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Spain Protests; Civil Unrest Triggered by Long Prison Sentences of Catalan Leaders of Failed Independence Vote. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 17, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- on Wednesday, try to get on Thursday, but we're dragged out one by one by police from Hong Kong's legislative chamber as Carrie Lam eventually delivers her annual address.

Catalan fury and flame once again as protesters rage over the jailing and the long sentences of nine separatist leaders.

Well, hopes for a ceasefire in northern Syria could now rest with the U.S. Vice President and Secretary of State. Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are on the way to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But Erdogan has already rejected the ceasefire with Syrian Kurds, saying he'll never sit at the same table with terrorists.

U.S. President Donald Trump tried to persuade Erdogan in an extraordinary letter which he wrote last week. It reads in part, "Dear Mr. President, let's look at a good deal. History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool." On Wednesday, though, at the White House, Donald Trump seems less concerned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our soldiers are not in harm's way as they shouldn't be as two countries fight over land. That has nothing to do with us. Syria may have some help with Russia, and that's fine. It's a lot of sand. They've got a lot of sand over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Turkey's forces though seem determined to push on as far into northern Syria as possible before any kind of settlement, but two new roadblocks that are standing in their way, Russian forces and Syrian government army forces. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Any diplomatic solution for the crisis in northeastern Syria got a lot more difficult tonight. Now, we can see pictures of Syrian regime forces entering the vastly symbolic city of Kobane. That's where Syrian Kurds fought alongside America providing airstrikes to kick ISIS out of what eventually became the rubble of the city.

Now, Donald Trump today has added extra fuel to his critics by saying that he believes the PKK who were part of the Syrian Kurdish force really, that fought against ISIS alongside the Americans, he thinks that they are worse terrorists than ISIS themselves. A startling comment to make for a man he also said he thought that the American withdrawal from Syria was "strategically brilliant." Well, inside Syria, they didn't have time for self-praise, instead, they're busy with funerals.

There's little lines left to Syria's Kurds who must bury their dead and that old allegiances. It wasn't time for you to die, my son. Why were you killed? She mourns. A mistake is defending the country against invaders. Take a moment to consider their world. It's really like this before, under American direction to fight ISIS and bury 10,000 sons and daughters.

Now, America's president in one phone call has unleashed Turkey's NATO standard Army and Air Force on them and America's military has reluctantly left them. The martyr does not die to chance, one of many here who do not look like they'll submit to Turkey's new borders soon.

At the hospital Qamishli, the doctors lined up outside to receive the wounded. It is an endless stream. Despite over a week of fighting, Syrian Kurdish fighters who complained so often and only having old Kalashnikovs to combat ISIS is still holding the Turkish forces back.

It had some help, desperate enough to strike a deal with something worse and the devil, the Syrian regime arriving here, quite far north in the town of (INAUDIBLE). The flags may be so new, they've just been unfolded, but the moves, the show of loyalty is old and practiced.

Our spirits are high and our wills strong, he says. We're here to defend Syrian land and people, another adds. While diplomacy stalls at Ankara, and soon the Kremlin, and the displaced scavenge shelter yet again, possibly hundreds of thousands on the move as the fighting continues.

Turkish President Erdogan wants control of deep swathes of Syria, yet the Kurds are fighting hard for Ras al-Ain with the Syrian regime supporting in nearby Tal Tamr. Pro-Turkish forces push towards this road and the American base west, but the regime and Russia are now in man bridge, setting both sides for a collision in the city of Kobane.

And Wednesday night video emerged of a deeply symbolic moment, Syrian regime forces entering the city of Kobane, but a Syrian Kurds fought for months with American air support to kick ISIS out of the rubble, but we're now Russia and the regime are their new protectors from America's NATO ally.

All eyes not really on the meeting in Ankara between President Erdogan and the American delegation arriving there, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence. Instead, really, on the meeting of President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin because it's Putin who's backing the regime forces. His military policeman or acting as a buffer in some areas between them and the Turkish forces. He's the muscle now behind the Syrian Kurds, Turkey sworn enemy.

And of course, in the days before that meeting, we will see both sides try and improve their position on the front lines. The city of Kobane sieged in the past, beleaguered deeply, rubble after ISIS were forced out of it. That will now be I'm sure the focus because neither side will be happy if the other controls it.

Very tense days ahead, ahead of that diplomatic meeting between the Turkish and Russian president. Nick Paton Walsh CNN, Erbil, Northern Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[01:05:57]

VAUSE: And joining us now from Washington is CNN Global Affairs Analysts and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, also a Columnist for The Washington Post Max Boot Good to see you, Max.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYSTS: Good to see you.

VAUSE: Well, that claim we just heard from the President about U.S. soldiers being out of harm's way. It was one of the sort of four big misleading statements Donald Trump made in about four minutes. Here's another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So our view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria should be for the United States strategically brilliant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: I am not a stable genius like the president is so -- you know, I'm not genius, so how can this situation actually be strategically brilliant for the United States?

BOOT: Well, clearly, it's not. I mean, that's a reason why a majority of the President's own party in the House of Representatives just voted to condemn Trump's policy. Presumably, for actually strategically brilliant, they would not be condemning it.

Of course, Trump is literally the only person in the world who thinks this is strategically brilliant aside possibly from Vladimir Putin because this is certainly in Russia's interest but it is not an America's interest.

And you know that whole press conference that Trump did with the Italian president, it was all just bonkers. I mean, it was a combination of bizarre off the wall claims like claiming this is strategically brilliant or claiming that the Kurds are no angels and basically trying to blame the Kurds for their own misfortune, suggesting that he doesn't -- that Trump doesn't care about what happens in northern Syria, which is completely at odds with the attempts of his own administration to reach a ceasefire.

And then, you know, claiming that US troops are completely safe, even as they're calling airstrikes to destroy their own headquarters, which they had to evacuate so hastily in front of a Turkish advance. So, you know, the -- you know, Donald Trump is often untethered from reality, but I think apparently, evidently, more so than usual even, when it comes to his comments about Syria.

VAUSE: Part of the sort of the bonkers nature of statements in that news conference was the one when Donald Trump refused to acknowledge that he was the one who gave Turkey the green light for this military offensive. It began two days after he ordered U.S. troops to pull out of the region, an order he gave for a phone call with President Erdogan on Sunday. And this is the President saying it wasn't him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I didn't give him a green light, just the opposite of a green light. First of all, we had virtually no soldiers there. They were mostly gone, just a tiny little group. And they would have been in harm's way. You have a massive army on the other side of the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: I mean, that's just ridiculous, but perhaps one of most consequential falsehoods and he touched on this was when he said about the Kurds. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you look at the Kurds, and again, I say this with great respect, they're are no angels. If you look at PKK, take a look at PKK, ISIS respects PKK. You know why? Because there is tough or tougher than ISIS. You take a look at a lot of the things having to do, you have to say it, nobody wants to say it, we're making the Kurds look like they're angels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, the Israeli President, the former Israeli President Shimon Peres will always say there are no clean hands in the Middle East to be fair, so -- but it's incredible, though, to hear the President of the United States devalue an ally who fought not so much alongside but actually, for the U.S.

Senator from Utah, Mitt Romney, he said, Oh, my goodness gracious, in response to this. They are our friends. They have been our ally, and abandoning them was a very dark moment in American history. So is this the president ignorant of history or deliberately twisting it for his own purposes or is he being played by Erdogan?

BOOT: I don't think those options are actually exclusive. I think that it's quite possible that it's some of each of those. And, you know, clearly, most of what he said in that press availability was dishonest, wrong, misleading. But I think you know, the trashing of the Kurds was probably what was most offensive because he was basically trying to wash his hands out of the betrayal of these valiant American allies.

You know, they lost something like 11,000 fighters to defeat ISIS and basically fighting our battles for us. And now he's abandoned them and not just abandon them, but now he feels compelled to trash them, to smear their good name, and to claim that there's something wrong with the Kurds.

I mean, that is, you know, just very offensive, very disgusting and very much at odds with the mindset of the U.S. military which operated with those Kurdish fighters on the ground. And you're seeing all over the place U.S. Special Forces officers saying that they are ashamed by this betrayal, which is very strong language coming from military officers who are always trained to defer to their civilian superiors.

VAUSE: Very quickly, I want to finish up with the letter written by Trump to the President of Turkey on October 9th which has just been released. It finishes with this line. "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I'll call you later." Apparently, he handed copies of this letter at the White House meeting with congressional leaders sort of an attempt to show how tough he was with the Turkish leader. It shows a lot about the president, but maybe not his toughness.

BOOT: It shows a stunning lack of self-awareness. I mean, this is kind of similar to the way that he released the transcript of the call with President Zelensky of Ukraine. And Trump claims, it's a beautiful call. It was perfect, nothing wrong. And everybody's reading it saying, holy cow, this is incredibly improper, this is wrong.

And now with this letter, Trump thinks that it's -- I don't know, you know, showing that he's a tough guy but what is -- what it really shows is that he's, you know, operating a basically a grade school mentality. I mean, this is kind of the letter that you would expect a fourth grader to write about that level of sophistication.

It's just shocking and appalling that the President would send such a letter on behalf of the United States. And what's even more shocking and appalling is that there is not a single person in the White House with the standing to actually say, Mr. President, this letter is an embarrassment. Why don't we get our professional diplomats to write a more sophisticated letter and do what we do?

But no, there is nobody who can stand up to Trump whether he's trying to pressure foreign countries to intervene in our politics or whether he is allowing Turkey, a green light for aggression in northern Syria. At this point in his presidency, he is increasingly willful. I mean, he really looks A, you know, unstable and B, unstoppable.

I mean, he's, he's doing what he wants, and anybody who might tell him otherwise is gone from this administration.

VAUSE: Very quickly, did you think that it was a hoax when you first saw it? BOOT: I mean, sure. I think that everybody who saw it thought this was a parody. But I mean, you know, real life is making the onion superfluous.

VAUSE: Yes, good point. Max, we'll leave it at there. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

BOOT: Thank you.

VAUSE: President Trump's decision to withdraw troops on Northern Syria has resulted in a rare moment of bipartisanship in Congress. The House voted overwhelmingly to condemn the president. And that set the scene for a fiery meeting at the White House between Democratic Congressional leaders and the president. CNN's Boris Sanchez has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's now a war of words between Democrats and Republicans over exactly what happened during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the President's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria and then the Turkish military entrance into that region.

Both sides accusing the other of having a meltdown with Democrats saying that they walked into that meeting with the President not interested in having a conversation but rather in insulting them specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Listen to how Democrats described what took place in that meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I would witness on the part of the President was a meltdown, sad to say.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): He called her third rate politician. This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: The White House is pushing back on this. The Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham put out a statement that reads, "The President was measured factual and decisive while Speaker Pelosi's decision to walk out was baffling but not surprising. She had no intention of listening or controlling to an important meeting on national security issues. While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country."

We should point out the President has tweeted multiple times following this meeting of images apparently taken during a meeting at the White House trying to troll Democrats. He has not tweeted about the substance of the meeting quite yet.

He hasn't tweeted about the overwhelmingly bipartisan resolution that was passed in the House on Wednesday, nor about the potential for sanctions to be introduced on Thursday in Congress, a bipartisan package of sanctions that are reportedly much harsher than those sanctions placed on Turkey by the White House. Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: As part of the I'm rubber you're glue tit for tat, Speaker Pelosi is now using that photo from the President's Twitter account as her cover photo on her Twitter page. Well, still to come, that ticking sounds in the distance sets the sound of the Brexit clock winding down. With the crucial meeting set to get underway in Brussels, British and European leaders believe they may be just so close, oh so close to a deal. But really, are they?

[01:15:18]

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DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: A powerful low pressure system across Northern New England will allow for a blustery and rather wet day across the Northeast, but it is quickly pulling away from New England, so improving conditions to the course of your Thursday. Otherwise, a high fire risk across the four corners region of the U.S. and the northwestern parts of the country, experiencing rain and cool temperatures.

Here's the departing low pressure system, still plenty of wind associated with this, so double check your flight plans from New York into Boston, as well as Portland, Maine, could be impacted. Of course, we'll have improving wind conditions through the course of the day. Now, across Colorado and to Arizona as well as Wyoming, portions of Utah, we have a high fire risk with red flag warnings hoisted across this region. Here is the potential for some tropical development this weekend. So, plenty of weather going on across North America. National Hurricane Center has a 60 percent probability of tropical cyclone development, especially across the western and central Gulf of Mexico. One thing is for sure this will bring plenty of much needed rain actually across the southeast from Georgia into the Carolinas as well as the Florida Panhandle.

Talking temperatures now, 13 for Chicago, 19 near Atlanta, the Big Apple at 13, Denver 27, and we're expecting a high of 19 for San Francisco, and 24 degrees if you're located in Los Angeles.

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VAUSE: In the coming hours, the British Prime Minister and E.U. leaders will be arriving in Brussels for a summit which might just be the last chance for a Brexit deal before the deadline at the end of the month. Sources tell CNN the British government remains optimistic a deal can be reached. CNN's Nic Robertson reports diplomats have been working around the clock to make it happen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, According

to those E.U. diplomats, important progress has been made between the negotiating teams, but there still remains some gaps and what they're trying to do is close down the legal text to bridge those gaps. And here it is, past midnight, the light still on, those few lights you can see in the middle of that building there, that's where the negotiations are underway, trying to solve the last remaining issues. Optimism has been high.

[01:19:58]

We don't know today precisely what it is, what language isn't working, precisely what is still the points of friction, but what we do know is that later in the afternoon, both the German Chancellor, the French President Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel meeting together in Toulouse in France has sounded as if they really thought this was closing in. In the home stretch, Angela Merkel had said. You know, in the final few hours, Emmanuel micron has said. So, there was that real sense that whatever the stumbling block that these legal details, these legal texts could be done.

But here we are, in the early hours of Thursday morning, E.U. leaders expected here, middle of the day, Thursday, and number one on their agenda is supposed to be Brexit. So, the hope here in Brussels is, is that this text can be finalized in time for them to see it. The briefing out of 10 Downing Street in London, don't expect a deal tonight. The lights are still on. They're still trying to make it happen. Nic Robertson, CNN, Brussels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: CNN European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas, joins us now live from Los Angeles. Dominic, good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to what optimism in Europe sounds like when it comes to Brexit. First up, here's the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): The news we are hearing from Brussels could be worse, to put it that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And now, the French President, Emmanuel Macron. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): When it comes to Brexit, I want to believe that an agreement is being finalized and we can talk about it tomorrow at the European Council summit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So, for Merkel, things can be a whole lot worse. For Macron, instead of close your eyes and hope that, you know, the Brexit fairy will make all your dreams come true.

THOMAS: Well, look, John, I mean, Angela Merkel has more than a decade of being the German Chancellor. This is a governmental system that relies on negotiations. It's all about coalitions, and she knows that it is not done until it is signed and the ink has dried. In terms of Emmanuel Macron, he's frustrated by the process. First of all, it's a distraction from his greater E.U. integration projects. And he also understands that this is essentially a project being driven by a certain wing of the Conservative Party in the U.K.

And until some kind of Brexit is delivered, the U.K. is simply not going to go away on this particular issue. And deep down, he doesn't want to push the British people towards this decision, but he knows that ultimately, unless some kind of Brexit is delivered, this problem is going to haunt them for a generation to come. And that's really the conclusion that he -- that he has reached on this.

VAUSE: It feels like it has already haunted us for a generation. Apparently, though, this breakthrough moment -- if there is to be a breakthrough moment, came last week when the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unexpectedly invited the Irish Prime Minister for a walk in the woods at a secret location. They emerged to say they could actually see a pathway forward to this Brexit deal. So, let's assume they get this agreement. Some of the details have already emerged. You know, we believe they're true. But you know, essentially, the U.K. it appears has caved on the issue of Northern Ireland, which will eventually have some kind of border with the Republic of Ireland because that's where the E.U. will meet the U.K. post Brexit world, and Northern Ireland will remain in the E.U. Customs Union. This is going to be -- this is not an easy thing to sell.

THOMAS: Well, no, it's not an easy thing to sell, but let's just go remember back, you know, Theresa May, that essentially what Theresa May has have the U.K. remain in a -- in a customs union with Northern Ireland also being in a single-market agreement to prevent the return of a hard border, and until a trade deal was struck. Now, Boris Johnson essentially and this has been shifting over the past two weeks, wants to be able to go back to the U.K. and if he does get this current deal with the E.U. and signed and ratified, he will be able to argue that he is extricating the whole of the U.K. from the Customs Union and that only Northern Ireland will maintain and observe E.U. rules, concerning tariffs, quotas, and so on, and that those checks will take place outside in the Irish Sea.

So, he prevents the hard border, and at the same time, can argue back in Parliament to all the different groups that he needs to convince that essentially, we will be leaving as a whole from the European Union. Now, we'll have to see how that works out over the next 24 hours, of course.

VAUSE: It seems that he has to convince these different groups of something different, which opposes what the other -- he's telling the other group. He'll be telling Northern Ireland, that you're still part of the U.K., you're still part of our -- you know, you're not -- we're not leaving you behind. But essentially, that's what will be happening because of the deal, which we set out with Northern Ireland, in a way, separate to the United Kingdom under this arrangement. He then has to go to the Brexiteers and say that we're all coming out together, we're not leaving anyone behind. I mean, you know, he's a good politician. He has a, you know, a good sort of vocabulary about him in a very quick wit and turn of phrase, but that does seem to be a very difficult task, even for this Prime Minister.

[01:24:59]

THOMAS: It does. I think there's a couple of things. I think, first of all, he can go to them and say essentially, as Theresa May said all along, this is the best deal, the only deal, the last deal. I mean, essentially, if you don't support this, I will be forced because you voted on this through the (INAUDIBLE) Act to ask for an extension. And you all know that the longer this thing goes on, the greater likelihood it is that we will never actually get to Brexit, as we just keep extending this all along. The other thing to remember is that Theresa May actually had a majority with the DUP, and the deal failed three times.

So, in addition to the DUP and the ERG, he's also got the problem that the Conservative Party essentially lost 20 of its supporters who were thrown out of the party for bucking the legislation that would prevent him from having a no deal. And he also needs essentially some of that labor constituencies that have supporters who want them to leave the European Union. So, if any one of those particular groups disappears, he essentially will have no way of getting this through.

And let's not forget that the shadow hanging over all of this is a potential general election. If Parliament supports Boris Johnson and enables him to deliver Brexit, you could argue that the Conservative Party would be looking at one of its greatest electoral majorities. The Lib Dems would disappear, because there's no more argument for essentially revoking and remaining, the Brexit party folks can disappear like (INAUDIBLE) and move over to the conservatives. And it would essentially be the end of Jeremy Corbyn because there's nothing else to do here. And so, given the fact that he's lost his majority, and he has all these particular groups to look over this, it seems almost impossible that even if he does return from the E.U., he won't be able to get this through. And therefore, we're going to be looking at an extension again, and taking this a few more months down the road.

VAUSE: It's a Chinese finger puzzle, isn't it? Anyway, the more you move, the more trouble you get into. How it is to work it out. Dominic, we're out of time, we'll leave it there. Good to have you with us. Thank you.

THOMAS: OK, thanks, John.

VAUSE: Thank you. Cheers, Dominic. We'll be back after we take a short break. n't move back up to take a short break. We're talking about the situation in Northern Spain after the leaders it failed independence movement are given lengthy prison sentences and that sparked days of unrest.

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[01:30:30]

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The U.S. Vice President and Secretary of State are hoping they can end the fighting in northern Syria. Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo will meet with Turkey's president in the coming hours but Recep Tayyip Erdogan is already ruling out a cease fire in its military offensive against Syrian Kurds.

A White House meeting on President Trump's troops withdrawal from Syria fell apart Wednesday when Democratic leaders walked out. They say the President called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a third grade or third rate politician. Pelosi has made the President's tweet and photo of her at that meeting; that's now the cover photo on her Twitter page. How about that?

A crucial Brexit summit starts in Brussels in any moment. E.U. and U.K. leaders say they're optimistic an agreement is close. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson likened the situation to climbing Mount Everest. Even if negotiators make a deal, it will still need parliamentary approval from the Britain's House of Commons.

After months of unrest and widespread pro-democracy demonstrations, Hong Kong's chief executive was hoping her annual address would be a moment to restore calm. It was not.

For a second day, Carrie Lam, the self-described Iron Lady of Hong Kong was shouted down by pro democracy lawmakers, causing the session to be repeatedly suspended. Driving some of the anger it seems is the brutal attack on a prominent democracy leader.

And a warning: the image you are about to see is very graphic. The man on the ground was taken to hospital with serious head injuries after being set on by a group of men who were armed with hammers.

Barcelona once again caught up in political turmoil -- all linked to the decades' old dream of Catalonian independence. For a third day, city streets erupted with fires and violent clashes with police. At least 20 people have been detained so far.

The spark of the latest unrest was the lengthy prison sentences handed down to the leaders of an outlawed referendum's -- independent referendum rather which was held two years ago.

Thousands of protesters gathered Monday after nine Catalan leaders is jailed for up to 13 years on charges which included sedition. Spain is trying to extradite Carlos Puigdemont, the former leader of Catalonia, who is now in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

Dominic Thomas, our European affairs commentator is back once again. He is from Los Angeles. So good to see you. It's been awhile I think.

Ok. This sentence, this 13 years jail time for holding a referendum -- it seems on the surface at least, it seems kind of excessive and harsh. Is that the case.

And was there another reason why these protests erupted now so violently or is it purely these sentences which were handed out?

THOMAS: Well, yes John -- throughout this process, Madrid, you know the Spanish capital where the Supreme Court sits, the government, even the king in what is it parliamentary monarchy has stepped into the fray and talked about this whole question of Catalonia secession. And so there is this widespread feeling in Catalonia that Madrid has been overreaching

And even though these sentences were designed to send a strong message to anybody who threatens Spanish unity, the fact remains that it ultimately added fire to what was already an extraordinarily volatile situation and things are back to where now a few years ago.

VAUSE: Which is bizarre because when you think about, you know, Spain -- this is obviously (ph) a totalitarian government that hand out harsh prison sentences like, you know, in other countries like China or North Korea.

Could they have been a bit smarter about this and avoided these protests in the first place?

THOMAS: Well, in recent history, you may be right. But let's just think back to the Franco years and the ways in which that has, of course, you know, contaminated this political discussion today.

But no, I think, you know, you are absolutely right that when we look at the context today, first of all in the broader aspect of Spain, Spain is about to head in November into its fourth general election in just a four-year period.

No political party commands a majority. They all need the support of smaller parties. And in many ways you could argue that for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, this could be a gross miscalculation because he is going to need the support of the smaller parties.

And the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party at the head of which he sits, has done well traditionally in big spaces, big cities like Barcelona that precisely in the smaller rural areas he has struggled.

What we also see this time around is the movement is changed from when we started talking about it let's just say back in 2017. It's that many of the leaders, many of the demonstrators are equating in this kind of Madrid versus Catalonia analogies to what is going on in Hong Kong today.

[01:35:04]

THOMAS: That there is this kind of David and Goliath process at work here that is threatening the ability and the capacity of people in the region of Catalonia to express what they see as their Democratic rights.

VAUSE: A former vice president of Catalonia -- he is among those sentenced to 13 years in jail. He wrote an op-ed for the "Washington Post". Here's part of it.

"With this verdict, Spain has told the citizens of Catalonia that they do not have a right to decide on their future in a democratic way, thus limiting their civil and political rights. However a new period has started in which this conflict will have to be dealt with and resolved through international consensus -- the European institutions, the United Nations, and if need be, international courts of law."

So who's going to tell Oriol Junqueras (ph) -- I think that's his name -- that there has been sort of only deafening silence from Europe? And if there's been be anything from the U.N., I didn't hear it. There doesn't seem to be a lot of support out there for this movement at the moment.

THOMAS: No, there really doesn't -- John. And I think there are a number of reasons. I think, you know, first of all, yes you could argue that they haven't deported the former president of Catalan who currently sits in Belgium even though an international warrant has been issued or will be issued for his arrest.

The Europeans courts yes, are about to weigh in on whether or not some of the representatives elected in the May E.U. elections will be allowed to take up their seats.

But the fact remains that when it comes to let's just say, the Yellow Jackets in France or other claims for secession, autonomy and independence within the European Union, the E.U. 28 have remained relatively united in not interfering in what they essentially see as the domestic affairs of one of their fellow nation states.

And I think that that story is unlikely to change as much as people find the violence disquieting when it comes to the context in Spain today.

VAUSE: And the heaviest of disturbing reports of police driving cars into these protests and you know, a lot of people have been hurt through all of this?

THOMAS: Yes. Well, I mean the optics have been appalling and they were right at the beginning when the elections were outlawed in the area. The police stepped in with extraordinary violence and I think that that obviously was denounced and extremely problematic.

People want to go to the polls but there's this standoff between the government that absolutely insists that Spanish unity must come first and they will fight with all their means against this.

VAUSE: Dominic -- (INAUDIBLE) Dominic Thomas in the show, I think. So it's good to see you twice. Thanks -- mate.

THOMAS: All right. Well thank you so much.

VAUSE: See you.

Stay with us. A bomb cyclone taking shape in the northeastern part of the United States. The weather system expected to bring some heavy rains. The very strong, powerful, gusty winds -- that's all happening in the comings hours.

We'll have the very latest forecast in just a moment.

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VAUSE: Well, look who's here -- Derek Van Dam because a bomb cyclone -- or should it be a cyclone bomb -- taking shape along the U.S. East Coast. This is going to be pretty bad.

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VAN DAM: It is. And I smell plane delays, right.

VAUSE: Oh yes. Pack your patience.

VAN DAM: That's right.

VAUSE: Get a good book.

VAN DAM: Pack your patience -- that's a good one.

It is true because this is going to have major impacts along the East Coast than already is. We've had delays. We've got cancellations. And of course, everybody is picking up on the word of a bomb cyclone, right.

VAUSE: Cyclone bomb.

VAN DAM: Yes. And you know what, it's potato -- potato, right. And the thing is John -- the storm actually has to meet a certain criteria to get a bomb cyclone status. What is that criteria?

Well, we measure the strength of low pressure systems by the actual pressure within the center of the storm. So it has to drop certain amount of pressure within the 24 hour period, specifically 24 millibars. That occurs usually along the East Coast of the U.S. It has a lot of influence from the Warm Gulf stream waters there.

And what that means is a significant amount of wind as that storm continues to bomb out or strengthen or deepen. We not only have wind advisories but wind warnings in effect for some of the coastal areas of New England stretching towards the Del Marva Peninsula. But I said at a moment ago and I'll say it again -- travel delays, travel delays, travel delays.

So if you're maybe perhaps going to New York, Boston, Portland, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, the initial capital, double check your flight plans because you will more that likely be impacted as we go forward for the next 24 hours, before the storm slowly starts to exit.

So how many cancellations have we seen? 161; in fact so far from Boston to LaGuardia, JFK into the Philadelphia airport as well as D.C. But look at the delays. We're approaching 15 thousand delays. I saw our figure too, by the way. Some of the average delays running between two to three hours. So this is going to have a snow ball effect going into the weekend, even though we don't have any snow in this forecast

And the good news is, the storm will exit in time for the weekend. So if you have weekend travel plans -- looking pretty good.

For me personally, I am a fall foliage (ph) fanatic, let's say. I love to see the autumn colors across New England this time of year. But winds like this, you better believe it, it's going to take that right off the trees, very quickly.

There is the rainfall totals -- most of the rain will be upstate New York, New Hampshire into Maine as well as Massachusetts and you can start to see that it's pulling away from New York City already.

So I think we're already going to start drying things out in the big Apple but will be the wind that will be the major factor and of course planes have a tough time taking off, or landing in those types of conditions.

There's a storm pulling off to the northeast. Looks as if this bomb cyclone is going to be a real mess but we've got to get used to it, because it's this time of year where we see these powerful storm systems that come in on the East Coast

And if it was just a little bit cooler, and the wind directions were slightly different, we'd call this a nor'easter.

VAUSE: Oh.

VAN DAM: So different name.

VAUSE: You travel for leaf-changing season.

VAN DAM: I do. Just did. Just got back actually --

VAUSE: From where?

VAN DAM: I went up to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

VAUSE: Wow the excitement of Derek --

VAN DAM: I like that type of stuff and I don't think I am alone.

VAUSE: It's very peaceful. Very calming.

VAN DAM: I agree.

VAUSE: I should probably do it.

VAN DAM: Good advice.

VAUSE: I appreciate it. Ok. We'll finish up here with a rare and brief moment on Wednesday when the U.S. President was actually upstaged in The White House. Upstaged by the Italian president's translator. He didn't even actually say anything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know what he did. I don't know. That is up to him. That you have, excuse me no, you have to ask who do those questions. Don't ask me. But Rudy was one of many people that was incensed at the corruption that took place -- and I think there is nothing wrong with seeking out corruption.

Did you have Steve? I don't know what he did.

(CROSSTALKING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Ok. Well, judging by her facial expressions, apparently she's not fluent in Trump speech. And of course, the Twitter-verse did not let this go unnoticed.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

"WORLD SPORTS" starts after this break.

Thanks for the company.

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