coming in?
NOBILO: No. None of the event --
GORANI: But we did see some immigration -- discussions on immigration --
NOBILO: Yes. We're expecting in this white paper today which the government's been sort of equivocating over and we haven't got the answers
that we were expecting on that. They argue that's because it's such uncertain times and we don't know going forward what kind of immigration
system necessarily needs to be calibrated.
GORANI: All right. So many unanswered questions and just a few weeks to figure it all out. Bianca Nobilo, thanks very much.
So as we were mentioning, 100 days to sort out one of the biggest political challenges to ever face this country. The politicians are divided, the
people are divided. So what can be done? Nick Glass reports on where we stand.
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The flight of a cormorant along the River Thames, it's a wonderful life as they say in this time of
year, flying and diving and fishing. If only things were that simple of the great river bank palace of Westminster. Everyone agrees this is
Britain's worst political crisis in a generation. And the prime minister is looking tired.
MAY: At this critical moment in our history, we should be thinking not about our party's interests but about the national interest.
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: This, Mr. Speaker, is a constitutional crisis and the prime minister is the architect of it.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our present situation is unique in modern British politics. The government is not in control, not on the
agenda, not of events, and certainly not of the outcome. The clock which never been set ticking, now ticking ever louder as we approach the midnight
GLASS: The cartoonist have been cruel, oh, so very cruel. A dead duck is walking around Europe was the verdict to the guardian's man. The turn seems
be to be setting Brussels in the weeks before Christmas.
Theresa May confronting European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, reportedly accusing him of calling her nebulous. Every word in the
exchange later closely studied by media lip readers, it was all apparently a misunderstanding, but irresistible to the Times cartoonist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Juncker, there's nothing nebulous about my position on Brexit.
GLASS: The truth is Europe seems disinclined to make concessions. In this way deemed to see what happens next in the House of Commons. Acrimonious
parliamentary debate resumes in the New Year and the postponed vote on May's compromised Brexit deal will finally take place in mid-January. No
one at this juncture expects the deal to be approved.
[14:40:09] The Labour opposition would love a snap general election. Theresa May remains adamantly against a second referendum on Brexit. The
guardian cartoonist characterizes it all as Zombie Groundhog Day, buried with her leopard print kitten heels rising slowly from the dead only for
more self-inflicted punishment.
So will Theresa May taking a new movie of a Christmas like Bohemian Rhapsody to help take her mind off things, probably not, not with those
As we all know, Mary Poppins has returned, but the Times cartoonist quickly sees on that one and she crash lands.
Laurel and Hardy, back in a new biopic, Stan and Ollie, might just make her laugh a bit. But you can't really think about them without thinking of
them as famous and misquoted lines. Well, here's another fine mess, you've gotten me into.
Nick Glass, CNN, Westminster.
GORANI: And on that note, we'll be right back. Stay with us.
GORANI: Well, it is rare to see any kind of display of bipartisanship in Washington these days. But in this case, it happened. Democrats and
Republicans in the U.S. Senate passed a bill to reform the U.S. Criminal Justice System.
The bill reduces the mandatory minimum sentence for drug-related crimes. It gives judges more flexibility in sentencing nonviolent offenders and it
bans inhumane practices like shackling pregnant women.
Advocates say it will fix aspects of the justice system that were brutal, racist, because this proportionally affecting minorities, ineffective and
costly and put a dent in the mass incarceration problem in America.
President Trump had pushed for the bill and his son-in-law Jared Kushner was a key negotiator for this in this bill and this legislative effort.
We now want to highlight a case that shows just how the U.S. Criminal Justice System can sometimes be very unfair. It involves a woman serving a
life sentence for a crime she committed as a teenager, a crime that came about because the woman was a sexual slave. It's a story that has
attracted the attention of celebrities and activists and it's just one story. Here's Lynda Kinkade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want? Clemency.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Nashville, Tennessee. A group of protesters interrupt the governor of demanding
clemency for a woman whose fate lies in his hands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does he want?
[14:45:00] KINKADE: Only weeks before the end of his term, the activists join a growing chorus pleading mercy for Cyntoia Brown. She's serving a
life sentence in prison for murder. She was the victim long before she was a convict.
CYNTOIA BROWN, 16-YEAR-OLD SENTENCED TO 51 YEARS FOR MURDER: He was holding a gun pointed at me, hit me, choked, dragged.
KINKADE: An in-depth documentary tells the story of a girl who is exploited, abandoned, and abused, allegedly forced into prostitution by a
pimp named Cutthroat (ph). She describes being sex trafficked at a young age and raped repeatedly.
BROWN: The first time he did something to me is when he choked me and I passed out.
KINKADE: In 2004, when she was 16 years old, Brown killed a 43 year-old man that had bought her for sex. The prosecution said it was premeditated.
She shot him dead, took his wallet and fled the scene. Brown claimed she feared for her life.
BRENNAN: He does something to me. I'm sitting here thinking what can I do?
KINKADE: Although a teenager at the time, a juvenile court found her competent to stand trial as an adult. She was sentenced to life in prison
more than a decade ago.
STACY CASE, WZTV ANCHOR: Here in Tennessee, we've had laws change. So, if Cyntoia Brown were tried today, the legal experts say she would not have
been tried in the same way. Our courts today would view her as a child sex slave. They would view her as a victim.
KINKADE: The 2011 documentary revealed new evidence suggesting Brown suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause brain damage,
something the jury that convicted her never saw. Her mother also admitted to drinking heavily while pregnant.
DERRI SMITH, FOUNDER & CEO, END SLAVERY TENNESSEE: Cyntoia's story is heartbreakingly common. Traffickers are master manipulators. They're
looking for vulnerabilities in a young person that they can exploit and no one is in more danger than the child of an addicted parent.
BROWN: Sometimes I didn't want to have sex with him. He's still (BLEEP). I'd be crying and everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how come you stayed with him?
BROWN: You're not listening, I made him money. He wasn't going to let me go nowhere. He told me he'd killed me.
KINKADE: Now 30 years old, Brown has been incarcerated for nearly half her life. The story gained national recognition after support from celebrities
like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian-West. During her time behind bars, Brown's advocates say she's trying to transform herself.
SMITH: She is mentoring even while she's in prison through the juvenile justice system. Troubled youth, she is working on her college degree.
She's planning on a nonprofit.
BROWN: I've learned that my life was, and is not over. I can create opportunities where I can actually help people.
KINKADE: Despite attempts to appeal the case, the Tennessee Supreme Court recently affirmed that Brown would not be eligible for parole until she's
67 years old, an announcement that renewed debate and outrage.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: I cannot find a case where there has been such a harsh punishment imposed on a similarly aged person,
who was after all in the process of being raped as a child when this crime happened. We can't take that out of this equation.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The basic facts are no one can take a life. And so, if no one -- if you take a life and it's not deemed to be
self-defense, that is you're not in immediate fear for your life, right? It's not deemed to be immediate and you didn't act out of that fear that it
becomes problematic, no matter what age you are.
KINKADE: Brown's future may soon be determined by Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam. He declined our request from an interview, but a statement from
his office issued to CNN, says, "The governor and his legal counsel are currently reviewing numerous clemency applications, including Cyntoia
Brown's. Any clemency grounds would have to be completed by the time Governor Haslam leaves office on January 19th."
Brown's lawyer declined to comment to CNN before clemency decision is made, a decision now the subject of growing public interest.
SMITH: I know that the survivors that we served are watching very carefully to see whether there's hope for them.
KINKADE: Gathering in Nashville, several Tennessee lawmakers also joined in a cause to release Cyntoia Brown from a life behind bars.
JOHN RAY CLEMMONS, TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE DEMOCRAT: In the interest of equity, in the interest of fairness, and in the interest of justice, we, as
a state, must address this issue and set Miss Brown free.
KINKADE: Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
GORANI: Well, online petitions in support of Cyntoia Brown have gained widespread attention. One of the largest on moveon.org has more than
632,000 signatures so far. Free Cyntoia Brown.
More to come, including and maybe the season of joy and goodwill but not necessarily for Donald Trump. We'll take a look back at a few rough days
for the president, next.
[14:50:30] GORANI: It's been a rough week for Donald Trump. A series of damaging revelations have come to light in the last few days which once
again call into question some of the president's assertions.
Let me walk you through some of the major blows that he suffered in the last 24 hours alone. The president's former national security adviser,
Michael Flynn who's been found guilty of lying to the FBI told a court he was not entrapped contradicting Mr. Trump's claim that he was pressured
Also, the president's longstanding claim that he had no business interests in Russia also took a substantial hit when CNN obtained a letter of intent
about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow signed by none other than Donald Trump himself.
So with bad news coming on several fronts, how has he handled it all? Let's bring in CNN's Stephen Collison. So, how has he handled it? I mean,
obviously tweet storm after tweet storm. It seems like that's one of his preferred outlets.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Hala. In the case of Michael Flynn, particularly, the White House is sticking to what
have basically been debunked talking points.
As you said, the judge in the case yesterday made quite certain to ask Flynn in open court whether he thought he had been entrapped by the FBI,
whether he knew he was lying when he spoke to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And Flynn made it clear that he
did know that he was lying and that he didn't feel he was being entrapped.
Why that's important is that completely goes against the entire conservative media narrative and the president's narrative that all of
these witnesses that are being called in by Robert Mueller are being intimidated into cooperating with him and testifying against the president.
Hours after that hearing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders went out and said she still believed that Flynn was ambushed. So this is quite a
familiar thing with what we're seeing here.
It's the president creates a new reality that better suits his political imperatives. We're seeing it here, we're seeing it today with Syria with
him saying that ISIS is defeated. This is a real trend throughout his presidency.
The problem is when it gets to the reality-based situation of a courtroom, it doesn't work anymore.
GORANI: And what about his level of support? Because it's been pretty stable around the same number regardless of what happens around him or to
COLLINSON: Certainly. And I think this is a case partly of the fact that Donald Trump supporters don't believe anything that Donald Trump doesn't
tell them or they get most of their news from conservative media outlets who parrot the president's preferred narratives.
I think there's also a question here about whether some of Donald Trump's most solid, loyal supporters really care that much whether the president
has broken the law, whether he colluded with Russia.
What they see in the president is somebody that's willing to stand up to the political establishment, to say what he thinks and to assault political
For those voters, I think it's much more important that he does that and he's faithful to those goals than necessarily being conventional president.
The problem is that when we get to the end of the Mueller probe and we get into court, that may not be the case.
The question is always going to be whether that support for the president holds strong in the senate among Republican senators in the event of an
impeachment in the Democratic House.
[14:55:02] GORANI: That's always the question, how will Congress act? Stay with us, Stephen, because long before Donald Trump's path to the White
House, he guided a young Kevin McCallister to the lobby of the Plaza hotel. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACAULAY CULKIN, ACTOR: Excuse me. Where's the lobby?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Down the hall and to the left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, that is "Home Alone II" and it's one of the best Christmas movies ever according to a list of the British TV guide of the Radio Times.
I want to ask you for your -- so, here's their top 10 and I'm curious to -- hear from our viewers, as well, if they agree. "It's a Wonderful Life."
"Elf." "The Muppet: Christmas Carol." "Love Actually." "Home alone." "Die hard." It came as a surprise to me this is considered a Christmas
movie, but anyway.
"National Lampoon's Christmas vacation." "The Polar Express." "White Christmas" and "Scrooge."
So my -- OK. So my top three are "Love Actually." It doesn't matter at what point in the movie I happen to catch it. I'll always end up watching
it to the end. "Elf" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." I can't remember the exact. What is yours?
COLLINSON: So, you're going to think I'm a real humbug. I cannot stand "Love Actually."
COLLINSON: The whole Hugh Grant prime minister act going on. I guess it would be "A Wonderful Life." If it was on the list. I would add something
which is not really a movie, but it's the final Christmas special of the British version of "The Office" which was I think about 15 years ago which
is the best Christmas special.
GORANI: I agree.
COLLINSON: And ending of a sitcom there's ever been. It's not a movie but it should be.
GORANI: That tells me -- it tells me you're a softy, by the way, that one. Because I loved that finale, as well.
Here's why I love "Love Actually." Inexplicably "Nothing Hill" was playing, by the way while we were chatting.
Anyway, I love "Love Actually" because, first of all, there were several vignettes. But for Emma Thompson's performance alone when she discovered
that her husband was cheating on her with his assistant, just that alone makes that just a fantastic movie. I'd put that in the top 10.
COLLINSON: That is a great scene.
GORANI: The top 10 performances by a woman so far. I said it to my team. So far this century.
COLLINSON: That's why. I mean, I think that -- that is a great scene but -- and there are other great scenes of that movie. I think Colin Firth, as
well, right? But the whole kind of plot over the top, the layering of the Prime Minister plot, I just don't -- I don't think it works. It seems to
detract from the rest of it.
GORANI: Hmm. And the "Elf." We love Buddy the Elf, which your favorite color.
All right. Thank you, Stephen Collison. I love that we're speaking not about U.S. politics for a change.
Thank you. And that's going to do it for me. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.