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Mulvaney Under Fire for Ukraine Comments; Several Witnesses Expected to Testify on Ukraine; South Korean Teens Go Into Digital Rehab; U.S.-Brokered Ceasefire Set To Expire Tuesday; British Prime Minister Johnson Wants New Vote On Monday; Jubilant Mood As Prime Minister Agrees To Reforms. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 00:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello, everyone. I'm Natalie Allen.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from CNN's World Headquarters in Atlanta.

ALLEN: Thanks for being with us.

And ahead this hour, on the move, U.S. troops began their withdrawal from Syria despite concerns the ceasefire there is not holding.

HOLMES: And critics accuse Boris Johnson of behaving like a spoiled brat as his Brexit plan gets set to face its next key test.

ALLEN: I'm sure he doesn't mind that, really.

And the Lebanese government promises reforms following days of protests but the demonstrators say it is too little and too late.

HOLMES: Welcome, everyone. Time is running out, the Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria, a U.S.-brokered ceasefire is set to expire on Tuesday and Turkey is vowing to restart its offensive if the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces have not left at the so-called safe zone.

ALLEN: Turkey also wants to resettle refugees in that buffer zone. That could drive out Kurdish and non-Arab minorities, and the Kurds view it as ethnic cleansing.

HOLMES: Now, despite those concerns, U.S. President Donald Trump moving forward with his plan to withdraw troops from Syria, the footage you are looking there, a CNN exclusive, showing vehicles gathering for a convoy of U.S. forces.

ALLEN: CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more on this situation. She is at the Turkish-Syrian border for us.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Both continue to accuse each other of not abiding by that ceasefire agreement. Turkey's Ministry of Defense on Sunday says that they've recorded more than 20 violations of that agreement. They say that one of their patrols near the town Tell Abaid came under attack and a least one Turkish soldier was killed in that attack.

On the other hand, the Syrian-Kurdish fighters are also accusing Turkey of not abiding by that agreement. While there have been some incidents that have taken place since the agreement went into effect, it does seem that for the most part, it is holding, and that is according to the U.S. secretary of defense, Mark Esper,

Now, it's important to remember why this pause in fighting is taking place. That is because Turkey wants all the Syrian Kurdish fighters to evacuate, to withdraw from the different areas that are part of its designated safe zone, and the deadline for that is on a Tuesday evening. That is when the pause in fighting could come to an end on Tuesday night if they do not leave all these areas. We've heard the warnings from President Erdogan, repeating that on Sunday, saying that they are ready to resume this offensive unless all these fighters withdraw from the different areas of the safe zone.

On Sunday, we saw a convoy. According to the Turkish Ministry of Defense, they say that a convoy of more than 80 vehicles left the town of Ras al-Ain, that border town where much of the fighting during that operation was focused. And according to the Syrian Kurdish fighters, the Syrian Democratic Forces, they say that all their fighters withdrew, they left that town.

While this might be the beginning of that withdrawal of the Syrian Kurdish fighters that Turkey wants to see, that is probably not going to be enough. Turkish officials have made it clear they want them to hand over their heavy weapons and leave the entire safe zone area. And Turkish officials are saying the clock is ticking.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, on the Turkey-Syria border.

HOLMES: Now, for more on this, we are joined from California by Bob Baer. He's a CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst and former CIA operative. Always good to see you, Bob.

I mean, it just seems extraordinary to watch those images of a U.S. military convoy rolling out like that. The U.S. has bombed their base to stop it being useful to the enemy, Kurdish allies left in an uncertain fate. How do you see the lay of the land especially as you've got Syrian, Turkish, even Russian forces filling the void?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think what's more important is how people see it in the region, and it looks like an American capitulation to Turkey. It's incomprehensible to our allies, whether to Jordan, Iraq or even Damascus was totally surprised by this.


For no reason at all, we just picked up and left and what looks like a full-on retreat. You can't describe it any other way. The Russians of course are making hay out of this, showing pictures of American bases that they have taken over. A very good ally, by the, way the Kurds, they are not terrorists. They have not been conducting terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

So for the rest of the world, this is completely incomprehensible. There's absolutely no strategic benefit according to the United States or to NATO.

HOLMES: Yes. I was watching Russian state television earlier. They are gleeful over this. I mean, I've worked with the Kurds in Northern Iraq. I mean, the U.S. has betrayed the Kurds so many times over the years. This isn't the first. It's just the latest.

What is the message not just to the Kurds, we know the message, but other allies and other parts of the world, I mean, whether it's Iraq, Afghanistan, locals who fight for the U.S. interests in places like Africa, et cetera?

BAER: Well it's a question of credibility. I mean, this is why Trump is being attacked by the military, by betraying us (ph), this come after Trump. And will tell the commander so common (ph) down the line. The military is very, very disturbed by this, because they know what the Kurds have done, they know about our credibility and we cannot stay in the Middle East without allies, without support from the locals.

And if you're sitting in Riyadh now or Tel Aviv, you're wondering about this administration, whether we're going to come to anybody say on this. And that is why the Saudi's have envoys in Tehran and they're talking. There're a lot of backchannels back and forth because they are really worried about American commitment, and they should be.

HOLMES: You know, I've sort of listened to this sort of talk of a safe zone. It seems a bit of an misnomer if you're actually in it. And you're talking about a massive movement of civilians. What do you think Turkey's long-term plans are for the area? The Kurds, of course, fear it's going to mean millions of mainly Arab refugees being sent from Turkey back into that area and completely change the demographics.

BAER: Well, exactly what's going, and it started the first day of ethnic cleansing, the Turks don't want any Kurds on their border and they do intend to send back Sunni Arabs and fill them up along the border.

And the other amazing thing about this, Mike, I've got to say that is we've just given serial way to another country unilaterally as if it's ours to give away. It's really quite extraordinary.

I have been working in the Middle East for years and years. I have worked with the Kurds. I fought on the front with them in Iraq. I have never seen anything like this. This is worse than pulling out in Vietnam in '75, much worse.

HOLMES: And yet you know it firsthand, so they are strong words. I happen to agree. I mean, the conflation too of YPG and Pershmega with PKK, who are carrying out actions in Turkey just seems extraordinary too, as if the Kurds are all one.

One thing that we haven't talked much about is how, it's been talked about in Israel, is how Israel is impacted with the U.S. out of the theater. I mean, Iran has a pretty straight land shot to ship weaponry delivered on Hezbollah, which is something that Israel has been fighting for for a long time. They're not going to be happy about this.

BAER: Well, exactly. Bibi Netanyahu is apoplectic about this, because it's not just the corridor from Iraq you can send weapons, it's that Damascus itself, the government, the outside government is propped up by Iran and Hezbollah. I was there a couple of years ago and it's Hezbollah that's doing the major fighting against Al-Qaeda and other Islamic groups.

So what you are going to see is, in fact, an expansion of Iran, a de facto expansion. And that's scaring a lot of people because you look at this arc, it goes from Iraq, Syria to Lebanon, and they are going to take advantage of the chaos. They do very well at this, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and we're going to see more of it. This is a victory for Iran.

HOLMES: Good point. It's always, great to have you expertise. As always, Bob Baer, thank you.

BAER: Thanks.

ALLEN: Well, after a setback Saturday, could today be meaningful Monday? Who knows? That would be for Boris Johnson. The British prime minister wants a new vote on his Brexit deal, a so-called meaningful vote in the coming hours.

HOLMES: Yes, good luck with that. I mean, the government does say that it has the 320 M.P.s on side that they need to get a deal over the line, that's despite losing that key vote on Saturday. But the decision on whether to have a votes, well that lies with the speaker of the House, John Bercow.


ALLEN: And some note that it would break with the parliamentary convention to have the same question be put before lawmakers twice in the same session. After Saturday's defeat in parliament, Mr. Johnson sent separate contradictory letters to the European Union.

For more about that, here is Anna Stewart in London.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Boris Johnson did send a letter to the E.U. requesting a Brexit extension to January 31st, albeit but grudgingly he didn't sign the letter and the prime minister sent an additional one, which he did sign, making clear that he does not want a delay, saying it would be corrosive. It's provoked anger from the opposition.


JOHN MCDONNELL, BRITSH LABOR M.P.: He may well be in contempt of Parliament or the courts themselves because he's clearly trying to undermine the first letter and not signing the letter. He's behaving a bit like a spoiled brat. Parliament made a decision. He should abide by it. And this idea that you send another letter contradicting, I think it flies in the face of what both parliament and the courts have decided.


STEWART: On Monday, a court in Scotland will consider once again whether the prime minister has broken the law. Meanwhile, E.U. leaders will decide whether to grant the U.K. the extension and the prime minister will continue with his efforts to get this new Brexit deal voted on in parliament and a so-called meaningful vote. That's the vote that his predecessor, Theresa May, lost three times.

Now, Boris Johnson needs 320 M.P.s to back his deal. And given he doesn't have a majority in parliament, it looks too close to call as to whether he can reach that threshold.

The government has tabled this vote on Monday but they'll only go ahead if the speaker of the House, John Bercow, allows it. Bercow has been accused of favoring the remain side throughout the Brexit saga although he maintains he's always acted as an impartial referee.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

ALLEN: All right. Let's dig into where we are in the Brexit battle with our frequent guest on this, commentator -- European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas. Dominic, thanks for being here as always. We appreciate it.


ALLEN: Sure. All right, we'll talk about this week and what's next in this battle in a second. But first, I want to get your take on what happened this weekend. Were you surprised at how parliament is willing to push back on Johnson and his deal and take this down to the wire?

THOMAS: Yes, no, I'm sorry. I'm not surprised at all. I think it is absolutely normal. First of all, Boris Johnson has lost his majority. So he does not get to control what goes on in the Houses of Parliament. And you can see how this is frustrating him.

And he is caught between making these statements, taking actions that are either defying the law or defying the way to respond to the European Union and so on as a way to appeal to his base, to appeal to the Brexiteers and, in some ways, to prepare himself for a general election.

The problem is the more he goes down that road, the more he is alienating parliament. And, ultimately, he desperately needs parliamentary support to get his withdrawal bill through. And this is what we're seeing from day-to-day.

So already, on Saturday, they said to him that there is no way they were going to vote on his withdrawal bill because, first of all, they wanted him to write the letter, follow that then now to the European Union. And secondly, they absolutely want to be able to scrutinize the legislation on this particular bill and they have not had the chance to do that yet and they will not have done it before Boris Johnson endeavors to present the withdrawal bill to parliament on Monday morning.

ALLEN: Right, so parliament kicks the can down the road. Johnson says he will not negotiate a delay with the E.U. and claims the law does it force him to, does it?

THOMAS: Well, this is -- it is not accurate here. I mean, parliament has told him that they, absolutely, if there is one thing that unites parliament, it is the fact that they do not want to have a no deal. So what we see here is there is really no reason why they supported him at this particular stage.

First of all, I think that in terms of a he general election, it could potentially be disastrous for some of these opposition groups, especially LibDems, Labor and so on to deliver Brexit for Boris Johnson. And if indeed they are going to go down the road of assisting him with delivering Brexit, then they are going to make specific demands.

And I think we are far more likely to see Parliament take control of the agenda again on Monday and start discussing certain amendments to the deal. In other words negotiating what it is they want to see in there.

So we've already heard discussion about there being some kind of referendum on his deal or even some kind of adjustment that would bring them closer in line with some kind of customs union arrangement. The problem is each time we make a request for a particular change or one of those changes are agreed upon, you are going to change the Parliamentary arithmetic in terms of who will support the deal and who will not.

And the fact remains that at this juncture, the deal that Boris Johnson is proposing is a harder Brexit, and that is very difficult for people to swallow, particularly those that wanted a much closer custom union arrangement, let alone the fact the DUP are upset by this and, of course, Scotland as well.

ALLEN: And what if it comes to some sort of agreement on a delay?


How might that work, Dominic?

THOMAS: Well, I mean, at this particular juncture, they are crashing out on the 31st of October. Parliament will do everything it can to try and make sure that that does not happen. So at this particular juncture, there are many things that are at stake. First of all, we still don't know the European Union's reaction. If the European Union wants to say, no more delay, then essentially, parliament would be presented with either a no deal or Boris Johnson's deal. That would be his preferred outcome.

But it's really not the European Union's business to push down that road. What they would like would be some kind of meaningful indication, either another referendum or a general election, but certainly something to break the status quo that parliament is not going to allow Boris Johnson to leave simply without a deal.

The big question is, will they leave with a deal or will we end up in some kind of extension period discussing this for three more months.

ALLEN: Exactly. Meantime, crowds have taken to the streets because they are sick of it. Many people, anti-Brexit won a second referendum. I believe one sign said Brexit is bonkers. So we'll see how that plays out.

I want to ask you though, Dominic, ten days from the current deadline, can you believe that it's still as uncertain now as it was two years ago?

THOMAS: Yes, I can. Unfortunately, we keep getting to these different deadlines, whether it's March and April, and it's been pushed all the way to Halloween. And what we have is just this Parliament that is completely deadlocked over these issues.

I mean, on the one hand, which is really so extraordinary, is that we have a British public that is eager to vote on another kind of referendum or two weigh in after this, and it does seem to indicate that there has been some shift towards remain, which, of course, frightens the conservatives and the Brexiteers.

And yet when we look at the general election landscape, the conservative party are still ahead of Labor and the LibDems, and what is ultimately a divided opposition. So you have yet again there these sort of self-reproducing kid of fractures that are there in British society.

But it is clear now that things are really coming to some kind of head but that the level of mistrust in Parliament of suspicion over what it is that Boris Johnson is really trying to do here is obvious, as is the frustration of a government that has lost its majority and seems to continue to alienate parliament over all of these particular issues.

And what we saw over the weekend with Boris Johnson's multiple letters did not go down the road of encouraging the Parliament to trust him more on these on these particular questions.

ALLEN: We always appreciate your measured insights, Dominic, so much. And it is a Monday. We'll be hours away from the latest twists and turns. As always, Dominic, thank you so much.

THOMAS: Thank you.

HOLMES: I think the letters were extraordinary. I mean, seeing the letter which was basically the wording that the law demanded and then follow-up with another letter saying, yes, just ignore the one I just sent you.

ALLEN: I know. That's the leadership they don't need, the lack of --

HOLMES: A crazy suggestion. You mentioned the map (ph) to a million people wanting another referendum.

ALLEN: We'll see.

HOLMES: We'll see. All right, we're going to take a short break.

When we come back, the public anger in Chile is getting nasty. It's taking a deadly turn. The government scrambling to stop the massive unrest before it gets worse. We'll have that coming up.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, Lebanon's government say it will start making concessions, but crowds of protesters aren't letting the pressure up. We'll take you there in a moment.



PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The weather map for all seasons across the United States. I'm Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for the Weather Watch. We've got the milder temperatures in the southern U.S. We've got more spring-like conditions developing across the plains region, and also into the southeast where storms are possible and back towards the west, we've got significant snow and even a fire risk across the State of California.

Storms here are firing up across the regions of the Gulf Coast States, and approximately several tornadoes across the State of Texas on into portions of Louisiana, and that's the concern moving forward. Notice what's happening back towards of the Rockies, yes, significant snow threat in place for higher elevation cities, such as Aspen and Vail and, eventually, drops a little further towards areas around the State of Denver, where some snowfall is likely across the region over the several days.

And then portions of Southern California, Santa Ana, events shaping up here, we are going to have a fire weather threat, temperatures climbing well above average into the middle 30s, as is often the case here with Santa Ana events. And notice when it does get cooler, it very gradually into the upper 20s of blistery weather expected in the region. But expect much cooler over the next several days to dive in and potentially even into portions of the State of Texas as well.

Highs in Atlanta, 24, Dallas makes it up to 23 degrees. Into the tropics we go, Kingston, Jamaica, around 31 degrees. Well, next on to the Bahamas, enjoying dry weather, highs there right around 30 degrees. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. Chile's government says seven people have now been killed during violent protests this week. Three people died in a supermarket fire, no word yet how the other four died.

For the last week, public anger over rising transportation cost, initially, spilled into the streets of the capital, Santiago. Chile's president says he'll take that proposed train fare hike that kicked off the protest.

Senators meeting in the coming hours for a special session will discuss the issue.

ALLEN: As we've been reporting, there are hotspots in different countries around the world where citizens are taking to the streets.

Now, let's talk about Lebanon, where the government has agreed on forms in an effort to put an end to days of massive street protests there.

The mood is beginning to change in this country but Lebanese people of all ages, background and religion promise though to keep fighting. Our Ben Wedeman is there.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the drumbeat of revolution banging in Beirut and across Lebanon. For the fourth straight day, the protest continued, each day bigger than the day before. The atmosphere is jubilant but the underlying grievances are real, anger over a faltering economy, official corruption and barely functioning basic services.

Five-year-old Jusuf (ph) suffers from a hereditary disease. His father, Ibrahim (ph), an ex-soldier, can't find work, can't afford his treatment. Along with his wife, Farah (ph), they tried to leave the country by boat with Syrian refugees to Turkey.

We paid 8,000, says Ibrahim (ph). We sold our car, my motorbike, hoping he would find something better outside. The boat sank. They barely survived.

We almost drowned when he was eight months old, Ibrahim (ph) says. He risked his life to escape this disgusting country. It's all politics, sectarianism, theft and looting.

Beyond the specifics of the economy, there is a deep resentment towards Lebanon's political business elite often (INAUDIBLE) the same.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have been taking a lot of money since years to their, here, to their pocket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are considering us as slaves, as dumb people. They are stealing and stealing and stealing. But at the end, people will say no.

WEDEMAN: For now, the fabric that is Lebanon appears one. The protesters united in anger and outrage at a political system that for nearly 80 years use sectarian divisions to pull it apart. The pressure from the street is mounting and in just days has yielded the result.

Repeatedly, the government here is retreating. Its scrapped the WhatsApp tax, it promised no more taxes on ordinary citizens, and it's dropped the idea of an austerity budget. None of those steps, however, has had much impact on these protests.

As the sun sets over Beirut, the streets remain full. This long, suffering country has seen flashes of hope.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.

ALLEN: We'll take those flashes of hope, for sure.

Mick Mulvaney's Ukraine comments have landed him on hot water.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed. Could this be the end of the road for President Trump's acting White House Chief of Staff? We will discuss.


HOLMES: Welcome back. You're watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Michael Holmes.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories this hour. Almost 500 U.S. troops are on the move in Syria, this exclusive footage showing vehicles gathering for a convoy.


U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says a withdrawal of U.S. forces will take weeks. At least some will head to Iraq. The news coming as Turkey and Kurdish fighters accuse each other of violating a ceasefire.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Boris Johnson gearing up for another attempt to win Parliament's backing for his Brexit deal. The U.K. government hopes to hold a so-called meaningful vote in the coming hours. It says it now has the backing of enough MPs to push the deal through, despite losing a key vote on the same thing on Saturday.

ALLEN: The government in Lebanon has agreed on reforms in an effort to put an end to four days of massive street protests and to ease the country's spiraling debt. The prime minister also reversing a plan to tax WhatsApp calls, which sparked the unrest. But tens of thousands of protesters are demanding the government resign over corruption.

HOLMES: Now President Trump is gearing up for a pretty tough week as he battles fires on several funds. As we discussed, he is getting slammed, for example, for pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. ALLEN: Plus, the impeachment inquiry is going full steam ahead.

Among those expected to testify this week, Bill Taylor. He is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who raised concerns about the freezing of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

HOLMES: Also, a Democratic source tells CNN, Democrats might be planning a vote to condemn the president for steering the G-7 to one of his properties. That's even after Mr. Trump ditched that move after a fierce backlash.

ALLEN: And, meantime, the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, is under fire for his now infamous quid pro quo comment. Sources tell CNN Mulvaney faced internal threats of being ousted before the impeachment crisis took over.

HOLMES: Yes. They add Mr. Trump is getting increasingly agitated with him after watching media coverage this weekend. Here's what Mulvaney told FOX News.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Did you ever offer or think to offer the president your resignation?


WALLACE: Was that ever discussed?

MULVANEY: Absolutely, positively not.


MULVANEY: I am -- listen, I'm very happy working there. Did I have the perfect press conference? No. But again, the facts are on our side.


HOLMES: And Michael Shear joins us now for more from Washington. He's a CNN political analyst and the White House correspondent for "The New York Times." Always a pleasure, Michael.

Now, despite what Mick Mulvaney says, I mean, he's trying to say he did not say what he literally said. The thing is, this is an issue that's not really going away. Even some Republicans are showing concerns. Do you see cracks in the Republican wall around the president?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, small ones. I was on Capitol Hill most of last week. And -- and during the day, when Mick Mulvaney made those original comments.

And I can tell you -- and then I talked to a bunch of lawmakers, Republican lawmakers, the next morning as they were trying to figure out kind of what to do about this and what to say, and they were concerned. I mean, they were worried, and upset, and angry. They had spent, you know, the better part of that week, you know,

fiercely defending the president, saying -- saying that there was no quid pro quo, saying that there was nothing to see here and that the Democratic impeachment inquiry was a -- was a big hoax, and then to have the acting chief of staff for the White House, essentially, come out and undercut them was really striking.

HOLMES: And to that point, when we look ahead at the week to come, the testimony in the inquiry. I mean, you've got the ambassador, Bill Taylor. He's the top diplomat and Ukraine had direct contact with the Trump people who wanted, allegedly, to investigate Ukraine and the Democrats. You've got the Russia adviser, Tim Morrison, who was listening in on that call with Zelensky. How do you see the week checking out? How important is it?

SHEAR: I think it's really important. I mean, look, I think, if you had to guess now, Bill Taylor is probably the sort of marquee witness for next week, but -- but I think the striking thing about all of these witnesses, all of the people who are coming in, largely diplomats, largely from the State Department, either current or former diplomats, this coming week, the previous week and even before that, I think what it underscores is the way in which the Democrats have been a step ahead of the president and his people this entire time, ever since this scandal broke.

You know, you saw the president continuing to, even today, in some tweets, to continue to rail against the -- the whistleblower. Well, you know, the whistleblower doesn't have any credibility. The whistleblower didn't -- didn't describe the call between President Trump and President Zelensky accurately.

And the truth of the matter is, the whistleblower is all but irrelevant at this point. You've had all of these diplomats, a stream of them, people that are not politically-minded folks; they're career bureaucrats. And they've all come out and not only confirmed much of what the whistleblower had originally said, but gone well beyond that. And I think that's what's so the disturbing to the Republicans, both around President Trump and in Congress, because it just feels like the Democrats have been one step ahead the whole way.


HOLMES: Yes. They don't really need the whistleblower, as you say. To this point, speak to the White House lack of strategy generally in dealing with all of this. I mean, it often seems that, you know, whatever the president tweets, first thing in the morning, becomes the strategy; and then the White House just has to react to it.

SHEAR: Yes. I mean, that's been true for most of the last almost three years. It seems particularly evident in this Ukraine situation, there hasn't seemed to be real strategy or a real plan that you can sort of see in real time being played out.

But look, that's, in some ways, what happened with the Mueller investigation, the Russia investigation, as well. The president took -- you know, and the White House took various different directions, various different strategies, and they finally kind of settled on one in the end, which was a kind of discredit the accusers, discredit the investigators kind of strategy that ultimately worked, I think, pretty well, but partly because they had the time for it to do it.

And I think the Democrats have decided, we're not going to give the president time to sort of fumble around and settle on a strategy. We're going to move this forward as rapidly as we can. And I think the president seems a little bit off-kilter and a bit back on his heels as a result.

HOLMES: He doesn't really know which way it's going, and he's not controlling the narrative.

And, again, that worth, then, mentioning the decision not to host the G-7 at Trump's Doral resort. I think, despite it being a rather stunning decision to begin with, it is unusual to see Donald Trump back down. I think it was Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican, who said you know, basically with everything else that's going on in Washington right now, why would you just invite more controversy? But unusual to see him back down.

SHEAR: Yes. I actually do think that it is unusual. I think that the unanimity with which the Republicans that I talked to over the last couple of days, they may have been showing a few cracks about the impeachment inquiry. But they were definitely kind of unanimous in really being puzzled by this this whole Doral thing. Every Republican I heard said, what is he doing? I mean, you know, they would sort of say things like, well, look, he said he's not going to profit off of it. There probably won't be any profit.

But -- but none of them could understand why the president would pick a fight like this in the middle of a Ukraine scandal, in the middle of an impeachment inquiry. I mean, it just doesn't make a -- didn't lot a whole lot of sense to them. And I have to assume that that message was communicated not once or twice but a lot to the White House over the last, you know, 24, 48 hours, and that that led to the decision.

HOLMES: Not to mention the heat he's taking from the Syria decision, as well.

Got to leave it there. Michael Shear, great to see you. Thanks so much.

SHEAR: Sure. Happy to -- happy to talk.

ALLEN: All right. Well, next here, in South Korea, plenty of teenagers are logging in, but they're not logging out.

SHEAR: Yes. You've got to check this story out. What the government is now doing to help smartphone addicts. I've got to get my daughter on this program. Yes.


ALLEN: Hi. Well, let's talk about a really tremendous first for aviation. HOLMES: Yes.

ALLEN: It involves flights that you've taken before, not one like this though.

HOLMES: Not like this.

ALLEN: Qantas has successfully completed the longest ever nonstop -- that tells it all right there.

HOLMES: Yes, really. Look at that.

ALLEN: Commercial flight. The Australian Airline flew from New York to Sydney, 19 hours and 16 minutes. That's a lot of movies.

HOLMES: That's a long red line, isn't it?

Qantas says there was 70 minutes of fuel left after more than 10,000 miles in the air, 16,000 kilometers. The carrier is researching the effects of ultra-long-haul flights on crew and passengers.

And as you said, probably a lot of movies that you'd need to watch. There was a lot of stretching going on on that flight. A friend of mine was on it.

ALLEN: Oh, really? And yes or no?

HOLMES: He said, no, it was good. A lot of people love it, but I'll tell you what. You do a flight like that you want to be at on the pointy end. You don't want to be down the back of the bus.

I did Atlanta to Johannesburg once, which was 16 and a half, I think. It's like the never-ending flight. Yes.

ALLEN: All right. Let's talk about what we mentioned a minute ago. South Korea's one of the most technologically-connected countries in the world.

HOLMES: Yes. But with all that Internet availability, there's a downside. The government says nearly 13 percent of South Korea's young people are addicted to their smartphones. Paula -- Paul Hancocks shows us what they're doing about it.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 4 a.m. in the morning when Yoo Chae-rin realized she'd been on her phone for 13 hours. This was when the 16-year-old decided she needed help.

Yoo went to a summer camp with a difference. This one is for smartphone addicts, one of 16 government-sponsored camps across South Korea. These girls spend 12 days with no access to their phones.

YOO CHAE-RIN, CAMP STUDENT (through translator): I started using it simply because I was bored, but now I just use it for no reason. HANCOCKS: These teenagers attend one-on-one group and family

counseling sessions, and take part in alternative activities that can replace the obsession with their smartphones.

There are also programs to educate the parents.

YOO SOON-DUK, DIRECTOR, GYEONGG-DO YOUTH COUNSELING & WELFARE CENTER: On the first day of the camp, kids have agonized looks on their faces. They say things like, I want to go back home. I really hate it. Why am I here? But that's just for the first two days.

HANCOCKS: In 2018, 98 percent of adolescents in South Korea used a smartphone. Almost 30 percent of them are over-dependent on them, according to government figures.

YOO S. (through translator): These teenagers get obsessed with games and refuse to go to school, and cyber bullying and arguments with parents have become more serious.

HANCOCKS: Yoo's father became increasingly worried about her and enforced a time limit of two hours a day on her phone.

YOO JAE-HO, FATHER OF YOO CHAE-IN: I did not know what she was watching, whether she is watching YouTube or playing games. If I talked to her about it, there would be an argument.

HANCOCKS: There are increasing concerns about the medical impact of excessive smartphone usage. One psychiatrist says it can weaken the frontal lobe of the brain.

LEE JAE-WON, PSYCHIATRIST (through translator): Major symptoms of the weakening of the frontal lobe are depression and anxiety. And it becomes harder to control impulses or anger. The ability to suppress or overcome difficulties becomes weak.

HANCOCKS: One month after the camp ended, Yoo says she believes it helped her.

YOO C. (through translator): It would be a lie if I said I don't uses my smartphone. But it's true that the duration and the number of times I uses it have decreased. I even recommended the camp for my younger brother. He would really struggle without his phone.

HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


HOLMES: Familiar to a lot of parents.

ALLEN: Yes. Right here. I'm an adult.

HOLMES: Hey, I've got two.

ALLEN: Full disclosure. All right. Thanks for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes. Do stay with us. WORLD SPORT coming up next. We'll see you in about 15 minutes.