Return to Transcripts main page


Greta Thunberg Accuses Leaders At The U.N. Of Stealing Her Dreams And Childhood; Thomas Cook Collapses; All Eyes On The United Nations General Assembly; Trump Briefly Attends U.N. Climate Panel; Global Protests Demand Leaders Take Action On Climate; Trump Admits Discussing Biden In Call With Ukraine's President; France, Germany, U.K. Blames Iran For Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities; Netanyahu, Gantz Agree To Begin Talks On Unity Government; Jeremy Corbyn Outlines How He Would Handle Brexit; Royal Couple Visits Women's Organization In Cape Town. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired September 23, 2019 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF, teen climate activist, Greta Thunberg accuses leaders at the U.N. of stealing her dreams and her

childhood. Trouble company, Thomas Cook, collapses, leaving hundreds of thousands of people stranded overseas. And I ask British Labour Party

leader Jeremy Corbyn just where does he stand on Brexit.

Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo, and welcome to the show.

World leaders are converging in New York where all eyes are on the United Nations General Assembly and especially on the U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump is expected to talk with Ukraine's President on Wednesday. This comes as the U.S. President is under new scrutiny for a controversial phone

call between the two in July. And we'll have more on that in just a moment.

What's less certain, though, is whether or not he'll sit down with Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, as tensions between the two remain high. But the

big focus of the U.N. today was climate change. While the U.S. President didn't speak, he did attend the summit, briefly, and not everyone was

thrilled that he was there. Take a look at climate activist Greta Thunberg's expression right here.

The young environmentalist made a passionate plea for world leaders to take action immediately to protect the climate.


GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you

all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the

lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?



NOBILO: French President Emmanuel Macron echoed that sentiment. He urged his colleagues to listen to young people like Greta Thunberg.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): We need our young people in our countries to tell us to work faster. We need the young people

to help us to change things, to act and to put more pressure on those who are recalcitrant, whether they are states or finances or companies.


NOBILO: This all comes after people around the world took to the streets to demand their leaders tackle the crisis. Ahead of the U.N. Assembly, a

landmark report reminded us of the urgency of the climate crisis. It found that the past five years were the warmest five-year period on record. Sea

ice continues to decline while sea levels are rising and becoming more acidic. The report found record levels of greenhouse gases in the

atmosphere as well.

CNN's Bill Weir is at the U.N. And a short time ago, I asked him whether or not it seemed like world leaders are reaching a tipping point on the

climate crisis or if it's just more empty words.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, we certainly have seen the conversation change by the tune of four million people that took

to the streets on Friday from world capitals to all small towns in between. Many of them led by the youngest among us, school kids concerned about

inheriting a dying planet that certainly caught the attentions of world leaders and even corporations around the world who seemed to be changing

the conversation when it comes to sustainability and responsibility in business practices.

But that's happening everywhere else but the United States, at least the highest levels of power in the United States. The Trump administration,

long a climate change skeptic. Filled with them, the Environmental Protection Agency filled with former lobbyists for petrochemical companies,

coal mining, et cetera, who have done nothing but really roll back every bit of environmental protection that is clean the air and the skies and the

waters around the United States in the last couple generations.

Aside from pulling out of the Paris climate accord, President Trump shows disdain for any sort of transnational agreement. He said today, before

going inside for briefly listen to those words today from other leaders, that he does believe in clean, air and water, the things countries should

take care of that themselves, seeming to confuse the difference between local pollution and global climate change.

Scientists say we have but a few years to straighten out before all of humanity is at risk. But yes, to answer your question, the conversation is

changing everywhere else but Washington, D.C. under Donald Trump.


NOBILO: U.S. President Trump has a world of issues on his plate at the United Nations. But the focus today keeps coming back to a controversial

phone call that's fueling demands in Washington for his impeachment.

Mr. Trump now acknowledges discussing Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden when he spoke with Ukraine's President by phone in July. Multiple

reports say that he repeatedly pressured Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden's son, which, if true, means that he reportedly used the power of his

office to seek foreign help in getting dirt on a political rival.

Mr. Trump today said that he is considering releasing the transcript of that phone call and, without any evidence, pointed the finger of blame at

the Bidens.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, when you see the call, if you see it - I hope you see it, frankly - you will find out that I did

not do that at all. And you'll be very disappointed when you see it. I hope you get to see the call because your question, you will see, I did not ask

for - I did not make a statement that you have to do this or I'm not going to give you a - I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that.

With that being said, what I want is I want - we're giving a lot of money away to Ukraine and other places. You want to see a country that's going to

be not corrupt. The President is a good man. So he gets elected on the basis of ending corruption in Ukraine. Well, I think that's good, and

that's what I want to see. But when Biden does a thing like that, then there's still corruption, and that's not good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you can release - you can authorize to release the transcript. Will you do that, sir?

TRUMP: I can do it very easily, but I'd rather not do it from the standpoint of all of the other conversations I have. I may do it because it

was a very innocent call.


NOBILO: Joe Biden responded to Mr. Trump's denial of wrongdoing by tweeting a short time ago, "So release the transcript of the call then."

One Trump adviser tells CNN the whole controversy is quite a serious problem for us. Some House Democrats say it could be the tipping point on

whether Mr. Trump is impeached. Progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "At this point, the bigger national scandal isn't

the President's lawbreaking behavior, it is the Democratic Party's refusal to impeach him for it."

But Mr. Trump is not the only one feeling pressure. Ukraine's President is having to walk a fine line here, well aware of how critical U.S. aid is to

his country.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Kiev.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Ukrainian leadership, which has only been in office for a few months, is watching all

of this unfold with alarm. President Zelensky and his closest aides are refusing even to speak to us, as they try to keep their heads down ahead of

a planned meeting with President Trump later this week in New York. They know this is a scandal that could damage a crucial Ukrainian relationship

with the current American President.

NOBILO: Let's get the very latest now from Capitol Hill. We're joined by CNN Congressional Correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, great to have you on the program. What impact are these developments having on calls from within the Democratic Party to impeach

President Trump?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A significant impact, Bianca. We have seen in the last few days, House Democrats really angered

not only by President Trump's admission that he did indeed pressure in some way the Ukrainian government to call for the investigation of Joe Biden,

but also the withholding of the whistleblower's complaint to Capitol Hill, something that they legally are owed.

So a lot of Democrats up in arms about that, and what it really is doing is essentially supercharging the Democrats' push for impeachment. Right now,

there are 137 Democrats who have come out and said that they need to at least start impeachment proceedings and impeachment investigation, but very

likely, sources tell us that in the days and likely weeks ahead, we will see additional Democrats come out specifically because of this new

controversy and call for his impeachment or at least for proceedings to begin.

Now, of course, key in all of this, as it always is, is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has been very skeptical and resistant thus far

about going down the impeachment path. But she issued a pretty strongly worded letter over the weekend, going farther than she has in the past,

saying that they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness, which will take us into a whole new stage of the investigation if the

administration does not respond to the request. Bianca?

NOBILO: Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

The leaders of France, Germany, and Britain say Iran was behind the attack on Saudi oil facilities more than a week ago. In a joint statement released

a short while ago, they urged Iran to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile program. This comes as Iran's Foreign Minister told CNN today

that his country would be open to a new nuclear deal if sanctions are lifted.


Meanwhile, Iran is displaying the wreckage of the U.S. drone it shot down in June.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has an up close look from Tehran.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a fun day out for all the family as long as the kids never to get their

hands on this. The new missile system, Iran says, downed a top American drone this June that risked war, as President Trump almost launched air

strikes in retaliation but called them off at the last minute. But after a week of U.S. bluster of a military action (inaudible), and instead, putting

that drone or really what they say is left of it on display.

The RQ-4A Global Hawk can fly up the 400 miles an hour at 60,000 for 34 hours with the wing span of a Boeing 737. The U.S. said it was over

international waters. Iran said over theirs. You can better (ph) tell that from the debris, just a message that Iran took it down anyway.

PATON WALSH (on-camera): They say it was destroyed over the Gulf, and a lot of wreckage went straight under water. This is all they were able to

salvage very conveniently though. The American insignia remains intact.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): A fully intact U.S. predator drone is also here. We are told it was hacked as it flew over Iran to knock off Iranian version

shown behind being launched. Older American models, Israeli, British, we can't touch them or verify independently what they are.

PATON WALSH (on-camera): It was no accident that a couple of days after the Saudi Arabian government displays devices that it said entered its

territory, Iran puts on a substantial display of what it said it managed to capture over its band or near it.

A very friendly welcome here from an Iranian pilot whose face we can't show said his name is Mike (ph), talked about premier league soccer and

described in English how some of these drones were hacked as they flew over Iran. But the message here clearly, one, of confidence and a desire for

Iran to show quite how much it's been able to salvage from the drones that have flown over its territory.

PATON WALSH (voice-over): Learning from, even stealing, American technology is nothing new, but more and more are in on it. These drones are master-

class, Iranian officials have said, in reverse engineering. In Tehran, American sanctions may bite, but they want you to know Iran can too.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tehran.


NOBILO: In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz have agreed to discuss the possibility of forming a unity

government. At the urging of Israel's President, they held their first formal talks since elections left their parties deadlocked. The Arab Joint

List is endorsing Gantz for Prime Minister, only the second time in history that they've recommended anybody for the job.

To Brexit now and what the opposition Labour Party thinks about it. Delegates at the annual Labour Party conference have backed the party

leader Jeremy Corbyn and voted down a proposal that would have put Labour squarely in the remain camp. Instead, the party says it wants to negotiate

a new Brexit deal, then let voters choose between that deal that they negotiate and remaining part of the European Union. I spoke to Jeremy

Corbyn earlier today, and my interview with him is coming up on THE BRIEF.

Now, a British tour operator, whose sales pitch was "Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it," has left travelers stranded worldwide. The iconic company,

Thomas Cook, went bust Sunday night. As a result, about 600,000 travelers are stranded all over the globe without a clear way to get back home. About

150,000 of those passengers are British. The British government is now stepping and putting together a massive operation to fly them back. The

collapse ruined vacations and even honeymoons for some people. Here's one of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are absolutely gutted. We've looked forward to this for a long time. Had the wedding in July. So we spent another couple of

months waiting for this. Yes, absolutely, just totally gutted.


NOBILO: This couple saw their wedding turn into a fiasco. And ironically, the groom's name is Thomas Cook. The company promised them a special

surprise after they booked their wedding package, but the bride says none of it came through, and they ended up stranded in Greece.

Nina dos Santos joins me now in the studio for more on this story. Nina, Thomas Cook is an iconic, a massive company. Did nobody see this coming?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A company with 22,000 staff, operating in 16 countries, this is a company that had at least 20 million customers.

And there are maybe a million customers that could be stranded in the fallout from this. Thomas Cook announced that it was ceasing trading at

about 2 a.m. U.K. time overnight. That obviously left many people packing up their stuff to go to the airport in the few hours from then, not knowing

whether they'd be able to make it home.

As you said, about 150,000 to 155,000 of them were British citizens, and that means it is now incumbent upon the British government to mount a major

repatriation operation.


It's being called Operation Matterhorn. It seemed the Civil Aviation Authority put out 45 jets here to 64 destinations from all four corners of

the globe (inaudible) Latin America (inaudible) Turkey, to try and get people back.

As per the last hour or so, we understand 15,000 people so far, British people, have made it back to the U.K. And of course, that still leaves

hundreds of thousands of others who could be stranded at this hour watching, for instance, shows like this and asking themselves, where they

go next.

NOBILO: Well, exactly. And I read earlier as well that some people are only finding out about these problems through media reports. So, how are these

people being communicated with?

DOS SANTOS: Well, there's a telephone number on Thomas Cook's website and on its Twitter account, and that has various international numbers that you

can call for help. Obviously, some people can appeal to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, going to consulates to try and find out where they go

from here.

And in fact, interestingly enough, I was just following the Twitter account of Boris Johnson, the Prime Minster. He, just an hour or so ago in New York

for the U.N. General Assembly, has stopped by the consulate in New York City to survey how some of the staff there are trying to help people get

back to the United Kingdom.

Now, one of the most controversial aspects of everything that's happened today is that the British government had refused an emergency credit line

from Thomas Cook, which (inaudible) asked for, but 150 million pound in extra emergency help. That's about $200 million. And that was refused by

the government on the grounds of moral hazard.

Basically, the economic argument being, if I give you more money, you will be less cautious in the future and you might not necessarily - you might

not necessarily avoid failing in the future, and it could encourage other travel operators that may have financial issues to not necessarily deal

with them. Remember that Monarch low-cost airline went bust in 2017. It didn't get any help. And that, of course, set the wheels in motion for

companies like Thomas Cook, many say.

NOBILO: Nina dos Santos, thank you.

When THE BRIEF returns, a conversation with the leader of the Labour Party in the U.K. How Jeremy Corbyn thinks Brexit should be handled in just a



NOBILO: Welcome back. Get ready for another round of Brexit drama. On Tuesday, the British Supreme Court will rule on whether or not Boris

Johnson's move to suspend parliament this month was legal. Doing so has really limited the time that parliament has to debate Brexit.

Mr. Johnson's rival, the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, joined me earlier today for a political debrief. I asked him how he thinks the Brexit should

be handled.


JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: My Brexit policy is to prevent a no-deal exit from the European Union because of the damage it will do to

jobs, living standards, and trade between Britain and the European Union.


My job is to recognize there are huge differences in the country between those that voted to leave and remain on the issue of relations with Europe,

but those who voted to leave did not vote to lose their jobs.

My proposal is that the Labour government would - once we've got no-deal completely off the table, would then discuss with the European Union what a

leave option would be around our proposals, which are protection of the Good Friday Agreement and a trade agreement with Europe and also protection

of consumer environment and workers' rights, put alongside an offer of to remain in the European Union and seek to reform it as well. That would be

put - the British people in a public vote. It would be done in a timely manner. So we're looking at three months to conclude the negotiation, six

months until we would hold a referendum.

NOBILO: Do you not think that one of the reasons there has been so much inertia and then moments of upheaval over the last few years in British

politics is because we have seen leaders backing positions that people didn't think they truly believed in. And part of leadership is obviously

doing what you believe. You've always been a politician of principle throughout your political career. So, can you explain what do you believe

in when it comes to what Britain should do, exit European Union or remain in the European Union?

CORBYN: Bring people together, recognize we have to have a close trading relationship with Europe under all circumstances rather than - which is

what I suspect Boris Johnson wants, which is to do a sweetheart deal with the United States and put that alongside remain.

NOBILO: What criteria would need to be met in order for you to come to the table to negotiate a trade deal with Donald Trump?

CORBYN: Well, we are in a position at the moment of discussing our relationships with the European Union. And at the moment, as for members of

the European Union, all trade arrangements are made via the European Union. And so that is the current position. Therefore, an independent trade

arrangement is not possible.

In the event of Britain not being in the EU, then obviously trade arrangements have to be made. I would want to ensure that any trade is

equitable, is fair, and is not accompanied by diminishing of rights.

NOBILO: And if the Supreme Court does rule against Boris Johnson tomorrow and decides that he acted unlawfully, what will be the first thing that you

do as leader of the opposition.

CORBYN: Demand that parliament is recalled and that the suspension of parliament be lifted. At the moment, parliament has been suspended until

the opening of the new session in parliament, which is not due until the middle of October. It's the longest suspension between one session and

another for 300 years.

NOBILO: Mr. Corbyn, the Prime Minister has said that he attributed responsibility with a high degree of probability to Iran for the Aramco

attacks. Do you agree with that assessment, and how would a Labour government led by you respond?

CORBYN: I haven't seen the evidence. So I can't comment on the decision - or the view that the Prime Minister has put. How I would respond to this

is, using the fact that the U.N. General Assembly is meeting this week and the heads of state and heads of government are going to be there to ensure,

first of all, we make sure the Iran nuclear deal remains the reality that it is - it's a very important one - that we encourage a ceasefire in Yemen,

and that we bring the parties together.

The language has been used. A bellicose language has been used. The threats of troop deployment and troop involvement are very, very dangerous. The

last thing the region needs is a war. What the region does need is stability and peace. That can only come through talking between those


We have opposed arms sales by Britain to Saudi Arabia because they've been used for the bombing of Yemen and all of the civilian disasters that have

happened in Yemen because of that war. There is no way forward on more bombing, there's no way forward on putting more troops in the region.

NOBILO: Are there any circumstances under which you would approve of British military intervention in the Middle East to support Britain's

existing alliances?

CORBYN: I think the role of Britain in the region is to be an honest broker to try to bring back peace, to be a force for good in the region and a

force to support the U.N. And if there is a great (ph) ceasefire in places, and obviously Britain could play a part in that. But the important thing

now is to get a ceasefire in Yemen, but it's also to get a settlement in Syria as well so that we have this tension in the region and the dangers of

war escalating as a result of it.


NOBILO: So you can't currently foresee circumstances under which you would approve a British military presence there?

CORBYN: I think we should approach the whole issue from the principle of stopping war, not exacerbating war. That means bringing about a peace

process, bringing about a ceasefire, bringing about those talks.


NOBILO: Well, thanks to Jeremy Corbyn for joining us earlier today.

When THE BRIEF returns, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in Africa. We'll tell you why the two got off to a different start in a typical royal visit.


NOBILO: Welcome back. Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have begun a 10-day tour of Africa in Cape Town. CNN's Max Foster is following that

trip. And a short time ago, I asked him how this tour is getting off to a different start than other royal visits.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, it was a different start to a royal tour and not the normal lineup with local dignitaries, but straight into a

township, a women's empowerment project and the duchess speaking very powerfully about her own identity.


MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I want you to know that, for me, I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color, and

as your sister.


FOSTER: On the way out, they couldn't help but be caught up in the dancing. They couldn't avoid it, but it was a great royal moment that before they

came here to the edge of District Six, which was cleared during the apartheid years. People lost their homes, were forced to move somewhere

else. And they learnt about that in the museum, not the road. Tomorrow, another day here in South Africa. Will we see baby Archie? That's the big

question, Bianca.

NOBILO: Climate change may be changing the planet, but it's also changing our politics. We've seen people around the world push for leaders to

translate their intentions and words into action. And now, the U.N. is taking action. This weekend, Gabon became the first African country to get

funding to preserve its rainforests. Norway will pay $150 million to battle deforestation there.

The move comes as millions of people are taking to the streets. Some politicians are already paying attention, like Jeremy Corbyn, who just told

me that the environment will be his priority if he became Prime Minister. But it's the young activists like the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg who are

out in the front of this issue. They say they do not want to inherit a dying planet, and they're willing to stand up and do what it takes to make

a change.

That's THE BRIEF. I am Bianca Nobilo. "WORLD SPORT" is up next after a check of your headlines.