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Syria Agrees To Send Troops to Northern Syria; Turkish-backed Rebels Push Forward Against Kurds; Deal Struck in Ecuador to End Protests; Hunter Biden Resigns From Firm; Key Witnesses To Testify in House Inquiry. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 14, 2019 - 02:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

Next here on "Newsroom," pulling out, the Trump administration announces plans to withdraw all remaining troops from northern Syria, the move that many feared could give ISIS a chance to re-group and could put Syria and Kurds in a great deal of danger.

The impeachment inquiry, U.S. lawmakers back on Capitol Hill as new impeachment political proceedings take place.

And a deal in Ecuador, after weeks of deadly protests there, the government is giving into the demands of anti-austerity protesters.

2:01 here on the U.S. east coast, around the world, good day to you. The U.S. Defense Secretary says that President Trump has ordered all remaining U.S. forces out of northern Syria, a move with far reaching implications for the ongoing war in Syria.

The Kurds, an ally to the United States, already feeling abandoned by this White house, are facing an all out offensive by Turkey. And now they are turning to the Syrian government, an ally of both Iran and Russia for help.

Syria says it's sending army units in to confront Turkish aggression on the northern border. The Kurds say it is part of the deal with Damascus after the United States pulled its troops out of Syria.

None of this is stopping Turkey, that country and its proxy militias are determined to push deeper and deeper into Syria territory to set up what they call a safe zone. And now there are concerns that ISIS could use that chaos to regroup.

That is in part because the Kurds were guarding ISIS prisoners. They say that nearly 800 people with ties to foreign ISIS fighters have escaped after guards at the camps were attacked. And despite these concerns, the Trump administration is planning to

withdraw even more troops from Syria. CNN's Ryan Brown has details now from Washington.


RYAN BROWN, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Nearly all of the 1,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria are to be withdrawn in the face of a Turkish attack on America's Kurdish allies.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Sunday that U.S. troops will be conducting a deliberate withdraw we are being told, taking time to remove critical equipment, intelligence, other assets that will need to be withdrawn or destroyed now that U.S. troops are leaving the area.

U.S. plans to keep a very small contingent of forces in southern Syria but are making it clear that U.S. troops are coming out of the country's north where Turkish troops continue to attack America's former Kurdish allies.

And now that the U.S. has made it clear that it will take no action to protect the Kurds from Turkey, the Kurds have asked Russia and the Syrian regime for support; something Kurdish leaders have long told the U.S. it would do in the event of a Turkish attack and lack of U.S. support.

Secretary of Defense Esper saying Sunday that this was one reason the U.S. decided to pull out to avoid getting caught in the middle.

MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation.

So I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the National Security team, and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.

BROWN: Now, Secretary Esper said the decision was made by President Trump but it remains to be seen what the U.S. will do to ensure that the fight against ISIS, which has currently been paralyzed, goes on and that some 10,000 ISIS prisoners are unable to escape amid the chaos there. Ryan Brown, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Ryan, thank you so much. And chaotic indeed, there are a lot of players here involved so follow me on this. The Turks are using allied rebel groups in their offensive and pro-Turkish forces have now cut off a main road to Kobane. That is a largely Kurdish city near where U.S. forces have been based.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground reporting from northeastern Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary to witness this day just how fast things are changing here in northeastern Syria, how quickly the positions of the Americans and their Syrian-Kurdish allies are collapsing, deteriorating and how fast the ground is changing hands.


We saw what we thought would be a simple drive to the city of Kobane where the Syrian Kurds fought so hard against ISIS with American support. We saw on that highway the scope of Turkish ambitions, how terrified civilians are of bumping into Syrian rebels that Turkey is backing and doing the fighting for them, and also just how quickly things can unfold here.

(voice-over): The road to Kobane tells you how savage this war already is and where it's going. Here, Kurdish female activist Hervin Khalaf was shot dead allegedly by Syrian rebels Turkey is backing -- a gruesome video of the killing viral online.

Just outside Ain Issa and its huge ISIS family camp, there is panic. Gunfire up ahead, trucks turnaround fast. Families in disarray. There were heavy clashes there, he says. Nobody can go.

What do you want from us, hey, he says. They're coming and they'll take everything. May God end America. Turkey, and before them ISIS, have been their enemies here, but only America has betrayed them. And they are leaving. Just down the road, this patrol pulling out of Ain Issa.

(on camera): They don't want to talk to us, but clearly Americans still active in areas around the Syrian Kurds.

(voice-over): As they leave, Turkey makes its bold ambition to go anywhere here felt. A jet flying low sending a message to us, the Kurds and the Americans, leave now.

But the arrival of two U.S. Apache helicopters to circle the area and their patrol show the Americans are not ready to do that just yet despite President Trump's instincts to end the endless wars as he says. Syria's war though, just keeps getting longer.

(on camera): One U.S. official told me that actually the road now towards Kobane where they have some of their troops based has been cut off by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. They set up checkpoints just outside that town we were in. We've had to leave. But it's extraordinary. Nobody thought this was originally part of Turkey's invasion plan.

(voice-over): And as we drive away, it seems clear Turkey plans to seize the road in part. These are Turkish army personnel carriers and tanks bearing Turkish flags. More of them arriving in the dust.

Soon, Syrian Kurds won't be able to drive down here at all and the west of the area cut off from the east. The city of Kobane again left to face a siege.

(on camera): Now, one of the major problems are these Syrian rebels that Turkey is getting to do the fighting for them. One U.S. official said to me that they are mostly extremist former ISIS, former al- Qaeda. Turkey has always said that these are moderates who can transform this area into a place where Sunni Syrian Arabs would be comfortable living.

But they are striking terror in the heart of many Syrian Kurds that we met. They are terrified. They are often running away from situations where they feel they are about to be under attack.

And we see the grounds here constantly changing, people packing up to leave from homes where they've been in for years. It's terrifying really to see a new chapter in Syria's civil war unfold here and the possibility of yet further bloodshed.

U.S. troops are kind of caught in the middle of this really, precariously caught between these different emerging factors, the possibility that the Syrian Kurds who used to be their allies are perhaps reaching out to the Syrian regime backed by Russia to bring their forces in to fight alongside them and push the Turkish back.

The fact that the Turkish are so much more aggressive and pushing so much further into northern Syria than they originally suggested they would. And of course, those extremist Syrian rebel forces that according American official, doing so much of the fighting on the grounds here.

It's moving quickly. It's deeply depressing for those of us who watched ISIS get pushed back who, according to one U.S. official, may well be getting a second life here.

We'll have to see just how many days U.S. forces feel comfortable managing their withdrawal. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, in northeastern Syria.


HOWELL: Let's get the context now with Bob. Bob is CNN's intelligence and security analyst, also a former CIA operative. It's good to have you with us.


HOWELL: So Bob, as the Turkish military continues to push into Syria, many of the Kurdish fighters who once fought alongside U.S. troops to defeat ISIS, they now find themselves targeted by another U.S. ally, Turkey.

And with Americans leaving now, the Kurds are turning to the Syrian Army for a deal, even considering Russian forces to protect them. How does that strike you to hear the Kurds say that America betrayed them, that America sold them out?

BAER: Well, George, it's absolutely right. I mean, let's not forget the Kurds did most of the fighting against the Islamic State and beat them, drove them into the crowd. And now, as soon as we're done with them, we're abandoning them to Turks, to Turkish air power.


Not only that, but we are abandoning them to Turkish Syrian allies which happen to be very close to the Muslim Brotherhood. They despise the Kurds and right now they are committing ethnic cleansing in the Kurdish areas.

And no wonder the Kurds are scared and defeated and feel betrayed at this point. It's quite amazing. I've never seen the United States turn on an ally like this ever so quickly and without cause.

HOWELL: Many of these Kurdish forces were protecting prisoners that were held -- that were holding ISIS prisoners. But now they find themselves defending themselves against Turkish forces.

They say guarding ISIS is no longer a priority, so hundreds of those prisoners, hundreds of people with ties to those prisoners have escaped already. How great of a risk do you see this for ISIS to possibly resurge?

BAER: Well, as of today, it's an enormous risk. We are getting the reports out of Syria that high value Islamic State prisoners are escaping. And you can count on it they are going to come back to the battlefield and they are going to be attacking whether it's in Iraq, Syria or Europe or even the United States.

So, I mean, it's not a surprise that the Kurds have abandoned these prisons. I mean, they are defending themselves. This is an existential threat, the Turks are at this point, and they had to take whatever arms and fire power they have and put it on the front.

I mean, this was again, all predictable. What I don't understand is why the president of the United States didn't factor any of this in. It's just like he woke up one morning, talks to Erdogan and says I'm out of here.

For absolutely no reason at all, no planning. And I know the ambassador that represents that area, Jeffrey, and he's -- the guy is brilliant. I mean, he did not support this. I guarantee you that.

So, Trump has gone without any advice, without any plan for what's going to happen afterwards and what we are seeing in this part of the world and we are going to see spread, I guarantee you, that is chaos and more war.

HOWELL: This U.S. president who takes credit for the defeat of ISIS says that he shoots from the hip essentially. That he works with his gut, but a great deal of backlash from this gut move from Donald Trump.

And as the fighting there, the chaos continues, Bob. Thousands of people are being displaced, people being pushed further from their homes deeper and deeper into Syria. Help our viewers understand what that means to see the humanitarian crisis there get worse.

BAER: Well, I mean, Syria was barely stabilized as it was and doing better than it was in 2011. To see this ethnic cleansing and I'll say it again, going on essentially tolerated by the United States. It's a tragedy beyond belief.

I've fought with the Kurds for many years, it's amazing what they can do in the battlefield and it's amazing what they -- the trust they put in us and at this point just abandoning them, you know, who is going to protect them and who's going to fight the Islamic State.

Because I will tell you, the Free Syrian Army, this Turkish group is not. It's just totally incomprehensible, I mean, that the president made this decision -- an absolute catastrophe.

HOWELL: Bob Baer with perspective for us. Bob, thank you.

BAER: Thank you.

HOWELL: Now to Ecuador, the violent protest there that have rocked that country for almost two weeks appear to be over now. The government has reached an agreement with indigenous protest leaders to repeal a decree that sparked the unrest.

That decree was passed to raise fuel prices and to get financing, a financing deal with the International Monetary Fund. CNN's Gustavo Valdes spoke about why the government is repealing it.


GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT (through telephone): The indigenous community, you know, confronted the president about the injured and the death in these 12 days of protest. Well, that was certainly high up in the priorities for the government to solve.

And they probably thought that there was no other way to stop the violence and keep the country moving other than repealing this decree. Now, they acknowledged something has to be done to improve the economy.

They said they're going to meet at the table with the indigenous community, with the government and find a way to perhaps target the subsidies so only people who really need the low prices get it.

A mechanism where that can be done so offer (ph) income people who have (inaudible) lower people get a discount. One of the problems they kept bringing up is that on the border with Columbia for instance, there are people who take the cheaper Ecuadorian fuel and they take it across the border for profit and they said that is a lot of revenue for this country.



HOWELL: The demonstrations in Ecuador lasted 11 days. At least seven people were killed there and more than a thousand others were injured. Still ahead here on "Newsroom," the impeachment inquiry and to President Trump enters a critical week.

Up next, what a key witness is expected to tell Congress about the president's controversial phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. Stay with us.



HOWELL: The son of Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, says that he will step down from his board role at a Chinese-owned private equity firm. His overseas business dealings have drawn attacks and criticism from the U.S. President Donald Trump.

Biden also pledged not to work on foreign owned firms if his father wins the White House. At a campaign stop in the state of Iowa, Joe Biden slammed the president for repeatedly targeting his son and saying that he did nothing wrong.


In the meantime, U.S. lawmakers return to Capitol Hill for a critical week of testimony in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has the latest now from Washington.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: A busy week coming up on Capitol Hill this week as Democrats move forward with their impeachment inquiry into the president's dealings with Ukraine.

Several current and former members of the president's administration dealing with Ukraine matters will be coming before the House to testify beginning on Monday with the president's former top advisor on Russia and European affairs, Fiona Hill.

And then later in the week, you will have several members of the president's State Department as well as the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. He will be testifying on Thursday.

That comes after the White House last week blocked him from testifying on Capitol Hill. But after receiving a subpoena from House Democrats, Sondland is expected to testify.

Of course, he was central to this whole matter involving several diplomats in Ukraine and the text messages that have since been released publicly. Sondland was downplaying those concerns of a quid pro quo that were coming from the top diplomat in Ukraine.

But according to the "Washington Post," Sondland is now expected to say that he learned that there was no quid pro quo directly from the president, but that he doesn't necessarily know if that is true.

One official though that we are not expecting to see testify on Capitol Hill anytime soon is the whistleblower who sparked this whole impeachment inquiry when this intelligence official launched a formal complaint with the director of National Intelligence's inspector general.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee saying that he is concerned for that whistleblower's safety after the president's attacks on him.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, we were interested in having the whistleblower come forward, our primary --


SHIFF: Well, our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected. Indeed, now there is more than one whistleblower, that they are protected.

And given that we already have the call record, we don't need the whistleblower who wasn't on the call to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.

We do want to make sure that we identify other evidence that is pertinent to the withholding of the military support, the effort to cover this up by hiding this in their classified computer system.

We want to make sure that we uncover the full details about the conditionality of either the military aid or that meeting with the Ukrainian president.


DIAMOND: Now, House Democrats were busy preparing for this week of testimonies and document deadlines on Capitol Hill. The president spent much of his weekend attacking Democrats. House impeachment inquiry is unconstitutional B.S.

And he also spent much of his time defending his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani on twitter as well as appearing on a Fox News program on Saturday.

That all came after the president learned through the "New York Times" that Rudy Giuliani is now under federal investigation over whether he potentially violated federal lobbying laws. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Jeremy, thank you. And to get perspective now on this, let's bring in Mike Purdy. Mike, a presidential historian and also the author of the new book titled, "101 Presidential Insults: What They Really Thought About Each Other and What It Means To Us." Mike joining this hour from Seattle, Washington. Good to have you with us

MICHAEL PURDY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thanks for having me. HOWELL: So, Mike, another week of testimony set to get underway and

we are seeing officials defy their bosses' orders and agree to go on the record. The White House, for its part though, refusing to cooperate with this investigation.

But the president has called -- his words, B.S. He actually says that out. Do you see that strategy holding up as more and more people come forward?

PURDY: Well I think more and more people will come forward as they recognize their own legal risk and exposure to this. And I think if they harken back and look at what happened in Watergate, a lot of people ended up going to jail and so I think some people are cognizant of that. So, it does seem like it's going to be another blockbuster week with the testimony coming forward.

HOWELL: One person who we know that will not be coming forward, likely the first whistleblower. Adam Schiff saying that concerns over protecting his or her identity comes first.

So, to ensure that person's safety, he adds that, you know, they already have enough evidence he says, given the call record and the text messages and officials who are coming forward to testify.

Will Democrats though be at a loss not hearing from that whistleblower or do you believe what Schiff says? Does he have a point here?

PURDY: Well, it seems like what the whistleblower has come forward with, and we know there are multiple ones now, has been confirmed by even the transcript that the White House released of the July 25th telephone conversation and by the actual -- other documents and other testimonies.


So, I don't know that having the whistleblower actually testify is critical. I think that information is coming out from other sources, from other testimony and from documents.

I think this is one of those things that we're going to see just continue to unfold. It is going very quickly, this impeachment inquiry. And as more and more information comes out, that is going to, you know, shape how this unfolds totally.

And in some ways I think we have a situation of the impeachment inquiry despite what the White House is saying that it is a witch hunt and unconstitutional, that we see this trying to come out with what are the facts.

And that's kind of in opposition to a publicity campaign to say that it is a witch hunt. So, I think it will be interesting as testimony from officials who have firsthand knowledge of what went on as that starts to come out.

HOWELL: Mike Purdy, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

Purdy: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on "Newsroom," much more on the Turkish offensive that is taking place in Northern Syria with the U.S. now pulling out troops in the region and Americas Kurdish allies, saying that America betrayed them.

We'll get reaction from all sides of this from Turkey and a live report from Istanbul, standby.



HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta, I'm George Howell, with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

First, in Northern Syria, Kurdish officials say the Syrian government will deploy troops along the Turkish border to help repel the offensive by Turkey. Some troops are already moving north, according to Syrian state media. Syria's government has not said whether this is part of any sort of a deal with the Kurds. Turkey launched its offensive after the U.S. pulled troops out of Syria last week. Now, the U.S. Defense Secretary says President Trump is ordering the remaining U.S. forces out of northern Syria. Pro-Turkish forces have already cut off a key road leading to Kobani. Kobani, a largely Kurdish city where U.S. troops have been based.

Let's get the latest now live from the region. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is on this story live in Istanbul, Turkey. And Jomana, look, we've already seen the Kurds under a great deal of pressure from this offensive and even U.S. forces feeling some of the burn, some of the heat as they withdraw from that region.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, George, if you look at the developments over the past 24 hours, really rapid and serious developments in that part of Syria. Of course, the most significant we're hearing overnight, not just that announcement that the president, President Trump, is ordering the withdrawal of U.S. forces or what remains of U.S. forces in Northeastern -- in Northern Syria, but you've got this announcement that shouldn't come as a surprise. We've heard the Kurds hinting at this for some time now, but they say that they have reached an agreement with the Syrian regime for the Syrian military to deploy along the border with Turkey.

They say that they have requested the regime's assistance to help them with how what they say is the Turkish aggression. They say it is this Syrian government's duty to protect the country's borders and to maintain its sovereignty. Now, we don't know the details of this agreement, George. There's a lot of questions about this and what it actually entails. This came in a statement that was posted by the Kurdish authorities that run that part of the country on their Facebook page last night. We've not had confirmation from Damascus yet that this is happening. We've not had any official reaction from Turkey to this announcements. So, we'll have to wait and see what happens.

But as you mentioned, Syrian state media is saying that the Syrian military was moving towards the northern part of the country. So, quite a critical time right now. We'll have to wait and see what comes in the next few hours and days as this situation develops. But if you look at these developments, George, you're looking at basically the United States here, just pulling out and handing over this region and whatever leverage and control it had at one point, basically to the Syrian regime, and of course, to their main backer, the Russians.

HOWELL: Jomana, important to remind our viewers, the context here is so important that the Kurds, many of them fought alongside U.S. troops in the fight against ISIS, the defeat of ISIS. And now we understand that many of those ISIS prisoners, many of the people who had ties to those ISIS prisoners, hundreds of them, in fact, are on the run.

KARADSHEH: It's quite a chaotic situation, as you can imagine, in that part of the country. Now, the Syrian Democratic Forces that mainly Kurdish force that is backed by the United States, as you mentioned, they were the key and main partner in the fight against ISIS and the territorial defeat of the group in Syria. Now, they said and they have been warning for days that while they face this operation, this -- what they call this Turkish aggression and invasion, they're not going to be able to focus on the fight against ISIS concerns about the resurgence, sleeper cells that could take advantage of the vacuum and the chaotic situation.

And on the other hand, they're also concerned about the situation when it comes to ISIS detainees. They have about 12,000 ISIS detainees, about 10,000 Iraqis and Syrians, about 2,000 from 50 different countries who are in their detention facilities. And then, you've got three camps. Many of the family members or people who lived under the control of ISIS are housed in these three different camps. Now, we saw these reports yesterday, the Syrian Democratic Forces saying that because of the Turkish operation and the chaotic city situation, they say that a number of these ISIS families they say in the hundreds, more than 700, I believe the number was, managed to escape from the (INAUDIBLE) internally displaced people's camp in Northern Syria.


And we've heard from the United Nations since, George, they're saying that the population of that camp is about 13,000 people. And they say the majority still remain there, but the Kurds are warning that they say hundreds affiliated with ISIS have managed to escape from that camp.

HOWELL: Well, Jomana Karadsheh with the reporting. Jomana, thank you.

Now, to the United Kingdom where all eyes will be on the palace at Westminster in the coming hours. This, as the U.K. government sets out its agenda in the Queen's speech, which opens Parliament, the pomp will be in all in place there. But it's the politics that are different this year. That nation's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, doesn't have a majority, so there's no guarantee that the British Prime Minister can get his agenda through the House of Commons and his hopes of sealing a Brexit deal in time for this week's critical E.U. summit. It all could be in jeopardy. Let's go live to London. CNN's Anna Stewart live outside number 10. And Anna, the Queen's speech, it is the traditional reopening of Parliament. What all is expected and given Brexit and Boris Johnson, how might this be different?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: We didn't really get more pomp and pageantry really than to say opening a Parliament. It normally happens every year. It hasn't happened over two years due to the ongoing Brexit negotiations. What can we expect? Well, Her Majesty, the Queen, will leave Buckingham Palace. There will be a huge royal procession to Parliament. She'll be in a carriage drawn of course by six horses. There'll be 1300 members of the Armed Forces were spending in their uniforms on route. And horses polished, George, to a mirror finish. It's going to be all very exciting. It kicks off about 11:00 a.m. in London, 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

On arrival, the Queen gets into her robe dawns a diamond diadem today. She then goes to the House of Lords where she addresses M.P.s from the Commons and the House of Lords members as well. And she delivers the Queen's speech. Now, this is actually a speech that is written by the government of the day, and it lays out all the proposals and policies they would like to implement. Now, what is so unusual about this one, the fact that it's happened -- is happening after two years, not one. The fact that this government on the day as you said does not have majority, and passing any of those policies would be incredibly difficult through the Houses of Parliament.

And also, George, Boris Johnson, he wants to have a general election. Why announce these policies now? So, it's been seen as a slightly controversial state opening of Parliament. And meanwhile, underway in Brussels, the Brexit talks continue between the E.U. and the U.K. with time really running out. The big E.U. summit, the last before the Brexit deadline is this Thursday-Friday, George.

HOWELL: And also for Boris Johnson, there was some optimism growing because of his conversations with Ireland with his counterpart there, but with the E.U.'s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier is saying that the U.K.'s proposal to exit the E.U., that is still not acceptable. Where does that leave things now?

STEWART: Well, we had a small glimmer of hope, I would say, at the end of last week because both sides were saying that talks were constructive, and that was more positive than we've had of late. However, there is a long way to go before the Prime Minister, I think, can actually reach a deal, a final text that can be presented to the E.U. leaders at that summit. If one can be reached, if it can pass through the 27 other E.U. member states, it then has to come back here to Westminster to be passed by M.P.s. As we said, Prime Minister does not have majority. Will it pass? Very unclear. So many ifs and buts here.

Saturday, there will be a session of Parliament, very unusual to have one on a Saturday. If he can get a deal with the E.U., if he can get a pass through Parliament, then perhaps we proceed from there. If he doesn't, however, the law currently requires the Prime Minister ask for an E.U. extension on that Saturday, something he's always said he does not want to do. So, this is going to be an incredibly intense busy week. Let's hope the Prime Minister is having a hearty breakfast next door.

HOWELL: Let's indeed hope that's the case. Anna Stewart live for us, thank you so much.

Still ahead, here in the United States, a deadly police shooting, another one to tell you about. This time, the victim, a woman who was in her own home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew. Up next, how the community is responding.



HOWELL: In the City of New Orleans, take a look at what happened to this hotel. And right now, the search continues for a missing worker at that collapsed building, the future Hard Rock Hotel. It gave way leading -- leaving two people dead. The search for the missing third worker was on hold until the dangerously shaky construction site was stabilized. That allowed rescue crews to remove one body. They're trying to get a second body out now. The identities of those who have been killed has not yet been released. Investigators are trying to figure out what caused that collapse.

In Fort Worth, Texas, a racially-charged shooting police are investigating the seventh fatal shooting by one of their officers this year. 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson was killed in her own home Saturday morning. We've learned that the woman's 8-year-old nephew was in the room when she was shot. And police say that the officer did not identify himself before he fired his gun. Our Pablo Sandoval has the story.


JAMES SMITH, NEIGHBOR OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: We went from a welfare check to a woman being killed by the cops.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Outrage is building over the actions of a Fort Worth, Texas police officer. Saturday morning, just before 2:30 a.m., police were called to the home of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson after neighbors noticed her front door was open. Heavily edited body camera video released by Fort Worth police picks up what happens next. After police peered through the front door, they walked the perimeter of the property when suddenly police say an officer spots someone standing near a window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up. Show me your hands.

SANDOVAL: The medical examiner identified the woman who the officers shot as Jefferson. She died at the scene. James Smith says he's the concerned caller who first alerted police.

SMITH: I feel guilty because had I not call the Fort Worth Police Department, my neighbor would still be alive today. SANDOVAL: In a statement, Fort Worth police said their officer drew his weapon and fired a single shot after, quote, "perceiving a threat." In addition to the body camera footage, investigators released this still photo, showing a firearm inside the house. CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson cautions not to jump to any conclusions.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You're going to release the fact that she has a gun in the home as perhaps, what, to suggest she had a gun then -- and that we were perhaps fearful for our life. There's no indication where that gun was. There's no indication she had that gun. There's no indication that she should not have had the gun.


SANDOVAL: CNN has requested the unedited body camera footage. A police spokesperson said nothing additional will be released at this time, and that the department, "Shares the deep concerns of the public and is committed to completing an extremely thorough investigation. Police have not named the officer who joined the department in April of last year.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: All right, Polo, thank you so much.

And now to China and a warning from that nation's president, Xi Jinping, a warning where he says, "To split China in any part of the country," he says, those efforts will end in "crushed bodies and shattered bones."

Chinese state media quoted Mr. Xi, during a state visit to Nepal. It comes as China faces a prolonged trade war with the United States and 19 straight weekends of pro-democracy protests that are playing out in Hong Kong.

More protests are planned for Monday that's after police and protesters faced off over the weekend. Some groups of demonstrators vandalized metro stations and blocked roads. Police used tear gas to clear the crowds and arrested several people.

Earlier, pro-democracy activists climbed the city's Lion Rock Peak to put up the statue called Lady Liberty. Take a look at it there. It represents an injured protester believed to have been shot in the eye by a police projectile. Protesters say they hope that it will inspire Hong Kong to keep up the fight.

Hong Kong stores restaurants and other businesses have suffered a great deal in the past four months from the protests and clashes. And now, some protesters are accusing some businesses of being blue or pro-government. And those businesses are being deliberately targeted.

Our Kristie Lu Stout explains.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR : A city plunged in protest is struggling to stay in business. Time and time again, some of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts have descended into chaos. The violent clashes have forced stores and restaurants to close repeatedly during four months of protests, including this famous snake soup restaurant in Causeway Bay.

Regulars usually line up at the door for a taste of its Michelin- recommended dishes. But these days, it's far too easy to get a table.

LO CHEONG HEI, MANAGERR, SE WONG YEE RESTAURANT (through translator): The number of tourists dropped due to the protests and local people also come here less often.

STOUT: Since the protests kicked off in June, Lo says business has fallen 40 percent. Many businesses have been forced to close early because of their proximity to flashpoints like the Legislative Council, others have been directly targeted for their perceived allegiance to the government. Restaurants owned by Maxim's caterers, including Starbucks, have been targeted by demonstrators after the founders daughter publicly condemned protesters as violent.

On Twitter, prodemocracy activists, Joshua Wong, has called for a boycott of Starbucks. And protesters have spray painted this Starbucks cafe with messages calling on more people to boycott it. Other businesses have attracted ire for their direct links to China, including branches of the Bank of China and China Construction Bank smashed and tagged with graffiti.

Demonstrators are sharing this interactive map to identify which businesses are blue or pro government, as opposed to yellow or sympathetic to the movement. Lists of yellow and blue shops are also making the rounds. They are circulated online, and in the real world, by activists like Emily -- that's not her real name -- and she wishes to remain anonymous.

EMILY, PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST (through translator): Boycotting these restaurants is a way for people to express their thoughts. People feel frustrated, so this is the way they choose to express it.

STOUT: But when violent protests paralyze the city, most Hong Kongers Take heed of the police alerts sent to their mobile phones and avoid going out entirely. And that means no dining, no shopping, no local consumption.

The Hong Kong government has announced that August retail sales have plunged some 23 percent from a year earlier. That's the worst year- on-year decline for a single month on record. The government cited subdued economic conditions, as well as severe disruptions to tourism and consumption-related activities.

Lo Cheong Hei does not want to talk about politics, but since the start of the protests, he's had to lay off 10 percent of his staff.

HEI (through translator): The business will be fine again, but I'm not confident that it can go back to the peak time.

STOUT: As hardline protesters and police battle in the streets, local businesses are caught in a political crossfire, and they are struggling to stay afloat. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.



HOWELL: Well, this weekend, female athletes dominated the sports world, breaking records and taking names. Including U.S. gymnast Simone Biles who secured her place in history.


HOWELL: Welcome back. A major typhoon in Japan has killed, at least, 31 people. It's left a trail of destruction behind. Let's bring in our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera tracking everything from the CNN Weather Center.

Ivan, this was a strong storm.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Powerful storm, George. No question about it, one of the strongest they've had and one of the deadliest, I must say in the quite some time here for the folks across Japan.

This would have been the equivalent of a Category 3 landfall as far as a hurricane -- we call them typhoons in this part of the world. Notice the pictures, obviously, bridges have been washed away as a result to the amount of rain, some areas picking up upwards of 35 to 40 inches of rainfall.

Look at this home, a few feet right off the coast there. And the land is just giving way, you can see the cables kind of in the middle there. So, a mess across Japan, and that's been a case over the last several days.

Take a look at some of the rivers. You're calling the shots upwards of 14 rivers are at flood stage. The tributaries are impacting as well, but then you see this line here that indicating just an incredible amount of water coming out of the region here.


CABRERA: And I'll show you this picture here, we just got this so from NASA, by the way. A before and after dramatic stuff here with the river swelling up as you can imagine but that amount of water here.

This is the before picture. Notice, you really can't pick out the rivers from up above in space. But once you get into October 8th and beyond, take a look at this, just quite a dramatic change here. You can see the Arakawa River that is draining at the Tokyo Bay and you see these features here depicting the runoff that's going off into the bays as a result to the rivers just flushing all that water. The Sagami River flooded as well along with the Fuji River just a mess across Tokyo over the last two several days.

And by the way, Hagibis, at this point is gone. I mean, there's nothing left of it. Here is just some cloud cover a little frontal boundary that's strapped across to Japan. That has been impacting the region for with a few showers, but that would be about it. I don't think we're going to have any issues with the recovery that's going to be well underway over the next several days across Japan.

They've sent the upwards of a hundred thousand troops out there to get people help and they certainly need it at this hour in Japan. George.

HOWELL: You know, our Christina Macfarlane was there she went through that storm, and she described it as a fast-moving, it hit really fast, moved right out fast. But again, the damage leftover certainly extensive.


CABRERA: Left this -- yes.

HOWELL: Ivan, thank you so much.

CABRERA: You bet.

HOWELL: A U.S. athlete has just become the most decorated gymnast in the World Championship history. Simone Biles smashed a record this week after earning five gold medals during a competition in Germany.

He's now got 25 championship medals, the most ever. The 22-year-old is already a four-time Olympic champion. But she says next year's Olympics in Tokyo would be her last. Awesome see her there.

Thank you so much for being with us this hour for the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Let's do it again. Another hour of news right after the break. Stand by.