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Boris Johnson and E.U. Point Fingers of Blame on Talks; Nationwide Curfew in Ecuador; More Extinction Rebellion Protests in London. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 9, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone. Great to be with you. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Studio Seven at CNN's World Headquarters. Dodge, delay, obstruct. The White House impeachment defense which could be the basis for impeachment.

Trump to Syrian Kurds, your special, wonderful, and not abandoned, only they have been abandoned. A U.S. ally left to the mercy of a Turkish military operation said to begin at any moment.

And this is not breaking news. Brexit negotiations appear to have collapsed and a withdrawal deal nowhere in sight.

Well, it appears the White House has to play it all-out war all the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, announcing a legal, political, and P.R. strategy which amounts to stonewalling every move by Democrats. The tactic was unclear this late Tuesday with the administration preventing the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland from appearing before Congress.

President Trump still insists that there's nothing wrong with asking the Ukraine to investigate his main political rival, Joe Biden. But text messages through Ambassador Sondland, new concerns from a senior U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor, who texted him that it was crazy to withhold military aid to Ukraine in return for help with a political campaign. Sondland can now expect to be on the Democrat's subpoena list.

Earlier on Tuesday, the President seems to come lame credit for Sondland not showing up. He tweeted this. "I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man, a great American to testify. But unfortunately, he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court where Republicans' rights are being taken away and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see."

And just to be clear, that this White House would not cooperate in any way with the impeachment inquiry, they put it in writing in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all but daring her to hold a formal vote to make the inquiry official. She insists there is no need. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The President is obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need. He has -- this is an abuse of power for him to act in this way. And that is -- that is one of the reasons that we have an impeachment inquiry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And support among voters for an impeachment inquiry has surged in recent weeks. 58 percent are now in favor, that's according to a Washington Post poll. That is up from just 37 percent back in July.

For more now, I'm joined by CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. He is in Los Angeles. He's also a senior editor at the Atlantic. Also with us is CNN Legal Analyst Ross Garber who teaches impeachment law. That's handy actually in law school. Good to have you both with us.

OK, so the administration has actually put this argument in writing for stonewalling. Here's part of the letter from the White House counsel to the Speaker of the House. "Your unprecedented, unconstitutional -- where are we -- your unprecedented action -- sorry -- have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill these duties to the American people, the Constitution, the executive branch, and all future occupants of the office of the presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under the circumstances."

So after listing a number of Trump talking points like reversing the 2016 election, their legal argument it seems is that the investigation it is unconstitutional, invalid, and a violation of due process.

OK, so Ross, you're the new guy, you get the first question. Is the impeachment inquiry constitutionally invalid? Is it a violation of due process? Does this move by the White House have any legal basis at all?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So this isn't really a legal letter. The Constitution has, you know, no due process requirements in terms of impeachment. This is -- this letter is really a political statement. It's a P.R. statement.

And I think the argument actually comes down to fairness, putting aside what a court would decide or not, what the White House lawyers are saying is, here's the way it was done in the last two impeachment. So the Nixon impeachment and the Clinton impeachment, the president's lawyers were entitled to all sorts of rights, the right to cross- examine witnesses, the right to bring in witnesses, and this impeachment is different. It's the White House saying, that's not OK. It's not fair. It's not reliable, we're not going to participate.

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VAUSE: OK. Well, for Democrats, it seems this is all just part of the mounting evidence against Donald Trump. Here's Adam Schiff to the House Intelligence Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a co-equal branch of government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So Ron, to you. White House obstruction of an impeachment inquiry can be the basis for impeachment as one of the articles thrown up against Nixon. Politically though, would there be a whole lot of problems with the democrats if they just went down this road and nothing else?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it's a conundrum. Because on the one hand, I think it is inevitable given this response that they will add an article of impeachment relating to obstruction of Congress.

But then obviously, it's not -- I do not think there's any circumstances under which they proceed with that alone. And they need the information they need to more fully fleshed out their case on Ukraine on the underlying accusation is systematically being withheld from them.

And you know, you find yourself with the same four words that have applied almost throughout this presidency, where our congressional Republicans. Because if nothing else, you would think there would be a few Republicans who would want to uphold the constitutional authority of Congress to perform oversight on the executive branch including the constitutional remedy of impeachment that was -- that was laid out.

And yet, we have heard almost nothing from congressional Republicans in opposition to this protracted stonewalling of not only this inquiry, but really any oversight. And that I think does leave Democrats in a difficult position where they may never get all of the information they're looking for to fully flush out their case.

VAUSE: And Russ, to you. If you read this letter to Nancy Pelosi from the White House, it seems they're arguing, you know, not only can of sitting president not be indicted for possible wrongdoing because of a guideline from the Department of Justice, but this sitting president could also not be impeached either because they were elected, and that would overturn the will of the people. So what, the President is untouchable?

GARBER: Well, I think if you carry it to sort of -- yes, that conclusion, maybe that's, you know, the argument sort of taken to the extreme. But this isn't unexpected here from the White House. I think what they're trying to do is put themselves in a position to potentially negotiate.

They're not saying we're not going to cooperate under any conditions. They're saying, look, you want information from us, you want people to testify from the administration. OK, well, let's set up a process that's fair and equitable and then we can talk about doing that. And so it's not a surprise.

VAUSE: Ron, do you want to jump in on that?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, can you say -- I mean, I think the evidence of the -- of the first ten months of the Democratic congress is that this is not the beginning of a negotiation. I mean, I cannot see any circumstance under which they cooperate in any kind of meaningful way with this inquiry, because they have stonewalled everything else that's come.

VAUSE: There was statement put out by the White House Communications Department which basically said, you know, there will be no negotiations over this. It seemed pretty sort of adamant. I mean --

BROWNSTEIN: They -- I mean, look, they're accusing not only Adam Schiff, but the Speaker of the House of treason. I mean, they're calling this a coup, saying that it could lead to civil war. I mean, the entire strategy is about mobilizing and energizing and outraging the President's base so as to discourage any Republicans from breaking from him in either the House or the Senate.

I think there's very little effort here to persuade voters outside of the President's base and, you know -- or even to look reasonable to those voters. I mean, this is some of -- the President has been very comfortable kind of governing with an eye solely on the 40 to 45 percent who approve of him.

And I don't think this is going anywhere, you know, unless you know, they're likely -- in case the courts forced him to comply, which at the end of all, every line, you're looking at five Republican- appointed justices on the Supreme Court who would have to make that determination.

VAUSE: But just very quickly, Ron. Like why do the Democrats hold an impeachment inquiry vote to call Trump's bluff?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I mean, I think that's a very legitimate question that, you know, they have not wanted to put -- go ahead.

VAUSE: Go ahead, Russ.

GARBER: No, I was just going to say, I think -- I think Ron -- I think Ron is right about that. I think what they're not going to do is impeach him just for obstruction issues. The impeachment vote is going to have to be on substance. They may add some obstruction issues in there, but there's going to have to be an impeachment vote on substance.

And in the meantime, the House is going to have to educate the American people so that people believe that that vote is justified. So there's, there's still work for the House to do.

BROWNSTEIN: And Ron, can you finish your thought? BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say real quick. I think first of all, for -- I think for 289 Democrats, the readout of the phone call, and the texts that have -- texts that have already been released is sufficient grounds for impeachment.

But it is not necessarily for the public, a majority of the public yet supporting removal, right? We have a much higher percentage supporting the President's removal than supporting Clinton's removal at any point. But it's still in those polls today, you have majorities for the inquiry, you are just under a majority, 49, 45, and 43 in the different polls for removal.

So more information might help them make that case to a majority of the country but I don't think they're going to get that information at any point. And that's going to be there was some difficult determinations about how to proceed.

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VAUSE: Well, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. being a no-show before Congress on Tuesday, all part of this White House strategy. In a tweet, the President described the hearing as a kangaroo court. There was a second part to that tweet which was interesting, and here it is.

"Importantly, the president tweeted, Ambassador Sondland's tweet which few report stated, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quo of any kind. That says it all."

So Russ, to you, almost everything in that tweet is wrong. The statement from the U.S. Ambassador to the -- to the European Union was in a text. It was not a tweet. It has been widely reported for sounding very legal, very scripted.

And if that was ever in doubt, the fact that the President has just removed all doubt by repeating it in such an obvious way. And, you know, the fact that there was no quid pro quo does not say at all. It's kind of beside the point, isn't it?

GARBER: But I think that is a point that you're going to hear over and over and over the president makes. You know the standard for impeachment in the United States is somewhat ambiguous, right? It's treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Well, we know what treason is, we know what bribery is. High crimes and misdemeanors is sort of diffusing -- you know, for the most part, what that's meant historically is something that is a crime, or approaching a crime. And that's why it's the President talks about quid pro quo. That's sort of the language of crime, it's the language of bribery. And so he wants to emphasize, there was no crime here.

VAUSE: Well, at the heart of this impeachment, it's -- you know, this question, should the president use the power of his office to take political advantage from a foreign government? Republican lawmakers have not been profiled in courage when it comes to addressing this, and that includes Senator Joni Ernst, who spoke -- well, CNN got the sound from her earlier this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Again, I think we're going to have to go back. Just as I said last week, we'll have to wait. All of that information is going to go to Senate Intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But is it appropriate just the ask itself? Is it appropriate?

ERNST: Well, we -- again, we don't have all the facts in front of us. And what were -- we say pushed out through the media, we don't know what's accurate at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, Ron, I'll just finish up with you. We may not have all the facts but I think we have enough facts. We do not -- we do know what is accurate. The picture has been painted by the White House, not the media. The President has committed the act on television in front of T.V. cameras. You know, the evidence against him has been released by his White House. I don't know what Joni Ernst is talking about.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, as I said before, I think the readout of the call in which he said, I need to ask you a favor, though, is so many words, and the texts that went back and forth from various officials that were released last week, I think that is sufficient evidence of a putting conditions on this essentially a quid pro quo that will convince 218 Democrats to vote for impeachment.

And even though a majority of the country is not yet on board with the idea of removing him from office, there is, John, a clear and consistent majority that says asking -- the requests that the President made was inappropriate.

You know, you're talking about over 60 percent consistently in polls saying it was wrong. And so ultimately, I think that if this does get to the Senate, you are going to see some of the Republicans particularly those who are up in 2020 facing a difficult choice of whether to in effect, condone this behavior, even if they are reluctant to break from the President.

VAUSE: OK, Ron, and Ross, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your insight and for taking the time to be with us. Thanks, guys.

Now to Northern Syria where Kurdish forces, a U.S. ally say Turkey has started shelling positions along the border. The Turkish government says it's troops will cross into Syria shortly in an operation which it says is a bit clearing out terrorists.

Over the weekend, Donald Trump announced U.S. forces would withdraw from the conflict zone, but warned not to harm U.S. soldiers as well as calling for restraint in the operation against the Kurds. On Tuesday, he tweeted that the U.S. may be in the process of leaving

Syria, but in no way has abandoned the Kurds who he says are special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise, he says the relationship with Turkey, a NATO and trading partner has been very good.

Joining us now from San Diego in California is Kimberly Dozier, a CNN Global Affairs Analyst as well as Contributor to the Daily Beast. Kimberly, thanks for coming in.

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KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (via Skype): Absolutely.

VAUSE: OK, this is the U.S. president who we know is a transactional guy. When he spoke to China, Xi Jinping, he did a deal. I won't talk about democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, as long as we keep these trade negotiations going. In Ukraine, it was basically military aid, you know, for an investigation into Joe Biden. So, I guess the question is, what's the deal that's been done here with Erdogan, because that readout of the phone call on Sunday was, you know, very, very lacking in detail, to say the least. So, you know, was there a trade deal here? There's $100 billion trade deal, was there, you know, a deal to allow Turkey to buy F-35 parts, the U.S. fighter jet? Was it Trump's own business? I mean, what do we know about this?

DOZIER: Look, President Trump has wanted to leave Syria for some time. He's tried to do this once before in a similarly precipitous fashion, which is why former defense secretary Jim Mattis quitted. So, you don't need Erdogan to offer him much beyond saying, Hey, this is our area, this is our territory, we would like to take it back. And President Trump, this is music to his ears. I don't think he understood exactly what he was agreeing to or announcing on Sunday night.

The problem is, the Kurds have been burned once before like this, they're simply not going to trust him again, everybody knows he wants out. National security officials around him we're trying to kind of manage up a slow departure, kind of to slow this car crash down and make it less destructive. But once again, he has showed everybody that he wants to go for the exits. And that means that our former Kurdish allies and others in the region, are going to look to others like Russia, like Syrian dictator, Assad, as their supporters in order to survive.

VAUSE: There's this sort of, you know, Trump, chaotic foreign policy where we normally knows where they stand. You know, one day he was warning Turkey of economic destruction. On Tuesday, very different tone, at least with the tweets. Here's one of them, "So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States. In fact, they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 fighter jets." That goes on, "also remember, and importantly, that Turkey is a important member in good standing of NATO. And Erdogan is coming to the U.S. as my guest November 13th." I mean, it's just the usual Trump inconsistency or is there something else here?

DOZIER: Well, you know, yes, Trump has done business in Turkey before he was president, Ivanka Trump tweeted out something about congratulations to Trump Towers in Istanbul opening. But the fact of the matter is he made a campaign promise that he wants to leave Syria, and he does want to improve relations with Turkey. And therefore, all of this fits into the pattern of him looking for the simplest way out. And then, you could see what happened after he got his military briefing Monday evening, he ratcheted back from some of his quick reverse, once people had a chance to explain to him the fallout. And once also, Republican lawmakers in Congress started beating up on him. That's what he paid attention to. And that's when he tried to modify his previous moves from Sunday night.

VAUSE: Well, we all saw that tweet on Tuesday from the President, insisting the Kurds have not been abandoned, even though they have been abandoned. And as far as I can tell, this is the first mention of the Kurds by President Trump since that phone call with Erdogan on Sunday. It would seem to indicate that their fate, despite being special, wonderful people, is not uppermost smile in our most high end Donald Trump's mind.

DOZIER: I don't think he understands the difference between the different Kurdish groups, which ones are part of the alliance that has fought against ISIS, together with the United States has lost 10,000 people in the field. But look, there's something else that has been going on behind closed doors for the past several months. The U.S. and Europe have been trying to get several different countries in the region to take the ISIS prisoners, to take the ISIS families in. And those negotiations have gone well. They tried to convince Iraq to take in 3,000 hardcore fighters offered to build the prisons. But then, European officials came in and told the Iraqis, but you can't use Iraqi law against these people. You can't execute them.

So, Iraq says it's still considering it but certainly hasn't accepted them. As the national security team around Trump tries to explain to him all the reasons that this is taking so long to solve and all the reasons that those troops have to stay just a little bit longer. Well, eventually, he runs out of patients. We've seen him do this before.

[01:20:09]

He kind of feels maybe I'm being slow rolled. And then he decides I'm just going to announce the decision. And that's when reality steps in, and the blowback causes him to backpedal. The problem is, when he does this time and time again, he's losing the trust, not just of the Kurdish allies on the ground, but other allies across the region. Even in Europe, they're watching this and saying, You can't trust a deal with this guy because at some point, he might change his mind and on the spur of the moment, turn against you.

VAUSE: Yeah. And we have, as you say, we've seen that time and time again. Kimberly, thank you. Good to see you.

DOZIER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Three weeks until brexitmagedon and absolutely no one surprised, negotiations on a new withdrawal deal have all but collapsed. And true to form, treated for a side blames the other. Plus, the National Basketball Association may soon discover the cost of free speech after riling up the notorious city thin-skinned Chinese leadership.

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VAUSE: Sometimes when faced with no good options, the best thing to do is to stand on principle, which is what the NBA is Commissioner seems to be doing. Adam Silver is now standing up for free speech. In the face of Beijing's angry response to a tweet from Houston Rockets, General Manager Daryl Morey supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Initially more in the NBA apologize, but now Silva says, he does not want to send suppliers or team owners over China or any issues that matter. The leak he says is motivated by more than money. Let's see, because that stance could cause access to China, one of the NBA's most important markets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM SILVER, COMMISSIONER, NBA: I understand that there are consequences from that exercise, in essence, his freedom of speech. And you know, we will have to live with those consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Access to China's consumers has been crucial for profit growth, for a number of U.S. companies and organizations like the NBA. CNN's Paula Newton reports on the company which have caved in the face of Beijing's political demands, selling out principal in return for access to more than a billion customers.

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PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: NBA is hardly the first U.S. business to find itself in sticky territory over Chinese politics.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Everyone needs to be clear that if you are doing business in China, your political views will be sanitized in favor of the Beijing government.

NEWTON: Beijing often publicly reprimands companies that run afoul of its political preferences. The unspoken threat that they could lose access to China's giant consumer market. Major U.S. airlines and the Marriott Hotel chain changed their Web sites after China complained that they listed Taiwan as an independent country. China consider Taiwan which is governed separately as an integral part of its territory. The Gap issued a sincere apology after it left Taiwan off a map of China printed on a T-shirt. Just a few of the more visible examples of U.S. companies complying with the Chinese government's request, which can also include working with a local partner, storing cloud data inside China, and abiding by censorship rules. ISAAC STONE FISH, SENIOR FELLOW, ASIA SOCIETY: They feel like in

order to succeed in the fabled Chinese market with its 1.4 billion customers, that they have to follow both the stated dictates of the Communist Party and the unstated dictates. There's these set of ever shifting norms that a lot of American companies feel like they need to really just get a handle on in order to succeed.

NEWTON: On rare occasions, companies have decided China is just asking for too much. Google had shut down its China's search engine in 2010, which had abided by China's censorship laws, after it discovered a hack targeting Chinese Human Rights Activists. In contrast, LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft continues to censor its Chinese site in accordance with local government guidelines.

And as Hong Kong's protest continue, more and more us businesses may face the dilemma, stand behind freedom of speech or risk the ire of China.

FISH: It would be really nice if U.S. companies found a way that they could work together so that when people wanted to speak out, they could. And Beijing realized, well, we can't pick them off and punish them and make examples of individual companies because they're standing strong.

NEWTON: How the NBA handles the situation going forward could determine a path for future U.S. businesses, choosing between profit and principles in China. Paula Newton, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Up next, we'll play the Brexit blame game. The so-called leaders of the U.K. and the E.U. blame each other for what was truly inevitable.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. Thank you for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The Trump administration is blocking testimony from a key witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry. The U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, was due to appear before three House committees on Tuesday. Democrats accuse the White House of obstructing Congress. The White House is saying it would not cooperate at all and calls the inquiry unconstitutional.

Turkey plans to send troops into northern Syria shortly to clear out terrorists. The Kurds who helped defeat ISIS and was backed by the United States say an attack from Turkey would kill thousands of civilians and could cause a humanitarian catastrophe.

President Trump has began calling U.S. forces away from the region. He is also warning Turkey against attacking the Kurds. Brexit negotiations appear to be on the brink of collapse with

relations between Britain's prime minister and the E.U. turning a little nasty. Boris Johnson says it's all German chancellor Angela Merkel's fault and her insistence that the Northern Ireland remains in the E.U. Customs Union.

European Council president, Donald Tusk wasn't taking that. He accused Johnson of playing what he called a stupid blame game, and had no intention of making a deal.

CNN's European affairs commentator, Dominic Thomas, is with us now from Los Angels. Hey -- Dom.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Hi, John -- how are you?

VAUSE: I'm good. I'm probably better than Boris Johnson I think at this point.

So far as the E.U. is concerned though, these talks are not over. They're still ongoing? Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MINA ANDREEVA, EUROPEAN COMMISSION SPOKESWOMAN: From our side, what we can reiterate is that E.U. position has not changed. We want a deal. We are working for a deal with the United Kingdom and there are no circumstances where we accept that E.U. wants to do harm to the Good Friday agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know the talks aren't dead. They're on life support, and someone put a pillow over its face. The only reason it seems why, you know, they've still got the boardroom in Brussels and ordered the biscuits and tea, is optics, right? Neither side wants to be the one who calls this all off?

THOMAS: And especially the European Union. The European Union, you could argue the situation is worse than it has been throughout this whole process. You're on the third British prime minister since the 2016 vote.

And in fact, you could argue that under Theresa May, at least she was able to strike a deal with the European Union, a deal which failed multiple times to make its way through parliament. That Boris Johnson was incapable of striking a deal with the European Union with his Brexiteer cabinet. And even if he did, there is absolutely no way at this stage that he would make his way -- make his way through parliament.

[01:34:59]

THOMAS: Ideally what the European Union would like would be for the British government to come to the European Union, with a deal that has the backing of the parliament and not just the backing of the small Brexiteer unelected cabinet.

And that's where the problems lie. And the European Union is absolutely united and the 27. And they do not want to be blamed for the failings of this particular prime minister and his group in the U.K.

VAUSE: Here's part of CNN's reporting quoting a source from within the British government. This seems to be truly remarkable. Here we are.

"These talks are reaching a critical point", according to the source. "The U.K. has moved a long way and now we need to see some movement from the E.U. side."

You know, time and time again, E.U. officials were adamant. Repeatedly they said there would be no significant renegotiations. The deal was done. Maybe tinkering on the ideas but that was it, it was over and done.

So why would anyone on the British side think there could be a different outcome?

THOMAS: Well, there is no -- this is absolutely striking and I think that all throughout this process you can see that this is completely disingenuous. Boris Johnson's cabinet were appointed precisely because they agreed to back potentially a no deal.

The people around him like Rees-Mogg and others are absolutely committed to completely extricating themselves from the European Union. And in order to keep within that union, Northern Ireland, it has been absolutely clear in a red line alone that the European Union would not compromise the border situation, on the island of Ireland. And that means maintaining ties with the European Union around a single market in the customs union.

And until the U.K. government goes to the European Union with some kind of consensus agreement, which has been the problem all along is that no side of this equation is willing to come to the table and negotiate and come up with some kind of quantity and consensus there. Each holding on to their own particular views and positions when it comes to Brexit.

Whether it's the Labour Party's five points or whether it's the Brexiteer vision of a no deal and of taking themselves out of the European Union.

VAUSE: Well, just as a reminder Merkel reportedly told Boris Johnson the only solution on the question of a border on Ireland with Northern Ireland is staying in the Customs Union, for it to permanently accept E.U. single market rules on trade.

To which the Brexiteer, Nigel Farage, then set his hair on fire and tweeted. No British government could ever accept Germany telling us that part of the U.K. has to stay in the E.U. The choice now is clear, a clean break Brexit, or stay in a new militarized empire. Time to choose freedom. You know, let's put freedom or not freedom to one side and put it on

hold for a little bit. What will be the outcome here? Will it be a no deal Brexit? Or will hear of another extension?

THOMAS: Another extension -- John. Look, we've already had the one from March to April. They're getting longer and longer. And we went from April to Halloween, and now the European Union is talking about potentially moving this all the way down to the summer period.

What's interesting about that potential 6-8 month extension is ultimately, the European Union wanting that to be some kind of break on this. It's unlikely that Boris Johnson is going to be able to go back to them with a new deal and the European Union would like to see either a general election, or a second referendum that no matter what, the British people have to evolve on this particular issue.

And it's interesting that he targets Angela Merkel here. There's a lot of debate about really what went on in that phone conversation. But if there's any leader in Europe today that has understood what it means to negotiate, to work across party lines, it is Merkel, and her 14 years of being in the German government, who's had to work across party lines, and form coalitions.

And this is what has been lacking in the Brexit process over the last three years. Each side is so completely entrenched. And the irony of this all is that a Brexit deal actually lies, whether one likes it or not, somewhere towards the center maintaining closer ties to the European Union and those are red lines for Boris Johnson and his Brexiteer cabinet.

And until they step away from that, there is no way -- John.

VAUSE: Very quickly, let's listen to Boris Johnson, a prime minister who has failed his country again and is yet to have a significant win as prime minister.

Here he was arriving at an event talking about environmental protesters a few hours ago..

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: My own team didn't want me to come to this event tonight because they said that there were some uncooperative crusties (ph) and protesters of all kind littering the road. And they say there was some risk that I would be egged on my way in here.

And so I immediately asked the faint hearts in my private office, what would Margaret Thatcher have done tonight? What would Maggie do?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: What would Maggie do?

THOMAS: John -- she's turning, jumping -- I don't know what the expression is -- in her grave right now. VAUSE: Yes.

[01:39:51]

THOMAS: Because in so many ways, neither the Conservative Party nor the Republican Party in the United States where similar things are going on, look anything like they used to in that past. And I think that there are people that are deeply worried and deeply concerned about not just their own party lines that where this -- where this goes down -- down the road. And we're still no closer to any kind of solution in this problem -- John.

VAUSE: Dominic -- thank you so much. Good to see you.

THOMAS: Thanks -- John.

VAUSE: A break.

When we come back, cities worldwide grinding to a standstill -- the work of the Extinction Rebellion protesters. They say it's a minor inconvenience compared to what's at stake with climate change.

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VAUSE: A nationwide curfew is in effect in Ecuador where six days of violent protests has forced government out of the capital to a coastal city.

Part of a reform package for a loan from the International Monetary Fund requires the government to cut fuel subsidies, and that sparked the unrest. Thousands of indigenous protesters have barricaded roads into Quito. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons. So far, almost 700 people have been detained.

And, in just a few hours, Extinction Rebellion activists will be back on the streets of London, demanding stronger government action on climate change. They're again planning to block roads and take over 12 sites in the city. Further protests are planned for the next two weeks in dozens of cities around the world.

Already, nearly 800 Extinction Rebellion activists have been arrested worldwide in just this last two days. And you can expect a lot more.

Thanks to you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

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