Return to Transcripts main page

THE BRIEF WITH BIANCA NOBILO

Turkish Offensive In Northern Syria; Growing Fears About ISIS; Rudy Giuliani Associates Arrested; Deadly Attack In Germany; U.S.-China Trade Talks Resume In Washington; Irish P.M. Varadkar Sees Pathway To A Brexit Deal. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Tonight, on THE BRIEF, Turkey says more than 170 people have been killed in its offensive in Syria. Now hear President

Erdogan's message for Europe.

Two associates of President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have been arrested. How this is connected to the impeachment inquiry? And hope

for Brexit breakthrough on that thorny issue of the Irish border. We'll explain.

Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo. And welcome to the show. Turkey is escalating its military offensive in northeastern Syria, vowing to prevent

what it calls a terror state along its southern border. Turkish troops are attacking Kurdish fighters, who have been for years been key U.S. allies in

Syria, for second day, as they attempt to carve out a buffer zone.

They're now reportedly seizing several villages with the help of Syrian rebels. And groups of hundreds of thousands of civilians could be at risk.

Turkey says it's killed 174 terrorists since the offensive began.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Syria Thursday. Six European countries issued a joint statement afterwards calling for this

offensive to end.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JURGEN SCHULZ, DEPUTY GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We are deeply concerned by the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria. We call up on Turkey to

cease the unilateral military action, as we do not believe it will address Turkey's underlying security concerns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: But Turkey's President remains fiercely defiant. Earlier Thursday, he issued this warning for European critics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Hey, European Union, pull yourself together. I say it again. If you try to label this

operation as an invasion, it's very simple. We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Along with the humanitarian concerns in Syria, there are growing fears that the Turkish offensive could allow ISIS militants to regroup or

even escape prisons under Kurdish control. U.S. President Donald Trump is downplaying that threat and says two of the most dangerous ISIS members,

part of the British cell, known as the Beatles, have already been transferred to U.S. military custody.

And just minutes ago, Mr. Trump said it's possible he could apply tough sanctions on Turkey for this offensive in Syria but also expressed hope

that the U.S. could mediate some kind of resolution.

CNN has reporters on both sides of this border that we're talking about. Clarissa Ward is in northern Syria and Nick Paton Walsh is on the Turkish

side. Here's some of their reporting from earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Over the last few minutes, the shelling in Tal Abia to its eastern side had intensified. This

is the first time we've seen black smoke like this across the skyline.

Behind me there, you could hear the continued blasts landing. And throughout the morning, we're seeing intermittently these shells landing

often over in this direction where we've seen Turkish army personnel carriers come from inside Syria. They have said the ground invasion (ph)

started. That was visual evidence that in fact to come back into Turkey. But clearly here the violence is escalating.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we have been seeing throughout the course of the morning is a steady stream of artillery

coming in from Turkey, hitting various targets all around where we are.

And I'm sure you can see in the background behind me, those block plumes of smoke. They aren't actually from strikes. They appear to be from burning

tires. Kurdish forces have been burning tires in an apparently coordinated attempt to create some kind of a smoke screen to try to protect themselves

from this incoming artillery. We've also heard some outgoing artillery too. So the Kurds are trying to defend themselves. They are trying to fight

back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Clarissa Ward joins us now live from northern Syria. Clarissa, phenomenal reporting as ever. President Erdogan has said that they're

killing terrorists. But on the ground, as you've shown us as well, we've seen women and children fleeing their homes. So, are we seeing a

humanitarian crisis unfolding here before our eyes?

WARD: Well, Bianca, there is definitely a crisis unfolding in the sense that we now know some 60,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

That number is expected to rise to hundreds of thousands in the coming days. And this is already a war zone, Syria, or much of it is a war zone

and extremely unstable. So this could potentially destabilize the situation even further.

It is worth noting that from what we have seen, this Turkish military operation does appear to be targeting military sites, Kurdish fighting

forces. We have not seen any evidence of civilians being targeted though, of course, there have been reports of at least several civilians being

killed as a result of the shelling and air strikes that have been pretty much consistent throughout a number of different towns in this region

across northern Syria, where that border is shared with Turkey.

[17:05:00]

We were in that town. You heard in that clip you played at Tal Abia earlier on today a steady stream of artillery hitting sites around the town. But as

I said before, they did appear to be striking Kurdish forces. And those Kurdish forces were also hitting back. We heard at least two or three

rounds being fired outgoing from Syria into Turkey. And reportedly, there were at least three casualties also on the Turkish side of the border,

Bianca.

NOBILO: Clarissa Ward in northern Syria, thank you.

Now, to a story that could have a big impact on the U.S. presidential impeachment investigation. It involves two men who worked with President

Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as he tried to dig up dirt on Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Bond is set at $1 million apiece for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman who made their first court appearances just hours ago on charges that they've

funneled illegal donations to U.S. politicians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interest

of at least one foreign official, a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: That Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was recalled from Ukraine in May. U.S. House Democrats leading impeachment inquiries have already issued

subpoenas ordering Parnas and Fruman to turn over documents.

Our Jessica Schneider is at the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

Jessica, can you help us untangle this web? How does this case relate to the wider impeachment inquiry?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question here, Bianca. So it turns out that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman actually

could be key figures in this broader Ukraine impeachment inquiry. And that's because of a few things.

First of all, the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has said that these two men helped him dig up dirt in Ukraine on the President's

political enemies, including Joe Biden. Rudy Giuliani has also said that these two men introduced him to former and current Ukrainian officials.

And this indictment also talks about the fact that these two men pressured a former U.S. congressman, who we've learned is Texas Republican Pete

Sessions, to help get the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, fired. Of course, we know that she was relieved of her duties in May,

partially at the behest of Rudy Giuliani.

So these two men could be crucial to that Congressional inquiry. But in the meantime, they were arrested at Dulles Airport just outside Of Washington,

D.C. on Wednesday night. And we've learned that this took some swift action from prosecutors.

Prosecutors didn't actually intend to unseal this indictment this morning, but they had to after that they learned that these two men had one-way

tickets to Frankfurt, Germany, en route to another location. So these men, along with two other people, they're charged with conspiracy, false

statements, and also funneling foreign money to U.S. elections.

Part of this indictment says that they actually gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Trump-aligned super PAC and that they gave some of the

contributions in part at the urging of a Ukrainian official. They're also said to have funneled in about $1 million from a Russian national to go to

other political candidates in Nevada for other purposes.

So this is a big tangled web, Bianca, that has tentacles here in Virginia, also the southern district of New York, and of course, Congress. These two

men appeared here in federal court in Virginia today. They're currently being held on $1 million bond. But once they're released here, if they are

anytime soon, they'll actually have to face those charges in New York.

So there is a lot happening that these two men could provide a lot of insight, perhaps, to this broader impeachment inquiry. Bianca?

NOBILO: A tangled web, indeed. Jessica Schneider, thank you very much, for bringing us the latest.

In the last hour, Democrats have subpoenaed Energy Secretary Rick Perry for key Ukraine documents. This as the White House continues its stonewall

tactics against the growing impeachment inquiry. But waiting to see if two key witnesses are allowed to testify - the former U.S. Ambassador to

Ukraine tomorrow and the President's former top Russia adviser next week.

Ukraine's President is weighing in on the July phone call with the U.S. President, Donald Trump, to help spark this impeachment inquiry. Volodymyr

Zelensky says that there was no blackmail, and he also brushed off questions about the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

CNN's Sam Kiley was at that news conference in Kiev.

[17:10:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM KILEY, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Have you had any details, have the U.S. - has Mr. Trump come forward--

(CROSSTALK)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: No. USA didn't give me - they gave me nothing. Gave me nothing. Any details on Burisma and the - and any

detail - I didn't get any details about involved to your elections - the previous elections.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: President Trump is seizing on those comments, tweeting that this should end all talk of impeachment. Meanwhile, sources are telling CNN that

a Trump political appointee was involved in freezing aid to Ukraine despite concerns from officials.

Now to Germany, where the government says the threat of anti-Semitism is high. This after two people were killed near a synagogue and a kebab shop

in the City of Halle. Prosecutors now say there's no significant evidence linking the 27-year-old suspected gunman to right-wing terrorist groups.

CNN's Melissa Bell is there in the city, as it mourns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Flowers and candles left in tribute this Thursday morning just outside the door that saved so many lives on

Wednesday. It was just beyond it inside the synagogue that more than 50 people gathered to mark Yom Kippur. It was the security system installed

here on that door several years ago that prevented Stephan Balliet from carrying out his plan and getting inside the synagogue. The security

system, however, could not save the woman he shot just outside.

BELL (voice-over): These pictures caught by eyewitnesses show the attackers that unfolded on the streets of Halle on Wednesday.

CNN is not showing the video captured by the assailant himself in live streamed on the video streaming site, Twitch. It clearly shows the gunman's

frustration with his malfunctioning weapons. The condemnation of German leaders was swift with the prosecutors saying that the gunman purely

intended to cause a massacre. The German President visited the synagogue on Thursday.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, PRESIDENT, GERMANY (through translator): It is not enough to just condemn such a cowardly attack. It is clear that the state

is responsible for its Jewish communities in Germany. And it is equally clear that the entire society must take a stand, show solidarity with the

Jewish citizens in our country, as the citizens have hailed it last night and will continue to be doing. And we must show our solidarity not only on

days and events like this.

BELL (voice-over): A vigil was also held outside the synagogue this Thursday with some of those who had been inside, returning to the scene.

They described 10 terrifying minutes before the police arrived.

JEREMY BOROWITZ, WORSHIPER: The truth is in the moment you don't really have time to feel. You just react. And I think that's what we did. We

reacted. And it's only today that I think we're really able to really start feeling.

BELL: This is the kebab shop just a few hundred yards from the synagogue where Stephan Balliet's rampage ended and where he killed his second

victim. What the live-streaming of his attack shows is that once his clear anti-Semitic motivation and his frustration at his inability to do as much

harm as he had hoped.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Halle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBILO: Going back to Washington now. U.S. President Donald Trump says the first day of high level talks with China went very well. This is the 13th

round of negotiations coming as additional tariffs on China are expected to take effect next week. President Trump also announced he'll meet with the

Chinese Vice Premier tomorrow.

So, are we going to see any progress in these talks? I sat down with CNN's Richard Quest and asked him what the key points holding up the negotiations

are.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think we're at such a point where they may in fact are talking is a positive. I know that's a very low

bar, but that's the situation. And what we're really going to see here is not so much a big deal being done. There's no way they will be able to

cobble together something of huge proportions.

But what they can do is try to deescalate the tension. And that can be in a variety of ways. Maybe by just announcing certain common areas that they

can agree on and, most importantly perhaps, taking the threat of further tariffs that are going to come in from the U.S. off the table. It's about

confidence-building measures at this point.

NOBILO: Those common areas that you were talking about, is that what's encompassed by a mini deal that we hear people talking about at the moment?

QUEST: Yes. The mini deal, they'll buy this if you buy that, we'll do this, we'll open up that. And - but Donald Trump has specifically said on

numerous occasions, he doesn't want mini deals. He wants a big grand deal. But we know that they're the difficult ones to get, particularly when

you're asking a country like China to revolutionize its trading structures. So that's not going to happen any time soon. I think you're looking at

confidence-building, mini measures, little deals that might just provide the impetus for something bigger.

NOBILO: So a mini deal could, in the long run, lead to more comprehensive sweeping trade deal?

[17:15:00]

QUEST: If - if Donald Trump goes along with it. But if he stubbornly sticks to this idea that we haven't gone this far down the road, only to give in

by the Chinese offering to buy more soy beans or whatever it is that they can offer, the mercantilistic approach that the Chinese always take in

these things, if they manage to avoid that, then there could be the potential for a larger deal. But I don't think they will.

NOBILO: Richard Quest, thank you.

These trade talks come amid the NBA's ongoing standoff with China. Tensions began after an NBA general manager tweeted support for pro-democracy

protests in Hong Kong. A pre-season game in Shanghai went on as scheduled despite threats to cancel the match. But at a Houston Rockets game in

Japan, the postgame news conference was tense. See what happens when CNN Anchor Christina Macfarlane asked a question about the standoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN WORLD SPORT CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR: The NBA has always been a league that prides itself on its player and coaches being

able to speak out about political and societal affairs. I just wonder after the events of this week and the fallout we've seen, whether you would both

feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future.

ROCKETS' PR: Excuse me, we are taking basketball questions only.

MACFARLANE: It's a legitimate question.

ROCKETS' PR: It's not.

MACFARLANE: This is an event that happened this week during the NBA.

ROCKETS' PR: It's already been answered. We're taking basketball--

MACFARLANE: This particular question has not been answered. James?

ROCKETS' PR: Any other questions?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: The NBA later issued an apology saying that this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducted media events.

An upbeat assessment of the possibility of a Brexit deal (inaudible) as the Irish and British prime ministers say that there's a possibility to a

pathway to a deal. A debrief ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: Could there possibly be a flicker of light at the end of the Brexit tunnel? Talking about a meeting between these two men, Britain's Boris

Johnson and Ireland's Leo Varadkar, they've been loggerheads over the one big sticking point in the whole process. What to do with the 500-kilometer

long Irish border?

Britain suggested that Northern Ireland leaving the EU Customs Union at the start of 2021 would solve it, but Northern Ireland still continuing to

apply EU legislation on goods if approved by Northern Ireland's assembly. That plan was unacceptable to Ireland and the EU because (inaudible) it

would mean the return of customs checks at or near to the Irish border.

Now, after Thursday's conversations, Mr. Varadkar says that he sees a pathway to a deal and it could happen by October the 31st.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEO VARADKAR, PRIME MINISTER, IRELAND: I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement to have a treaty and agreed to allow the UK to leave

the EU in an orderly fashion and have that done by the end of October. But there is many steps between (inaudible) and lots of things that are not in

my control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:20:00]

NOBILO: The pound certainly liked the news, sterling jumping 1.5 percent on this positivity. All this comes a week before a crucial EU summit where

Britain's future is likely to be hashed out.

Now, he may be an ocean away, but my next guest knows all about the Irish border situation. Brendan Boyle is a Democratic Congressman whose parents

grew up close to the Irish border. He joins me now from Capitol Hill for the debrief.

Congressman, it's great to have you on the show. Now, your father is an Irish immigrant. Your mother's family were also Irish immigrants. So you

pay a lot of close attention to this. How is the political crisis in the Brexit deadlock, the government instability here in the UK being perceived

where you are?

REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-PA): Yes. Well, thank you for having me on. And as you mentioned, I obviously have personal knowledge and a strong interest in

the border situation. But it's really not just about me. The fact of the matter is that there are many members of Congress, both Democrats and

Republicans, who care deeply about ensuring that we preserve the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement.

This was a major achievement, yes, of British, yes, of Irish, but also of American foreign policy dating back to the 1990s. And the United States has

invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Irish peace process. That's why we feel so strongly that the Good Friday Agreement needs to be

preserved. And make no mistake about it, if the UK were to leave the EU in such a way that it violated the Good Friday Agreement, that would be a

significant problem for many of us here on Capitol Hill, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

NOBILO: Because you introduced back in January a resolution opposing the re-establishment of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and

Northern Ireland. So my next question would be then, if Britain does end up leaving the European Union either without a deal or in a way which

necessitates the return of some kind of border infrastructure, your President, Donald Trump, has promised a magnificent trade deal with the UK.

But in that instance, would you want to veto that trade deal in support of the Good Friday Agreement?

BOYLE: Well, I'm happy to reiterate what I've already said. Going back to April, I walked along the border between the County Donegal in the Irish

Republic and right next door in Northern Ireland, walked it with Speaker Pelosi as well as about eight or so House colleagues of mine.

We made clear at that point and have repeated it numerous times that there is no way that we could approve in Congress any free trade agreement with

the United Kingdom as much as we might want one. We simply could not approve one in good conscience if leaving the EU violated the Good Friday

Agreement in any way, such as the re-creation of a hard border. That simply would be too dear a price to pay, and it's not something we're interested

in doing.

NOBILO: If I could move to Syria now, we were just talking about this earlier in the show. And now President Trump in his previous election

campaign reiterated many times that he wanted to withdraw American troops from the endless wars in the Middle East. He's essentially delivering on

that to some extent in this move to withdraw from Syria. But what do you object to in the way that the President is going about this?

BOYLE: Well, I will take issue with your premise. I don't think this is delivering on a promise of ending endless wars. In fact, I believe that

removing the relatively small residual force that we have there now in northern Syria will actually lead to more war. And we're already seeing

that over the last 25, 26 hours.

The reality is the Kurds were important allies in our joint effort to defeat ISIS, which has largely been successful. It started in 2015, 2016,

the tail end of the Obama administration. And that has continued through the last few years of the Trump administration.

To suddenly turn our back now just because President Trump was rolled in a phone conversation with Erdogan, frankly, it's a disgrace and it's tragic.

I've been heartened by the sort of bipartisan opposition we have seen to this administration's position. I think it's now time for Congress to act

in a bipartisan way to make sure we limit the damage that has already been done by this unwise decision.

NOBILO: And finally, Congressman, how confident are you in the case that the Democrats are making for the impeachment inquiry into the President,

the evidence that you've collected? Are you concerned at all that it's going to backfire politically on the Democrats in 2020?

BOYLE: I think, regardless of the politics of it, it's just the right thing to do.

[17:25:00]

I have had noticed that the last few weeks we have seen considerable movement in terms of opinion polls in the United States. Just a few weeks

ago, only about 35 to 38 percent of the American people supported impeachment inquiry.

Now, in the last 48 hours, we've had four different opinion polls that have put support for impeachment inquiry over 50 percent. I think the public

opinion has been moved on this issue, the same way many of my colleagues had been moved because of the overwhelming amount of evidence. We have to

move forward with this impeachment inquiry. It's the right thing to do. And it is increasingly becoming the popular thing to do.

NOBILO: Congressman Brendan Boyle, really appreciate you coming on the program. Thank you for your time.

BOYLE: Thank you. Thank you.

NOBILO: When THE BRIEF returns, these Iranian women are doing something that they haven't been allowed to do for decades. Attend a football match.

But human rights activists say still more needs to be done.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: We end tonight with the decision that could have big sporting and cultural ramifications in Iran. For the first time in 40 years, Iranian

women were allowed into the national football stadium to watch their country play. The ban isn't written into law, but it was put in place

shortly after the revolution in 1979.

It comes off to pressure from human rights groups and FIFA and follows the death of a female fan who set herself on fire after she was denied access

to a football stadium. Initially, 3,500 tickets were issued for female fans. They sold out, reportedly, in under an hour. So more than 1,000 more

were released. FIFA is calling the change a positive step forward. But Human Rights Watch is sounding a warning, calling the cap of 4,600 female

fans discriminatory, deceptive, and dangerous.

So, will women be allowed to attend in the future? FIFA says it will take the next steps to ensure future access for Iranian women once it's

performed a thorough assessment.

That's THE BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo. "WORLD SPORT" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END