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Democratic Candidates Spar in Texas Debate; Dorian's Aftermath; Hong Kong Protests; Brexit Case Goes Before U.K. Supreme Court. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 13, 2019 - 02:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Their third debate. Top Democrats running for president faced off, sparring over health care, over gun control and of course, over Donald Trump.

More trouble for the Bahamas. Two weeks after Dorian left so much devastation, a new storm is posing another threat to the northern islands, this time with Florida in its sights.

Also ahead this hour, the British prime minister accused of lying to the queen. More on the Brexit drama, as the clock ticks down.

We're live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. "CNN Newsroom" starts right now.

It's 2:01 a.m. here on the U.S. East Coast early in the morning but there are no knockout blows just a few hours before this show. Plenty of rhetorical punches, the big democratic debate that took place in Houston, Texas was certainly one to watch.

The three front-runners were on center stage. Joe Biden got the most attention, not only from his closest competitors, senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but also from the seven other candidates, all taking their jabs, of course, trying to sound like contenders instead of also rants (ph).

From the beginning, each tried to stand out from the others, some focusing hard on President Trump, others trying to look beyond the White House incumbent.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump, you spent the last two and a half years full time trying to sow hate and division among us. That is why we've gotten nothing done.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It goes without saying that we must and will defeat Trump, the most dangerous president in the history of this country. (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: But we must do more.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, service members are preyed upon by predatory lenders, students are crushed by debt, and families cannot afford child care.


WARREN: I know what's broken, I know how to fix it, and I'm going to lead the fight to get it done.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're the best equipped nation to take this on. It's no longer time to postpone. We should get moving. There are enormous, enormous opportunities once we get rid of Donald Trump.


HOWELL: Health care was a hot topic on the stage. It also gave Joe Biden the chance to do a bit of counterpunching himself.


BIDEN: How are we going to pay for it? I want to hear, tonight, how that's happened. So far, my distinguished friend, the senator on my left has not indicated how she pays for it, and the senator has, in fact, come forward and said how he is going to pay for it, but it gets him about halfway there.

WARREN: How do we pay for it? We pay for it. Those at the very top richest individuals and the biggest corporations are going to pay more, and middle class families are going to pay less.

SANDERS: Joe said that Medicare for All would cost $30 trillion. Right, Joe? Status quo over 10 years will be $50 trillion.


HOWELL: So for analysis on what happened on that stage, let's bring in Zach Wolf. Zach, the digital director of CNN Politics, joins us this hour from Washington. Good to have you with us.


HOWELL: So the question here is: Who came out on top from this debate, Zach? Joe Biden, the front-runner, was his performance enough to keep the mantle or did someone else steal the show here, in your view?

WOLF: I didn't see anything fundamentally change in this debate. What I think we saw were some kind of important policy discussions that they were having, particularly on the issue of health care that you saw there, and this is something that is going to continue to play out. It really splits both democratic candidates and Democrats, this issue of whether the government should be -- how involved in health care the government should be.


WOLF: What we're seeing play out is this kind of very detailed policy discussion about whether essentially Democrats shouldn't be behind getting rid of the private insurance industry or whether they should build on Obamacare and the legacy of President Obama.

So, I think that there was no knockout blow. There was no, you know, moment where we saw, you know, somebody anointed as the heir to Obama to sort of go right in and take on Trump.

We did see this sort of incremental moves in these policy discussions and also some really interesting clashes on health care, a little bit on -- you know, even backed Joe Biden's record on Iraq. We've seen how the party has moved a lot from his early days.

HOWELL: All right. So, no knockout blows from your view, but certainly there were some moments, Zach, like the moment with Biden, where former HUD Secretary Julian Castro took a jab that was clearly aimed at the former V.P.'s age.

After the debate, it is important to point out that Castro said that was not the case. He said instead it was simply a disagreement over policy. We have the tape. Let's play it. Look and listen for yourself.



BIDEN: They do not have to buy in.


BIDEN: They do not have to buy in.

CASTRO: You just said that. You just said that two minutes ago. You said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in.

BIDEN: They do not have to buy in.

CASTRO: You said they would have to buy in.

BIDEN: They do not have to buy in. If you're qualified for --

CASTRO: Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?

If you lose your job, for instance, his health care plan would not automatically enrol you. You would have to opt in. My health care plan would. That's a big difference. I'm fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you're not.

BIDEN: That will be a surprise to him. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So again, on that stage, every candidate looking for a moment there. In the end, we know that Castro actually got it wrong. Biden did not misspeak. But what are the optics for Castro in that particular moment, positive or negative?

WOLF: I think ultimately it might be negative for Castro but potentially positive for every other Democrat who might like to bring up Joe Biden's age without actually bringing up Joe Biden's age.

Let us not forget, there are three septuagenarian candidates on the stage there: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden. They are all in their 70s. So it's a pretty old ticket. Those also happened to be the people at the top of the ticket.

So this kind of age question is something we have seen the younger Democrats, people like Castro, like Pete Buttigieg, say that there needs to be this kind of generational change among Democrats. That hasn't really resonated with voters yet.

So, it will be interesting to see if after this debate if stuff like that from Castro, we saw Cory Booker kind of take up that mantle after the debate in a CNN interview where he said sometimes you don't know what Joe Biden is thinking, sort of picking at the same thread there, it will be interesting to see if that starts to affect Biden, because he does sometimes say stuff and you're not really sure where he's going.

There was this other moment where he started talking about record players. It was kind of a weird moment. Is that the kind of thing that people notice? You know, maybe, probably not, but it is interesting that it is such an old ticket for Democrats so far.

HOWELL: Yeah, record players as opposed to podcast which is the live stream, right? It was an interesting thing to notice there. Also, all of the candidates stressed the need to strong -- strengthen gun control laws. Beto O'Rourke, though, is far more candid in his response. Listen.


REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.


O'ROURKE: We're not going to allow it to be used against Americans anymore.


HOWELL: Beto O'Rourke there from El Paso, of course the site of a mass shooting by a deranged racist in the same state, the most recent mass shooting that happened four weeks later in midland-Odessa, in that area. It is an issue that is close to him for him. WOLF: That's right. This was I thought maybe one of the biggest moments of the debate and here is why: Because for decades essentially, Democrats have been essentially warding off Republican warnings, that they would take people's guns away.

Republicans, you know, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain, the NRA, they have all warned that Democrats were essentially trying to take people's guns away. And Democrats and Barack Obama and John Kerry, nominees going back for a while now have said, no, no, we respect the Second Amendment.

And here we have a major candidate in Beto O'Rourke and a couple others who agree with him on this mandatory buyback program, who are essentially saying, no, we are going to take certain guns away, these do not belong on U.S. streets. So that was a huge, I think, pivot in how Democrats are viewing gun control in this election compared to previous elections. This was a big moment for me.

HOWELL: Always good to get the insight from another guy named Wolf there in D.C.


HOWELL: Good to have you with us, Zach. We appreciate it. We'll stay in touch with you.

WOLF: Thanks.

HOWELL: In the Bahamas, we are following that story for you, as well. The list of people there are considered missing after the hurricane, it has been revised. That number now believed 1,300 people are unaccounted for, a sharp decline from 2,500 the day before, but the death toll of 50 is expected to rise as the search through all the debris continues.

Now, here is the thing. Another storm is forming in the Atlantic and it could be on the way. Our Paula Newton reports it comes as the islands are already doing their best to recover.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Its ferocity was so vicious. Survivors describe a storm that seemed to want to wipe them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Words can't describe it. I don't wish it on nobody.

NEWTON (voice-over): Still stunned at their survival. The aftermath has been crippling. Nearly one in five Bahamians are now homeless. More than 2,100 are in shelters and at least hundreds more were taken in by family, friends, even strangers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The food tastes good.

NEWTON (voice-over): The price tag already at a staggering $8 billion and counting. While the winds have calmed, the sense of urgency hasn't. The need to feed, shelter and clothe so many for months, maybe years, while trying to cope with finding and identifying the hundreds still missing.

And many who survived are struggling with traumatic experiences. During the storm, thousands scrambled from room-to-room, house-to- house, buildings crumbling or flooding around them with alarming speed.

WILLIAM DAVIS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: And this boat (ph) was just as high as the roof. It started to come on to the roof with me. I was holding on for dear life.

NEWTON (voice-over): Hurricane Dorian was stronger than predicted. It lasted longer than predicted. It lingered and lashed out with gusts that resembled thousands of terrifying tornadoes, as the storm ground to a halt, grinding across the islands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sitting in the living room. All of a sudden, the roof did a -- it just came off.

NEWTON (voice-over): Hundreds lost track of not just belongings, but each other.


NEWTON (voice-over): Relief, overwhelmed reunions.


NEWTON (voice-over): Others, still days after the storm, were desperate for proof of life. This woman is frantic to find her cousin.

WINIS LOUISDOR, LOOKING FOR MISSING COUSIN: I hope they find him. I hope so. He just had a son. I hope they find him. I hope so.

NEWTON (voice-over): Others know exactly what happened to loved ones. They watch and wait the grim search for bodies, knowing some victims were swept out to sea. The evacuations are now nearly complete. On the minds of most, how do you even begin to rebuild?

TORY ALBURY, CHIEF, GREAT GUANA CAY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We can't do it alone. We need help. Lots of help. Lots of help. There's got to be monetary help. There's got to be -- I mean, just -- you didn't know where to start.

NEWTON (voice-over): Dorian shattered lives here but also expectations, about how hurricanes behave and what survival looks like after they've passed.

Paula Newton, CNN, Nassau.


HOWELL: That's the situation on the islands there. Here's the thing. There is trouble brewing in the Atlantic and it certainly has that part of the world in its sights. Our Derek Van Dam is following the details in the International Weather Center. Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Every time I see those images, still just so difficult to comprehend what those people have gone through. Obviously, George, the search and recovery efforts still under way across the Bahamas.

And this is the last thing that residents and tourists want to see. Another storm is looming in the distance. This picture was just taken yesterday in Nassau, in the Bahamas.

I want to be clear to our viewers, we have no indication that the storm will be nearly as powerful, with storm surge and devastating winds as what Hurricane Dorian was, but the threat of another storm system looming is really just a terrible situation, out of an already difficult and problematic one at the moment.

We are really just unleashing the full Atlantic tropical basin at the moment, three disturbances that we're watching, one newly formed at 2:00 in the morning here just off of the west coast of Africa. Another one over the central portions of the Atlantic Ocean, the more immediate threat, this one, the disturbance of thunderstorm activity across the Southeastern Bahamas, that is quickly becoming organized.

We, in fact, have tropical storm warnings across the areas that were hit two weeks ago, Marsh Harbour into Freeport. We are talking about Abaco Island into the Grand Bahama. And now, we also have tropical storm watches across the U.S. mainland from the space coast southward into the Jupiter Inlet region across Southeast Florida. Here's the latest from the National Hurricane Center, 45-mile-per-hour sustained winds.


VAN DAM: It's still a disorganized storm but over the next 24 hours, we expect this to become a named tropical depression. It will become Humberto as it starts to gain some strength, moving over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters or rather the warm Gulf Stream waters just off the Atlantic coastline there over Eastern Florida. You can see the projected path with the system, still a lot of uncertainty, still a lot of model spread that we continue to monitor.

But one thing is for sure, they are starting to pick on a consensus that Florida coastline could be impacted by the storm system. And then, where does it go from there? It is still very uncertain. By the way, we recall the Freeport and Marsh Harbour regions saw over 900 mm of rain. They have the potential to see another 100 mm. So, that is only going to hamper the recovery efforts going forward, George.

HOWELL: All right. Derek, we will keep in touch with you as you keep tracking that storm. Thank you.


HOWELL: The prime minister of the United Kingdom insists he did not lie when he advised the queen to suspend Parliament. We'll soon find out what that nation's Supreme Court has to say about it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HOWELL: A remarkable scene in Hong Kong, where hundreds of protesters hit the streets Thursday at a major mall, singing "glory to Hong Kong." Listen.



HOWELL (voice-over): That song written less than a week ago, but already, it's become an anthem of sorts for those who continue to speak out in defiance about China's influence. The song's lyrics include chants from marches such as "liberate Hong Kong" and "revolution." Pro-Democracy protesters are set to sit in at various transit stations in the coming hours. We'll continue to monitor.

And protests in the city have now forced organizers to pull the plug on an international women's tennis tournament in Hong Kong. Organizers say the Hong Kong Open, set to start October 3rd, will now be delayed "in light of the presentation." No decision yet on when the tournament, which attracts many top women players, will happen.

In the United Kingdom, that nation's prime minister now denies that he lied to the queen when he advised her to suspend parliament. Scotland's high court ruled that Boris Johnson's counsel to the queen was unlawful, a clandestine move, it said, to reduce time for Parliament to scrutinize Brexit. The prime minister brushed that off. He is betting on a different outcome next week when the U.K. Supreme Court has its say on the matter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you lie to the queen when you advised her to suspend Parliament?

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely not. As I say, the high court in England plainly agrees with us, but the Supreme Court will have to decide.


HOWELL: Some important context to keep in mind. The government there just released the list of worst-case scenarios of a no-deal Brexit, including civil disorder, crippling border delays, a shortage of medicine and price hikes.

But Boris Johnson says he is still hoping to reach a deal at the next E.U. summit next month. This is three years after the referendum and just days before the deadline to leave the E.U. The E.U.'s top Brexit negotiator says he is pessimistic that a new deal can be worked out.

Let's talk about all of this and put it in focus now with journalist Josh Boswell. Josh has been following this drama, joining via Skype this hour. It is good to have you with us.


HOWELL: Josh, the prime minister, accused of lying to the queen. The British press is using the "L" word, lying. Clearly, he is on the defensive and counting on the Supreme Court to side with him next week. This headline has dominated British media and adds more complication to an already complicated issue.

BOSWELL: That's right. Yeah, this is just getting more and more complex and it's moving from Parliament into the courts now as we've seen multiple court cases here. You've got the English courts ruling that Boris Johnson did not act unlawfully. He was completely fine in shutting down Parliament. The Scottish courts ruled that, in fact, it was unlawful.

And now, the Supreme Court is the ultimate court in the United Kingdom. They have to decide. They have a three-day hearing that they are going have there. And really, that's what's going to decide here, the final word on whether Parliament is going to go back into session. That will be overturned or whether -- and Boris Johnson was right.

Interestingly, it looks like, from previous decisions, the Supreme Court tends to consider cases in the context of the legal framework that it came from. So that means that in the Scottish case, it will look at that and say, well, according to Scottish law, we're going to make that decision in that context. With the English case, they'll say, we're going to decide this case in according to English law.

So we could very well find the court in which make one decision on the Scottish case, the Supreme Court, and one decision on the English case because it's two different legal frameworks. It is very complicated.

HOWELL: To delve into a bit of that complication and to drill into the Scottish court's decision, help our viewers understand how they reached that ruling, to shut down Parliament, saying it was unlawful.

BOSWELL: So, the crux of the court case here was what was Boris Johnson's (INAUDIBLE). Now, he claims that he just wanted to shut down Parliament in a normal procedure. That is at the end of the parliamentary term. You have a short break of a couple of weeks of Parliament.


BOSWELL: So there's a breather, before you start a new parliamentary session, where the government gets to put forward in a queen's speech its new vision for the Parliament going forward. This happens regularly. You know, very often every few years in British politics.

But the other side and successfully argued in the Scottish case, that in fact, Boris Johnson's intention was to shut down Parliament early to prevent any more debate on Brexit and to really forge ahead with his own no-deal Brexit ideas and platform here. And that was unlawful because he was restricting Parliament's lawful constitutional role of scrutinizing the executive.

HOWELL: Josh, let's talk also about this, what seems to be a rare win for the prime minister, this twist from a judge in Belfast, dismissing a legal claim that a no-deal Brexit and the hard border would undermine peace in Northern Island. The court will hear appeals later today on this, but clearly this is something that falls in the prime minister's favor.

BOSWELL: Yes, that's right. He's got -- the tally, I suppose we can say, 2-1 at the moment. You got a win for him in the English courts, a win for him in the Northern Irish courts and a loss in Scotland. This is really going to bolster him, that Northern Irish ruling, because this is where the key Brexit negotiation issues lie.

It's whether Britain and Ireland are going to be able to create a situation where we can leave the European Union but not have so much friction on the border there. And that's the one land border that you have between the European Union and the United Kingdom, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

If we can get free-flowing trade without any problems but still leave the European Union, then the problems are solved. But so far, that seemed intractable. Now, a judge here is ruling that there are not going to be serious consequences or at least kind of lending some credence to Boris Johnson's arguments here, is going to be a real boost for him.

The problem is that the Supreme Court has to decide. If it does rule against him, that news, that positive news for Boris Johnson is likely to be overshadowed here.

HOWELL: Truly all eyes will be on the courts this week and the Brexit deadline, October 31st, it is looming large. Josh Boswell, we appreciate your time and insight today live for us in Anchorage, Alaska. Thank you.

BOSWELL: Thank you.

HOWELL: Congressional Democrats move forward with their investigation of the Trump administration but some of them refuse to call it an impeachment inquiry. We will look into that as "CNN Newsroom" continues worldwide.



HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell, with the headlines were following for you this hour. The Bahamas recovering from Hurricane Dorian, now under a tropical storm warning. You see here on the map, the same system could hit the United States, as well. The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm watch for parts of East Florida.

Here in the U.S., a warrant has been issued for singer R. Kelly. He failed to appear in court in Minnesota or he's charged with endangering -- engaging, rather, in prostitution with a minor. Kelly is already in custody in Illinois on unrelated federal sex crime charges. He's attorney argues the prosecutor never got a court order for Kelly to appear in the Minnesota court.

In New Zealand, that nation's Prime Minister is again tightening the country's gun laws. Jacinda Ardern has already spearheaded a ban on military style weapons after two mosques who were attacked back in March. That attack killing 51 Muslim worshippers. Now, she's proposing a bill to make gun licenses valid for five years instead of 10.

The top 10 Democratic presidential candidates traded verbal punches in Houston, Texas on Thursday night. The main target, the frontrunner, Joe Biden. Some analysts say that Biden had his best debate performance yet. One of the biggest topics in Thursday's debate, health care. Our Jeff Zeleny has this report for you from Houston, Texas.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: George, 10 candidates on the debate stage in Houston certainly a serious and substantive conversation. More civil in some respects than previous debates, largely because it was 10 candidates on one evening, not candidates trying to compete for attention necessarily. But Joe Biden leading the way in terms of defending Obamacare, and saying that the government simply should expand on that. Of course, I'm making a deep division with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who support Medicare for All.

Now, no solutions, no agreements were reached on health care. This is going to be a central dividing line of this campaign for the months going forward. But certainly, Joe Biden and others raising questions about the cost and the feasibility of Medicare for All. But on down the line, one big difference from that Detroit debate in July, the Obama legacy, President Obama, you know, came under attack by many Democrats just two months ago. Democrats last night in Houston, were stepping over themselves trying to praise President Obama. So, certainly, a difference in tone there.

The most combative in striking series of events in the debate was without question, Julian Castro, a former member of the Obama cabinet, going directly after Joe Biden repeatedly, essentially raising questions about his age. He said, you know, he essentially didn't understand his health care proposal. And then he, you know, essentially accused Joe Biden of using President Obama when it serves his purposes and not defending him on other matters like immigration. So, certainly sharp words from Julian Castro. He is polling near the very bottom of this group of candidates, trying to make a name for himself.

We'll see how Democratic voters react to that, but I think going forward here, there is one month until the next debate that is going to be in Ohio. Pretty much status quo, Joe Biden still leading the way, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, as well. One thing that is clear, Democratic voters were able to take a measure of these candidates, and on the debate stage, several strong performances, but no clear direction for which way the party will go in terms of choosing a progressive route, or a pragmatic one. George?


HOWELL: Jeff, thank you. Democrats in the U.S. House have taken an important step as they move forward with an impeachment inquiry. The Judiciary Committee has adopted the procedures it will follow in its investigation. But as our Manu Raju explains, there's been a lot of confusion, even whether to use that word, 'impeachment'.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler says he plans to begin an aggressive series of hearings in the fall, looking at allegations of obstruction of justice, but going beyond the Mueller report, in order to determine whether or not the president should be impeached, he said this is an impeachment investigation and impeachment inquiry. He also said it doesn't really matter what to call it, because at the end of the day, that's the question and decision by this going to be made by the Democrats about whether or not to impeach the president.

However, not everyone is emphasizing the same thing, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who will not call what the committee is doing, an impeachment inquiry, instead saying it's just part of their overall investigate and oversight of the Trump administration. But talking to democrats yesterday, it's clear that they're divided on the topic of impeachment.

REP. ANTHONY BRINDISI (D-NY): I don't think that if you were to put articles of impeachment on the floor today, you can get to 218 votes. And I think the American people aren't there on the issue of impeachment. I would vote no on impeachment, unless there's some compelling evidence that comes out or the next couple months, my vote is No.

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): I don't think we've made the case to the American people that we need to, yet. So, to the extent they think they can do that, I've been supporting them doing that.

RAJU: OK. But right now, you don't feel like it's necessary to move down the road of an impeachment inquiry?


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): As you know, the leadership in our caucus have been, you know, reticent to move forward aggressively on this, but because of the growing concern, not only the members but our constituents, I think they are, you know, understanding that there had to be some movement, and that they understand that this movement could lead to impeachment.

RAJU: And what are the implications of the leadership not calling this an impeachment inquiry? Do you have any concern the Speaker won't call it an impeachment inquiry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to get into it now. RAJU: Now, the House Judiciary Committee adopted a resolution yesterday, essentially setting the ground rules in the parameters about how they will carry out their impeachment inquiry in the days and weeks ahead, and that will be seen first next week when Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager is scheduled to testify before that committee to talk about allegations the democrats want to explore of obstruction of justice, particularly that was laid out in the Mueller report of the president trying to undermine the Mueller investigation.

The question is what will Lewandowski ultimately answer, and will two other former White House aides, Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, will they attend? They've been subpoenaed by the committee to also attend but the White House is taking steps to block these witnesses from talking. The question is ultimately, will they agree to talk, and if they don't, will that'd be another case for impeachment the democrats will pursue?


HOWELL: Manu Raju there on Capitol Hill. Also, we're learning more now about a dive boat tragedy off the coast of California. This happening almost two weeks ago. Investigators say that no overnight watchman was on duty when that fire killed 34 people. The National Transportation Safety Board says an overnight watch is required by law. The news came as the sunken vessel was finally raised.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, Israel's Prime Minister has a key meeting with the President of Russia, ahead. Why these talks could be crucial for Benjamin Netanyahu as he seeks reelection?



HOWELL: Authorities in Russia have carried out nationwide raids on the offices of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. He said on Thursday that more than 200 raids were launched in 41 different cities. They were reportedly part of an investigation into Navalny's anti- corruption group, which is accused of money laundering. But Navalny's group says, the raids were the result of what he calls Kremlin, quote, 'hysteria' because of recent losses in local elections. And while those raids were happening, the Russian president himself Vladimir Putin was hosting a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Our Oren Lieberman reports it comes just ahead of a crucial election in Israel.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: One of Donald Trump's closest allies is cozying up to one of America's biggest enemies. Just days before he's up for reelection, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is playing both sides internationally, making a lightning fast trip to Sochi to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to tout their relationship. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator):

Tightening the relations between us, Mr. President, is also the result of two other things: our mutual rational policy and the direct connection between us.

LIEBERMANN: While Iran and security topped the official agenda, analysts say there's another reason for quick trip out of the country, just days before ballots are cast.

Netanyahu was pushing for the Russian vote in Israel. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union make up some 15 percent of Israel's population, a vote that's generally in the hands of this man, Avigdor Lieberman. Originally from the Soviet Union, Lieberman once worked for Netanyahu before launching his own party. Now, the former defense minister is the secular right wing thorn in Netanyahu's side, having quit the Israeli leaders government, saying he was too soft on terror and caved to the religious.

AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, LEADER, YISRAEL BEITEINU: And hopes that we will establish really, national white Liberal government without orthodox and without radical members of our Knesset.

Polls show Lieberman with enough seats to prevent Netanyahu from getting the right wing religious government he wants. And while Lieberman's strength begins with his Russian base, his appeal is growing across the political spectrum.

ANNA RAYVA-BARKSY, ISRAEL CHANNEL 9 (through translator): The joint interest is secularism. They feel that the country is changing, and they feel the religious population is becoming a majority and more and more dominant, and it scares them. And Lieberman tells them, I am holding your flag.

LIEBERMANN: Roni Milo is the former mayor of Tel Aviv. He once belonged to Netanyahu's Likud Party. Now, he says he's voting Lieberman.

RONI MILO, FORMER MAYOR OF TEL AVIV AND LIEBERMAN SUPPORTER: He is a right-wing, but not extreme right-wing, but moderate right-wing on one hand, and on the other hand, he is not connected to all kind of corruption.

LIEBERMANN: Lieberman refused to join with Netanyahu in April's elections, forcing new elections. With the renewed popularity, he is one more obstacle standing between Netanyahu and an election-like victory.

Netanyahu heads home after this quick trip to try to take control of the headlines. Once again, his big announcements this week did not go as he had planned. After he said Israel had discovered a nuclear base in Iran, President Donald Trump said he'd to be willing to meet the Iranian president.


Then, when he said he'd annex parts of the West Bank, well, that was condemned by the Russians, and then, Trump fired John Bolton, one of Netanyahu's closest allies in Iran in another blow to Netanyahu.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Sochi.

HOWELL: Oren, thank you. A Saudi princess is facing legal trouble in France. On Thursday, French Court ruled that she was complicit in the beating up of a workman in Paris.

She was found guilty of ordering her bodyguard to attack and humiliate the man who was renovating her luxury apartment at the time. The court handed her a 10 month suspended sentence and fined her $11,000. The princess did not appear in court. Her lawyer says that they will appeal the ruling.

Fighting racism in football. Of the 2,000 black and Asian registered referees in England, you won't see one on the pitch during an English Premier League match. CNN went to investigate the question of why.



Here in Atlanta, a revered U.S. civil rights leader has died at the age of 87 years old. Juanita Abernathy was the wife of Ralph Abernathy Senior, a co-founder of the American Civil Rights Movement. She was also a force in her own way. Her family called her the last remaining person who was actively involved from day one of the Montgomery bus boycott and the civil rights movement. She and her husband worked side-by-side with civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The fight for civil rights continues to this day, surely, as questions are now being raised about black referees in the top four divisions of English soccer. CNN's Darren Lewis talks to a member of England soccer pyramid about dealing with under-representation.


JOEL MANNIX, AMATEUR FOOTBALL REFEREE: I've always said this to people, "If you can't see it, you can't be it.

DARREN LEWIS, CNN WORLD SPORT CONTRIBUTOR: Joel Mannix is a referee who officiates four levels below the English Premier League. A former semi-professional player, Mannix picked up the whistle in 2009.

He was inspired by Uriah Rennie, the first and only black referee ever to work in the Premier League. He retired a decade ago. Mannix wants to follow in Rennie's footsteps, but there's currently no pathway to the top with zero black referees in English football's top four divisions.

MANNIX: And I thought to myself, I want to go up, I want to go up, I want to be there. And then, I remember speaking to certain other referees, my phone was ringing, did you get your letter? No. Did you get you were? No.

Something like, must be -- must be -- must be, something must be -- you know, I've done everything bright, and the disappointment, I was like, no, I can't -- I can't do this again. I'll as something just said to me, "What are you doing? You're not doing -- you know, you -- you've got to go back out there." You've got to go back out there and make sure that this season, that -- you know, the following season, you're going to make it hard for them to do it.

And then, obviously, the backend of this for this year, and I got promoted. So, now, I officiate conference level.

LEWIS: According to England's F.A., there are 28,000 referees in the country. Some2,000 of them come from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. But that number is not reflected in English football's professional game. And Mannix says more needs to be done.

MANNIX: People don't want to be educated. Some people do. Some people see color, some people don't. Some people can't see past color.

LEWIS: It's about seeing it and appreciating it, and still being able to go about your daily business having appreciated the people around you.

MANNIX: OK. So, let's bring that into hierarchy of football now. How many black owners are there?

LEWIS: Zero.

MANNIX: How many black managers are there in the premiership?

LEWIS: Less than a handful.

MANNIX: Black coaches?

LEWIS: There are fair few.

MANNIX: Good. Black referees?

LEWIS: Zero.

MANNIX: Let's back to my point --


LEWIS: If you can join this, you've turned this completely around on me. You're interviewing me.

MANNIX: But the thing is -- and I've always said this to people. "If you can't see it, you can't be it.

LEWIS: Observers determine whether or not you progress to a higher league.

MANNIX: Yes. Let's say, eight times during this season that you're -- you've been observed. And then, you get observer who might not like you for whatever new reason or whatsoever, might not fancy. And you might have a brilliant game, and they've marked you down. You've been dropped your average. Level four, level three is known as the black man's graveyard.

LEWIS: So, wow.

MANNIX: Because that's where -- that's where is. You know, how many -- how many more do you see move up?

LEWIS: Or your careers have all floundered in that black man's graveyard.

MANNIX: In the premiership, zero. Championship, zero. League one, zero. League two, zero.

LEWIS: Mannix is founding a network to help black and Asian referees. Their goals are to mentor officials to lead recruitment drives and to give a voice to the many officials who have encountered racist abuse. Ensuring they are heard and that action is taken to protect them.

What's the worst experience you've had as a referee going to ground? Have you been racially abused or have -- has anybody treated you negatively on the basis of the color of your skin?

MANNIX: I remember going to ground, and I identified myself as the referee. I shook the chairman's hand. He shook my hand, and he took it back and he wiped his trousers with it. And I looked -- I looked at him while he was -- you know, wiping his hands and he kind of stopped and he didn't know what to do.


LEWIS: How did you feel?

MANNIX: How did I feel? At the time I was like, "Wow, 2018, it's still happening," you know. And then, it was quite funny counting on his team, six or seven black players. And I'm like, "OK, they're there to do a job. OK, I wonder if you shake their hands as well."

LEWIS: Mannix, the support group will be independent from the English F.A. But he plans to work with them to open up that pathway for black and Asian referees, as he seeks to tackle the issue of under- representation and on.

MANNIX: You have to be able to identify your target, audience. You've got to go and -- go and get it because you're going to get that diamond, and you'll be happy that you have got that, that diamond, referee.


HOWELL: When will the world figure this out? Thanks for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "EARLY START" is next. For our viewers around the world, the news continues here on CNN, after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)