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Mulvaney Under Fire for Ukraine Comments; Britain's Princes on Different Paths. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00]

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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. Hello and thank you for joining us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from our headquarters in Atlanta.

HOLMES: Ahead this hour, critics accuse Boris Johnson of behaving like a spoiled brat as his Brexit plan faces its next key test.

ALLEN: Also here, on the move, U.S. troops beginning their withdrawal from Syria despite concerns the ceasefire there is not holding

HOLMES: And the police ban has appeared to have little effect on protesters in Hong Kong who hit the streets in force again this weekend.

ALLEN: All right, all eyes will be at the U.K. and parliament and Boris Johnson after setback Saturday. Could today be meaningful Monday for Boris Johnson? The British Prime Minister wanting a new vote on this Brexit deal with so-called meaningful vote in the coming hours.

HOLMES: Yes. That's exactly what it was. Now his government says it does have the backing now of the 328 MPs needed to get the deal over the line despite losing their vote on Saturday. However, the decision on whether to have a vote lies with the Speaker of the House, John Bercow.

ALLEN: And some note that it would break 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 sends separate contradictory letters to the European Union.

HOLMES: Anna Stewart with the details for us from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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 to delay saying it would be corrosive. It's provoked anger from the opposition.

JOHN MCDONNELL, SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER: 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 too.

He's behaving a bit like a spoiled brat. The Parliament made a decision. He should abide by it. And this idea that you send another letter contradicting the first, I think that defies in the face of what

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 grow in the U.K. this extension and the Prime Minister will continue with his efforts to get his new Brexit deal voted on in Parliament in a so-called meaningful votes. That's the vote that his predecessor Theresa May lost three times.

Now Boris Johnson needs 320 MPs 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 for Monday but alone he go ahead if the Speaker of the House John Bercow allows it. Bercow has been accused of favoring the remain sides throughout the Brexit saga, although he maintains he's always acted as an impartial referee. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Natalie.

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. Are you're 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's 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's 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 Brexit is and in some ways to prepare himself for 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 bail through. And this is what we're seeing from day today.

So already on Saturday, they said to him that there's no way that they were going to vote on his withdrawal bill because first of all, they wanted him to write the letter, follow the Benn Act 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.

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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 forced him to, does it?

THOMAS: Well, this is -- he's not accurate here. I mean, Parliament has told him that they absolutely if there's one thing that unites Parliament, it is the fact that they do not want to have a deal. So what we see here is there's really no reason why they should support him at this particular stage. First of all, I think that in terms of a general election, it could

potentially be disastrous for some of these opposition groups, especially the Lib Dems, Labour 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're going to make specific demands.

And I think there were 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 had discussion about that being some kind of referendum on his deal, or even some kind of adjustment that we're bringing them closer in line with some kind of customs union arrangement.

The problem is each time you make a request for a particular change, or one of those changes agreed upon, you're 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 Customs Union arrangement, let alone the fact that 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, you know, they're crashing out on the -- 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 was 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 with some -- 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 the 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're sick of it. Many people, anti-Brexit want 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 it's still as uncertain now as it was two years ago?

THOMAS: Yes, I can. Unfortunately, you know, we keep getting to these different deadlines, whether it's March and April, and it's been pushed all the way to, 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, you know, so extraordinary, is that we have the British public that is eager to vote on another kind of referendum or to weigh in after this. And it does seem to indicate that there's been some shift towards remain, which of course, frightens the conservatives and the Brexit tears.

And yet, when we look at the general election landscape, the Conservative Party are still ahead of Labour and the Lib Dems and what is ultimately a divided opposition. So you have yet again, that the sort of self-reproducing kind of fractures that are there in British society.

But it is clear now that things are really coming to some kind of head. But the level of mistrust in Parliament of suspicion of 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 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 particular questions.

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

THOMAS: Thank you. HOLMES: Let's do it again. Well, the U.S. brokered ceasefire is set to expire Tuesday in northern Syria, and that means time is running out for the Kurdish lead Syrian Democratic Forces.

ALLEN: Turkey vows to restart its offensive if the SDF don't leave a so-called safe zone. Both the Turks and Kurds say that ceasefire has already been violated.

HOLMES: But the U.S. President Donald Trump seems unfazed by it all moving forward with his plans to withdraw troops from the region. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh with more from northern Syria.

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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They don't really want to leave, but still they have to. The decisions in Washington that are bringing the American and British and other European nations campaign here in Syria against ISIS is such a hasty end. What are being implemented behind me, over 100 American armored vehicles have arrived here to gather this rallying point before they begin the final journey out of Syria?

That really marks a deeply symbolic end, the largest land movement they've made since they've been inside Syria, the United States. They'll be going into Iraqi Kurdistan where senior officials say they will continue their campaign against ISIS but from a different territory.

So complicated now their fight against that terror group and just at the moment where it seemed ISIS were beginning to be slowly extinguished here over time. This has been a hasty move, make no doubt about it. No military planner wants to have their movements broadcast weeks possibly before they get to implement it. And certainly, they only had a matter of days here to implement contingency plans.

But we will be seeing large numbers of Americans on the move through Syria in the hours and days ahead. And that will mark the end of this messy number of weeks in which Washington policymakers have moved so fast, often their critics say with so little direction or certainty about what they're doing and left the brave men and women here of U.S. forces and it's true to say the Syrian Kurds who died in over 10,000 sons and daughters in number fighting to read this area of ISIS, left them very much reeling to catch up with those decisions, the Syrian Kurds feeling deeply betrayed.

But behind me here, this land movement, beginning it will be enormous and it will be deeply symbolic, I think, in the hearts of many American soldiers who weren't quite ready to bring this campaign to an end, and certainly not ever in these circumstances. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN Northern Syria.

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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 own base to stop it being useful to the enemy. Kurdish allies left in an uncertain fate. Have you see the lay of the land especially as you know, you've got Syrian, Turkish, even Russian forces filling the void?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST (via Skype): 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 it's a Jordan Iraq, or even Damascus was totally surprised by this.

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

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

HOLMES: Yes. I was watching Russian state television earlier. They are gleeful over this. I mean, you know, 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 in other parts of the world, I mean, whether it's Iraq, Afghanistan, locals who fight for the U.S. interesting places like Africa or etcetera?

BAER: Well, it's a question of credibility. I mean, this is why Trump is being attacked by the military. Petraeus has come after Trump, and Votel the commander of CENTCOM are down the line. The military is very, very disturbed by this because they know what the birds have done. They know about our credibility, and we cannot stay in the Middle East without allies, without the support of 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 this is why the Saudis have envoys in Tehran, and they're talking. There's a lot of backchannels back and forth because they're really worried about American commitment and they should be.

HOLMES: You know, I sort of listen to this sort of talk of a safe zone. It seems a bit of a misnomer if you're actually in it. And, you know, 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 on it started the first day of ethnic cleansing. The Turks don't want any Kurds on their border. They do intend to send back Sunni Arabs and fill them up along the border.

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And the other amazing thing about this, Mike, I've got to say, that it's -- we've just given Syria away to another country unilaterally, as if it's ours to give away. It's just -- it's really quite extraordinary. I've been working in the Middle East for years and years and years I've worked with the Kurds, I fought in the front with them in Iraq. I have never seen anything like this. This is this is worse than pulling out of Vietnam and 75, much worse.

HOLMES: And yet, you know it firsthand. So this strong words, I happen to agree. I mean, the conflation to of YPG and Peshmerga, with the PKK, who are carrying out actions in Turkey just seems extraordinary, too, is 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 to Lebanon and Hezbollah, which is something that Israel has been fighting 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, is that Damascus itself, the government, the Assad government is propped up by Iran and Hezbollah. I was there a couple years ago, and it's Hezbollah that's doing the major fighting against al Qaeda and other Islamic groups. So, what you're 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 that goes from Iraq, Syria, to Lebanon, and they're going to take -- they're 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 points. As always, great to have your expertise. As always, Bob Baer, thank you.

BAER: Thanks.

ALLEN: All right. Next here, the public anger in Chile takes a deadly turn.

HOLMES: And the government scrambling to stop the massive unrest before it gets worse, that and more when we come back.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, bonfires, water cannon, barricades, the protests in Hong Kong show no signs of slowing. We take you to the heart of the demonstrations.

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PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: The weather map for all seasons across the United States. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for "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 severe storms are possible. And then, back towards the west, we have 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 that prompting 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 portions of the Rockies. Yes, significant snow threat in place for higher elevation cities such as Aspen and Vail, and eventually drops a little farther towards areas around say Denver where some snowfall is likely across the region over the next several days. And then, you notice towards 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 is often the case here with Santa Ana events.

And notice, even when it does get cooler, very gradually so into the upper 20s of blustery weather expected in the region. We'll expect much cooler air over the next several days to dive in, and potentially even into portions of the state of Texas as well. Highs in Atlanta 25, Dallas makes it up to 23 degrees. Into the tropics we go, Kingston, Jamaica around 31 degrees. Well, Nassau to the Bahamas enjoying dry weather. Highs there right around 30 degrees.

[01:20:05]

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ALLEN: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. Chile's government says 10 people have been killed during violent protests this week. Two died Saturday, eight on Sunday. For the last week, public anger over rising transportation costs spilled into the streets of the capital city, Santiago. Chile's President says he'll take back the proposed train fare hike that kicked off these protests. Senators are meeting in the coming hours for a special session to discuss the issue. The Lebanese government says it's agreed on a package of economic reforms, hoping to put an end two days of massive street protest there, and to ease the country spiraling debt. Lebanon's Prime Minister also reversed a plan to tax WhatsApp calls, which kicked off this uprising. Tens of thousands of people of all ages background and religion have crowded into the streets of Beirut, calling the government corrupt and demanding its members resigned.

HOLMES: Now, five months of political turmoil in Hong Kong shows no sign of slowing. Prodemocracy activists planning a sit in later on Monday, demanding more democratic rights and more distance from Beijing. Two weeks of relative peace was shattered when violence street battles with police began on Sunday. Our Anna Coren was in the middle of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the 20th consequtive weekend of protests here in Hong Kong. As you can see, these protesters, the frontline protesters are setting up barricades here on (INAUDIBLE) road, one of the biggest roads here in Hong Kong. They're getting anything and throwing (INAUDIBLE) for these makeshift barricades. As you can see (INAUDIBLE) bombs and fires can be seen (INAUDIBLE) to these barricades.

And it looks like -- I can't tell if they're police. They are. Still, protesters who are so far. What a ferocious fight, the barricades in front of us. Now, we know that the police are 500 meters 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 (INAUDIBLE).

Now, this began as a very peaceful protest, tens of thousands if not over 100,000 people turned out for an unlawful assembly. The police had denied the march as had the courts which was trying to be organized by the (INAUDIBLE) the same group that organized the 2 million people march back in June. Well, the march was denied, the protesters turned out regardless. And they say that this is their rights. This is their civil liberty to come out onto the streets and protest. They are calling for an independent inquiries of police brutality. They want the Hong Kong Police Force to be disbanded.

And of course, I 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 this protests, and they are turning out in their thousands.

[01:25:09]

We then make shield weapons and metal types. Their hammers, their sledge hammers. They are specially (INAUDIBLE) that have seen us through China. They are vandalizing train stations, there seemed to be the eyes of the Hong Kong government. They're 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)

ALLEN: A rough day at the office for Anna Coren. We appreciate her reporting and her team there.

HOLMES: Yes, she were calm there. Yes, absolutely.

All right, Mick Mulvaney, he is the Acting Chief of Staff at the White House, trying to walk back some of those Ukraine comments.

ALLEN: But it seems the more he tries to fix things, the worst the situation gets. We've got that next.

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ALLEN: All right. Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes.

We want to update you on the headlines this hour.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a new vote on his Brexit deal Monday. He's (INAUDIBLE) hoping to hold a so-called meaningful vote in the hours ahead. It now says it has the backing of 320 MPs it needs to get the deal over the line even though it lost a key vote on Saturday.

ALLEN: Almost 500 U.S. troops are on the move in Syria. This exclusive footage shows vehicles gathering for a convoy. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the withdrawal of U.S. forces will take weeks. The news coming as the U.S.-brokered ceasefire is set to expire Tuesday between Turkey and Kurdish fighters.

HOLMES: Hong Kong preparing for more action on Monday, a day after police and protesters battled in the streets. Some groups set bonfires, vandalized buildings, threw Molotov cocktails. Police responding with tear gas and water cannons. Earlier, tens of thousands of people marched in a peaceful but unauthorized rally.

ALLEN: All right. Back here in the U.S., President Trump has a lot on his plate this week. As we discussed, he's being slammed from all sides for pulling U.S. troops out of Syria.

HOLMES: And then you've got the Democrats pulling out all the stops in the impeachment inquiry. This week you've got several top diplomats expected to testify. And among them is Bill Taylor. Now, he is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. He's the one who raised concerns about the freezing of U.S. aid there.

ALLEN: Also, a Democratic source tells CNN, Democrats maybe 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 because of the fierce backlash.

HOLMES: I wonder why. Now, the fallout from acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's now infamous quid pro quo comments just won't go away. Sources telling CNN Mulvaney faced internal threats of being ousted before the impeachment inquiry took over.

ALLEN: They add Mr. Trump was getting increasingly agitated (ph) with him after watching media coverage this weekend.

Here's what Mulvaney told Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, absolutely not.

WALLACE: Was that ever discussed? MULVANEY: Absolutely positively not. Listen -- I'm very happy

working there. Did I have the perfect press conference, no. But again the facts are on our side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And Michael Shear joins us now for more from Washington. He is 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 didn't say what he literally said. The thing is this is an issue that is not really going away. Even some Republicans are showing concern.

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 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 that there was no quid pro quo, saying that there was nothing to see here and that the Democratic impeachment inquiry was a big hoax. And then to have the acting chief of staff of 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 Ambassador Bill Taylor. He's the top diplomat in Ukraine and had direct contact with the Trump people who wanted allegedly to investigate Ukraine and the Democrats.

You've got the Russia adviser Tim Morrison. He was listening in on that call with Zelensky. How do you see the week checking out? How important is it?

SHEAR: I think it is 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 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 Democrats have been a step ahead of the President and his people this entire time, ever since the scandal broke. You know, you saw the President continuing to -- even today in some tweets -- continue to rail against the whistleblower.

Well, you know, the whistleblower doesn't have any credibility. The whistleblower did not 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.

HOLMES: Yes.

SHEAR: You've had all of these diplomats, a stream of them, people that are not politically-minded folks. They are 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.

[01:34:57]

SHEAR: And I think that is what is so 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. I mean to that point, I mean 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 real plan that you could 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, in 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.

I think the Democrats have decided we are 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 off kilter and a bit back on his heels as a result.

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

And again it's worth mentioning the decision not to host the G-7 at Trump's Doral resort. I mean 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 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 you said he's not going to profit off it. There probably won't be any profit but none of them could understand why the President would pick a fight like this in the middle of a Ukraine scandal, the middle of an impeachment inquiry.

I mean it just doesn't make a whole -- it didn't make a whole lot of sense to them. And I have to assume that the 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: Now, to mention the heat he is 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 talk.

HOLMES: We are going to take a short break. When we come back it has been a very hot topic in the British tabloids for months now.

ALLEN: Now Prince Harry is confirming he and his brother are on different paths. That's next.

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HOLMES: Welcome back.

Britain's Prince Harry admits there has been some tension with his brother Prince William.

ALLEN: It is the first acknowledgment of a rift that has been the subject of tabloid speculation for months. He spoke about it in an interview with ITV while he and his wife Meghan were visiting Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is been a lot of talk in the press about rifts with your brother. How much of that is true?

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

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

We don't see each other as much as we used to because we're so busy. But you know, I love him dearly, and the majority of this stuff is probably blown -- much of this stuff is created out of nothing.

But you know, just as I said, as brothers, you know, we have good days, we have bad days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And a source says Harry and Meghan will take a break from official royal duties toward the end of the year. Both are evolved in lawsuits against the British media for the publication of an edited letter of Meghan's and the alleged hacking of Harry's phone.

You know, two brothers who sometimes don't get along sounds pretty normal to me.

ALLEN: Yes. Welcome to family life.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly.

ALLEN: All right. Meantime Prince William and his wife Kate had wrapped up a five-day visit to Pakistan. The visit to a school and national park underscore their focus on access to education and climate change.

HOLMES: Several of the events had a connection to Princess Diana, especially the meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Max Foster spoke exclusively with the PM about his friendship with the royal family.

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MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: When Imran Khan was a cricketer he was married to Jemima Khan and she was family friends with the royals. 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, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: I would have said that but then I just started my political party. And I assumed that it would be very easy and I would help my party and I would go out and people would vote for me.

Little did I realize what I would go through to get here.

FOSTER: So it's 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'm in the struggle of becoming a prime minister in a country when, unfortunately 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. She had -- you hosted her on 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 it's really considered an outback here. It's really quite wild there. And I was -- during my constituency when I heard of the accident, I can tell you that the impact it had on the people shocked me.

I mean even the rural peasants -- I wouldn't even have thought that know Princess Diana but when they heard of the accident and her death it was just -- I was amazed at how Princess Diana had penetrated even in these rural constituencies.

FOSTER: How did they respond to that?

KHAN: 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. But then it's been about showing this country there's a safe place to visit, a safe places to do business with. And all this imagery coming from the source really reinforced that. That's gone down pretty well across the border. I have to say.

[01:45:03] Max Foster, CNN -- Lahore, Pakistan.

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HOLMES: And thank you everyone for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.

Stay with us "WORLD SPORT" is coming next. We'll see you soon.

HOLMES: It's our weekend.

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