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U.S. Troops In Syria Leave For Iraq, Not Home, As Trump Tweeted; Sources Say Trump Is Increasingly Frustrated With Mulvaney; Trump Scraps Plan To Host G7 At His Florida Resort. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired October 20, 2019 - 18:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for staying with me as we continue our coverage of the breaking news out of Northern Syria, where the largest U.S. troop withdrawal from the region is now underway.

This is exclusive video from CNN's cameras on the ground showing hundreds of trucks carrying U.S. personnel heading east to their next destination, Iraq. So at least now, it appears they are not coming home despite what President Trump said numerous times last week.

And as more U.S. troops pull out, Turkish and and Syrian Democratic Forces are accusing each other of violating the U.S.-negotiated ceasefire. Witnesses report violent clashes along the Syria/Turkey border while Trump administration officials continue to tout this shaky agreement.


MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think, overall, the ceasefire generally seems to be holding. We see a stabilization of the lines, if you will, on the ground. And we do get reports of intermittent fires, this and that. That doesn't surprise me necessarily. But that's what we're picking up. That's what we're seeing so far.


CABRERA: The president offering a similar assessment on Twitter despite calling his defense secretary, Mark Esperanto, not Mark Esper. President Trump would later correct that but stuck with the rosy description of what's happening on the ground, which America's now former Kurdish allies in the fight say is, flat out, false. They say Turkey and its mercenaries are routinely breaking the ceasefire and that 16 of their fighters were killed in one 24-hour period.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following U.S. troop movements. Nick, what's the latest?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you saw in those pictures, we caught up with part of this convoy that is now part of the major withdrawal out of Syria. The area we found them near (INAUDIBLE) military base is where a variety of separate convoy appear to have rallied, perhaps resting, refueling. We understand they will then move on to make the substantial move to the east of the country through to Iraqi Kurdistan.

The precise route and sort of timing of that particular move is something that's being obviously kept quite a secret. But we understand it will have air cover to protect it. It may well end up going through territory which ISIS have seen a resurgence in or possibly the Syrian regime have some degree control in. That is the changing nature of the dynamics here. And it possibly is no mistake that this substantial move is occurring ahead of the Sochi meeting on Tuesday between Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Many think that meeting may end up being the place where the larger diplomatic deals are, in fact, brokered. Remember, Russia is backing the Syrian Kurds' new ally, the Syrian regime, for America seemed to step away from them. The Syrian Kurd say betrayed, the Syrian regime seems to be their nearest closest ally and they're backed by Moscow. So a lot could change in the next 48 hours.

But it's a deeply symbolic moment, Ana, to see this enormous convoy, over 100 or so vehicles, I understand, with 500 personnel on board as it moves going through Syria, inspiring mixed emotions, frankly. I'm sure there are many U.S. personnel who feel perhaps aggrieved at the brevity of their departure here to execute the departure plan with their intention really broke off by the commander-in-chief. Likewise, I'm sure, there are many Syrian Kurds who have served alongside U.S. forces here who perhaps feel a sense of betrayal by the leadership in Washington but possibly also affection for those Americans who have sacrificed alongside them here.

But for Syrian Kurds, this is a stark moment. It symbolizes the enormous loss of American support here in the shape of over 100 or possibly 200 vehicles making their way out of the country shortly. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Northeastern Syria, thank you for keeping us straight on the ground.

And joining us now, Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the committees overseeing impeachment hearings. Congressman, thank you for being here.

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): Thank you, Ana. Thank you so much.

CABRERA: The Pentagon and the president don't seem to be on the same page right now about what's happening on the ground in Syria. The president keeps saying the troops are coming home, those that are being withdrawn from that Northern Syria area and yet his defense secretary says otherwise. What's your response?

ESPAILLAT: That's correct. There seems to be a lot of chaos on the ground there. Of course, this -- well, it looks like it's going to end up to be a big victory for Erdogan, Assad and Putin and not the United States and the Kurds who have been a longstanding ally of the United States, and I think are still very much in peril.

We really don't know as of yet what will happen to the Kurds. I mean, Erdogan is saying that he will sort of like protect and not violate this buffer zone, but there's no guarantee that that will not happen.

CABRERA: Lindsey Graham obviously has been a close ally of the president inside Congress.


The senator tells us today though that he doesn't think the president gave the Turkish forces a green light when it comes to Syria. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Number one, the president did not give Turkey a green light to invade Syria, but he didn't say red either. He said he gave a yellow light and you don't give yellow lights in the Mideast.


CABRERA: A yellow light.

ESPAILLA: Yellow light, green light, red light, it really doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that Erdogan has a troubled past. He has been very violent against the Kurds. And, in fact, if he did not tell him to do that, he might have winked at him and gave him the green light, if you may, to go ahead and do this.

I think it's horrible. Again, we turn our backs on longstanding allies. This is bad for international relations. This is bad across the planet, bad for NATO, for the United States of America and our longstanding allies in the region and the world.

CABRERA: As we mentioned, your committee is one of three currently involved in these impeachment hearings over what happened on that phone call with the Ukrainian president. Do you want to see the transcript of the call the president had with the president of Turkey?

CABRERA: Of course, of course. I would like to see that. Transparency is never a bad thing in government. I think the American people in government, as long as something is not classified that will put the security of the United States on the line, I think that we should have sunlight and transparency as possible.

I'm involved in these hearings. We sit there for hours and listen to testimony, to depositions. And I think it's really an important process. And at one point when we're done with that, the judicial committee will get our results and then they will determine whether or not to draft articles of impeachment. And I think that's the process.

But there is sunlight in the process. I believe that we are fulfilling our constitutional duties as duly elected members of Congress. CABRERA: So help us have more sunlight in the American people to understand what you are uncovering in this process right now, because all these hearings in the past week had been behind closed doors who did have the White House this press conference this week in which Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, essentially admitted there was quid pro quo. And I'm wondering if you're hearing that from people that you are listening to in these hearings.

ESPAILLAT: Well, I cannot divulge any of the matters that are discussed in the testimonies of folks that are being -- in front of these depositions. But I can tell you the statements that they put forward that some of which you may have already. Sondland, of course, was very concerned about corruption in the Ukraine and yet he never really looked -- he says he never really looked into whether or not Hunter Biden was part of that corporation, which we are looking at.

But, as a matter of fact, we are looking at whether or not there was quid pro quo. That's really the crux of the matter, whether or not there was quid pro quo. This week we will hear from people that are expert with the military. They will tell us whether or not the military aid that was withheld to the Ukraine was an important one, whether we should or should have not held that aid.

I think there is a document from the Pentagon that says that the Ukrainian government had made some progress in adopting reforms to combat corruption in the military and that they have met the standards to receive the aid but they never really got it.

And so we want to find out why this was withheld. Was it withheld to punish the Ukraine because they didn't conduct a bogus investigation on the Biden family or was it held back because of real reasons (ph)?

CABRERA: At this point, are you ready to vote on impeachment?

ESPAILLAT: I want to hear more. I mean, I supported impeachment back in 2017. But I want to hear more. I want to have more facts, more information. We'll be done, I'm sure, quickly and we'll have the information necessarily that the American people will feel confident that we're doing our job.

But the bottom line is that the American public must feel confident that we're abiding by the rule of law, by the Constitution, that we're listening and acquiring the evidence that we need to get to pass onto the judiciary committee so they then will draft articles of impeachment.

Well, the fact of the matters is that many of us are already there and, in fact, some Republicans have also expressed concerns or are open to the idea of the investigation.

CABRERA: Right. Rep. Francis Rooney is one of them.

ESPAILLAT: That's correct.

CABRERA: However, there are a lot of Republicans also criticizing how Democrats have been conducting these hearings behind closed doors rather than in the open. To that, you say what?

ESPAILLAT: Well, look, the two previous impeachment process, they didn't have a special counsel. In essence, these committees are investigatory committees. We're getting evidence. We don't have a special counsel in this matter or the Ukraine. We are confined by the rules and of the Constitution. We're doing our due diligence to hear in depositions the witnesses that come before us. And then we'll forward this as the Constitution mandates us to to the appropriate committee who will then make a judgment, a decision as to whether or not present articles of impeachment that will then go to the Senate.


So we're abiding clearly by the rule of law and we're going to continue to do this.

CABRERA: Congressman Adriano Espaillat, thank you very much for coming on.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you so much, Ana. Thanks you.

CABRERA: Good to see you.

Breaking news, a source telling CNN President Trump is growing agitated with his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, over how he's spinning the White House's impeachment strategy.

Plus, the president reverses his decision to host the G7 Summit at his own Florida resort. Was the bipartisan criticism too much for him?

I'm Ana Cabrera. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Don't go anywhere.


CABRERA: There is another big week of testimony ahead in the Trump impeachment inquiry but it's hard to keep up so I just want to do a quick recap of the revelations that came out this past week involving the president's private attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, said he was directed by the president to work with Giuliani on Ukraine. Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, reported concerns about Giuliani to a National Security Council attorney and said her boss, John Bolton, called Giuliani a hand grenade. George Kent, an official at the State Department, was told to lie low after raising complaints about Giuliani. And former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley, said he felt Pompeo did little to support the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.


And the pace of testimony isn't flowing down this week. There will be seven current or former officials testifying on Capitol Hill, including the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who raised questions about a quid pro quo and some damning text messages, and included this one, are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations? To which he got the response, call me.

And breaking tonight, we have some news about the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who stood before the cameras and admitted a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

Let's get right out to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Jeremy, what are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, the president spent this weekend cooped up at the White House watching news coverage of his chief of staff attempting to clean up his stunning admission earlier this week of that quid pro quo with Ukraine. And he also spent time phoning allies of his, many of whom were criticizing the chief of staff's performance.

And now, my colleague, Dana Bash, and I are being told by a source familiar with the president's thinking that the president is increasingly frustrated with his White House chief of staff in the wake of all of this.

We saw the chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, once again on Fox News today attempting to clean up that admission. Here is part of what he said.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Reporters will use their language all the time. So my language never said quid pro quo. But it is legitimate for the president to want to know what's going on with the ongoing investigation into the server. Everybody acknowledges that. At least I think most normal people do. It's completely legitimate to ask about that.

Number two, it's legitimate to tie the aid to corruption. It's legitimate to tie the aid to foreign aid from other countries. That's what I was talking about with the three. Can I see how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely. But I never said there was quid pro quo because there isn't.


DIAMOND: And as Mick Mulvaney attempted to clean up those remarks, he was faced repeatedly with his own comments from that Thursday briefing where he made very clear that there was a sort of exchange between the security aid for Ukraine and the president's interest in this investigation related to Democrats in the 2016 election, all of that leaving Mick Mulvaney on shaky ground, we're told, with the president.

CABRERA: And as we've learned today, CNN reporting, Mulvaney may have been on shaky grounds even before that. He was facing a threat of being ousted before the impeachment inquiry took hold.

DIAMOND: That's right. Before all of this impeachment saga kind of began consuming the White House in Capitol Hill, we're told, according to multiple sources, that top aides at the White House were reaching out to at least two potential successors to make Mulvaney amid some concerns about his performance inside the White House. This was, again, before all of this impeachment matter.

Now, the White House spokesman, Judd Deere, says that Mulvaney is still the acting chief of staff and that he has the president's confidence. Ana, as you know well, aides sometimes fall on shaky ground with the president. That doesn't necessarily mean that there is any kind of imminent departure for them. But, of course, not necessarily anything safe for those aides to be hearing.

CABRERA: Yes. Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us, thank you.

Coming up, the president scrapping plans to host the G7 Summit at his own golf resort with the White House now saying he was surprised by the push back. Really?

Wall Street is bracing for some big quarterly earnings reports this week. CNN's Alison Kosik has this week's Before the Bell report.

ALLISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Trade could take a backseat to earnings this week. A flood of companies deliver their quarterly report cards. Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, Caterpillar and Verizon are among the names reporting results. Last week, solid earnings from banks and other companies helped boost stocks.

Big tech is also in focus this week. On Wednesday, Facebook's CEO mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the House Financial Services Committee. It's his second visit to Washington this year. Last month, he had private meetings with lawmakers as well as President Trump. This time, he'll face questions about Facebook's plan to launch a digital currency.

The Cryptocurrency known as Libra is controversial. Seven companies that signed on as founding members of the project have already dropped out. House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters has called on Facebook to cancel Libra all together. So we could see some fireworks on Capitol Hill.

In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.



CABRERA: Apparently, the backlash and the obvious ethical concerns caught him by surprise. President Trump now reversing course and scrapping the plan to hold next year's G7 Summit at his golf resort in Doral, Florida.

But he's not letting this issue die quietly tweeting this, quote, I thought I was doing something very good for our country by using Trump National Doral for hosting the G7 leaders. It's big, grand, on hundreds of acres next to Miami International Airport, has tremendous ballrooms and meeting rooms, and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70-unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to it at no profit or, if legally permissible, at zero cost to the USA. But as usual, the hostile media and their Democrat partners went crazy.

With me now, National Politics Reporter for Yahoo News, Brittany Shepherd, and CNN Political Analyst, Julia Pace, she is Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press.

So, Brittany, he's blaming the media, he's blaming Democrats for all this, but do you think it's possible members of his party may have actually been what convinced him to reverse course?

BRITTANY SHEPHERD, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, YAHOO NEWS: Well, we have certainly seen bipartisan condemnation or at least skepticism of what the Democrats have said is basically the emoluments clause happening in real-time. And I think it's really interesting to see the president kind of play out his pressure in real-time on Twitter.


Rarely do we see some kind of like emotional breakdown from him and a reversal so quickly, at least we get like a week or two weeks of back and forth before an actual reversal.

And you do think this might be a gift to Democrats on emoluments. Up until now, emoluments has not been a very trendy or easy thing to sell to voters, especially less than the quid pro quo for Ukraine. But now with Mick Mulvaney's comments, Democrats can say, you point very clearly and look like this is the president profiting off foreign leaders coming to his resort is not so great.

CABRERA: (INAUDIBLE) like a combination.

SHEPHERD: Exactly. It's really easy to draw a line from A to B now and before the articles of impeachment probably weren't going to be drawn if they were to be drawn on emoluments. But now it feels like that bipartisan pressure is pushing that in that direction.

CABRERA: If he made himself more vulnerable with that. So he reverses course, Julie. He mentions Camp David now in his tweet, which is interesting, because Mick Mulvaney had said this about possibly hosting the G7 there.


MULVANEY: I don't know. Why do they have it at Camp David? I mean, seriously? For those of you who were there, I'm a little bit familiar with it. I've talk to folks up at Camp David because I was up there recently and asked this. Didn't you guys -- well, I think it was a G8 back then, 2004, something like that. And they said it was a complete disaster. Like, okay, I wonder how that happened. How did that decision get made?


CABRERA: So the president says they're considering Camp David now. I guess it's not looking so bad now?

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I also am familiar with Camp David and covered that G8 that was there under President Obama and it went off just fine. It's funny the way that the president and Mick Mulvaney kind of view hosting the summit, the actual location, the physical location of the summit is generally like pretty secondary to the agenda for the summit, what you want to accomplish at the summit, it's all reversed under this president.

And one of the reasons that you would hold it at Camp David is pretty simple. It is highly secure. You have multiple world leaders that are there. It's a place that is used to having the kind of security and the kind of isolation that you often look at for a G7 and it's owned by the United States government so you don't run into any of the issues that Brittany was talking about with emoluments.

But, certainly, it seems like we're going to head in this direction. It seems Camp David is likely to be the case, which, again just raises questions about Mick Mulvaney and what kind of guidance he had and what his marching orders were when he was up there really disparaging Camp David just a few short days ago.

CABRERA: I want to turn to the big week ahead and the impeachment inquiry, including testimony coming Tuesday from Bill Taylor, a U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, who was a big name in those text messages with the E.U. ambassador, Gordon Sondland, raising the alarm and yet being told no quid pro quo.

So, Brittany, how key will his testimony be?

SHEPHERD: Well, seeing how much he'll be on record, I think it will be very, very key. Looking at how much of the impeachment inquiry has actually happened behind closed doors, lots of voters and much of the American public feel like they don't really have a good sense of what's going on even though Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus are saying, we're being as transparent as we can be, especially when those critical text messages comes up.

Sondland has been extremely on message and probably the most Trumpian of all the ambassadors that we're going to hear from. So to hear from a break in that narrative, I think, will be really crucial in figuring out how far is executive privilege going to be waived or not waived.

CABRERA: Hillary Clinton is weighing in on the race now. So I want to talk about some of the comments she's been making. Julie, she's trolling the president on Twitter over his letter to Erdogan, which critics said was adolescent in tone. She also made news claiming Tulsi Gabbard was a favorite of the Russians. Why do you think we are suddenly hearing so much from her?

PACE: I think Hillary Clinton definitely feels like she still has something to prove after 2016 and that she wants people to see that election the way that she sees it, which is as an election that was stolen from her for a variety of reasons, including Russian interference.

And she sometimes seems to be sort of in a mission to get that message through to people, even if that means weighing in in ways that other members of her party are pretty uncomfortable with. There is a real feeling in the Democratic Party broadly that this is an election that is about looking forward, that is about not just how did we lose 2016 and how do we avoid that outcome but how does the party kind of turn the corner, look for its new generation of leaders.

Though I will say I have talked to several people who have worked for Hillary Clinton over the last couple of days. And among that group of Democrats, they kind of like seeing this side of her. She's somebody that has been very careful in her public comments for decades. And for people who have always said, hey, if you could only see the Hillary that we see, there is something kind of refreshing from people who have been waiting for her to take this kind of approach in public for quite some time.


CABRERA: She has that reputation of being so calculated and -- and maybe not as frank. I'm going to play how some of the 2020 candidates, though, are reacting to Clinton's claim about Gabbard.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I don't know what the basis is for -- for that. Statements like that ought to be backed by evidence.

I also think that our focus right now needs to be on the things that are actually undermining America. I mean, right now, we are being told to, quote, get over it when it comes to the mixing of domestic politics and foreign affairs.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, again, these questions are -- are bordering on the absurd. We -- we've got to get back focused on, as a Democratic primary field, what is important, not tearing other each other down, not making -- these kinds of allegations are not constructive in any way.


CABRERA: Brittany, what are your thoughts on how the candidates are playing this, not giving any oxygen to this, I guess, sideshow some have called it?

BRITTANY SHEPHERD, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, it is really interesting to see how much 2016 is really replaying out now in the 2020 race.

Now, Tulsi Gabbard is a new red line for the 2020 candidates, like do you support Tulsi or do you not? You see, even Andrew Yang on Twitter is saying, you know, I really respect Hillary Clinton, but what she's saying is kind of bonkers right now.

I think 2020 candidates just kind of want to get a move on, like Julie was saying. So many of them are not even qualified for the November, December debates.

And right now, they're really not breaking headlines besides Warren, Sanders, and Joe Biden. And so, every question they're asked about Tulsi Gabbard is so much time that they're not able to speak on their own platforms instead.

CABRERA: Are they doing enough to capitalize on perhaps the more vulnerable position the President has been in this week?

SHEPHERD: Well, I think it's difficult because there's just so much incoming all the time, but I do think there is a point that they are not necessarily coalesced against their message, the anti-Donald Trump message, kind of like what you said.

So again, like, when they talk about Tulsi, they're not talking about trying to defeat Donald Trump or about impeachment or about emoluments. And -- and so, I think a lot of campaigns are really frustrated.

I actually have spoken to several campaigns in the last 48 hours who said they just kind of want to get on with it and get to kitchen table issue.

But if Tulsi Gabbard and Russian interference and debunked Ukrainian interference conspiracy theories become new kitchen table issues because of the President, I think it will really muddy the campaign waters all the way until January.

CABRERA: You're right. Thank you so much, Brittany Shepherd --

SHEPHERD: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- Julie Pace. Really appreciate both of you, ladies.

PACE: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, pandemonium on the streets of Hong Kong.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're getting anything and throwing things together to -- for these makeshift barricades. As you can see, petrol bombs and fire are being set (ph) over here.




CABRERA: The streets of Hong Kong have been packed again this weekend with protesters. Officials had banned Sunday's march, but tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators defied that ban.

And it turned violent, some protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and vandalizing shops, riot police firing teargas at them. CNN's Anna Coren was in the middle of that chaotic scene.


COREN: Well, this is the 20th consecutive weekend of protest here in Hong Kong. And as you can see, these protesters, the frontline protesters are setting up barricades here on Nathan Road, one of the busiest roads here in Hong Kong.

They're getting anything and throwing things together to -- for these makeshift barricades. As you can see, petrol bombs and fire are being set over here to these barricades.

And it looks like -- I can't tell if they are police. No, they are still protesters who have set fire, quite a ferocious fire, to barricades in front of us.

Now, we know that the police are 500 meters in -- in that direction. They fired multiple rounds of tear gas. The water cannon was also used to disperse the crowd, pushing everybody down here to Yau Ma Tei.

Now, this began as a -- a very peaceful protest. Tens of thousands, if not over a hundred thousand people, turned out for an unlawful assembly.

The police have denied the march as have the clocks (ph), which is try -- trying to be organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, the same group that organized the 10 million people march back in June.

Well, the march was denied. The protesters turned out regardless. And they say that this is their right, this is their civil liberty to come out onto the streets and protest.

They are calling for an independent inquiry into police brutality. They want the Hong Kong police force to be disbanded. And of course, they now want universal suffrage. That has become the main goal really of these protesters.

But we've heard from the city's Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, who said that is never going to happen. We've also heard from the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who said any act of separatism will be crushed.

But for the people here, this is an act of defiance. Four months into these protests and they are turning out in the thousands with their makeshift weapons, their metal pipes, their hammers, their sledgehammers.

They are smashing up shops that are seen as pro-China. They are vandalizing train stations that are seen to be the eyes of the Hong Kong government. They are taking to the streets, and they say they will continue to take to the streets until the government listens.


Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA: Coming up, escaping the gang life. CNN takes you inside one

of the fastest-growing gangs in the Deep South and why getting out could be a matter of life or death. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: It's a dangerous gang you've probably never heard of. In tonight's brand-new episode of "THIS IS LIFE," Lisa Ling travels to rural Mississippi to learn about one of the fastest-growing gangs in the Deep South, the Simon City Royals.


LISA LING, CNN HOST (voice-over): So, frankly, I'm shocked that one of the Royals at Hancock County Jail actually volunteered to speak with me.

The code of silence, and what could happen if you break it, demands that we conceal his identity.

LING (on camera): How old were you when you got involved in gangs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never been involved in a gang. It's an organization. I started out about 12 years old.

LING (on camera): And what was it about that lifestyle that appealed to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the fast life. I like quick money, girls. And I thought, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.


LING (on camera): And at what point did you get connected with the Simon City Royals?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really didn't want to be a Royal. I wasn't one until I actually hit prison as I was explaining what they're really about. The Royals didn't come from the streets; the Royals came from inside these walls.

LING (voice-over): So is it a street gang or a prison gang?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's neither; it's an organization.


CABRERA: Joining us now, Lisa Ling, host of "THIS IS LIFE."

Lisa, as we just saw in that clip, the Simon City Royals you talked to insisted that they were part of an organization, not a gang, that's meant to better the community.

And yet, many are joining this group in prison where they're serving time for drugs and violent crime. How do they reconcile what seems like a contradiction like that? LING: Well, law enforcement would tell you that they are very much a


The Simon City Royals, they started in Chicago in the 1960s. And by the '70s, they had started to spread.

Although, they don't have much of a presence in Chicago anymore, but in some southern states like Mississippi, they are, for lack of a better word, flourishing.

And one of the reasons -- you know, we -- we -- we pay attention to what's happening. We -- and communicate with law enforcement a lot, and we just started to notice that this gang, in particular, was really starting to grow quite exponentially.

And one of the reasons is because Mississippi has become like a dumping ground for methamphetamines from Mexico. A -- it's a very cheap and powerful potent drug that is addicting many people in Mississippi, so much so that so many addicts are ending up behind bars.

And once they go into jail or go into prison, they have to ally with a -- with a group. And if you're White, you probably want to ally with the Simon City Royals.

CABRERA: I mean, I understand you really had some problems at the beginning of the episode finding current Royals' members to talk to you. And you even said in that interview clip we showed, like, I'm surprised, you know, you're willing to -- to put yourself out there. Talk to us about those challenges.

LING: Yes. I mean, we've -- when we first got there, we certainly did have those challenges. Over time, people started to feel more comfortable with us and talking to us.

And the reality is that, you know, as -- as we all know, there -- there are high levels of poverty in Mississippi. And so, for many of these men, this organization provides a kind of brotherhood for them.

Again, so many of them, though, have become addicted to meth, and so they're -- they -- they don't deny the fact that a lot of criminal activity happens. But for them, they have found, you know, this kind of a -- this kind of family in this brotherhood.

CABRERA: Why has this gang been able to spread now so rapidly?

LING: Law enforcement would say that there is a direct correlation to all of the methamphetamines that are -- are being dumped into southern states. And many people know that if they -- if they consume meth, if they got -- get locked up for meth, they will go to prison.

And when they do so, like -- like many people who enter prison, you have to ally with your race. Now, the Simon City Royals are emphatic about the fact that they are not a -- a racist gang. They are predominantly White, but they say that they have and will accept people of different -- different ethnic backgrounds as well. CABRERA: OK. Lisa Ling, I appreciate you taking the time. Good to

see you. Thank you.

LING: Thank you.

CABRERA: Brand new episode of "THIS IS LIFE" airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Coming up, Prince Harry, for the first time, admits a royal rift with his brother, William.

And a CNN exclusive, a royal tour sparks emotional memories of Princess Diana. What the leader of Pakistan told Prince William behind closed doors about his late mother.



CABRERA: We have royal news. In a new televised interview, Britain's Prince Harry acknowledges what the press has been speculating for months, that there is a rift between him and his brother, Prince William. But he says that will not break their bond.


TOM BRADBY, ITV NEWS HOST: There has been a lot of talk in the press about rifts with your brother. How much of that is true?

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX, UNITED KINGDOM: Part -- part of the -- part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it's under, inevitably, you know, stuff -- stuff happens.

But, look, we're -- we're brothers. We're -- we'll always be brothers. And we're certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him and, as I know, he'll always be there for me.

And we don't see each other as much as we -- as much as we used to because we're so busy, but, you know, I -- I love him dearly. And, you know, the majority of the stuff is probably -- well, majority of the stuff is created out of nothing. But, you know, just as I said, as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.


CABRERA: Now, this comes on the heels of a royal visit to Pakistan by Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

And today, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is opening up about his relationship with the British royal family and what he told Prince William about his late mother, Diana.

CNN's Max Foster has this exclusive report.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Imran Khan was a cricketer who is married to Jemima Khan, and she was family friends with the royals.

And Prince William remembers a time when he was about 11 and Imran Khan visited them in the U.K. and Imran described this moment where he said he was going to be a Prime Minister one day. So it was a real moment of reckoning now as they meet in Islamabad for the first time since that auspicious conversation.

IMRAN KHAN, PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN: I would have said that, but then I just started my political party. And I assume that it would be very easy, and I would -- here's my party and I will go out and people will work for me. Little did I realize what I would go through to get here.

FOSTER: So it was an interesting moment to have Prince William now visit you in the Prime Ministerial residence, having lived up to your promise but also marking that period of time which has been extraordinary for you.

KHAN: God, it's a lifetime. I mean, the struggle of becoming a Prime Minister in a country when, unfortunately, we -- we had -- I had to fight two mafias. The political parties were not headed by what would-be politicians, they were political mafias. Both heads of both parties are now in jail.

FOSTER: Obviously, you were great friends with Princess Diana as well, and she had -- you hosted her in her visits here. So was that a moment for you as well to see her son coming in and meet his wife as well?


KHAN: I was telling Prince William that I was in the outbacks. My constituency, which is Mianwali, which is really considered an outback here. It's really quite wild there.

And I was touring my constituency when I heard of the accident, and I can tell you the impact it had on the people shocked me. I mean, these were rural peasants. I wouldn't -- I -- I wouldn't even have thought that they know of Princess Di.

But the -- the -- when they heard of the accident and her death, it was just -- I was just amazed at how her -- Princess Diana had penetrated even in these rural constituencies.

FOSTER: How did he respond to that?

KHAN: You know, I think it was important for him to know how much she was loved in this country.

FOSTER: This royal tour is being covered very positively in the Pakistani media. And members of government, members of the community I've spoken to say it's gone down really well. For them, it's been about showing this country is a safe place to

visit, a safe place to do business with. And all this imagery coming from the tour has really reinforced that, so it's gone down pretty well across the border, I have to say.

Max Foster, CNN, Lahore, Pakistan.


CABRERA: Coming up, hundreds of U.S. troops on the move in Syria. The White House says there's relatively little fighting, but is that really the case? We'll take you into the war zone. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.