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White House Not Cooperating with Impeachment Inquiry; President Trump Says U.S. is Not Abandoning a Great Ally; Protests in Ecuador Erupts; More Calls for Climate Change Action; A Tweet That Muddy the Sports World. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 9, 2019 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN Newsroom. It's 8 a.m. in London, 3 p.m. in Beijing. From CNN headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Rosemary Church with another half hour of news from around the world. Let's get started.

The inquiry standoff in Washington. The Trump administration blocks a key witness from testifying and House Democrats responded with more subpoenas.

Turkish forces at with the Syrian border just days after the U.S. president announced he's pulling troops from the area. We will have the latest from the ground and now what the vulnerable Kurdish groups are saying.

The NBA takes a stand. The commissioner of the league is speaking out over the Chinese backlash to a tweet from a team's general manager.

And we begin in northern Syria where Kurdish forces say turkey is already shelling position along the border, they want a no-fly zone enforced. The Turkish government communications director says troops will cross into Syria shortly in an operation to root out terrorists.

It comes just days after Donald Trump announced he was pulling U.S. forces out but he warned Turkey against unnecessary attack on the U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS.

He tweeted that the U.S. maybe in the process of leaving Syria but in no way has abandoned the Kurds who he says a special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise, he says, the relationship with Turkey, a NATO and trading partner, has been good.

So let's bring in CNN international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. He is near the Turkish-Syrian border. Good to see you, Nick. What is the latest information that you have from there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, it's clear, that Turkish officials are sort of sounding the drumbeats increasingly loudly as we possibly edge towards the beginning of an operation. But at the same time, we hear from Republican critics in Washington,

particularly Senator Lindsey Graham the notion of heavy potential bipartisan economic sanctions, and a bit of roll back from President Donald Trump in his what seem to be initial blank check for a Turkish operation against the Syrian Kurds.

Quite what that doing in terms of the Turkish calculation is unclear. They have been uncharacteristically loud about how an operation is starting shortly.

Driving along the border here you can see a fair amount of hardware on the move, not everywhere. Frankly, this is a vast expanse of territory but between two of the towns which seem most analysts to be the focus of any potential operation on the Syrian side, Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad. There are certainly, a fair degree of hardware there.

Now the Turkish military heavily equipped, NATO trained, NATO will -- I mean, absolutely superior to the Syrian Kurds they will be fighting have long complain in the fight against ISIS, frankly, that they lacked the proper armored vehicles and proper heavy machine guns to do that fight frankly for the U.S.-backed coalition for the west really when they say lost almost 10,000 people.

So, it's unlikely there will be much opposition put down for them. The issue of course will be if they try and hold urban areas, hold territory for a long period of time.

The question is, when and how extensive and possibly still even if. If the noises from Washington are enough to change the calculus of President Erdogan. How much?

Well, it maybe that they start with small parts of territory that are relatively uncontested pause, and then continue and go further. It's really unclear frankly when the noises are consistently very soon.

But I have to tell you too, it's in certainly, the interest of all parties concerned to continue beating this drum, at least the Syrian Kurds constantly on the defensive reassessing it.

And for the Syrian Kurds to suggest that they are potentially under imminent attack would at least keep the world's attention on many of the case, I think it's fair to say their side at this point.

But as exactly when we see this begin, we simply don't know, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And talk to us about what the Kurdish forces are saying, and just how vulnerable they are?

WALSH: Well, certainly, overnight they have said that there have been attacks by ISIS sleeper cells in some of their key infrastructure inside Raqqa, which used to be the de facto capital of the ISIS caliphate and is now a lot of it rubble, are urgently trying to rebuilt and controlled by those Syrian Kurds with a large Sunni Arab population.

[03:05:03] They've also talked about how they been shelled over the border. We've not heard shelling here. I mean, obviously, it's broad daylight in the morning here.

But there will, of course, be a lot of efforts by the Syrian Kurds to continue to amplify the stress that they are in and be in no doubt if the Turkish military, the second largest army in NATO decided to fully mobilize and walk in, it could potentially be devastating for Syrian Kurdish fighters standing in their way.

But we don't know, as I say the extent of the operation moving forward as the Syrian Kurds, I think possibly heartened by the sheer volume of support they've got from circles frankly around Donald Trump that would normally support the president at all costs. So very clearly walk forward and said that this should not be occurring.

But the broader question has always been in this part of northeastern Syria, what becomes of the lands which the Syrian Kurds seized off ISIS when they got U.S. backing to move forward, and where exactly does that leave the large Sunni Arab population that were partly assisting ISIS to take up residence and partly fled ISIS advance?

That's been a long-outstanding question for which there hasn't really been an obvious answer yet. So, Turkey says that they're just simply returning lands to the Sunni Arab population that were pushed out by the Syrian Kurds kicking ISIS out.

The Syrian Kurds say well, we led very peaceful communities here and we obviously shouldn't be on the receiving ends of Turkish military's violence. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Nick Paton Walsh with that live report from near the Syrian- Turkish border, many thanks to you.

Well, U.S. President Donald Trump could be staring down another court battle as Democrats push ahead with their impeachment inquiry. The White House is refusing to cooperate and even put their refusal in writing.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats on Tuesday. As a further sign of things to come the State Department has blocked Mr. Trump's E.U. ambassador from testifying.

Democrats responded by hitting Gordon Sondland with a subpoena. He's emerged as a key figure in the Ukraine scandal over a series of controversial texts.

The White House claims the inquiry is illegitimate and is now all but daring Pelosi to hold a formal to make it official. The House speaker has resisted so far and continues to call out President Trump's behavior.

But Mr. Trump's Republican allies in the House are once again coming to his defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president is obstructing, obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need. He is -- that is an abusive power for him to act in this way. And that is -- that is one of the reasons that we have an impeachment inquiry.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): The American people are getting screwed by an enraged liberal activist-based demanding impeachment. They don't even care what the crime is, they don't care what the facts are, they don't care what the evidence is.


CHURCH: A source familiar with the White House strategy to fight this inquiry says all options are on the table.

CNN's Manu Raju has more now from Capitol Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The White House and Democrats again on a collision course after the White House made clear that they would not comply with the Democrats request for information because they believe this impeachment inquiry, in the White House's view, is not valid. Because in large part, the House is not taking a vote to formalize an impeachment inquiry.

Now, as the Democrats have been arguing all along, they don't need a vote to formalize an impeachment inquiry. Nancy Pelosi has said that is not what she -- she is not going to be pressured by the president to hold a vote. And she also has some practical and political realities to deal with the situation.

Practically, it could take up a lot of time. It's difficult to draft a resolution like this. It would require a lot of consensus. It could be a distraction. Also, it could also give Republicans an opening to argue that they should have subpoena power.

That's something that in past impeachment inquiries the minority party has been allowed to have subpoena power. They're saying that they would be --should be able to do that, something that the Democrats of course would almost certainly not allow.

And also, it could politically could put some Democrats in a difficult position back home, particularly ones who represent districts in Trump seat. Trump seats -- district that Trump carried back in 2016.

Now this all comes amid this push to bring in more witnesses in front of these House committees. There are questions about whether more witnesses be brought from attending after Ambassador Sondland of the -- the ambassador to the European Union did not appear yesterday.

Well, if others have not appeared as well, Democrats are warning that they will essentially rule all of that in to an article of impeachment against this president for obstructing Congress and abusing power if he does not comply.

So, we'll see where this ends up. But at the moment Democrats may not get the evidence that they are looking for even some Democrats say they already have all the evidence they need.


Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

CHURCH: Well, the U.K. speaker of the house is famous for calling for order during heated debates. Now John Bercow has his says as he prepares to leave parliament.

Plus, extinction rebellion activist are defending their disruptive tactics as they continue to storm major cities around the world demanding greater action on climate change.

Back with that in just a moment.


CHURCH: Well, little hope remains for Brexit deal at this point. Talks are ongoing despite escalating rhetoric.

Boris Johnson blames the lack of progress on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her insistence that Northern Ireland remain in the E.U. customs union.

In response, European Council President, Donald Tusk, accused Mr. Johnson of playing what he called a stupid blame game with no intention of concluding a deal.

Well, the outgoing speaker of the House of Commons says the division over Brexit has led to the worst debates he's seen in 22 years in parliament.

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Bianca Nobilo John Bercow rejects the prime minister's claim that parliament is frustrating the will of the people, and he denies accusations he's favored the remain side.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: A potential way to resolve the deadlock, which has been put forward in some (Inaudible) press, has been a national unity government. And most recently, there's been talk with the fact that some people would like you to leave that. Is that something you'd ever consider?

JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS: I think that is absolutely unreasonable that anybody would seriously think that that is likely resolution.

And if you're saying, am I soliciting by my favor (Ph) and thinking people are going to come to me and say, John, rescue us from the imbroglio. The result where I expect nothing of the sort, and I'm looking for nothing of the sort, and I am in fact very much looking forward instead to leaving the speakership.

NOBILO: One of 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. Now you are human, have you ever failed at that?

BERCOW: I've certainly made mistakes. I think that is almost unavoidable. And so sometimes people have said, the ruling that he gave there was more helpful to the opposition than to the government.

Now most of time I would stand by that and say yes, I made the ruling that I made, not to help the opposition rather than the government, but to help the scrutiny of the people who wheel the levers of power. Specifically, on Brexit, if you were to cast back a number of years, all the evidences that when the conservative government was anti- Brexit wanted to remain in the E.U. under the leadership of David Cameron.


I gave the Brexit supporting minority, which was an important voice a chance to be heard, I granted them urgent questions, I allowed them to have emergency debate because their opinions needed to be heard.

In more recent times, seeing that the minority voices on the government benches of being remainers, that is t say those who are anti-Brexit or the voices of people who wanted to have a much softer Brexit, I thought, well, those voices must be heard. And I've given them that chance to be heard.

And now the Brexiteers are inclined to cry foul and say, no, that can't be right. But wait a minute. I thought the Brexiteers would in favor of taking back control of parliament being in the driving seat. Well, they can't have it both ways.


CHURCH: A nationwide curfew is in effect in Ecuador where six days of violent protests have pushed the government out of the capital to a coastal city.

President Lenin Moreno cut fuel subsidies as part of a reform package for a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Thousands of indigenous protesters have barricaded road in Quito. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons. Protesters have promised more unrest and a national strike on Wednesday.

Extinction Rebellion activists will soon be back on the street in London protesting the environmental group is demanding governments around the world do more to fight climate change. So far, nearly 800 have been arrested worldwide in just the first two days of this latest protest.

More now from CNN's Matthew Chance.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yet, another day of anti-climate change protest, not just here in London but in cities across the globe in what's become have coordinated mass campaign for environmental change.

Extinction Rebellion is the grassroots campaign group that's inspiring so many to turn out onto the street. Calling for a climate emergency to be declared, for greenhouse gas emissions to be brought to net zero by 2025 and for citizens assembly's to be formed to consult on environmental policy.

Supporters and you can see 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.


DAVID, PROTESTER, EXTINCTION REBELLION: We are part of this protest because we want the government to take us and the situation more seriously than they are doing.

CHAY HARWOOD, SPOKESMAN, EXTINCTION REBELLION: Now it's time for the government to really step up and put in place real-time legislative measures that not only will combat the climate crisis but will prepare us for when disaster strikes.

CHARMIAN, PROTESTER, EXTINCTION REBELLION: We know our generation are responsible for this emergency, and we're not going to be here to see what happens eventually. So, we just have to do everything we can while we're still here to protect our grandchildren and our great country.


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 weeks of protest here in London are being repeated elsewhere in Sydney, New York, Madrid, Berlin, Toronto, just a few of the cities where, as I say, similar protests like this one are being staged.

Of course, there are critics. The tactic of blocking off streets and targeting public transport is disrupting the lives of commuters. There's also lots of public resources being spent in policing the events and processing the hundreds of people who have been detained on public order charges.

There's also debate about what impact this kind of protest will really have on government policy or will they just be ignored.

What many of these protesters say is that the stakes are far too high to worry about the inconvenience their demonstrators cause. The inconvenience of continued change in the global climate, they say, would be immeasurably greater.

Matthew Chance, CNN, in Central London. CHURCH: Still to come on CNN, the National Basketball Association

does a 180 on a controversial tweet drawing from China. We'll have the details when we come back.



CHURCH: The NBA's commissioner is changing course and is now standing up for free speech while angering China. Adam Silver's stance is in response to this tweet sent out last week by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting pro- democracy protest in Hong Kong.

Now that tweet brought a harsh response from Beijing and initially an apology from Morey and the NBA. But now Silver says he doesn't want the sense of players or team owners over China or other issues arguing the league is motivated by much more than money even if it endangers the league's position in China, one of its most important markets.

Well, Chinese broadcasters immediately responded refusing to carry pre-season games.

So, let's turn to CNN World Sport anchor Alex Thomas who joins us now from Tokyo with more on that showdown. So, what is the latest?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Lots of moving development actually on the story, Rosemary, on the last hour or two. We know that Adam Silver is gone from here in Japan where the Houston Rockets are playing the reigning NBA champs the Toronto Raptors. Two pre-season games part of the NBA global games series.

And two more of those NBA global games are happening in Shanghai in China where the way Silver has flown to, to try and smooth things over. I think ultimately what happened is, he's decided that trying to toe the middle ground or thread the middle ground has not worked for him. He's getting criticism from the USA and criticism from China and just decided to stick to backing freedom of expression over trying to protect the Chinese anymore despite the potential billions of dollars the NBA could lose from its business interest in the country.

Certainly, David Culver, our correspondent out in China right now, he's been speaking to NBA fans who sys keeping the choice they'll choose China ahead of their love for basketball.

The NBA fan night scheduled for later in Shanghai has been canceled. An official NBA store has been ordered to remove Houston Rockets merchandise from its shelves. And all because of Silver's stance which he outlined to me when I spoke to him courtside here in Japan on Tuesday night.


ADAM SILVER, COMMISSIONER, NBA: I will say I'm a bit surprised that CCTV cancelled the telecasting of the preseason games, and specifically named me as the cause. It's interesting, and I hope at the same time in the U.S. media, there are some suggesting I'm not being protective enough of our employees.

Clearly, they're seeing it the other way in China. But I think at the end of the day we've been pretty consistent. And it's not our role to adjudicate these types of disputes, but certainly to provide a platform.

And I'm hopeful that, as I said earlier that by using sports people will have the ability to talk more openly about these issues and make decisions for themselves.


THOMAS: At the moment, Rosemary, the two games in China are going ahead between the L.A. Lakers and the Brooklyn Mets on Thursday and Saturday evening. But there's been a new statement released in the last few minutes from state broadcaster CCTV who are not showing the games on television because of this row.

And their latest statement, basically accuses Silver hypo criticism, saying so being hypocritical -- sorry -- because he said that freedom of expression doesn't cover that incident a few years ago when Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers was sacked for racist comments.

So, they're comparing, you know, the anti-dem -- you know, the pro- democracy protest in Hong Kong with racism which is interesting, and almost hinting really that the NBA board should sack Silver for sticking his neck out and confronting China in this way.

So, still a lot more of talking to be done before this controversy goes away. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Indeed. Our Alex Thomas bringing us the very latest developments on that. Many thanks.


Well, access to China's markets means big market for U.S. companies and organizations like the NBA.

Our Paula Newton looks at how some companies have handled Beijing's demand to fall in line with its politics in order to gain entry to China's growing consumer market.

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


IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Everyone need 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 in the Marriott Hotel chain changed their web sites after China complain that they listed Taiwan as an independent country. China considers Taiwan which is governed separately as an integral part of its territory.

The Gap issued a sincere apology after it left Taiwan off 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, store 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 where there its 1.4 billion customers that they have to follow both the stated dictates of the communist party and the unstated dictates.

There's this 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 too much. Google had shut down its China 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 U.S. businesses may face the dilemma, stand behind the 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 realize well, we can't pick them off and punish them in making 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.

CHURCH: And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Vital Signs is up next. But first, I'll be back with the check of the headlines. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.