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Turkey Agrees to Five-Day Pause in Rout of Syrian Kurds; Romney: Turkish Pause is 'Far from a Victory'; Mulvaney Admits Quid Pro Quo, Later Backtracks; U.K. & E.U. Agree, But Deal Faces Uphill Battle in Parliament; China's Economic Growth Plunges to Lowest Level Since 1992; Demonstrators Clash with Police in Catalonia; Plane Carrying British Royals Had to Abort Landing Twice. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 18, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Studio 7 at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

[00:00:26]

Ahead this hour, the U.S. president claims credit for solving a crisis he created and declares a great day for civilization. But it's not a great day for the Syrian Kurds, who are the biggest losers of a very bad deal.

The acting White House chief of staff makes a startling public confession, and Donald Trump's impeachment woes go from bad to worse.

And Boris Johnson makes a surprising Brexit deal with the E.U., but now comes the really hard part: getting it through Parliament.

In the past 24 hours, Donald Trump removed all doubt that, under his leadership, the U.S. can no longer be trusted, no matter the promise, no matter the agreement. Be it climate change, or the nuclear deal with Iran, military aid for Ukraine or support for Syrian Kurds who paid their loyalty in blood to the U.S. in that fight against ISIS. The United States has proven it can no longer be considered a reliable partner.

And on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to the Turkish capital to be the public face of America's disloyalty to the Syrian Kurds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks to the strong leadership of President Donald Trump, and the strong relationship between President Erdogan in Turkey and the United States of America, that today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a ceasefire in Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: By any definition, what the U.S. and Turkey agreed to was not a ceasefire, mostly because the other side of this conflict, the Syrian Kurds, were not part of the negotiations.

Hardly surprising, then, that the terms of this deal are incredibly favorable to Turkey and were considered unacceptable to both the United States and the Kurds in negotiations before the Turkish military offensive began.

But true to form, Donald Trump ignored that reality, a reality which has the Kurds disarming and giving up all the territory they once held in Syria and in return, Turkey will avoid further U.S. sanctions.

And what you're about to hear from the U.S. president is not true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a five-day ceasefire. During that five days, the Kurds and other people, they're going to be taken great care of. They're going to be moving around, moving out of a safe zone.

And we've gotten everything we could've ever dreamed of, and we're also going to be able to bring our people back home. But we'll be able to have control of ISIS. Total. We'll be able to do whatever we have to do to get the rest of ISIS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: CNN global affairs analyst and a veteran of the U.S. State Department Aaron David Miller joins us now from Washington.

Aaron, good to have you with us. You know, this deal to pause the fighting -- it's not a ceasefire -- but it would never have been needed if President Trump had not ordered U.S. forces to withdraw from northern Syria. The end result is, the Syrian Kurds have been forced to cut a deal with the Syrian government, as well as Russia, essentially ending whatever autonomy they had.

So are the Kurds worse off now than they were before they partnered with the U.S. to fight ISIS?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I don't think there's any doubt about that. Look, they were banking heavily on the United States, essentially, not just in the fight against the Islamic State, but to support their territorial and political ambitions in Syria. At the very minimum, for an autonomous area; some would argue for a state. But at least an autonomous area roughly the size of the state of West Virginia.

I think once again, Kurdish aspirations for self-government autonomy, at least in Syria, have been preternaturally undermine by a U.S. president who, frankly, John, came up with a solution to a problem that, at least in 2019, we didn't have. And the process has created a lot more headaches and a bigger mess, frankly, in northeastern Syria.

VAUSE: Mike Pence, the vice president, he may be 6,000 miles from Washington, but he still knows little who's the boss. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I know the president is very grateful for President Erdogan's willingness to step forward, to enact this ceasefire, and to give an opportunity for a peaceful solution of this conflict that commenced one week ago. For my part, I'm grateful for the president's leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: How much leadership does it take to get someone, in this case Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to agree to a deal to give him everything he ever wanted and then some?

[00:05:05]

MILLER: Look, whether it's Donald Trump's willingness to sacrifice the American national interest for his -- to fulfill a campaign commitment; or whether it's his affinity for Erdogan; or whether it's gaslighting on a galactic scale, very little that the president, frankly, or the vice president said about this so-called agreement is true.

It's not a ceasefire; it's a pause. It essentially removes any hope or prospect of sanction. It puts the Kurds, frankly, in a no-win situation. If they don't agree to the terms of the deal, and they remain in certain areas, they'll be blamed for the collapse of the so- called ceasefire. And if they do agree to relocate, they're going to lose face and credibility in American constituencies.

And meanwhile, Mr. Erdogan, who has played Donald Trump, I think, like a finely-tuned violin, has managed to secure, within a week, most of Turkey's aspirations, at least up until this point.

But John, there's no one other point that needs to be made, and that's this. I think what the president has done, has laid bare, frankly, the fact that the United States, over the last decade, have been drifting. It has no real policy in Syria. It has no vision for an endgame. And it has never been willing to commit the resources that its competitors are willing to commit. Whether it's Vladimir Putin, whether it's Erdogan, or whether it's the Iranians.

We have demonstrated, both under Barack Obama and Donald Trump, that we do not have a vital national interest in Syria. And I think you're seeing that play out right now.

VAUSE: With regards to Putin, the bigger picture here is that, for the past 50 years, American foreign policy has focused on keeping Russia out of the Middle East. So now this 120 hours, this pause, this five-day pause, coincides, I guess, what, purely by coincidence, with Erdogan meeting with Putin in Sochi. Let's face it that's or any real deal will get done, right?

MILLER: Well, I mean, I think the Russians have long had an interest in trying to separate Turkey from NATO. In addition to selling them a sophisticated air-defense system, to a NATO ally, they're in the process of enabling and acquiescing in Turkish ambitions in Syria.

But look, I may be -- I may be a little heretical on this. But the fact is, I know everyone is touting that this is a Russian win. But the reality, what have the Russians really won? A broken, angry dysfunctional country; a regime that's essentially bankrupt, dependent and yet entitled. And now Putin has put himself in the middle of a Kurdish, Turkish, Syrian imbroglio.

So again, I think the animus against Vladimir Putin, in the town in which I live, Washington D.C., is so intense. But, on balance, frankly, if Putin believes that he can figure out a way to manage and juggle all these balls, I wish him good luck. Because I have a feeling that he's bought himself many, many headaches.

VAUSE: Very quickly, here's a little call (ph) from the president. President Trump. On why Thursday was such a great day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This was an amazing outcome. This is an outcome, regardless of how the press would like to damp it down. This was something that they've been trying to get for ten years. You would have lost millions and millions of lives. They couldn't get it without a little rough love, as I called it. I just put out. They needed a little bit of that at the beginning. And then everybody said, wow, this is tougher than we thought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, throughout the day, we've heard the U.S. president using the same words and terms as Turkey, praising Erdogan for not killing millions of people. So in other words, thank you for not committing genocide.

MILLER: You know, the reality is that this president has a very strange relationship with the truth. And what you just heard, frankly, is a set of comments completely untethered from reality. And he creates his own reality. And it's been enough, presumably, for his constituency and his base. It's certainly not good enough for many Republicans within his own party.

And I also say that rarely in Washington -- I've been here for almost 40 years -- have I seen the confluence of a domestic political crisis, an impeachment inquiry, in a way, coincide with a foreign policy crisis, as well. This is not a good day for the president.

VAUSE: Aaron, we appreciate you being with us. It's a good point to end on, because we take it to Los Angeles now for Ron Brownstein, CNN's senior political analyst. He's also an analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic."

So Ron, let's just pick up where Aaron left off. You know, this is a very familiar pattern here from Donald Trump. He takes a long-running problem. He turns it into crisis. He then strikes some kind of deal, brings the crisis to an end but doesn't solve the underlying issues. And then finally, he claims victory, just like he did here. Listen to Donald Trump. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Great day for the Kurds. It's really a great day for civilization. It's a great day for civilization. So I just want to thank everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know it's a great day for ISIS. It's a great day for Russia, maybe Iran. This is anything but a great day for the Syrian Kurds.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And as Aaron was saying, you know, the amazing thing about watching this day after day, month after month, is really how much of the Republican Party and the broader Republican coalition has been willing to accept these kind of flights of fancy and this kind of willful misrepresentation of reality.

You know, I -- one thing that is really -- and Aaron made an important point there about the confluence of the domestic and the foreign policy challenge. I -- I see that from another angle. You know, in withdrawing the troops from Syria, and precipitating this -- you know, this military incursion by Turkey, and these horrific scenes of violence, the president knew he was taking an action that was extremely offensive to the vast majority of Republicans in Congress. And he did that knowingly at a moment when he needed those same Republicans to defend him from impeachment.

And that says to me, that really speaks to me about his confidence, that he, in essence, has then wrapped around the axle. And his belief that he really can impose almost anything on them and they will have to stay with him. Like the G-7 announcement today, moving that to his own resort in Florida. It is really striking, and I think he is -- he is really kind of making a statement about how much he believes he has them under his thumb. And we'll see whether, in fact, that is correct as the weeks go forward.

VAUSE: Well, a few Republicans have spoken out against this move by the president, none more forcefully than Mitt Romney, who was on the Senate floor. He said the treatment of Syrian Kurds will be a bloodstain on American history. He said a whole lot more than that, too. Here's some of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically, that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America? Turkey? It's been suggested that Turkey may have called America's bluff, telling the president they were coming, no matter what we did. If that's so, we should know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: And this was -- this was notable, because on the floor of the

U.S. Senate, we have a Republican senator suggesting the president of the United States was out-negotiated and out-bullied, if you like, by a much smaller, weaker nation.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. And look, I mean it's -- that is not an unreasonable conclusion based on what we have seen in the last couple weeks.

And there have been many Republicans, certainly Lindsey Graham has been more critical of the president on this than he has almost on any other subject since he has taken office. We saw most House Republicans vote for the resolution condemning the -- you know the president's decisions in Syria.

But you have to ask yourself, OK, then what? Are there going to be any consequences for this? Are the Republicans willing to impose any actual pain on the president, to try to move them to move them -- move him toward their position.

Again, I go back to -- you know, John, I remember in 1998 when Bill Clinton was facing impeachment from the Republican House. One of the things that happened was that he felt that he had to cut off negotiations with Newt Gingrich toward a cosmic deal on restraining entitlement spending, because he felt that would alienate the Democrats that he needed to defend him.

Donald Trump is making the exact opposite calculation, both in Syria and, as I said, with this incredible announcement today that he wants to bring the G-7 to one of his own properties. I mean, he is basically betting that, no matter what he does, his hold on the Republican base is such that Republican legislators will be afraid of breaking from him in any meaningful way. And we will see whether any of them stand up and call that bluff.

VAUSE: Well, let's get to this confluence of, you know, the situation in Syria with the impeachment, because everything did sort of come together today. We had Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, essentially making a very public confession in front of a room full of White House reporters and television cameras, that essentially, there was this pro quid pro quo as part of the withholding of military aid for Ukraine. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he wanted to withhold funding to Ukraine?

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The look back to what happened in 2016, certainly, was part of the thing that he was worried about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into -- into the Democratic server up happened, as well. MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: But just wait a moment, because what you heard you did not hear. Five hours after not saying what he didn't say, Mulvaney issued this statement. "Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a bias and political witch hunt against President Trump. Let me be clear: There was absolutely no quid pro between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election." OK, whatever Mulvaney is about to say in this next clip, though, Ron, it's not what you think. Here he is again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Not a good day for Mulvaney. An even worse day when it comes to the impeachment inquiry for Trump.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, he certainly -- he basically acknowledged, you know, the central charge in the -- in the inquiry. And it continues this pattern of the president essentially doing it in public. His belief that if he does something in public, it kind of washes the stain off.

Again, imagine a previous president trying to steer an international meeting to a business that he controlled, or his children continuing to benefit from businesses with international relations.

You know, Mick Mulvaney is right that American foreign policy is often, you know -- often conditioned on our national interest, our interest in the world. The difference, of course, is the previous presidents, we are not aware of them conditioning vital American security assistance to an ally, Ukraine, facing incursion from Russia, on the other government acquiescing to helping his personal political interest.

And that is the precise charge that he is facing in impeachment, and Mick Mulvaney, whatever he tried to clean up, you know, clean-up on aisle 1600 as people now say in Washington, whatever he tried to do after the fact, he has confirmed, in his own words, the central charge, at a time when Democrats are kind of stockpiling this evidence from a variety of witnesses that the president -- President Trump's call with President Zelensky at the end of July, was not an off-the- cuff, one-time event but, rather, the culmination of a sustained campaign of pressure to force Ukraine to do what he wanted, which was essentially to produce dirt on the Democrats.

VAUSE: Now, you mentioned the fact that this G-7 summit next year will be held in the United States, and, you know, it was kind of fascinating how Mulvaney just kind of dropped this piece of news before the reporters. It sort of almost came out of nowhere. It was done sort of nonchalantly, no big deal. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: We're going to do the 46th G-7 summit on June 10 through June 12 at the Trump National Doral Facility in Miami, Florida.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

VAUSE: They're running towards a crisis here, you know. I can't imagine any other administration, in the midst of an impeachment inquiry, deciding, hey, we'll award a G-7 summit to a property owned by the president.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, as I said, I mean, this has -- this has kind of been the practice for quite a while of, you know, doing things in public that previously would have been unimaginable and therefore, saying, hey, what is the big deal?

And, you know, as long -- the question is can anyone impose consequences and stop him? And one thing I think we've learned -- I've said to you before, we have learned that one party alone cannot defend the rules of American democracy. I think it is very clear that, if there are going to be meaningful restrains on a president ignoring congressional subpoenas, you know, declaring emergency power to reallocate money that Congress has explicitly refused to appropriate, and all the other ways that president has kind of run through the barriers that we thought constrained the arbitrary exercise of presidential power, if there are going to be any limits on that, both parties are going to have to lock arms to uphold these standards.

And, right now, and has -- as has been the case throughout the presidency, it is one party alone trying to do that. And even with control of one chamber, even the potential of impeachment, it is very difficult to uphold those standards. Especially because, at the end of the line in all these judicial challenges are five Republican- appointed justices on the Supreme Court who, so far, with the exception of the one big census case, have shown a lot of deference to the Republican president in the White House.

VAUSE: Ron, we'll leave it there, but we'll catch up with you again next hour for more on this, because there's a lot more to get to, so we appreciate you staying around. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Soon to come here, Boris Johnson has just won his first Brexit battle, but he's still far from winning the war. The British prime minister still way short of a majority for parliamentary approval, and the countdown to the deadline is in hours and minutes. Details in a moment.

Also ahead, it was particularly nasty weather and a bumpy arrival as Prince William and Kate touched down in Pakistan. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:22:13]

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Against the odds and with the clock ticking down, Boris Johnson and the European Union have actually managed to work out a new Brexit deal. Kind of. But now he has to sell it at home, and that could be an even bigger challenge.

Word of this last-gasp agreement trickled out on Thursday. And then, it was confirmed by the president of the European Council.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Today, we have a deal which allows us to avoid chaos and an atmosphere of conflict between the E.U. 27 and the United Kingdom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: But Britain's exit from the E.U. is not a done deal yet. This new deal faces a vote in a divided U.K. House of Commons. That will happen on Saturday, with the British prime minister, not surprisingly, urging lawmakers that it's time to come now to back it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I hope very much now, speaking of elected representatives, that my fellow MPs in Westminster do now come together to get Brexit done, to get this excellent deal over the line, and to deliver Brexit without any more delay, so that we can focus on the priorities of the British people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party is already on record as a no, even though the DUP has supported the U.K.'s minority Conservative government for the past two years.

Also opposed, and not surprisingly, the Labour Party, whose leader said Johnson's deal is actually worse than the one that Theresa May struck with the E.U.

Journalist Josh Boswell joins us now live from Los Angeles. John, good to -- glad you made it in.

JOSH BOSWELL, JOURNALIST: Thanks.

VAUSE: OK, so this makes exit deal that Johnson made with the E.U., for the most part, it's the same deal struck by Theresa May, which Parliament, what, rejected three times. The big difference is that the Irish backstop is gone and the customs border will be somewhere in the middle of the ocean. So explain how all this is meant to work.

BOSWELL: Yes, so it's very finickity kind of resolution that he's tried to cut here with the European Union. What he wanted to do is avoid a hard border in Ireland, and he's managed to do that by kind of shifting it into the ocean.

What that means is that goods that are coming across from the mainland U.K. into Northern Ireland will get charged customs before they reach Northern Ireland, so it's effectively moving that border back away from the border on the actual island of Ireland.

And then, if those goods stay in Northern Ireland, then the businesses will get a rebate. They'll get their money back. But it's essentially a way of moving that hard border away from, you know, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic there. And it will --

VAUSE: It sounds very confusing.

BOSWELL: Yes, it is. It is quite confusing, but it's also something that's been fought over, over the past -- well, since the Brexit referendum, really. This has always been a sticking point.

[00:25:08]

And Boris thought that he could get the DUP on side here, but really, it's crumbled. And that's going to affect his ability to pass this deal in Parliament.

VAUSE: OK. Well, let's listen to the leader of the DUP. As you say, Johnson needs their support. He hasn't got it; at least, not yet. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARLENE FOSTER, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY LEADER: We believe it is not in the interests of Northern Ireland, either economically, and I've explained all of that around a border, essentially, for not just regulations but for goods. We have different VAT (ph) rules. And we have no effective consent over any of those rules. So all of that, taken in the round, means that we cannot support this deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK. There's a no, and then there's a no. Is this a definitive statement of no? Does Johnson have any leverage here with the DUP to win their support?

BOSWELL: In a word, no. I mean, really, you know, they are pretty definitive here. And they've said that, you know, this drives a coach and horses through the Belfast agreement, you know, the previous agreement that they signed up to. And, really, there doesn't seem to be much room here for the DUP to come back on side with this deal that Boris has already negotiated, set in stone with the European Union.

What he will have to do, instead of relying on DUP votes, is going over to Labour. Those Labour MPs who have a lot of Brexit voters in their constituencies, who might vote for his Brexit deal in order to please those constituents, especially considering we're probably going to have a general election coming up soon, and they'll be mindful of that. But the numbers are very, very tight. There's only about 20 of those Labour MPs, and only nine of them have previously voted for a Brexit deal in the past. So he's going to need pretty much every one of them.

VAUSE: Yes. But there's also the hardline Brexiteers, in fact, the Brexit Party. Let's listen to the leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, who's not exactly on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIGEL FARAGE, BREXIT PARTY LEADER: I'll give him credit. I thought Theresa May's deal was the worst deal in history. Boris's achievement has been it's the second worst deal in history. It's still, from the point of view of Brexit here, completely and utterly unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK. So assuming that this does not go through Parliament, the assumption is that the October 31 deadline, what, it will be extended, but how will that -- this work? Does the U.K. actually formally ask for that extension? Does it automatically happen? Is it a passive extension? Does someone have to do something? Can they just ignore the extension, take the U.K. out of the E.U.? What's the process here?

BOSWELL: Well, the -- the former prime minister, David Cameron, on Thursday described Boris Johnson as a greased piglet who has the ability to slip through where others have failed before.

So it's possible that he can come up with some way to work around the legislation that's already there, but what seems to be pretty clear is that Parliament has laid down a law saying if a deal is not agreed on by Parliament, then Boris Johnson has to go to the European Union and say, Please give me an extension.

Now, the government has said that they will comply with that law, but, of course, the European Union can turn around and saying, no, we're not going to give you an extension. That's within their power.

Now, I think they probably will. It's just a question of how long an extension. You know, they're not going to, having worked on this deal with Boris Johnson, just throw it away like that, you know, for almost no reason there. They will give him, perhaps, an extension until December, and that's when there's a turnover. There's a new president that's going to be new leaders in the European Union. That will be a good time for them to -- to set a deadline, or they might set it as this Benn Act forcing Boris Johnson to delay it says at in -- you know, the end of December, January.

VAUSE: Yes. It will be over soon, one way or the other, I guess. Josh, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

BOSWELL: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Well, violence flares again in Barcelona, days after Catalan independence leaders are sentenced to jail for their role in an independence referendum. When we come back, we'll tell you how some now believe another independence referendum could bring an end to this unrest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:31:22]

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Turkey has agreed to a five-day pause of its military offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. The plan was announced by the U.S. vice president. It's intended to give this former U.S. ally, the Kurds, time to retreat. The deal does not require Turkey to withdraw from Syrian territory it has already captured.

The acting White House chief of staff admits the U.S. withheld military aid to Ukraine to force a political investigation President Trump had wanted. That's at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Mick Mulvaney later backtracked, saying -- he then said there was no quid pro quo.

And Boris Johnson has won a new Brexit deal with the European Union, but now the British prime minister has to sell it at home. The deal faces the supreme test this Saturday. Can he get it through Parliament, where the Labour party and other allies, the Northern Irish DUP, they opposed it?

Well, the world's second and biggest economy is feeling the pain from trade tensions with the United States. China's economic growth has dropped to its lowest level in almost three decades. Gross domestic product grew at 6 percent in the third quarter, the weakest quarterly rate since 1992.

CNN's David Culver joins us now, live from Hong Kong with more. So what's been the reaction here from Beijing? Are they planning any stimulus? Do they have any room for maneuvers to try and boost the economy?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the past --

VAUSE: Do they even want to?

CULVER: Yes, and for the past several months, John, they had been trying with these tax cuts and other kinds of small business incentives. But it's interesting to show how this is being characterized by state media in China. The headline is focused more on the average over the past three quarters. So you're looking at 6.2 percent. In the body within some of those articles, of course, they go into that 6 percent which is, as you point out, the lowest that they've reported in nearly three decades.

But this is also happening amidst the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and this dispute which seems to have come to some sort of an agreement, if you listen to how U.S. President Donald Trump has characterized it, just as recently as last week, where he calls this a very substantial phase one deal. Interesting to point out, the Chinese not using that word, "deal," but saying this is substantial progress.

And the economists that I've spoken with over the past 48 hours or so, they point out that it may not necessarily get better in the immediate future for China, because when you look at this phase one portion, for example, it doesn't necessarily reduce the tariffs. In fact, it just kind of maintains the status quo. Right? So it's supposed to go from that 25 to 30 percent this past Tuesday. That's been halted as part of this phase one agreement.

And for the U.S., the benefit is some 40 to 50 billion dollars in agricultural purchases. So the U.S. will see that financial benefit.

What does China get out of it? Well, you could argue that they're going to get some benefit with that import of pork, namely, because they've had this pork crisis here, the African Swine Fever decimating a third of the pork supply. So for them to be getting this influx of pork is going to be huge from a consumer perspective, but ultimately, does that help in GDP and growth going forward? That's the question that remains to be answered, John.

VAUSE: Also the question of how reliable the numbers are. But we don't have time for that. Maybe later. Thanks, Dave.

CULVER: All right, John.

VAUSE: OK. Protesters are planning to hit the streets again in Barcelona after another night of violent demonstrations. We saw fires lit in the city's tourist districts, police pelted with eggs and water bottles; and highways were blocked.

This turmoil began after nine Catalan independent politicians were sentenced on Monday for a failed attempt to split from Spain two years ago. Isa Soares explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defying Catalans in the face of police chanting, "The streets will always be ours," foreshadowing what was to come.

[00:35:05]

Anger and frustration on one side, met with force and rubber bullets. This has been the daily scene in Barcelona every day this week, ever since the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid handed heavy prison sentences to nine Catalan politicians for their role in an independence movement two years ago.

Protesters here say those politicians are political prisoners and accuse Madrid of persecution, an allegation the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, denies.

"Today is the confirmation of the collapse of the political project that failed in its attempt to gain internal support and international recognition," he says. Sanchez says he wants to start a fresh dialog with Catalonia.

Meanwhile, Catalan regional president Joaquim Torra says certain conditions have to be met.

JOAQUIM TORRA, CATALAN REGIONAL PRESIDENT: We call for an end to oppression, for the release of the political prisoners. For the exiles to be free to return home.

SOARES: Some movement leaders insisting the current situation can only be solved by a new vote on Catalan independence. But Madrid is unlikely to support this. They refused to endorse the last one.

Despite opposition from the central government, local politicians went away ahead with a referendum on October the 1st of 2017. Catalans returned a resounding call for a split, but holding the vote was far from easy.

SOARES (on camera): This has been a contentious referendum and a very chaotic day for those people who are wanting to vote in the very early hours in the morning, the rain. They saw (SPEAKING SPANISH) -- That's state police -- move in, try to block them from voting. And really, dragging some people from those polling stations. Authorities telling CNN more than 800 people have been injured.

(voice-over): Weeks of protests ensued until Madrid moved in and seized control of Catalonia.

Nearly all the politicians who led the independence movement were arrested, charged with rebellion, acquitted, and later convicted of sedition.

The man who led them avoided that fate. Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont fled and sought exile in Brussels, hoping to convince European politicians to support his quest for Catalan independence. From there, he too, criticized the sentences handed to his former cabinet.

CARLES PUIGDEMONT, FORMER CATALAN REGIONAL PRESIDENT: No propaganda strategy in the world could mask so much shameful injustice.

SOARES: With both sides entrenched in their position, a peaceful outcome seems a distant future, making nights like these a likely scenario across Catalonia.

Isa Soares, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Mexican security forces say they allowed the son of a notorious drug lord to go free after federal troops were outgunned during a firefight with cartel members in Sinaloa state.

Officials believe heavy gunfire came from a home where Ovidio Guzman, the son of the drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was actually hiding. The son of Guzman was eventually detained, but it became more chaotic

when extra cartel members showed up, overpowering a law enforcement. As these other cartel members drove around the city with automatic weapons and armored vehicles, as well.

Mexico's security minister told the Reuters news agency that Ovidio Guzman was released to protect lives.

Now, the government has suspended operations in the state.

When we come back, the British royals arriving in style, taking a fancy rickshaw to an event in Pakistan. But another ride on their tour was a little scary.

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[00:41:12]

VAUSE: Climate protesters in London have been trying to disrupt business as usual, as they call it. But the ones being disrupted seem to have had enough.

This video on social media, which shows members of the Extinction Rebellion on top of trains during Thursday morning's rush hour, some of them glued to the carriages.

But angry commuters pushed back, literally, shoving protestors off the train. As fights broke out, at least four people were arrested for what police call "obstruction incidents."

But this is the latest instance by the movement, which has brought parts of London's transit system to a halt.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a rough ride on Thursday during their official visit to Pakistan. Prince William and his wife, Kate, spent a day meeting villagers, as well as touring charities in the city of Lahore.

But on their return to Islamabad, the British Royal Air Force plane had to abandon its landing twice because of bad weather. There were some severe storms. The normally 26-minute flight turned into a two- hour-long ordeal. CNN's Max Foster was among the 48 -- 40 media members on the flight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): We knew there was a storm over Islamabad, and then we saw lightning. And there was some turbulence. And I think the pilot was trying to find his way through it, basically.

But each time he attempted, there was some really sort of loud movement on the aircraft, and a lot of people, the nervous flyers, were very uncomfortable, indeed.

And then he would -- the pilot would go back up and then try again to find a path through. But he was trying a few times, I don't know how many, exactly. And it didn't work, and eventually, he said, we just have to go back to Lahore.

But you know, I think a lot of people were very concerned. They were the nervous fliers anyway. I think everyone in the staff felt very in control of the situation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Despite the rocky end to the day, the duke, a former air ambulance pilot, said he and his wife, Kate, just fine.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT start after the break.

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