Return to Transcripts main page
THE BRIEF WITH BIANCA NOBILO
President Trump: U.S. to Impose Sanctions and Raise Tariffs on Turkey; Syria's Escalating Crisis; Racist Chants Temporarily Stop England- Bulgaria Match; UK PM Makes Last-Ditch Pitch to Reach Deal by October 31. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired October 14, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF, President Trump vows to slap sanctions on Turkey, as its troops widen their offensive in Syria. Chants
from the stands halt an England-Bulgaria football match, as racism once again rears its ugly head. And as the Queen re-opens parliament, we'll take
a look at what could be another momentous week for Britain while the clock ticks down on Brexit.
Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo, and welcome to the show.
We want to begin with some breaking news out of Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump says he will use an executive order to slap economic sanctions
on Turkey in the face of its offensive in northern Syria, and he will increase steel tariffs. Mr. Trump also says U.S. troops, while leaving
Syria, will now remain in the region to monitor the situation and prevent repeat of the 2014 issue when ISIS raged across Syria and Iraq.
This follows an extraordinary 24 hours in Syria, as alliances broke down and shifted. Abandoned by the United States, the Kurds have now joined
forces with Bashar al-Assad and Russia for support against Turkey. Now, the Syrian government forces are on the move, pushing north into some Kurdish
towns, including the City of Manbij, which is also in Turkey's sights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT, TURKEY (through translator): There are many rumors at the moment. However, especially through the embassy and with
the powerful approach of Russia in Kabani, it appears there won't be any issues. On Manbij, just as we have made our decision, we are at the stage
of implementing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: You'll recall all of this was effectively set in motion by Mr. Trump's phone call last week with President Erdogan, saying he would pull
most of the U.S. forces out of the area, essentially clearing the way for Turkey to then move in.
In the face of the fighting, the U.S. is now accelerating its withdrawal. All of a sudden, things are changing very quickly in Syria after eight
years of civil war.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh was just there, and he tells us what he saw.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Each dawn seems to bring seismic change in Syria now and the darkness never
seems to end. This is commercially once the Syrian Kurds de facto capital, but now shuttered empty. The Internet partially off and drifting fast into
Syrian regime hands.
Every road, a story of people fleeing hatred, old or new, as land changes hands yet again.
WALSH (on-camera): Pretty much everywhere we've gone on so far this morning, we've heard either verified information or rumors that the Syrian
regime is coming, that they're moving fast into Syrian Kurdish territory, kind of in a land grab after that political deal with the Syrian Kurdish
leadership to seize as much territory as they can.
This is Tal Tamr, Kurdish, 24 hours ago, and Monday morning swarming with regime forces. And residents, they remembered what to say to them.
"I was hiding this picture of Bashar al-Assad," he says, "and now I raise it with the turn of the Syrian army. Down with Turkish President Erdogan."
The border was almost calm. Yet we're told as we left, we're welcome back anytime. But now, we should run.
WALSH (on-camera): It's time certainly to leave. It's possible even this border post behind us, where there's a sense of panic about what comes next
may even be in Syrian regime hands possibly in the days ahead.
WALSH (voice-over): 24 hours earlier, we began a simple trip to Kabani when it all collapsed. Gunfire, horror. The road blocked though by Syrian rebels
supported by Turkey that a U.S. official has said are mostly former ISIS and al-Qaeda. An American convoy pulled out. And we're quickly buzzed by a
And as we pulled back, Turkish military vehicles pulled up to the main highway. Turkey openly admitting it had taken a road most thought was far
from their plan. It was a defining moment, isolating American forces here. And the U.S. declared it was leaving.
MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We find ourselves as we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very
WALSH (voice-over): Yet those they abandoned continued to bleed. Turkey striking a convoy headed to the besieged border town of Ras al-Ain. Turkey
long said it wanted to do this, but nobody guessed it would be this brutal. America long said it would leave Syrians behind one day, but nobody thought
it would be so fast. And the regime long said they would retake as much of Syria as they could, but nobody thought the U.S. would make it so easy for
them and their Russian backers.
24 hours that changed how the world works, and 24 more hours in which Syrians bleed.
NOBILO: Nick is just back from Syria, and he is now in Erbil in Northern Iraq. And Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.
Kaitlan, let's start with you and talk about these sanctions, because last week we heard the Treasury Secretary talk about sanctions on Turkey, but
they weren't activated. We've now heard again from the White House that there's going to be sanctions on Turkey. But what type of sanctions, and
are they actually going to be imposed?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Still not activated. We've got a lengthy statement from the President and the White House today,
announcing that soon the President was going to authorize the imposition of these sanctions, but the keyword there is soon. They have not happened yet.
The President has not signed anything yet to the best of our knowledge.
So, essentially, what we are seeing is the statement from the White House saying, this is what the President intends to do, but he hasn't done so
yet. And we've seen the President in the past get pressured with sanctions on Turkey and not follow through that. So that is still an open question.
Also included within that statement, the President said he was going to increase those steel tariffs on Turkey back up to 50 percent where they
were in May before the President decreased them significantly. The impact that has, depending on how much steel they're still getting, is still
But the President also said he is going to instruct the Commerce Department to call off those talks with Turkish officials about moving forward with a
billion-dollar trade deal potentially with Turkey. So that's something that the President says is off immediately. Whether or not that's actually in
writing is still something that remains to be seen.
Another question here is the President is facing, essentially this bipartisan pressure on Capitol Hill, to do something here, is whether or
not President Erdogan is still slated to come visit the United States, as the last we heard from the Treasury Secretary, that was a visit that was
still on, had not been canceled yet. But of course, now that the President says he's going to impose these sanctions, we'll be waiting to see.
NOBILO: Thanks, Kaitlan.
And Nick, you've just been in Syria. And you were speaking in your piece about how this panic obviously about what might come next. Now, whenever
there is panic or chaos in the region, there's always a concern about how ISIS might try and capitalize on that.
In terms of the countries now involved and embroiled in this new phase of the conflict, who is taking responsibility to try and make sure that any
ISIS threat is contained?
WALSH: It's hard to tell at this point. Now, most of the idea we seem to be getting from U.S. officials is that the facilities that's held ISIS
detainees are probably still in Syrian Kurdish control. We heard on the ground suggestions that maybe the Syrian regime, as it begins to move
through areas there, is taking control of some of those facilities, but we weren't able to see that ourselves.
There's also a concern too that there could be breakouts as security begins to crumble. Makes it very easy for people to potentially bust out of some
jails. And then, on that too, the idea that Ain Issa, a refugee camp for a lot of ISIS families, and the enormous al-Hawl facility, where possibly
70,000 or so are held, they could also experience a deterioration of security. That just adds to the possibility of more ISIS sympathizer or
militant circulating in that area.
The big problem is that Turkey is using a Syrian rebel force that one U.S. official described to me as being mostly extremists, former ISIS, former
al-Qaeda. So the idea that Turkey is pushing in and potentially as the original deal with Donald Trump between President Erdogan suggested, Turkey
coming in and taking custody of these fighters, well, actually the people doing that particular re-arresting would potentially be ISIS sympathizers
themselves, according to that U.S. official.
It's all very complex, and there's large amounts of territory involved here. But the sheer fluidity of the situation means that if you are ISIS
sympathizer or if you are an ISIS facility being held as an ISIS member, then it's entirely possible you can find a new lease of life there, a
second life, as the U.S. official said to me, where they were concerned that potentially there were 100,000 jihadists that could congeal together
again, recreating a territorial space.
There's also lot of concern from a European intelligence official I spoke to that there's a high chance, some of these people if they escape, they
might try and get back to Europe. A lot could happen here outside of Syria, affecting the rest of us, but what's happening to Syrians themselves is
ghastly enough. Yet again, land changing hands at a frightening pace. Bianca.
NOBILO: Nick Paton Walsh in Erbil, thank you very much for your reporting.
Now, to more breaking news at this time out of Bulgaria, where racist chants temporarily halted a Euro 2020 qualifying match. The game between
Bulgaria and England had to be stopped twice. English players heard racist chants coming from the crowd. And then the referee stepped in, telling fans
to stop. After the second incident, fans could be seen leaving the stadium.
To break this down, CNN's World Sport's Don Riddell joins me now from Atlanta.
Don, I'm not a big football fan myself, but working in news, we see these stories, a lot seemingly, of racism rearing its ugly head yet again.
And even though we saw the organizers halting the match. I mean, is that sufficient? Is there not more they can do to try and stop this type of
DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR, WORLD SPORT: Well, I don't think it is sufficient. And I think people who are involved in tonight's game would say that it
wasn't sufficient and more has to be done. But Bianca, you're absolutely right. Racist abuse is on the rise in the beautiful game within football in
Europe. That has been well documented. And it has got to a point now where some of the top players like the players in the England team have said,
"enough is enough."
UEFA, football's governing body in Europe for about a decade, has had a protocol of how to deal with this, but it's never really been enforced. And
what was notable tonight was that the England team and their manager were united in basically making sure that the referee and the officials in
charge of the game did apply this protocol.
So that is why you saw that first delay in the first half so that a stadium announcement could be made warning the offending supporters that the game
was in jeopardy. There was a second delay of around five minutes towards the end of the first half. That was around the moment where you could see
that a rather large group of supporters was leaving the stadium.
The second half was played. More racist abuse and chanting was audible, but the game was completed. England won the game by 6 goals to no, which is
kind of immaterial in light of what has happened. But the England Football Association Chairman Greg Clarke has come out afterwards. He said that he
had demands, a stringent investigation by UEFA.
And crucially he said this. He said, we shouldn't take the moral high ground on this because racism is a problem in England too. It's not just in
countries like Bulgaria and Eastern Europe. It is a problem all over Europe, including in England, and everybody needs to do better to do
something about it.
But this does feel like it was a watershed moment. These England players stuck together. They stood up for themselves. Yes, they completed the game,
but they did take a stand. And you sense that in the coming days, we'll be hearing a lot more about it.
NOBILO: Thank you, Don. And you can catch much more on this story coming up on "WORLD SPORT" in about 20 minutes' time.
Now, this could be a crucial week in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump. His former top Russia adviser is testifying behind
closed doors on Capitol Hill today. Democrats hope Fiona Hill can provide further information on the administration's ethics to pressure Ukraine to
investigate one of Mr. Trump's political rivals.
Other key officials are scheduled to testify later this week, including Gordon Sondland. You may remember, he was involved in a text message
exchange about whether Mr. Trump was withholding aid to Ukraine as part of this quid pro quo.
Impeachment inquiry is certain to come up Tuesday night when U.S. Democratic presidential candidates square off in a televised debate in
Westerville, Ohio. You can catch the CNN and "New York Times" debate. It airs at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday in Washington. And that is 1:00 a.m. here in
London for all of you night owls.
Protesters are taking to the streets in Barcelona, following a ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court. Looking at live pictures right now. As you can
see, demonstrators are angry after nine people were sentenced for their part in a failed attempt by Catalonia to split from Spain in 2017. Police
say that they fired foam projectiles at protesters at Barcelona's airport.
Thousands of people are estimated to have shown up for the demonstrations. Adding to the tension, Spain Supreme Court also revealed it's reactivated
an international arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the former head of the Catalan government who's been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium.
A major search and rescue operation is underway in Japan after it was hit by one of the strongest storms in a decade. Dozens were killed in
widespread flooding and landslides, following Typhoon Hagibis. Christina Macfarlane has more on the rescue efforts.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Just days after Typhoon Hagibis tore through homes and infrastructure across Japan, a heartfelt
apology following a harrowing rescue going wrong. Tokyo's Fire Department saying sorry after a 77-year-old woman in Japan's Fukushima prefecture died
after falling 40 meters from a helicopter meant to carry her away from destruction caused by the massive storm.
A spokesman for the Fire Department told CNN that firefighters had failed to properly hook up the woman's harness. The Fire Department held a press
conference Monday to apologize publicly. The woman is just one of dozens killed as the typhoon left a trail of destruction across Japan.
Resident areas in Nagano prefecture in Central Japan were some of the hardest hit, after two nearby rivers burst their banks.
At least one house was seen collapsing into the flood waters before drifting downstream. A massive search and rescue operation is now underway
across the country. Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says more than 110,000 Police, Fire Department and Self-Defense Force staff are
taking part, some searching swollen rivers for the missing.
After their match against Namibia was cancelled due to the storm, Canada's rugby team was also on hand to help out, clearing debris and shoveling mud
from the streets. Some of Japan's famous Shinkansen bullet trains remain submerged in a flooded depot on Sunday, although rail services have now
Japan's Meteorological Agency says the storm has officially passed. Its warnings of flooding and heavy rain were set to expire later on Monday,
with the risk of landslides subsiding soon after.
Christina Macfarlane, CNN, Tokyo.
NOBILO: Still to come tonight, Queen Elizabeth lays out a roadmap for the UK, but parliament first needs to tackle Brexit, as the deadline closes in.
NOBILO: After a brief suspension last week, the British parliament has officially started a new session. Queen Elizabeth delivered her speech
before lawmakers on Monday, with all the royal pomp and pageantry. The Queen presented the government's agenda for life after the UK leaves the
EU, but of course, Brexit is a key component in the government's pitch to voters at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH II, THE UNITED KINGDOM: My government's priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on
the 31st of October. My government intends to work towards a new partnership with the European Union based on free trade and friendly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: British Prime Minster Boris Johnson must first solve Brexit without a governing majority if he hopes to tackle any of those domestic issues
with parliament. He used the opening session Monday to, again, push for an October the 31st split from Europe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, I - I concur entirely with my honorable friend. If it could be one thing more divisive, more
toxic than the first referendum, it will be a second referendum. Let's get Brexit done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Well, if Mr. Johnson wants to get Brexit done, he is relying on a number of events going his way this week. British lawmakers will continue
debating the Queen's speech before the European Council meets later this week. If the two sides can't reach a deal by the end of the day Saturday,
the British Prime Minister is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension with Europe.
Nile Gardiner is a British Conservative Commentator and Brexit supporter. He joins me now live from Washington for today's Brexit debrief.
Nile, very good to see you. I think the last time we saw each other was for another state event in Britain when the President was over. So great to see
NILE GARDINER, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR, FORMER AIDE TO BRITISH PM MARGARET THATCHER & DIRECTOR, MARGARET THATCHER CENTRE FOR FREEDOM: Great
to see you.
NOBILO: I think what struck me about listening to this Queen's speech is the fact that delivering on any of it faces three incontrovertible issues.
The first of that being securing a Brexit deal with the EU, and the second being passing that Brexit deal through parliament, and then assembling some
sort of working majority.
So now, do you think the Prime Minister is capable of doing any or all of those things?
GARDINER: First, Bianca, great to see you. I had some problems with my ear piece, actually, so did not get the full question there. But I have to say
that my view is that Great Britain is on course to leave the European Union on October 31st. The Prime Minister is fully committed to doing so.
Reports in London indicate that the EU may be willing to agree to a last- minute compromise. We could even see an emergency summit next week beyond the October 17th, 18th European Council meeting. And so I think that we
could see a last-minute deal being struck with the European Union. I think certainly that is the hope for the British government.
And my view is that Boris Johnson will do everything possible in order to secure a deal, and hopefully there will be enough MPs in parliament who are
willing to vote for a deal to do the right thing and assure that Britain leaves the European Union on October 31st.
And so it all hinges really I think on, firstly, whether or not Britain can secure this deal with the EU. I think the prospects are looking a bit
better for that tonight. Secondly, we need to see parliament really stepping out to the plate and doing what is in the British national
interest, which is to create the path forward for Britain to leave the European Union with a deal on October 31st. Otherwise, I think that Boris
Johnson faces no choice but to take Britain out under a no-deal scenario.
NOBILO: Nile, is it your reading of events that it seems Boris Johnson is making more concessions in these talks than the EU?
I think we may have lost Nile Gardiner there. We'll see if we can get Nile Gardiner back for the remainder of our Brexit debrief. We're going to take
a quick break and we will try and resume that when we return.
NOBILO: Welcome back to the show. And we now have Nile Gardiner with us. Our communications are well established. So now, just picking up where we
left off, you mentioned that you think the Britain is on track to leave on the 31st of October no matter what.
I spoke to some members of the ERG today, the vanguard of the Brexiteers, if you like, over here in Britain. And they thought that the government
might have some tricks up their sleeve to avoid this Benn Act. So, do you think there are ways it can be circumvented?
GARDINER: Yes, that's a very good question. I think - and firstly, I think that Boris Johnson really wants to get a deal done. So that's the top
priority for the government.
Now, having said that, I do believe that Downing Street is thinking through various scenarios to take Britain out of the European Union on October
31st, bypassing the Benn Act if necessary or basically complying with it in spirit but ensuring that Britain still leaves.
So it's a very complicated scenario. But I think one of the options available for the British government is to submit an additional letter to
the European Union, making it clear that Britain has no intention of leaving the EU on October 31st. That can be done in conjunction with a
letter that is sent requesting an extension. There's nothing to stop the Prime Minister from sending additional communications to Brussels.
Also, the British government can make it 100 percent clear to the EU that if Britain is kept inside the EU against its will, Britain will not
cooperate with the European Union, Britain could disrupt the activities of the European Union. Obviously it's not in the EU's interest to agree to an
extension. That's another possibility.
I think, thirdly, as well, the government will be considering legal action in order to reverse the Benn legislation. So I think there are various ways
in which the government are considering outmaneuvering the Benn Act.
The Prime Minister has pledged to the British people that he will leave the European Union on October the 31st. This is a firm commitment to the
British people. And I think the Prime Minster is absolutely committed to doing so, deal or no deal, but of course, the ideal way to leave the EU
would be to get a deal with the European Union.
But that hinges upon the willingness of EU leaders to cooperate with the British government on this and also the willingness of parliament actually
to ensure that the will of the British people is implemented. So far, I think parliament has done everything possible in order to delay and derail
NOBILO: Yes. Nile Gardiner, thank you very much for joining us. We'll have you back on again soon so that we can have a longer discussion. It just
seemed like it's something of an Orwellian doublethink going on in parliament. So we'll get into that. Thank you.
GARDINER: Thank you very much.
NOBILO: Tonight, we're seeing an example of how enmeshed the real and virtual worlds have become. Last night, thousands were left in limbo when
the popular videogame Fortnite suddenly went dark. Its landscape imploded, leaving gamers looking at a gaping black hole. Many are in disbelief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Though the image never changed, millions continued to watch the live streamed event. One gaming consultant called it the most watched
gaming event in history. It comes as gamers are expecting the next season of the game to launch. But until that happens, we can see a glimpse of what
a world without technology, like Fortnite, may look like. For some, that's simply seeing the light of day.
This dependency on technology and gaming (inaudible) stereotypes and doesn't discriminate. So when it's taken away, many, like these Fortnite
players, are left wondering "what now?"
To all the gamers out there, I do sympathize. And to everybody else, aren't you glad you got to watch THE BRIEF, not a blank screen? Thank you for
"WORLD SPORT" is coming up next.