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Trump's Threats for Turkey; Critical Week for Brexit; Racial Abuse Halts Football Match; U.S. Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 15, 2019 - 02:00   ET




NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, I'm Nick Watt, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this, hour pulling American troops out of Syria ushered in a Turkish offensive. Now the U.S. is scrambling to punish Ankara with sanctions.

On Capitol Hill, an important week in the impeachment inquiry kicks off with 10 hours of testimony from Donald Trump's former top Russia advisor.

Plus, the racist chants that overshadowed the England team's win in the Euro 2020 qualifier.


WATT: As a Turkish offensive rolls on in northern Syria, U.S. president Donald Trump is hitting Ankara with new sanctions. The move comes as Turkish forces target Kurds once allied with the U.S.

President Trump had warned the Turks not to attack, saying he would, quote, "destroy the Turkish economy." But by pulling back U.S. troops, he effectively gave Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan the green light.

The U.S. sanctions go after current and former Turkish officials. Mr. Trump says the U.S. will also raise tariffs but he is not talking about freezing weapons sales, something countries like Germany and France have already done.

The Kurds were crucial U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS. Now the Turkish offensive is fueling fears of an ISIS comeback. The U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says Turkey's actions have led to the release of, quote, "dangerous ISIS detainees." U.S. vice president Mike Pence says the Turks cannot let that happen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president has also made it clear to Turkey that we expect them to take efforts to continue to restrain and ensure the ongoing detention of any ISIS fighters captured over the last two years of fighting.


WATT: Mike Pence will travel to Turkey in hopes of working out a cease-fire but the Kurds, now critical of the U.S., are seeking a new ally as CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports, they may have found one in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Each dawn seems to bring seismic change in Syria now, yet the darkness never seems to end. This is Qamishli, 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: Pretty much every road 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 their political deal with the Syrian Kurdish leadership, to seize as much territory as they can.

WALSH (voice-over): This is Tal Tamr, Kurdish 24 hours ago and, Monday morning, swarming with regime forces and residents, who remembered what to say to them.

"I was hiding this picture of Bashar al-Assad," he says, "and now I raise it with the return 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 any time. But now, we should run.

WALSH: 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): Twenty-four hours earlier, we began a simple trip to Kobani 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 --


WALSH (voice-over): -- and were quickly buzzed by a jet.

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, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We find ourselves, as we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it's a very untenable situation.

WALSH (voice-over): Yet those they abandoned continue to bleed. Turkey, striking a convoy headed to the besieged border town of Ras al-Ain.


WALSH (voice-over): 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.

Twenty-four hours that changed how the world works and 24 more hours in which Syrians bleed -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Syria.


WATT: For more, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is live in Istanbul, Turkey.

Are these sanctions imposed by the U.S. going to make a difference, are they going to hold the Turks back at all?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we're going to have to wait and see, Nick, what happens but this is definitely the United States hitting where it really hurts for Turkey, the economy, the currency here has been really fragile as we have seen over the past year or so reacting to the politics, reacting to its relationship with United States.

But it's really unclear at this point what real impact these specific sanctions are going to have. You have critics of the U.S. administration, so many analysts looking at this, saying this is too little too late.

And if you look at these sanctions when the United States talking about going after Turkish government officials involved in this operation in Syria, the president for example is not included.

So there is lots of questions about how severe and how real these sanctions are. We are going to wait and see what the Turkish reaction is going to be to this announcement. But certainly there is going to be a lot of confusion here. There has been his issue of this inconsistency when it comes to the messaging from the Trump administration.

You know, we will have to see how President Erdogan is going to react to this, because as you recall, it was about a week ago or more than that when, you know, it was pretty much the president of the United States in that phone call to President Erdogan, who effectively gave the green light for this operation, something the Trump administration denies.

But the movement of the U.S. forces from the border region seen as pretty much allowing Turkey to go ahead with this operation and then you have the tweets over the past week and now you have this reaction from the Trump administration.

So again, confusion, inconsistency when it comes to their dealings with Turkey. But also I think, you, know if you look at the population here, the majority of the people here do back this operation. This is a very polarized and divided country but this is one thing that unites almost all of Turkey, with the exception, of, course of many within the Kurdish minority.

So they will see this yet again as the United States really not understanding the concerns of this NATO ally, Turkey, when it comes to the severity of the threat emanating from northern Syria, something they have been talking to the Americans for very long time about and they had hoped the Americans would help them address this issue.

But they found themselves, they, say in a position where they will have to deal with it themselves, Nick.

WATT: Jomana Karadsheh in Istanbul, thank you very much for your time.

And the scourge of racism still looms large in European football. On Monday night, the Euro 2020 qualifier between England and Bulgaria in Sofia had to be stopped twice after racist abuse from spectators. Stopping games is part of a new plan to curb such abuse at matches.

But will it work?

Don Riddell takes a look.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): England's football players made a statement in Sofia on Monday night. They did not leave the field of play in their European qualifier against Bulgaria but they didn't necessarily have to. They drew clear attention to the racist abuse and the abuse was unmistakable.

In the first half, England's defender Tyrone Mings asked the referee if he could hear the chanting and, shortly afterwards, the game was stopped so that a stadium announcement could be made, warning to supporters that the match could be abandoned if the chanting continued.

And then towards the end of the first half, another suspension of play, this time for five minutes. During that hiatus, a large number of Bulgarian supporters were seen leaving the stadium. At halftime, the Bulgarian captain went out into the stadium to remonstrate with the supporters, urging them to cease the abuse.

The game had seemed to be in jeopardy at that point but they did manage to play the full 90 minutes without having to walk off.


RIDDELL (voice-over): Even though there was further abuse in the second half, notably aimed at England's Raheem Sterling.

Afterwards, England's chairman demanded a stringent investigation from European football's governing body, UEFA, and the players expressed their disappointment at the abuse but said that they were satisfied with how it was handled.

TYRONE MINGS, ENGLAND FOOTBALLER: I think we showed a great response. We showed a good togetherness and ultimately we let the football do the talking, which I think the higher powers will hopefully deal with incidents that happen. But yes, we couldn't do much more than we'd done on the pitch.

GARETH SOUTHGATE, ENGLAND MANAGER: We know it is an unacceptable situation. I think we've managed to make two statements, really, by winning the game but also we have raised the awareness of everybody to the situation.

The game was stopped twice and I know for some people that won't be enough but I think we were, as a group, on board with that process.

RIDDELL (voice-over): It remains to be seen what will happen next. But UEFA have been notoriously soft on racist abuse in the past. This felt different, though. England's players have respectfully shone a very bright light on the darker side of the beautiful game -- Don Riddell, CNN.


WATT: England ultimately won that match 6-0.

Next, the former adviser to President Trump kicks off a busy week of hearings on Capitol Hill.

Did Fiona Hill's testimony bolster the case for the president's impeachment?

And, with the clock ticking down until her country and the E.U. go their separate, ways Queen Elizabeth officially opens Parliament. What to expect in the frantic final days before the divorce.




WATT: This is perhaps the most crucial week in the years-long wrangling over Brexit. In the next few, hours European Union leaders will get an update on Brexit progress. Then on Thursday, British prime minister Boris Johnson presents his plan for the U.K.'s divorce from the European Union.

E.U. officials say the two sides are far from a deal and then Parliament is expected to sit on a Saturday for the first time in years to debate a possible deal or discuss an alternative. But it all started on Monday when Queen Elizabeth opened a new session of Parliament.



ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN: 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 cooperation.


WATT: Melissa Bell is following all the developments live from Brussels.

Melissa, is there any optimism over there that a deal can be done now at the 11th hour?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think no one would have imagined that we would be here just a few days from the crucial last E.U. summit while the U.K. is still in the E.U. with any sliver of hope that a deal might be done and yet that appears to be what has happened against all odds.

Now very big gaps remain, we have been hearing that from the E.U. chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, who is even now awaiting the arrival of ministers in Luxembourg to brief them on the very latest.

Yesterday, he spoke to E.U. ambassadors about what the latest on the negotiations were. Big gaps and, yet the possibility of a deal and again, no one would have imagined that just a few weeks ago.

A crucial moment for Boris Johnson that last week with the Irish leader and it was the outcome of that meeting, after which the Irish minister announced there was a possibility of a deal over the next few weeks.

We will be hearing again over the weekend from the Irish deputy prime minister saying that a deal could be done, if not in the next few days then at least possibly this week, so yes, there is now hope and, of course, the next few days are going to be about looking at the detail and in particular the details of what Boris Johnson is proposing to replace that famous backstop around the Irish question and whether he goes far enough toward the E.U. position that has been so far such a sticking point for British parliamentarians.

Now the fact that the Europeans have agreed to continue the negotiations up until the eve of the summit, that is, until Wednesday, night is in itself a concession. They had said they wanted this all nailed down a good week before those talks on the technicalities, on the, details will go, up right up until that Wednesday night.

And by Thursday we will have a much better idea of whether Boris Johnson has succeeded in getting a deal past E.U. leaders. And, of course, the big question is whether he can get past the parliamentarians, so a lot of ifs and buts and questions about precisely what kind of deal will be hammered out, who he can get it past.

But the possibility that there might be one is clearly here this Monday morning.

WATT: Melissa, as you say, a lot of ifs and buts and they will no doubt continue.

I wonder, have basically European politicians and British politicians and the general public just been beaten into submission and thinking, let's just get this thing done?

BELL: You might well ask but of, course it has been a long slog. They were all these months of deadlock, when there seemed to be no way around the intransigence, on one, hand of Theresa May who insisted that she had had to deal with the E.U. leaders, the leaders who said they would go no further and British parliamentarians who simply would not accept what they had hammered out.

Now it does seem that Boris Johnson has managed to get some kind of movement from the Irish question and that involves, without looking too far into the weeds, here Nick, some mention on the U.K.'s part as to how to stay within the regulatory framework of the European Union and on the other, hand their European Union, which is looking into the Irish question without the possibility of that backstop.

So a bit of give and take on both sides and definitely some progress that at least gives a sliver hope this Tuesday, morning -- Nick.

WATT: Melissa Bell in Brussels, thank you for that sliver of hope.

Also, a critical week on Capitol Hill as the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump picks up speed. On Monday, the president's former top Russia advisor, Fiona Hill, testified. Sources say she raised concerns that the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was circumventing the U.S. State Department in his dealings with Ukraine.

One source telling CNN she saw wrongdoing related to the Ukraine policy and reported it. CNN's Lauren Fox has more.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): The impeachment inquiry kicking off today with high-profile testimony from the president's former top adviser Fiona Hill.

Hill is the first person from the White House to testify in the inquiry trying to determine if President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden in exchange for military aid.

Democrats hope the closed-door hearing will shed light on what role the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, played in influencing Ukraine's government. Hill was no longer serving as President Trump's top Russian adviser at the time of the controversial July 25th call with the Ukrainian president.


FOX: But, according to "The New York Times," part of her testimony today is expected to include that Giuliani was running a shadow diplomacy effort in Ukraine.

House Republicans blasting House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for issuing a subpoena to Hill, despite her willingness to testify.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): She was going to come. She had agreed to come. She was going to come voluntarily. But he's going to subpoena her, I believe, so he can ask certain questions and, again, keep those secret, except for the certain things that he wants to leak.

FOX: One official working on the inquiry tells CNN the subpoena was necessary because the White House has prevented so many witnesses from testifying.

This as a slew of deadlines for administration officials to hand over documents hits this week and private hearings are expected to ramp up.

On Thursday, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is also set to testify under subpoena, where, according to "The Washington Post," he will allegedly tell members the president directed him to send a text message stating there was no quid pro quo when pressed on why the U.S. was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

"The Post" also reporting Sondland will testify he had no idea whether the president was telling him the truth.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and the counsel to the State Department, Ulrich Brechbuhl, are also scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill this week, though it's unclear if they will show.

It's also unclear whether lawmakers will hear from the person at the center of the impeachment inquiry, to whistleblower. Schiff citing concerns over protecting his or her identity.

A busy week ahead for lawmakers returning from a two week recess, on Thursday, Gordon Sondland, the un ambassador is expected to come to Capitol Hill and testify under subpoena. There are also a slew of document requests deadlines, including one for Rudy Giuliani and the vice president of the United States -- for CNN, I am Lauren Fox.



WATT: Political analyst Michael Genovese joins me now from here in Los Angeles.

Michael, a little more than a year to go until the election. The Democrats seem to be cranking this, up they want this to move quickly.

What might the timetable be here?

When might we see a vote on whether to impeach the president?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they want it before the new year, I think they want it because the campaign will start in earnest in January. You have the caucus in Iowa, then you have, following that, the New Hampshire primary.

And that is when the American voters are going to focus on the reelection, so I think they want to get this in early and want to make sure they can get the vote out Thanksgiving or right after if possible.

WATT: We've heard a lot of talk today about Rudy Giuliani and his role in this.

At what point do you think we might see the president throw Giuliani under the bus and claim he barely knew him and that Giuliani was just a water boy?

GENOVESE: That has been the pattern with the president, that working for him means that you have a short shelf life in employment and that your post Trump time is going to be spent hiring a lot of criminal attorneys.

But I think what you see with Rudy is that Rudy is becoming the focal point of having this rogue operation, a separate policy from Rudy, then from Pompeo. So you have this rogue operation going on.

And it has gotten so bad, that according to reports, from today, Ms. Hill talked about John Bolton being so upset he was suggesting that Rudy was a renegade, a rogue operation and warning White House lawyers that they better look into this because there may be some legal implications to this.

So Rudy is in deep trouble for a variety of reasons, so he is going to be the focal point of a lot of the inquiry from this point on. And that means the president, who has had a long time relationship with Rudy, is going to have to make a tough choice.

WATT: I do feel like we have been here before, when the Mueller report was reaching its climax.

I mean, that ended, up you, know landing like a wet pudding for various reasons. I, mean is this different?

Is this going to be more of a problem for the president than Mueller ever was?

GENOVESE: Well, we have seen in the last two or three weeks a seismic shift. The president knows now that he is likely to be impeached and will need votes in the Senate.

And so a lot of senators now are criticizing the president for the fiasco in Syria. That has given them permission to criticize the president because the president needs their votes. He will not tweeting against the senators and so politically is much more vulnerable.

He is also more vulnerable because the legal case is starting to really pick up steam.


GENOVESE: You know, the Ukraine situation was deadly for the president and its implications are spreading wider and wider every day, as more and more testimony comes in.

And so the president is really much more vulnerable than he ever was and he is showing it. He is frazzled, he is not on his game. Instead of being the hammer, he is the nail and so he is really not playing offense the way he usually does. He's having to play defense. He does not play defense well, he does not like to play defense.

The news from the Ukraine investigation for the president is about as welcome as an ingrown toenail.


WATT: Let's just move, finally, Michael, to the other side of the aisle. The latest Quinnipiac poll asks Democrats and Democratic leaning voters who their choice was for the nominee to face Donald Trump next year. Elizabeth Warren now on 30 percent, Joe Biden 27 percent, Bernie Sanders 11, Pete Buttigieg 8 percent, Kamala Harris 4 percent.

Is this finally down to a two-horse race?

I mean, we still have some time to go. The horses can shift, still right?

GENOVESE: Right, we have not even had the first Iowa caucus yet but I think it is narrowing down. The winnowing down process is becoming very clear in that Elizabeth Warren is marching to the front of the pack.

And if Bernie Sanders, for whatever reasons, health or otherwise, falters, a lot of his support will go to her, she becomes the presumptive favorite. So Biden has had a very bad couple of weeks. He was the front-runner, all guns are pointed at him, including the president's guns and the president can be very effective.

Donald Trump could not bring his numbers up but he can bring other people down and attacking Biden has been quite effective. He has brought Biden down a bit because of the Hunter Biden situation and Biden did not respond very effectively.

He tried to take the gloves off today, making some pronouncements, I will not have any one of my family working in the White House, et cetera. It may be too little too late. And Elizabeth Warren has run a very cautious, very deliberate campaign, a campaign based on policy and on ideas.

For most political analysts, they say that is deadly. But it seems to have had its impact. Slow and steady seems to be winning the race for Warren so far.

WATT: Michael, thank you very much as always for joining us on the show.

GENOVESE: My pleasure.


WATT: And be sure to tune in for the CNN/"New York Times" Democratic presidential debate; 12 candidates will take the stage at 8:00 pm Tuesday in New York. That is 8:00 am Wednesday in Hong Kong. And if those times don't work for you, the debate replays at 6:00 Wednesday morning in London and at 1:00 in the afternoon in Hong Kong.

Next, Turkey's offensive in Syria could play right into the hands of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. How the ISIS leader and his followers might take advantage of the chaos. That's ahead.

Plus, Russia's president cozying up to longtime U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia. What Vladimir Putin may have to offer the kingdom -- coming up.



WATT: Welcome back. I'm Nick Watt. Let's update you on our top stories this hour. The death toll from Typhoon Hagibis in Japan is now nearing 60. A massive search and rescue operation is still underway. The monstrous storm brought record-setting rain and wind resulting in flooding and landslides. More than 100,000 police, fire, and other workers are involved in the rescue effort. A massive cleanup is underway in Ecuador's capital, after 12 days of protests against the planned fuel subsidy cut. Ecuador's President officially reversed his decision on Monday. At least seven people were killed and hundreds more injured in the protests.

And U.S. President Donald Trump is ordering harsh new sanctions against Turkey. As Ankara pushes on with its offensive against the Kurds in Northern Syria. Turkey launched the operation as U.S. troops on the President's orders began pulling back. Now, the Kurds say they've reached a deal with Syria's government. And Russian-backed Syrian forces are moving north to confront those Turkish troops.

Now, the Kurds were crucial U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS. An alliance now lost, the Kurds now fending off a Turkish advance, and the vacuum left by those departed U.S. troops. CNN's Ben Wedeman was there when ISIS lost its final piece of territory in Eastern Syria. Could the caliphate now rise again?


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was supposed to be the final battle to crush the so-called Caliphate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, reduced to the remote town of Baghouz on the banks of the Euphrates River. By night and by day, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces supported by coalition airstrikes, artillery, and mortar fire pummeled the town for almost two months.

Thousands of ISIS fighters surrendered as their wives and children fled the town. Yet few of them conceded this was the end of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's mad experiment.

Omar, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Syria told me, maybe the Americans ruled the world today but God Almighty promised the Muslims that in the end, the world will be ruled by Islam.

God is testing us, this wife of an ISIS fighters said. The unworthy will leave and the righteous will remain.

The fighters and their families ended up in SDF-run prisons and camps. Many came from Europe, the home countries of the foreign fighters refused to take them back. The camps have become microcosms of the caliphate, where women enforce the draconian laws by which ISIS live and punish those who step out of line.

Last month, al-Baghdadi called upon his supporters to breach the walls of the prisons in the camps. And just days after the Turkish invasion began, that has come to pass. Hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families have escaped, as the SDF shifts some of the men and women away from guarding the camps and toward the front lines.

The U.S. and its Western allies are now pulling out of Northern Syria, as Turkish forces, the Syrian militias, and now the Syrian army rush in, the Americans rush out.

MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES: What we're facing is U.S. forces in a -- trapped between a Syrian Russian army moving north to take on the Turkish army that is moving south. It puts us in a terrible position and the protection and safety of our service members comes first to me.

And I've talked to the President, and he is concerned. And so, last night he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of U.S. forces from the northern part of Syria.

WEDEMAN: The victory over ISIS was a mirage. The effort to crush it has come to naught. The U.S. leaves chaos in its wake. Its so-called deliberate withdrawal seems to be little more than betrayal and retreat. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


WATT: For more, David Sanger joins me from Washington. He's a CNN political and national security analyst, as well as a national security correspondent for The New York Times.


WATT: For more David Sanger joins me from Washington. He's a CNN Political and National Security Analyst as well as a National Security Correspondent for the New York Times. David, so often we pontificate on T.V. about the potential ramifications of a decision, you know, months, maybe years down the line. Here we are seeing those ramifications within days, perhaps, hours. It's quite extraordinary.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And it is, Nick. And I think the reason for that is that we are seeing events play out on the ground that are speeding up the worst warnings that President Trump has been given, really, from months now. Certainly, back in December when he wanted to pull all American troops out of Syria and was told of the consequences, and you'll remember that's when General Jim Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, resigned in protest.

So, what we're seeing happen now is that in one fell swoop, the President agreed to an action by President Erdogan that ended up empowering Russians, empowering ISIS, empowering the Iranians, empowering Bashar Assad and basically selling out the Kurds who have been the American allies.

WATT: And I mean, the President has said, and I quote him that he has great and unmatched wisdom in this area. Is that kind of perhaps misplaced confidence problem here? Is that what -- is that what's causing this, or is there a naivety on behalf of the President, or is there something more nefarious that is driving his policy here?

SANGER: Well, you know, I think that'll be debated by historians, by conspiracy theorists for a long time. A few things are clear. He came into office with a very clear view and maybe a mandate from his base to reduce American commitments abroad. He sometimes conflates what he calls endless wars with a persistent presence like what you see along the Syrian border, like what you see in Germany, like what you see in Japan and South Korea, where an American force is there as a deterrent, but really isn't taking any casualties, and frequently isn't spending all that much money. And certainly, this operation in Syria was a very small one.

Thirdly, I think the President has often said that he trusts his own gut. He obviously is not somebody who sits around and spends the evening reading intelligence reports or summaries of policy papers. He very much learned to trust his instincts in the real estate world. And I think it's just another example of why when you hear sometimes that we need to apply more of the lessons of business to government, it doesn't always work.

WATT: But, I mean, now what we're seeing are the Kurds making a deal with Damascus. I mean, this has changed the whole picture there on the ground. I mean, what is going to happen in the next month, too, as a result of this?

SANGER: Well, you know, two weeks ago, we couldn't have anticipated this would happen. Back last summer, Jim Jeffrey, the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria and a previous Ambassador to Turkey and Iraq, very experienced diplomat, told people at the Aspen Security Forum out in Colorado that the United States presence along that border would be indefinite. Well, clearly, he was wrong.

And so, we couldn't predict that this was going to happen. A few things do seem clear, the President on Monday decided to announce some modest sanctions against Turkey and against individual Turks, not against President Erdogan, interestingly enough. I doubt these will be enough to get them to reverse chorus and pull back to their borders. It's just an effort to see if they can get a ceasefire. I suspect that'll be difficult.

I think the second thing you'll see is more empowerment of the Russians, because they're in pretty good shape right now and their forces are looking pretty good. So, Putin's bet during the Obama administration that if he moved into Syria, he wouldn't be pushed back out, that's paying off.

WATT: And David, finally, just sort of taking this bigger -- I mean, the U.S. is, for good or evil, the kind of world's policeman in a sense. I mean, now, why would any government, why would any faction, why would anybody like the Kurds ever trust this administration again?

SANGER: They wouldn't. And I think the bigger and more interesting question, Nick, is, will they trust the United States again? I mean, the President isn't the first one among in the U.S. to at some point or another, give up on an ally. And certainly not the first time the Kurds have been betrayed. That happened, of course, back in the 80s, as well.


So I think people would be increasingly cautious. So, I think you're getting at the central question, which is, at some point the Trump presidency will end. We don't know whether that's in 2021, or that's in 2025, but at some point, it will.

And then the question is, is it possible to move -- to rebuild old alliances or is this one of those cases where you can sort of never go home again, that the world will have changed in some fundamental ways while President Trump was president and we're just going to have to adjust. And maybe in a world where China's rising so quickly, adjust to being number two.

WATT: David Sanger joining us from Washington, thank you very much.

SANGER: Thank you. Always good to be with you.

WATT: And as David Sanger just noted, the U.S. withdrawal from Syria is a big win for Russia whose troops can now move into filled the vacuum. Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently in the Middle East to discuss the situation in Syria, among other things. First, with a visit to Saudi Arabia, and now onto the UAE. CNN's Matthew Chance has more from Riyadh.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When Washington steps back, the Kremlin and its allies step in. It's already happening in Northern Syria, but is it starting in Saudi Arabia, too? It's one of the questions looming over this Russian- state visit, the latest high-profile sign of the Kremlin cozying up to the kingdom. Russian officials tell me it's just a natural partnership between the world's two biggest oil exporters. KIRILL DMITRIEV, CEO, RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: So, we really believe that Russia and Saudi Arabia can be very good partners because we share lots of interests in common.


DMITRIEV: And the sustainability of oil markets, also transformation of our economies that need to grow better, so we expect to have, you know, tens of billions of joint investment projects.

CHANCE: But this is more than just another business relationship. Russia and Saudi Arabia share strongman leaders with autocratic tendencies uncritical of each other's alleged human rights abuses. Important amid growing U.S. criticism of Saudi conduct. Like its brutal killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year that the kingdom blames on rogue operatives. And the alleged targeting of civilians by Saudi-led forces and its war on Houthi rebels in Yemen. The U.S. Congress even tried to cut off arms sales over the issue.

Still, this remains one of America's strongest allies, reluctant to criticize U.S. policy, even a policy to which Saudi Arabia is bitterly opposed.

Do you think it was right for the United States to abandon its Kurdish allies in this way?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I don't think I would describe it as such. I believe that the U.S. is still working with the -- with the Kurdish forces in the Northeast of Syria. And the U.S. has to decide what its policy should be. It should be --

CHANCE: Do you agree with the Kurdish leadership that the U.S. has a moral responsibility to protect the people who's been fighting side by side --

AL-JUBEIR: I haven't seen that, so I'm not going to comment on it.

CHANCE: Of course, it's Russia and the Syrian army it backs, now moving to fill the vacuum left in Kurdish areas which U.S. forces depart. That will be noticed here.

And while the U.S.-Saudi alliance remains strong, it's Putin on the red carpet right now. Saudi officials tell me, the days of a single strategic partner for the kingdom are already gone. Matthew Chance, CNN, Riyadh.


WATT: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a busy schedule in the coming hours during their visits to Pakistan. Prince William and his wife, Kate, arrived in Islamabad late Monday. They'll be visit several schools which are working on environmental projects. The five-day tour is aimed at boosting ties and confronting issues such as climate change. They're scheduled to meet with the country's president and prime minister later in the day. This is the first trip to Pakistan by members of the British Royal Family in more than a decade.

And the police in Texas have arrested one of their own in connection with a fatal shooting over the weekend. Just ahead, we'll find out why the victim's family is calling for a federal investigation. And the former President of South Africa gets his day in court. The charges against him and the dispute over who's paying for his defense, that's ahead.



WATT: Police in Texas say an officer who fatally shot an unarmed black woman inside her own home has been arrested. Former Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean has been charged with murder in the killing of Atatiana Jefferson on Saturday.

Police were responding to a call from a neighbor who was concerned that a door had been left open in the victim's home. As you can see in this body cam footage, the officer who never identified himself walked around the house and opened fire just seconds after shouting a verbal command.

Jefferson was pronounced dead at the scene. The killing has sparked outrage across the U.S. The victim's attorney and family spoke to CNN's Don Lemon on Monday, and they say their search for justice is just beginning.


ADARIUS CARR, BROTHER OF ATATIANA JEFFERSON: He did get what I wanted him to get and this is only the start. There's no way this is enough. We know this is a good step in the direction that where we want to go, but it's definitely not the end.

LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY TO JEFFERSON FAMILY: Unfortunately, in the American judicial system, we've seen cops get away with things that are completely unjustifiable.

Tamir Rice playing with a toy gun in a park. There -- they perceive threats. We often see law enforcement officers perceiving threats from the most mundane things that black people are doing and justifying the use of deadly force.

And so, while this is a start, we know that there is a long road to a prosecution. A conviction, and our appropriate sentence.


WATT: The family is called for an independent investigation by federal authorities.

Meanwhile, the trial of former president of South Africa on corruption charges begins in just about an hour from now.

Jacob Zuma faces multiple charges related to a $2.5 billion arms deal. He was forced to resign in 2018. But, only after the country's economy was brought to his knees.

CNN's David McKenzie joins us live from Johannesburg. David, I'm sure this is a day that many people thought they would never see.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a day that many thought they'd never see, because Jacob Zuma and his legal team, Nick, have for years tried to delay this trial with any means legally possible.

They try to delay it permanently. But on last Friday, the judges in that court said that they can't, in fact, stop this prosecution. And agreed with the prosecution, saying it was scandalous that they were trying to delay it further.


MCKENZIE: He has his day in court today on 16 cases of -- 16 charges of fraud racketeering and money laundering from a case stemming way back into the '90s over an arms deal, Nick. But again, they might yet again try to delay this and appeal it, or try to get an appeal going for this case.

And it's not the last we've seen of this today tactics, potentially, one major issue for Zuma is he says he's running out of cash and has been made to pay back fees on legal fees for many years amounting to way an excess of a million dollars. Nick?

WATT: I mean, David, is this Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa finally dealing with the corruption that has blighted this country?

MCKENZIE: Well, certainly, the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa who had helped push out his predecessor, said that it's all about strengthening institutions like the justice system, like the prosecuting authority to deal with issues of corruption.

Just yesterday, in fact, in London, he said that Jacob Zuma costs the country, at least, $33 billion because of that alleged draft. And the case that he is in court today to face is just one of many, many allegations of corruption.

Just a few days ago, as well, the U.S. government put sanctions around the Magnitsky Act to several former associates -- allegedly of Jacob Zuma -- the Gupta brothers, which shows that potentially the net is tightening on Zuma and his cohorts.

But up until now, no one's gone to prison. Nick?

WATT: David McKenzie in Johannesburg. Thanks very much.

Next, a first in the world of football. When we return, could a match between Palestinians and Saudi Arabia spurred change in the Middle East?


WATT: Basketball superstar LeBron James is finally speaking out about the huge controversy involving China and the NBA. He says he believes the Houston Rockets general manager was "not educated and only thinking about himself," when he tweeted support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Daryl Morey's tweet sparked a strong backlash from China. James says there can be a lot of negative that comes from freedom of speech.


LEBRON JAMES, THREE-TIMES NBA FINALS MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: I just think that -- you know, when you're misinformed or you're not educated about something, and I'm just talking about, you know, the tweet itself, you know, you never know what the ramifications that can happen.

And you know, we all see what that did. Not only did for our league but for all of us in America, for people in China, as well. And sometimes, you have the think through things that you say that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people.


WATT: James didn't mention the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. And later, he tweeted, "Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that."


The World Cup qualifier between Saudi Arabia and Palestine will be a first for the sport of football. In the coming hours, the two teams will play each other in Israeli occupied territory. This marks the first time a Saudi delegation has ever traveled to the area.

The game hailed as a win by all sides including Israel, which hopes that the match will help grow diplomacy with other Arab states.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has more.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Sports are supposed to be above politics. But on this pitch, the football is almost a sideshow. It's Saudi Arabia versus Palestine, playing in Israeli occupied territory, the first-ever official Saudi visit here.

Marking the historic visit, the Saudi team met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Sunday.

YASSER AL-MISHAL, PRESIDENT, SAUDI SOCCER FEDERATION (through translator): Since we were children, we have known and loved Palestine. We have wished and dreamt about visiting Palestine. Thank God, I consider myself very lucky to be the first president of the Saudi Federation, and possibly the first Saudi official to reach the Palestinian territories. LIEBERMANN: Saudi officials visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Islam outside of Saudi Arabia.

JIBRIL RAJOUB, LEADER, PALESTINIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION: Saudi Arabia was always committed to our justice course, supported us everywhere, and everything, all the time.

LIEBERMANN: The match itself will be played here at Faisal Al- Husseini stadium on the edge of Jerusalem. The stadium entrance faces the separation barrier, a daily reality for Palestinians living here.

In a match of two teams here, there are three sides who claimed a measure of victories. The Saudis, who see this as playing for the first time ever in Palestine, the Palestinians who see this as the Saudi standing with their cause, and even the Israelis, who see this as a measure of growing ties with the Arab states.

Arab teams have played here before. Iraq played a friendly here last year. And the United Arab Emirates played a match here in 2015. But that same year, the Saudis refused to play here. Saying, it would be normalizing ties with Israel.

When asked why come here now? The coach of the Saudi team shifted the conversation back to football.

HERVE RENARD, MANAGER, SAUDI ARABIA'S NATIONAL TEAM: If we can have one world with peace in everywhere, it would be perfect. Of course, it's not the case, but we are not a politician we are football players and coaches.

LIEBERMANN: It might be easy to read too much into this match. But like Israel's judo team competing in Abu Dhabi for the first time one year ago, the symbolism matters. Right now, Sports is out in front of politics. The question is whether the politics cares to follow.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Faisal Al-Husseini stadium.


WATT: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt. More news coming up with Kristie Lu Stout from Hong Kong.