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U.S. Official Called Trump-Zelensky Call "Crazy" and "Frightening"; Kurdish Forces: Turkey Is Shelling One Point In Northern Syria; NBA Chief: "Profit Can't Come Before Principles"; John Bercow Speaks To CNN Ahead Of Stepping Down As Speaker; 2019 Nobel Prize In Physics Awarded To Trio Of Scientists. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired October 8, 2019 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight on "The Brief" the U.S. Ambassador to the EU will be issued a subpoena after the Trump

Administration blocked him from testifying. As the U.S. move to withdraw troops in Northern Syria, new concerns about what could happen to ISIS

prisoners. Plus my exclusive interview with the outgoing Speaker of the British House Of Commons, John Bercow.

Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo and welcome to the show. New developments almost by the hour now in the impeachment investigation of

U.S. President Donald Trump. Let's start with what didn't happen today, the testimony of a crucial witness. The administration blocked U.S. Ambassador

to the EU Gordon Sondland from talking to congressional investigators.

President Trump essentially took responsibility with this tweet, saying he'd love to send Sondland to testify, but not in front of what he calls a

"Kangaroo Court". Democrats now say they will issue a subpoena to force Sondland to appear and also seeking physical evidence saying the State

Department is withholding texts or emails from Sondland's personal device. Here's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The President is obstructing debate obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need. It's an abuse of power for

him to act in this way, and that is one of the reasons that we have an impeachment inquiry.


NOBILO: Text messages already handed to Congress show Sondland communicating with other U.S. officials about Mr. Trump's dealings with

Ukraine. At one point, a Democrat - a diplomat, sorry, says to Sondland "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political

campaign". Hours later, Sondland writes back that President Trump has been crystal clear no quid pro quo.

Well, sources now tell us that Sondland called Mr. Trump before he wrote that response. We also have new details about Mr. Trump's phone call with

Ukraine's President. A source says a White House official who was listening in was left shaken and told the whistleblower the call was, "Crazy and

frightening". And as if that weren't enough we are just learning that President Trump's lawyers have written a blistering letter to House

Democrats saying the administration won't cooperate with their investigation at all, arguing that it's illegitimate.

Let's bring in White House Reporter Stephen Collinson and Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox to break this down. Lauren, let's go to you first. The

White House and Republicans are trying to force Nancy Pelosi to hold an official vote on the impeachment inquiry. Is that likely to happen? What

are the perceived advantages of doing that for the Republicans?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Bianca that is not expected to happen at this point. Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House has argued

it's not in the constitution it's not in the House rules. She is not required to hold a vote, but you the White House is saying they will not

cooperate with her investigation unless she holds that vote.

That is of course because they want to put some of those Democrats who are in disgrace that the President won in 2016 in a tough and difficult spot.

Those are some members who are on the front lines of the majority and it's going to be a hard sell to get Nancy Pelosi to put those members in a

position where they would have to vote before a full impeachment inquiry and investigation was finished. Bianca?

NOBILO: Thanks, Lauren. Stephen to you now, we have got this new reporting which I just mentioned about a White House official who said that the call

with the Ukrainian President was "Frightening". What do you know about that?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL REPORTER: This is more information of what was in the whistleblower's complaint. The whistleblower

seems to have spoken to this Senior National Security official who says, as you say, that the outcome of that call and of what went on was crazy and


There's other reporting from "The New York Times" that backs this up saying this President committed potentially criminal acts on that call and that's

why everyone was so worried about it and why the White House has tried to cover it up. This explains exactly why the White House didn't want Gordon

Sondland to go to Capitol Hill to testify.

They can't allow politically this picture of an out of control President to potentially conducting criminal acts of advancing his own political

interests at the expense of those of the country to come out in public. That's the most damaging possible scenario for the White House.

So they force Democrats at this pivot point by refusing to cooperate with the impeachment probe. That puts the ball back in the Democrats' court and

they have to decide how they're going to respond.

NOBILO: Stephen Collinson and Lauren Fox, thank you both very much. One more note on this, we are seeing new numbers showing a growth in public

support for an impeachment inquiry. In a "Washington Post" poll released today, 58 percent of Americans said they support Congress's decision to

begin the inquiry.


NOBILO: Compare that with how Americans felt in July. That's a more than 20-point swing. In that "Washington Post" ABC News Poll only 37 percent of

Americans questioned supported the decision.

U.S. President Trump's abrupt decision to pull U.S. troops out of Northern Syria, despite intense criticism at whom and abroad is already having an

impact on the ground there. We are just getting reports from the Kurdish led Democratic forces that the Turkish military is shelling one of its

points in Northeastern Syria on the board with Turkey.

This as a European official warns there's a major risk of resurgence of ISIS if Kurdish forces are distracted by any Turkish military operation.

Let's bring in CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. She joins us live from Northern Iraq's Kurdistan region. Clarissa there's a lot

of concern about what happens to the Kurds without their U.S. ally and specifically what becomes to the ISIS prisoners that they were holding.

What do you know about that?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Well, this is the very real concern, is that when or if - it looks like when - Turkey launches

some kind of a full scale military incursion into Northern Syria, that essentially these Syrian Kurdish fighters who have been fighting and dying

in the fight against ISIS. The U.S.'s staunchest ally, more than 10,000 of them killed in this fight against ISIS.

They're also the people who are in charge of these prisons, Bianca, who are in charge of more than 10,000 ISIS fighters. If that military incursion

begins in earnest, those fighters will presumably they're even threatening now that they'll have to leave their posts in those prisons to head to the

front lines along the border to defend their territory. That would mean ostensibly those ISIS fighters in prisons are without proper guard.

There have been indications in the past - potentially Turkey said they would take responsibility for those prisons but that's hard to believe

because they don't fall within that sort of 20-mile buffer zone area along the border. So that's just one of the many vulnerabilities that could be

posed by a Turkish military incursion into Northern Syria.

The primary concern, of course of course of the Kurds is that they're vulnerable to a massacre and that their staunch ally, the U.S., or who they

thought was their staunch ally, will not be there to protect them. Bianca.

NOBILO: Clarissa Ward, thank you. The NBA is now changing its strategy and is now standing up for free speech. Commissioner Adam Silver says profit

can't come before principles and says that he won't censor players or team owners. It's an abrupt about face from just 24 hours ago when the league

criticized this tweet send by the Eastern Rocket's General Manager in support of pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong. Silver admits the NBA's

initial response left people angry and confused.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Patience is now complete are not apologizing for Darryl exercising his freedom of expression. I regret having

communicated directly with many friends in China that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans.


NOBILO: The NBA in China has enjoyed a huge fan base and as David Culver explains, Beijing is upping the ante in this face-off.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bianca to put it bluntly this is not going over well her in China. The biggest response coming from a CCTV they're the

major state run broadcaster of the NBA games. They have decided that they will pull from their air to halt airing any of the preseason NBA games that

are scheduled to take place here in China. That is potentially forcing hundreds of millions of viewers to miss out on what is one of their

favorite sports here.


SILVER: I will say I'm a bit surprised that CCTV canceled the telecasting of preseason games and specifically named me as the cause. It's

interesting. All at the same time in the U.S. media, there's some suggesting I'm not being protective enough of our employees. Clearly

they're seeing it the other way in China.


CULVER: It's impacting online retailers too. Telbo and think the Amazon equivalents here have pulled all memorabilia relate to the rockets

from their website. You search it, nothing comes up. Then we wanted to hear from Chinese official. So we went to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and we

heard from their spokesperson.

The question I asked, essentially, is China using business influence and threatening profits and bottom lines so as to manipulate free speech? Their

response basically that was businesses who had been operating here in China for many years, organizations like the NBA know how it works and they

should know that this is the response to expect.


CULVER: Essentially it's the price of doing business in China.

NOBILO: Our David Culver there. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, violence is intensifying as protests drag on with no solution in sight. CNN's Anna

Coren is there and earlier I asked her if it appeared that were any closer to China's military intervening?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, it's a question on the mind of many people here in Hong Kong. We are four months into these protests, and the

Hong Kong government blissful is struggling to get a hand on the situation to restore law and order to the streets of one of the world's busiest

financial centers.

We are here at a train station that was vandalized and set fire to on the weekend. The NTR Corporation wanting us to see some of the damages that was

caused, it comes as a city's embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam addressed the media for the first time since evoking the emergency laws and enforcing

that very controversial face mask ban that has angered so many people, saying that it would take time for the legislation to come into effect.

But as then is Lam calling on the Chinese government to step in, she did not rule it out. She said, "If the situation becomes so bad it could be an

option". Now, the ramifications of China stepping in are monumental. It would erode the one country, two systems policy, in which Hong Kong is

government. It would also spell the end of Hong Kong as an International Financial Hub.

Now since June, more than 2,600 people have been arrested, the youngest being 12. Two protesters have been shot, and the violence and vandalism has

only escalated. If this continues it might not be a question of if, but when will China step in and top the protests.

NOBILO: Around the world, hundreds of climate protesters have been arrested for doing what they say is peaceful resistance to demand change. 8,500 were

arrested in London, the largest of the demonstrations and Matthew Chance was there.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yet another day of anti-climate change protests. Not just here in London, but in cities across

the globe. What's become a coordinated mass campaign for environmental change?

Extinction rebellion is the grassroots campaign group that's inspiring so many to turn out on to the street calling for a climate emergency to be

declared for greenhouse gas emissions to be brought to net zero by 2025 and for citizen assemblies to be formed to consult on environmental policy.

Supporters - you can see there are many of them, young and old, insist that action through peaceful resistance is essential and the only way that they

can get their message of global survival across. Take a listen to some of the passionate voices in this crowd.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are part of this protest because we want to government to take us and this situation more seriously than they are


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now is time for the government to really step up and put in place real time legislative measures that will combat the climate crisis

but will prepare us for when disaster strikes.

UNIDENTIFIED FMELAE: We know our generation are responsible for this emergency and we are not going to be here to see what happens eventually.

So we just have to do everything we can while we are still here to protect our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.


CHANCE: All right, well the Extinction Rebellion Movement only began last year, but it's already spread in popularity around the world. The planned

two week of protests here in London are elsewhere, in Sydney, New York, Madrid, Berlin, Toronto, just a few of the cities where as I say similar

protests like this one being staged.

NOBILO: Matthew Chance in London, thank you. Coming up next on "The Brief," John Bercow has been a fixture in British parliament for the past decade.

As he prepares to step down this month he sat down with me for an exclusive and emotional interview. That's coming up next.



NOBILO: The Brexit deadline is weeks away and talks are once again at an impasse. British Prime Minster Boris Johnson invited the President of the

EU parliament to Downing Street today, but afterwards he said that no progress was made. Talks also reportedly did not go so well on a phone call

between Mr. Johnson and the German Chancellor Angelo Merkel.

The UK is accusing Europe of not engaging with the latest proposals. A senior British government source says that the talks are close to breaking

down. Members of the British government to have criticized parliament for removing their negotiating leverage by passing an act to make a no deal all

but impossible. The man at the center of the parliamentary debate, literally, who's known for trying to keep order, is John Bercow.




NOBILO: Bercow has announced he'll step down as Speaker by October 31st the day that Britain could leave the EU. In an exclusive interview I spoke to

him about breaking the Brexit impasse.


NOBILO: A potential way to resolve the deadlock which has been put forward in some reports in the press has been a national unity government and most

recently there's been talks of the fact that some people would like you to lead that. Is that something you would ever consider?

BERCOW: I think that is absolutely unreasonable. I don't think anybody would seriously think that that is a likely resolution, and if you're

saying, am I sort of sitting by my phone and thinking people are going to come to me and say, John, rescue us from the imbroglio? The answer is I

expect nothing of the sort and I'm looking for nothing of the sort and I'm in fact very much looking forward instead to leaving the speakership.

NOBILO: What are the most challenging aspects of being the Speaker which we talked about before is that you have to be politically neutral. You have to

abandon any previous political allegiances that you have. You are human. Have you ever failed at that?

BERCOW: I've certainly made mistakes. I think that is almost unavoidable. So sometimes people have said, ah, the ruling that he gave there was more

helpful to the opposition than to the government. Now, most of the time I would stand by that and say, yes, I made the ruling that I made not to help

the opposition rather than remove the government but to help scrutiny of the people who wield the levers of power.

Specifically, on Brexit, if you were to cast your mind back a number of years, all the evidence is that when the conservative government was anti-

Brexit, wanted to remain in the EU under the leadership of David Cameron, I gave the Brexit supporting minority, which was an important voice, a chance

to be heard. I granted some urgent questions, I allowed them to have emergency debates because those opinions needed to be heard.

In the more recent times seeing that the minority voices on the government benches of being Romainers, that is to say those who are anti-Brexit or the

voices of people who wanted to have a much softer Brexit, I thought, those voices must be heard, and I've given them their chance to be heard. And now

the Brexiteers are inclined to cry foul, oh, no, that can't be right.

But wait a minute I thought the Brexiteers were in favor of taking back control of parliament being in the driving seat? Well, they can't have it

both ways. I think if people think in the sporting context they usually accept this proposition--


BERCOW: --if you are performing badly or losing the match, it's quite bad form to blame the referee. It's up to those who want to get their way to

come up with the proposals that people will support and to win. And if they can't win to, put it bluntly, that's not my fault.

NOBILO: So you would reject, then - you say you would enable parliamentary discussion that you're a Romainer enabler?

BERCOW: So I'm not a Romainer enabler, Bianca. That distorts it. I'm an enabler of the House to reach the view it wants to reach.

NOBILO: Just quickly, throughout history parliaments have been given names like the rum parliament, the long parliament, the happy parliament. What

would you call this one?

NOBILO: The rambunctious parliament. That would be a polite way of putting it. I like the passion and I didn't disapprove of anger. There has always

been anger in parliament this is not an Oxford Union debating society. There are real and live issues being aired. And so a lot of passion and the

cotton thrust represent a very good thing. It's only when it just goes over the edge and lines into uncontrolled anger and abuse that it becomes a very

bad thing.

NOBILO: Let's talk about the tone of parliament. This is something that within the chamber and outside of it has been a topic of discussion,

especially in the recent weeks. In the time that you have been not just Speaker but a member of the parliament, so 22 years here have you ever

known the tone to be this bad with the level of attacks from MP, against MP in the chamber?

BERCOW: No. I've never known it as rancorous and sometimes as shocking as it has been. For the avoidance of doubt I'm not here to bad mouth or

rubbish my colleagues. Indeed, when they're under attacked, including now, I still want to exenterate the positive and say all the good things about

parliamentarians, the vast majority of whom are in the House of Commons for reasons of public service.

They work incredibly hard, they're extremely focused, they're very dedicate they're motivated by principle. They are motivated by their notion

of the national interest, by their perception of the public good and by their duty not as delegates but as Representatives to do what they believe

to be right for our country.


NOBILO: The most moving moment of the interview was when I showed Bercow clips of his statements to the House of Commons on key days throughout his

speakership some amusing, some formative and some deeply tragic. I reminded him of what he said the day after the murder of the labor MP Jo Cox. How

legacy has been at the full front of MP's minds lately and her name often mentioned in parliamentary debates. Here's how John Bercow responded.


BERCOW: Any death in such awful circumstances is an outrage and a tragedy. Yet this death in this manner of this person, our democratic elected

colleague Jo Cox is particularly shocking and repugnant. Well, of course I remember that still. Very keenly, and - the sentiment is very raw. There

are many people Bianca, in the House of Commons who knew Jo Cox better than I did.

I knew her only - from when she was elected in May 2015 for the first time. Till when she was brutally murdered 13 months later. Her legacy you asked

me earlier about conduct, behavior - really Jo was a great exponent of that principle of political difference, personal amiability. It should be

possible for us as Democrats to disagree.


NOBILO: Thanks to John Bercow for speaking with me. THE BRIEF continues in just a moment.



NOBILO: We end today's show with a change in how we see the universe. This year's winners of Nobel Prize in Physics, whose discovers according those

awarding the prize have forever changed our conceptions of the world. The prize was shared among three scientists James Peebles of Canada was

recognized for theoretical discoveries that advanced our understanding of how the universe involved after the big bang.

And a pair of Swiss scientists won for making the first discovering of the planet outside our solar system. That discovery kick-started a revolution

in Astronomy. And as a result we now know the existence of over 4,000 exoplanets in the Milky Way and one of the scientists is of course

convinced that there's much more waiting to be discovered.


DIDIER QUELOZ, CO-WINNER OF 2019 NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS: So if we start finding life on the planet, looking for life, we are convinced that there

must be life on the planets. Otherwise we don't search for it.


NOBILO: On that intergalactic note, that's THE BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo, and "WORLD SPORT" is up next.


DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: It took decades to build it and just a few seconds to break it. The NBA is in China this week and they're all

walking on eggshells. On "World Sport" today, Commissioner Adam Silver tells us why he's chosen principles over profits.