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Several Key Witnesses Scheduled to Appear before Congress; Turkey Intensifies Ground Offensive in Northern Syria; Power Outages Begin in California to Prevent Wildfires; Veteran FOX Anchor Signs Off; Typhoon Hagibis Makes Landfall in Japan, Leaving at Least One Dead; Ethiopian Prime Minister Awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired October 12, 2019 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A blistering attack on U.S.' president's conduct, the former ambassador to Ukraine points the finger to Trump during her testimony.

And growing crisis in Syria. Thousands of people flee as Turkey presses on with its deadly offensive in northern Syria. We'll have a live report for you.

Also ahead this hour, the wildfires ripping through southern California, we take you to the front lines as those fires continue.

We are live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta and we welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell, the CNN NEWSROOM starts now.


HOWELL: 4:00 am in ATL, Georgia, good to have you with us.

It's been a brutal few days for the U.S. president. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, now reportedly facing an investigation by federal prosecutors. According to "The New York Times," investigators want to know if Giuliani's involvement with Ukraine violated federal lobbying laws.

And the former ambassador to Ukraine testified before Congress, Marie Yovanovitch detailed how Giuliani and President Trump smeared her reputation to Ukranian officials in an effort to get her fired.

And that prompted nearly 30 former state and national security officials to demand the secretary of state Mike Pompeo defend her. However, it was the State Department, which Pompeo heads, that tried to stop the testimony in the first place.

Also this -- the acting Homeland Security secretary has resigned. Kevin McAleenan was on the job just six months and is now leaving, according to a Trump tweet, to spend more time with his family and to work in the private sector. Sources say McAleenan was frustrated at running a department that was becoming more political.

For her part, Yovanovitch told lawmakers on Friday that the president wanted her out because of what she called, quote, "unfounded and false claims," this according to her statement as obtained by "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times." Our Alex Marquardt has the story.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch defying the Trump administration, appearing before lawmakers, after the State Department tried to block her testimony.

Yovanovitch responding to a subpoena by House Democratic leadership, leveling a stunning allegation, telling lawmakers, according to "The New York Times," she'd been removed from her post by President Trump because of "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives," referring to efforts by the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

"I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me," Yovanovitch wrote in her statement, adding, "but individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption in Ukraine."

The former ambassador talking about Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of Giuliani's associates who were indicted yesterday for trying to use political contributions in order to get her fired. Yovanovitch was known for his anti-corruption work.

MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The old oligarch system is still clinging to life, and corruption is its life support.

MARQUARDT: She also said in her opening statement, "The harm will come when bad actors in countries beyond Ukraine see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system."

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): It is incredibly alarming that the secretary of state is not standing by our career people, incredibly alarming that she points out that private citizens -- in this case, Mr. Giuliani and others -- were having a shadow of diplomacy into Ukraine.

MARQUARDT: As the impeachment inquiry deepens, Yovanovitch is the latest in a string of key interviews. On Monday, former White House adviser Fiona Hill is set to testify, someone who had a pivotal role in the president's dealings with Ukraine, but who a source tells CNN will testify she was unaware of some aspects of the Ukraine scandal.

Also next week, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who was blocked by the White House last from being deposed, he is expected to now show up under subpoena.

GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Well, President Trump has not only honored me with the job of being the U.S. ambassador to E.U., but he has also given me other special assignments, including Ukraine.

MARQUARDT: He was a top aide on Ukraine. Text messages show he was well aware of the president's desire for an investigation into Joe Biden and his son.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Of vital interest to the committees is Ambassador Bill Taylor, another career diplomat currently running the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. He was clearly uncomfortable with the pressure being put on Ukraine by President Trump.

Texting Sondland, "Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?"

Sondland responded, "Call me."

Taylor has been asked to testify. It is unclear when that may happen or if the administration will try to block his testimony as well.

MARQUARDT: With Taylor, Sondland and Yovanovitch, there are now three ambassadors who either are or may be going against the orders of their bosses to testify.

We don't know what the consequences will be for them, what it will mean for their jobs. But Yovanovitch did not hold back today.

She said that, under President Trump, the State Department has been attacked and hollowed out from within -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: As for the president's feelings about the impeachment inquiry, he made that quite clear at a rally in Louisiana on Friday saying this.


TRUMP: The radical Democrats politicians are crazy. Their politicians are corrupt their candidates are terrible and they know they cannot win an election so they are pursuing an illegal invalid and unconstitutional bullshit impeachment.


HOWELL: The president of the United States, also facing judicial setbacks, five federal courts demonstrated the legal limits of his strategy to carry out plans on immigration and even his financial records may be finding himself in trouble with that. Our Ariane de Vogue explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: There were big losses for the Trump administration in court on Friday. The first, a powerful appeals court based in D.C. ruled that President Trump's accounting firm had to turn over eight years of financial records to a House committee, that is a big defeat for the president who has been fighting on several fronts to keep his financial records out of the public eye.

Now the ball is in the court of the president. He can appeal that decision to a larger panel of judges on the appeals court or go directly to the Supreme Court.

And on issues related to immigration, three courts blocked the Trump administration's so-called public charge rule, it was set to go into effect next week.

Under the rule, immigrants who might rely on public assistance like food stamps would have a harder time obtaining legal status like a green card. Two of the judges issued a nationwide injunction, blocking the rule across the country.

Finally, on another immigration-related subject, a different federal judge in Texas held that the national emergency declaration the president issued to build the border wall was unlawful, the ruling will block funding for now but it is likely to be appealed. Several big losses on a Friday for President Trump -- Ariane de Vogue, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: And now let's get perspective on all of the headlines with Inderjeet Parmar, a professor of international politics at City University of London.

Good to have you with us.


HOWELL: And let's start with Rudy Giuliani, his activities in Ukraine allegedly digging up dirt on the Bidens, "The New York Times" reporting that Giuliani is now facing an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether he broke any federal lobbying laws with two of his associates who were arrested for campaign finance violations and even Giuliani's own client seems to be distancing himself from the former mayor of New York. Take a look at this.


QUESTION: Is Rudy Giuliani still your personal attorney?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to him. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He is a very good attorney. And he has been my attorney.


HOWELL: But we do know that Giuliani is the president's attorney, he still remains the attorney so far.

So how much longer, who knows?

Given what we know so far though, should Giuliani be concerned?


PARMAR: Well, I think if you are an associate of President Trump's, you should always be concerned because President Trump values loyalty to the leader, to himself, well over loyalty to anyone else.

And in a way that goes to the very heart of, I guess, his personality but also the kind of organization that he ran and runs in the Trump Organization. And I think that mentality has not changed, probably has deepened with now the leadership of the United States in the White House; that is, loyalty to the leader and leader alone.

And I think that has wide repercussions for the kind of attitude towards law, attitude towards the Constitution, attitude towards other institutions, which are there, established for 200-plus years, to hold accountable the leader of the United States, the president, other means within the Constitution, the legislative and judiciary, for example.


PARMAR: So I think that therefore Giuliani is always going to be somewhat unstable as a result of this kind of attitude the president has.

HOWELL: And again the question of how much longer he remains the president's personal attorney, we look back at Michael Cohen, who held a similar role. But as the heat picked up, Cohen was quickly dumped from that role.

Let's talk about the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who testified, explaining to Congress at how she says Giuliani was involved in ultimately getting her pushed out of the door. Here again the president of the United States distancing himself from her. Watch this.


TRUMP: Well, she may be a wonderful woman. I don't know her. But she may be very much a wonderful woman.

If you remember the phone call I had with the president, the new president, he didn't speak favorably. But I just don't know her. She may be a wonderful woman.


HOWELL: As we continue though to see these key officials choosing to tell their stories, going against their bosses to do so, the White House remains defiant, refusing to cooperate in this inquiry.

Do you see that strategy holding up in the weeks possibly months to come of testimony and questions?

PARMAR: I think that it will be increasingly difficult. At the very beginning of the impeachment kind of process or inquiries, you can say whatever you like; you can block this, try to block that, threaten if you like people from testifying.

But now subpoenas are being issued, now I think, with Yovanovitch's testimony and statement, I think others may be emboldened to come forward as well. Others will comply with their subpoenas as you mentioned next week.

So I think that it will be increasingly difficult for the White House to be able to hold out on this because, if you look at opinion polls, people are watching closely. There has been a big shift towards impeachment inquiries. And as people turn their attention to the detail, it will be much more difficult.

The only thing that I can suggest is that there will be an attempt to slow it down by dragging their feet, by challenging and so on. But I don't think that it will be possible for them to stop it entirely.

HOWELL: We've seen the efforts before to slow these investigations down but the question, how does that play in the months to come leading up to an election. We'll see. Inderjeet Parmar live for us in London, thank you.

PARMAR: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead, a growing crisis that is playing out at the Syrian-Turkish border, hundreds of thousands of civilians there fleeing the fighting as it continues and rages on. We're live along the border with a report for you ahead.

Plus the United States announces new deployments to Saudi Arabia, we'll explain why troops are being sent in.





HOWELL: There is growing concern about the scale of Turkey's ambitions in Syria. A U.S. official says Turkey could be trying to control a wider area than just the northern border, where it is hitting Kurdish targets with artillery and airstrikes. Now the U.S. president is considering new sanctions against Turkey.


TRUMP: So Turkey and the Kurds have been fighting for hundreds of years. We are out of there. But we have a tremendous financial strength which I've helped a lot with because our country has become much stronger since I've been president by many trillions of . And if Turkey does something that they shouldn't be doing, we will put on sanctions the likes of which very few countries have ever seen before.


HOWELL: The Pentagon says U.S. forces in Syria came under fire from Turkish artillery. No U.S. troops were harmed but Turkey denies firing on those American troops. The fighting on both sides of the border though has escalated and civilians are caught in the middle of it all.

The U.N. says at least 100,000 people have been displaced so far. We go live now to Arwa Damon. She is at the border where funerals just finished for six people killed in the attacks -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George. We are in the border town at the cemetery where earlier this morning there were as you mentioned funerals for six of the eight people that were killed in mortar strikes that took place inside this town.

The mourners, the friends, family, loved ones of those who died in those attacks, quickly buried them and moved on. There are a couple men as you can see there who just arrived a short while ago, saying their final farewells.

Now the reason why the main crowd moved on from here, George, is because as they were telling us, they were worried that they could create a potential target because so many of them were gathered here and because civilians as you were saying there have been caught in the crossfire.

Now this town is right across -- you can see in the distance, the Syrian city where the population here is pre-dominantly Kurdish. And many people who live here, they do also have relatives on the other side.

And they were telling us that first of all they felt as if Turkey should have done more to try to secure them on this side of the border. They are very concerned that they are continuously going to end up being caught in this crossfire.

They however, in this particular town at least, those mourning here told us that they didn't want to flee because this was their land, these were their homes. But they were also saying, given the ties that they have to the Kurdish population on the other side of the border, that they were pained by all of this.

When someone on that side dies, they said that they felt pain.


DAMON: And when someone on this side dies, they felt pain as well.

HOWELL: And as the offensive carries on, I mean it is pushing many, many people deeper into Syria, what does Turkey hope to accomplish with this operation?

DAMON: First of all, the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish fighting force that Turkey views as a terrorist organization effectively, one and the same as the Kurdish separatist group that has been battling for decades, the PKK, they want to push they are saying the YPG away from their own border.

What they are hoping to do and they most certainly, militarily speaking at least, have the upper hand in terms of military might and assets that they bring to this battlefield, is create what they are calling a safe zone.

So clearing 30 kilometers deep into Syria and then potentially hundreds of kilometers along the border. But what this is going to invariably do, as we have already seen taking place, is push the population on that side of the border deeper into Syria. And most of the population is Syria's northern Kurdish population.

What Turkey is also planning to do, and it is worth pointing out that it is highly unlikely that the Syrian Kurds were pushed out and would come back to live under any sort of potential Turkish governance or Turkey rule in these areas that they do clear, assuming that they are successful, so what Turkey has said that it is planning on doing is also using the safe zone as an area that the Syrian mostly Arab refugee population inside Turkey can then be relocated to.

But these are Syrians who aren't necessarily from this part of northern Syria. And so it is hard to see a scenario where the demographics along this border don't somehow change.

And then, of course, when we talk about this offensive, which is incredibly complex, it is very unlikely that it will remain contained to the border region. And so there is a lot of tension on this side of the border, a lot of concern.

And then, of course, on the other side of the border, which is really bearing the brunt of this offensive, there is a lot of fear and concerns. No one at this stage exactly knows how this will play out or what the consequences will be.

HOWELL: As the tensions continue to play out, Arwa, thank you for the report.

The United States has pulled forces from northern Syria. And it is now sending additional troops into Saudi Arabia. Matthew Chance is there and has this report.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you add this latest deployment of 1,800 U.S. troops to the other deployments that have been made over the course of this month, it brings to 3,000 the number of additional U.S. forces that have been deployed here to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the past month alone.

So that is a significant ratcheting up of the U.S. presence here. And I think it is designed to send a very powerful message that, first of all, the United States considers the security of Saudi Arabia to be of the utmost importance. And it sends an additional message that it continues to flow in U.S.

personnel and forces, even at times when it is pulling out forces from other parts of the Middle East, in order to back up Saudi Arabia and bolster its defenses.

As this escalating tension continues between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival, Iran, of course, this announcement coming on the heels of the latest incident off the coast of Saudi Arabia, in which an Iranian oil tanker about 60 miles or so from the Saudi port of Jeddah was attacked by two missiles.

Initially the Iranian tanker company pointed the finger of blame squarely at Saudi Arabia, saying the missiles had been launched from there. But later the Iranian authorities clawed back on that, on the fact that pointing the finger like that could severely ratchet up tensions.

But clearly, given the other incidents we've been witnessing, it was just last month that the Saudi oil facilities were attacked, cutting production by a half for several weeks. Only now getting them back in line. An attack blamed on Iran for carrying out.

You can see that the escalation of tension in this region is ratcheting up and that is a deep concern to the players here and also to Washington as well.


CHANCE: Matthew Chance, CNN, Riyadh.


HOWELL: On the West Coast, wildfires are scorching northern Los Angeles. Many people there had no time to think, they only had time to run. We take you to the front lines next.

Plus a powerful storm takes aim at Japan, that storm already dropped a great deal of rain and more rain is on the way. CNN is live in Tokyo with the very latest, stand by.




HOWELL: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live. I'm George Howell OIG with the headlines we're following for you this hour.



HOWELL: A major wildfire is tearing through neighborhoods in southern California. More than 30 homes have already been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes. Although some are beginning to return, officials say that the Saddleridge fire is just 13 percent contained. Our Sara Sidner has this for you.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Firefighters battling the high Santa Ana winds and low humidity here in California as several fires rage.


How is the freeway not closed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That car is so close to that fire.


SIDNER (voice-over): The fire burned so furiously, people here in Porter Ranch say they had no time to think, only time to run.


ANDRO MAMMO, PORTER RANCH RESIDENT: I heard a scream like I've never heard before. My dad said, it's in our backyard. It's in our backyard. But in a way that I've never heard him scream before. So that's literally that keeps like repeating in my head as we speak.

SIDNER: When you hear your father screaming like that, what did you see when you looked out?

MAMMO: When I looked out, I looked into my backyard and I saw the flames and I saw how close it was. My number one instinct wasn't to grab any clothes or anything but it was to get my little brother and my little sister who were asleep at the time.


SIDNER: So far flames have devoured more than 2 dozen homes but the concern is things could get worse. The winds are whipping so fast and the humidity is so low that embers are being strewn all over the place here in Porter Ranch, forcing firefighters to try to put out fires in many, many different spots.

SIDNER (voice-over): Two fires have been burning, one burned through a mobile home community in Calimesa overnight, leaving one person dead and two missing. About 100 miles away, another fire is burning in Porter Ranch, a sprawling community in the hills, creating chaos and heartbreak.

FLORIDA VILLALTA, PORTER RANCH RESIDENT: I was just crying because our house is gone because, I said, if it crosses that fence, that's it, because I can sees flames going higher and higher and closer, and so then I said oh, my God.

SIDNER (voice-over): So far 100,000 people have been evacuated. In northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric has been shutting down power to thousands of homes, the company says that it is trying to prevent electrical lines sparking more blazes.

The company's power lines were blamed for starting 10 fires this year and the Camp Fire that devastated Paradise last year. The outages have stirred anger in the north even as the destructive fires have grown in the south this time.

About 1,000 firefighters are now on the scene in southern California, trying to fight back against the blazes from the ground and the air. But they worry they may not be winning.

CHIEF RALPH TERRAZAS, LAFD: This is a very dynamic fire. Do not wait to leave. If we ask you to evacuate, please evacuate.

MOJGAN DARABI, SYLMAR RESIDENT: I'm so worried. I'm worried about everybody.

SIDNER: Many residents hoping that their home does not end up like there one, this is the only one on this street that ended up burning as firefighters have been fighting fiercely to keep those flames from hitting other homes. They are hoping that the winds die down. Back to you.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about what is happening with Thomas Fuller, he is the San Francisco bureau chief for "The New York Times," not only reporting on the fires but also dealing with them in his own neighborhood.

Thomas, thank you for taking time with us.


HOWELL: Let's start out with the latest on the fires. Fire crews report that the Saddleridge fire is growing.

FULLER: So yes, there are two fires in southern California. One of them has led to 100,000 evacuations. And a smaller fire has destroyed more structures but it has had fewer evacuations. But they are both being pushed by very strong winds that happen every year in the fall in California.

HOWELL: And talk to us about the forecast, the expectation, given that weather certainly is a main factor here.

FULLER: Yes, well, you know, California has this kind of desert climate in the summer months. In many parts of the state, it doesn't rain a drop from, you know, April until about, well, November.

So by the time you get to late fall, everything is very desiccated. And when the winds whip up, that is the very dangerous combination that we're seeing now, that we saw last year. We had that horrific fire in northern California that killed 86 people.

And then the year before that, it was right around the same time of year -- as a matter of fact it was almost two years exactly this week, that we had the fires that went through Wine Country north of San Francisco that did a tremendous amount of damage as well.

HOWELL: Also PG&E decided to turn off power, leaving people upset, angry and feeling helpless.


HOWELL: What are you hearing?

FULLER: This has never happened before in California. Because of those fires in northern California the last two years, the largest electricity company in the state decided to turn off the power for millions of people. It was a deliberate power cut that lasted for some people several days.

We're at the tail end of that now. But you can imagine that, you know, a society that is very much connected to the grid online, interconnected, really struggled when the power went off. We had just very strange juxtapositions.

I mean, this was happening just at the doorstep of Silicon Valley, this was happening in the very wealthy San Francisco Bay area, although not in San Francisco itself. And it was happening all the way up to the Oregon border.

So you had this very wealthy, developed state, the fifth largest economy in the world, having this tremendous power cut, deliberate power cut. And the idea is that electrical equipment in the past has caused a number of very serious fires, including the one that killed 86 people last year.

And so if you turn the power off, the idea is that you might be able to prevent one of these horrible fires.

HOWELL: I've never, as a reporter, been right in the center of a story that I was reporting on like you are doing right now. You are dealing with this. You've written about your personal reflections of the power outages and fires as they make their way to your front door.

What is the situation right now in your neighborhood?

FULLER: Things have calmed down a lot. We had -- I'm in a suburb of San Francisco. And we had quite a hectic week, where the power went out. And several hours later, there was a fire directly across from my house. And so many neighbors were evacuating.

And all the while, we were supposed to be writing about it. It wasn't a very large fire, only about 50 acres. But it really brought home what many people have suffered through in, of course, much more serious conditions than what we had here.

But you know, fire is such a threat for every community across California at this time of year. Things are so combustible that you do have dozens of dozens of fires in a month, some of them as small as the one we had here. But then you also have these huge conflagrations that authorities can do very little to solve. HOWELL: It must be very difficult obviously to watch this yourself and so many other people who are in the same situation. Thomas Fuller, we wish you safety and we'll stay in touch with you.

FULLER: You're welcome. Thanks so much.

HOWELL: And here in the United States, a surprise announcement came from the chief anchor at the FOX News network. Listen.


SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is my last newscast here. Thank you for watching today and over the decades as I traveled to many of your communities and anchored this program, "Studio B," and "Fox Report," plus endless marathon hours of breaking news.

It's been an honor and my pleasure. Even in our currently polarized nation, it's my hope that the fact will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.


HOWELL: The distinction between opinion host and journalist, Shep Smith, journalist, there, well-known to fact check the president, calling him out when he is wrong, that has caused conflict with FOX commentators and those opinion hosts and sometimes with the U.S. president himself.

Shepard Smith joined the company when it started in 1996. Sources tell CNN that the conflict between the news division and its opinion shows drove Smith out the door. His colleagues at FOX clearly did not know that this was going to happen. Here is their reaction right after his last broadcast.


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Whoa. I'm Neil Cavuto and like you, I'm a little stunned and a little heartbroken. I don't know what to say. John, I apologize at being a little shell-shocked on this other development here, but take it away, sir.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I've just been trying to compile my thoughts too, Neil.


ROBERTS: I walked out here to do the hit and suddenly got hit by a subway train.


ROBERTS: Holy mackerel.


HOWELL: Shepard Smith a journalist at FOX News. For now, there will be a rotation of other anchors to take his place.

It may be limited but a deal is still in sight, the U.S. and China call a halt to their trade war. CNN is live with the story for you.




HOWELL: This story just in to CNN. We've just seen an incredible example of human endurance in athletics. Kenyan distance runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours' time. The race was in Vienna, he finished in 1:59:40. It smashes the previous world record, which was his own, by about 1:40.

However, it was an unofficial marathon so it won't be recognized by the sport's governing body because it was not an open competition.

There is a truce in the trade war with China. The United States will not increase tariffs next week after the two reached an agreement. It is called the first phase but the U.S. president says the deal is substantial. Let's go live now to Shenzhen and David Culver is on the story.

David, we understand that the president saying this is good news for American farmers.

What does it mean for China?

Is it a slam dunk?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president calling it the largest deal that has ever been made for American farmers, George. He pushed that out several times as he was promoting this deal after meeting with the vice premier from China in Washington.

And he also said this will affect intellectual property, it affects exchange and currency rates.


CULVER: And ultimately it will smooth over the relationship between the U.S. and China. That is how he is portraying it.

Here in China, they are likewise portraying it in a positive way, calling it substantial and they are saying that this is a step forward towards better relations. And it will help the world as a whole.

Now I should point out our setting here may throw s folks off. We're at the basketball court where Lakers and Nets will be taking on one another for the pre-exhibition games in China.

All of this is all of this is connected though. The link is Hong Kong. The crisis between the NBA and China started over a tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters. And according to two sources, they tell us that the phone call in June between President Xi of China and President Trump was a discussion that talked about President Trump saying that he would remain quiet when it comes to Hong Kong and hence allowing a trade deal to come through.

So there is this underlying connection that has to do with Hong Kong, just a few miles over the border from where we are here.

Going forward, what does it mean for China as far as the benefits?

China says that they will get out of this influx of soybeans and pork, they will be importing $50 billion worth according to President Trump, so that will help U.S. farmers. And they need the pork here. They have had a crisis with swine flu that has left a huge shortage.

So they help them and they will also benefit from not seeing a step up in tariffs next week. Supposed to go from 25 percent to 30 percent. That has been pushed off.

But the deal as a whole as you point out, phase one -- President Trump says maybe phase two, maybe phase three. He is not quite sure. Phase one he says will likely get done over the next several week, probably about five weeks is the timeline that he puts it at.

And that puts us at the APEC summit where Trump and Xi will both be together outside of their respective countries and perhaps that is where this deal will be inked.

HOWELL: David Culver, thank you for the reporting.

A line of protesters is on the march in Hong Kong. It is the 19th straight weekend that we've seen these pro-democracy movements. Some marchers even covering their faces.

That is not against the law after the city's leader announced an emergency -- it is now against the law, I should say, after the emergency measure banning masks. Other protests planned include a sit-in for elderly and a demonstration at a shopping mall.

A powerful typhoon is fast approaching Japan and threatening to hit the capital with a lot of wind and rain. We're live in Tokyo with the latest.






HOWELL: In Japan a very strong typhoon is set to make landfall in the next few hours but it is already causing damage. At least one person was killed and five others injured when a tornado touched down near Tokyo. The storm has grounded more than 1,000 flights, disrupted train

service and canceled major sporting events. Japan has issued its highest possible weather warning. Let's go live to Tokyo with Paula Hancocks on the story.

Paula, tell us what is the scene there now as this storm gets closer?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in the center of Tokyo here and you can start to feel the gusts of winds picking up. And there is an awful lot of rain, this is the biggest concern we're hearing from authorities at this point, the sheer rainfall.

They are concerned that records will be broken with the amount of water that is going to be around. As you say, there has been a warning by the Japanese agency, level five is the highest level it can be and that is what they have put out today, saying that it is important that people make sure that they are protecting themselves and protecting their lives.

There have been some very serious warnings about people staying inside. And we have seen that to some extent. Every now and then you will see a car go past but not that often.

Sporting events have been affected. The Rugby World Cup is here, two matches canceled today. We'll have to see what happens to those scheduled for Sunday. And also disruption to the Formula 1. So as this does approach landfall, we are feeling that the rain and wind is increasing here in Tokyo.

HOWELL: Paula, we'll continue to watch this with you. Thank you.

Ethiopia's prime minister has won one of the world's most coveted awards, the Nobel Peace Prize. The awarding committee says Abiy Ahmed deserves recognition for his role in ending the 20-year war with Eritrea. But still a great deal of work do if the peace is going to survive. Eleni Giokos has this report


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner is a rock star kind of politician who emerged from Ethiopia in 2018. Abiy Ahmed is the first ever Ethiopian prime minister from the Oromo people.

For years, the Oromo have been the largest of Ethiopia's 90 plus tribes but never in power. But last year came Abiy, young, popular and with a zeal and a haste to reform.

Political prisoners were freed. A state of emergency scrapped and freedom of expression returned like rain after a long drought.

It was Ethiopia's fall of the Berlin Wall moment but not everyone was supportive.

Two people were killed in a grenade attack at a political rally Abiy attended in June 2018. Abiy cost blame on groups wanting to undermine his agenda of peace.

But a much larger threat had long gone unresolved, what would Abiy do about the old enemy, Eritrea?


GIOKOS (voice-over): The two-decades-old war began as a vague border dispute between the two countries and estimated 100,000 people died.

Then came a breakthrough in July 2018, Eritrean president, Isaias Afwerki, landed in Ethiopia to cement peace with Abiy.

Months later, the border between the two countries reopened and Eritrea, sometimes dubbed, Africa's North Korea, was suddenly opened to the world.

A final peace deal was signed in September 2018 in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Accepting the Peace Prize, Ethiopian prime minister's office says Abiy has made peace, forgiveness and reconciliation key policy components of his administration.

But as the chair of the Nobel Committee said, many challenges remained unresolved.

BERIT REISS-ANDERSEN, CHAIRMAN, NORWEGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE: There's a long way to go. And Rome was not made in a day and neither will peace and democratic development be achieved in a short period of time

GIOKOS (voice-over): -- Eleni Giokos, CNN.


HOWELL: And then finally this hour, an actor best known for playing the tough guy in Hollywood, Robert Forster, has died after battling brain cancer. He appeared in more than 100 films and TV roles often as the villain.

He is known for his work in "Reflections in a Golden Eye" and "Medium Cool." He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Jackie Brown." He was 78 years old.

We thank you for watching this hour, I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Let's do it again. More news right after the break.