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U.S. Troops Withdraw from Syria; Boris Johnson Expects a Vote on Monday on Brexit; Speaker Pelosi's Unannounced Trip to Jordan and Afghanistan; Tough Week Ahead for President Trump; Threat of Being Ousted for Mick Mulvaney; Trump Backs Down on Hosting the G7 Summit at His Resort. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. It is 7:00 a.m. in London, 9:00 a.m. in northern Syria. From Atlanta headquarters, I'm Rosemary Church with you're next two hours of "CNN Newsroom." Let's get started.

The largest U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria today gets underway despite the concerns that negotiated ceasefire in the region is not holding.

The British prime minister is pushing for a new vote on his Brexit deal after yet another stunning setback in parliament over the weekend.

Plus, the White House chief of staff attempt to damage control after making a major admission about the Ukraine scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Good to have you with us. So time is running out for former U.S. allies, the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces. A U.S. brokered ceasefire expires Tuesday and Turkey says it's ready to re-launch its offensive unless Kurdish fighters pullback from a so-called safe zone.

And you can see that area shaded in green right here on the map. The Kurds say they have evacuated the border town of Ras al-Ain. They also say Turkish-backed forces have blocked their path.

None of these though seems to be fazing U.S. President Donald Trump. He is moving ahead with plans to keep pulling U.S. troops from the region. This exclusive footage shows hundreds of vehicles gathering for a convoy. The U.S. defense secretary discussed the ceasefire Saturday.


MARK ESPER, U.S. 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. It doesn't surprise me necessarily. But that's what we're -- that's what we're picking up. That's what we're seeing so far.


CHURCH: Well, another concern, Turkey plans to settle non-Kurdish refugees in that safe zone. The Kurds say that amounts to ethnic cleansing. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more now from the Turkish-Syrian border.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Both sides 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 of Tell Abyad came under attack and at least one Turkish soldier was killed in that attack. On the other hand, the Syrian Kurdish fighters are accusing Turkey of not abiding by that agreement.

Well, 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 is 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 Tuesday evening.

That is when the pause in fighting could come to an end on Tuesday night if they don't leave all these areas. We've heard the warnings from President Erdogan repeating that again 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [02:05:05]

CHURCH: CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel Cedric Leighton joins us now. Always good to have you with us.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thanks Rosemary. It's great to be with you again.

CHURCH: So the U.S. defense secretary is insisting the ceasefire between Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish forces generally seems to be holding, his words there, despite reports of more than 20 violations. How can they say the ceasefire or a pause, whatever you want to call it, is holding if violations are committed?

LEIGHTON: Well, it is all in the eye of the beholder. So in one of these situations I think, Rosemary, what we're looking at is the relative peace compared to what you had before, you know, just as the Turks have made their incursions into northeastern Syria.

Generally speaking, I would say that, you know, with 20 violations that's a bit 20 too many and I wouldn't say that the ceasefire is holding in the stricter sense of the word, but it is also true that in this case at least, the fighting has not gone on to it's possible extent.

So in that sense, it's a, you know, kind of splitting hairs but in this case, we are looking at a tenuous ceasefire or is a station of hostilities that is going on right now in northern Syria.

CHURCH: All right. And then of course Turkey wants all the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from their designated safe zone by Tuesday night. And if they don't do that then the ceasefire according to Turkey will come to an abrupt end.

That withdrawal has begun apparently. Would you expect it to be completed by that Tuesday evening deadline? Do you think we will see that?

LEIGHTON: I'm not sure that we will. I think the Kurds may not be as willing to withdraw from all of their positions but they seem to have some pretty strict discipline when it comes to following the directions of their leadership.

And as painful as it is for them to vacate their positions, most of the forces right now seem to be doing that. And if that's the case, it could happen that by Tuesday we actually do see major compliance on the part of the Kurdish forces with the terms of the ceasefire, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were a complete compliance.

CHURCH: And after raising the ire of both Republicans and Democrats by withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria and making way for Turkey's military to move in, we now hear that those same troops will not actually be heading home after all as President Trump had promised, but instead will be going to western Iraq to perform ISIS counter missions. What do you make of that apparent change of plan? LEIGHTON: Well I'm not sure it really was a change of plans. What I

think we're seeing here, Rosemary, is a redeployment of forces within the theater. This redeployment of forces was never intended it to be a leaving of the Middle East, an exit from this area.

And in spite the president's rhetoric; what we are seeing is a tactical redeployment where those forces could potentially be used in a continuation of the fight against ISIS. It's some I will say that that's actually a way to propagate and move forward with the mission against ISIS.

But it's also a more difficult place to do that mission from to conduct those operations from. And that's going to make it a little bit more challenging for the U.S. forces.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, one of President Trump's greatest supporters, Senator Lindsey Graham, has been critical of the president's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria. But now Senator Graham is saying, well that was just a yellow light, not a green light for Turkey to move in. Why does he appear to be backing down on his criticism or at least backpedalling here?

LEIGHTON: Well, it does seem as if Senator Graham is trying to have it both ways. You know, on the one hand, he wants to be critical because historically he's been one of the key proponents along with the late Senator John McCain of a U.S. presence in Syria, and in this particular case, that is of course antithetical to what President Trump just did.

And we see him trying to split the difference between the legacy he had with Senator McCain and his need to, I think, support President Trump. So that becomes one of those politically difficult maneuvers that he is conducting right now.

And, you know, whether it's a yellow line or a green light, I would say, you know, the Turkish car is still speeding through the intersection, and that's what we are seeing right now.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. Cedric Leighton, many thanks to you for breaking this down and bringing your military analysis to the table here. We appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely Rosemary. Thanks so much for having me.


CHURCH: Well, after a setback Saturday, could today possibly be meaningful Monday for Boris Johnson? The British prime minister wants a new vote on his Brexit deal, a so-called meaningful vote in the coming hours. His government says it has the backing of the 320 MPs needed to get the deal over the line despite losing a key vote on Saturday.

However, the decision on whether to have a vote lies with Speaker of the House, John Bercow. And some note that it would break with 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. Anna Stewart has the details from 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 to delay saying it would be corrosive. It's provoked anger from the opposition.

JOHN MCDONNELL, BRITISH LABOUR MP: It 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 the first, I think its 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. 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 vote.

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 it will 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.


CHURCH: Well, Steven Erlanger is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for the "New York Times." He's in Brussels and joins us now live. Good to see you again.


CHURCH: All right. So after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost that key vote Saturday, he is now pushing for another vote Monday on his Brexit deal. How likely is it though that Speaker Bercow will allow that to happen?

ERLANGER: He is very hard to read and, you know, when he says he's not really in favor of remain, I'm not sure most people really believe that. I think at some point he's got to let a vote go on, whether that happens Monday or later this week.

I mean, there has to be a vote. You can't to stop parliament from actually voting. It looks as if Boris Johnson may have the votes he needs. And if he does, then he is likely to have enough votes to beat off amendments.

But this parliament is so divided and the opposition to Johnson's, you know, latest version of the Theresa May plan is so divided strategically that you could just end up with the usual mess and that's what frustrates everyone. Boris Johnson is depending on people being sick of this and wanting to at least get past the withdrawal agreement stage.

CHURCH: So what are the possible scenarios here going forward?

ERLANGER: Well, one is John Bercow doesn't let the vote go on and then we will have to see, then you could end up, you know, with some kind of call for a general election, which the opposition labor party doesn't want to provide.

You could let him go ahead and Boris Johnson could lose the vote. You could let him go ahead and the opposition creates all kinds of amendments attaching for example, a second referendum to parliament's agreement, or you could, you know, just come to this place where we need another extension to kind of figure it out.

And maybe there will be a general election or maybe there won't and we don't really know. I mean, this is the magic of parliamentary democracy right now.

CHURCH: It's also deja vu isn't it? And Prime Minister Johnson still insisting the U.K. will leave the E.U. in about 10 days. How is that possible though? Is it even legal and where does that leave those two strangely contradictory letters Mr. Johnson sent to the E.U. on a Brexit extension?


ERLANGER: Well, I think it is possible in the sense that if he gets the main vote passed then there may not be time for the supplementary legislation and that could require a very short extension, you know, maybe a week or so.

The European parliament also has to vote for this plan, but I think that is not likely to be a big problem. And the E.U. for the moment is being silent on what it takes as a legal request for an extension under the Benn Act.

But they don't have to do anything, so, you know, after the votes in parliament or even until October 30th. So, you know, right now the drama is in the parliament, it's not in Brussels.

CHURCH: And we are all excited to see what unfolds Monday, watching very closely. Steven Erlang, many thanks as always.

ERLANG: Thanks Rosemary. CHURCH: Well, Mick Mulvaney's Ukraine comments have landed him in hot water. Could this be the end of the road for President Trump's acting White House chief of staff? We will discuss, that's next.




CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was in Afghanistan this weekend. So was one of President Trump's chief opponents. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office says she's wrapped up an unannounced trip to the country.

She met with Esper and top Afghan officials. Pelosi also visited Jordan on Saturday. She led a congressional delegation and met with King Abdullah. Middle East policy and Syria topped the agenda.

The impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump rolls on this week. Several top diplomats are expected to testify before Congress and that includes Bill Taylor. He is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who raised concerns about the freezing of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was under fire for his infamous quid pro quo comments. CNN's White House reporter Jeremy Diamond has the details.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney continuing to play clean up over the weekend, appearing on a Sunday news program to insist once again that he did not admit to the quid pro quo that he admitted to just days earlier.

Mick Mulvaney in that Thursday briefing at the White House conceded that White House security aide to Ukraine was in part frozen over President Donald Trump's interest in Ukraine investigating these debunked conspiracy theories related to the Democratic National Committee and one of their servers that was hacked during the 2016 election, but Mulvaney on Sunday insisting that he did no such thing.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You've again said just a few seconds ago that I said there was a quid pro quo. Never used that language because there was not a quid pro quo --

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Yes, but you are asked by Jonathan Karl, is that you described a quid pro quo and you said that happens all the time.

MULVANEY: Well, and reporters will use their language all the time, so my language never said quid pro quo, but let's get to the heart of the matter, go back and look at that list of three things, what was I talking about -- things that it was legitimate for the president to do.


DIAMOND: Mulvaney's latest defense appears to amount to saying that he did not say those words, quid pro quo, even as he continued to once again acknowledge that the president's interest in that Democratic investigation in Ukraine was part of the reason for freezing that security aid.

But Mulvaney's performance on Sunday didn't necessarily calm any nerves at the White House. A source familiar with the president's thinking, telling me on Sunday that the president is growing increasingly frustrated with his White House chief of staff.

Now, the president of course frequently grows frustrated and these aides find themselves on the shaky ground, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Mulvaney's exit is imminent. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And joining me now, Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of government at the University of Essex. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, a pretty tough week ahead for the president with both the U.S. troop withdrawal in northern Syria and the impeachment inquiry taking a toll on his leadership. How damaging have both issues been for him so far and how much support is he losing within his own party?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, they have been terrible and we have seen what's happened with the way the Republicans have responded. It hasn't been particularly good for Trump. So regarding the impeachment inquiry, what is very telling is that it is not that Republicans have said anything. They haven't said anything and that's the issue.

Normally, they come to his defense. Normally, Mitch McConnell is vociferously the defending him, and instead he hasn't said anything at all. And then when it comes to the issue with Syria, we've seen key Republicans, including Mitch McConnell who put out an op-ed piece in the "Washington Post." You also have Mitt Romney who spoken out against this and Lindsey Graham.

So, key Republicans in the Senate have made it very clear, in addition to other Republicans in the House, that his decision to pull out of Syria is going to be catastrophic. So that, in addition, to the fact that all the Republicans are completely silent on the impeachment process or at best, just saying the process is wrong and not being able to come to his defense isn't particularly good for Trump.

CHURCH: And as we just showed in our report, the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who admitted last week there was a quid pro quo involving Ukraine's military funds. He has since denied saying that and has been in damage control ever

since. But we understand the president is losing patience with him. Can Mulvaney survive this and what are the optics if he is fired?

LINDSTAEDT: I don't think he can survive this because I think he was already on thin ice beforehand. There were reports that Jared Kushner, before the even impeachment process started wasn't a big fan of Mick Mulvaney.


Now, he's this huge gap where he admitted there was a quid pro quo and then tried to backtrack. I think the issue that for anybody that works for Trump, they are under tremendous stress at the moment and there isn't a concerted strategy or effort or team working on the impeachment process and how to defend it.

Instead, they are being directed by Trump to say there was no quid pro quo when they're going to be asked a barrage of questions by reporters, very tough pointed questions that are really hard to dance around when they only have this one defense.

And I don't think that Mick Mulvaney can last much longer in this environment. I know, temporarily, Trump has said maybe, you know, he is going to be here a little bit longer because he has some confidence in him, but that performance was absolutely terrible, very damaging for the president.

CHURCH: Yes. And another issue dogging the president despite backing down on his plans to host the G7 at his Florida resort, he could still face a vote from the Democrats condemning him for making that suggestion in the first, place how critical is that?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, he's not supposed to be able to use his presidential power and benefit from and fight violating that emoluments clause and basically hosting a huge event at his golf course, which wasn't doing particularly well financially and which they cannot prove that they went through the proper channels to investigate and ensure that there were all kinds of other options on the table.

And that they then decided, no, we have to go with this Doral Trump golf course. They can't prove that. It looked really bad. It was very brazen because it's been going on the heels of all these impeachment inquiries, and the fact that he made this unilateral decision to pull out of Syria.

And this is just another piece of the puzzle for the Democrats. And so, though, I don't think this is going to be the last thing we hear about, it's just one of many examples of corrupt activities of the president.

CHURCH: All right. Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis. We appreciate it.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me. CHURCH: Well, Canada has a reputation for being a polite country, but the campaign rhetoric in the general election has been anything but polite. The challenge to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that's ahead.



CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course, all around the world ,you are watching CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Rosemary Church. We want to check the headlines for you this hour. 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 a withdrawal of U.S. forces will take weeks. The news comes as a U.S.-brokered ceasefire is set to expire Tuesday between Turkey and Kurdish fighters.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a new vote Monday on his Brexit deal. His government hopes to hold a so-called meaningful vote in the coming hours. It now says it has the backing of the 320 M.P.s needed to get the deal over the line, even though it lost a key vote on Saturday.

Chile's government says at least 10 people have been killed during protests in the capital city Santiago. Demonstrations over rising transportation costs turned violent over the last week. Chile's Senate is expected to hold a special session Monday to suspend the transit fare price hike that started the unrest.

Well, in just a few hours from now, Canadians cast their vote in a general election that is too close to call. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in a dead heat with conservative challenger, Andrew Scheer. Polls indicate neither will win enough seats to form a majority government. Paula Newton takes a look at the campaign that's been anything but predictable.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For Justin Trudeau, this is new political ground, shaky ground, where he now needs to tiptoe around his own tainted image.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: This election isn't about me. This election is about you.

NEWTON: These are the images that had jaws dropping around the world.

TRUDEAU: I'm disappointed in myself and I'm apologizing to Canadians.

NEWTON: Trudeau wore black face on at least three occasions decades ago, but he admitted he couldn't even remember how many times he done it. All the more surprising that in his hometown of Montreal, where they take their food and their politics seriously, the forgiveness came almost as quickly as their leaders contrition.

You don't believe he's a racist? ALEXANDRA SCHERZER, CANADIAN VOTER: No, I don't. I think being able

to stand up in front of your country, saying that this was a past time, that you're ashamed of what you've done.

NEWTON: The fact is just outside of the Trudeau stronghold, the island of Montreal, you don't have to go far, just over to the other shore. And you can already hear the skepticism.

MICHAEL DERBAS, CANADIAN VOTER: And I believe the party already needs another leader, another face because we are not represented well, internationally.

NEWTON: So, where do those opinions leave voters this time around? Deadlocked. Polls are proving little better than a coin toss and predicting if Trudeau or his conservative challenger Andrew Scheer will be Canada's next prime minister. But if he wins, Trudeau is now a diminished politician, both at home and abroad.


NEWTON: Beryl Wajsman, a Montreal newspaper editor has known Trudeau for years. Although, they don't see eye to eye politically anymore, he repeats Trudeau is no racist.

But the optics of him humiliating himself on a trip to India last year, a scandal within his own cabinet. And then the blackface incident is more than many Canadians can bear.

WAJSMAN: Everywhere I go, people are talking about the fact we look like a silly country. That's -- and that's a hidden issue. It hasn't been pulled on. Not to any great degree, but it's in people's heads.

NEWTON: And yet, Scheer both physically and socially conservative, has been unable to capitalize on any of that sentiment. New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh has done marginally better and may end up propping up a weakened minority Trudeau government. That's even if Scheer wins the popular vote.

NIK NANOS, CANADIAN POLLSTER: So, buckle up. It's possible for the winner to be the loser and the loser to be the winner in the Canadian election.


NEWTON: No wonder many voters are turned off.

JEAN-YVES BODOUIN, CANADIAN VOTER: For some people, I imagine it's going to be a choice between the best of the worst in a way.

NEWTON: And in some ways, Trudeau has helped make this campaign something many Canadians have in no way enjoyed, but instead, endured. Paula Newton, CNN, Montreal.


CHURCH: For the first time, Prince Harry is acknowledging tensions with his brother. Talk of a rift has been in the tabloids for months, especially around the time Harry and his wife Meghan moved out of Kensington Palace in May. Harry was asked about her during an interview with ITV during the couple's trip to Africa.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's 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 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 happens, but look, we're brothers. 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. You know, 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 love him dearly. And, you know, the majority of this stuff this -- the majority of stuff is created out of nothing. But, you know, it's just as I said, as brothers, you know, there's good days, you have bad days.


CHURCH: Well, separately, a source says Harry and Meghan will take a break from official royal duties toward the end of the year after they complete their current engagements. They will divide their time between the United States and the United Kingdom. Well, U.S. federal prosecutors are expected to file new charges in the college admissions scandal. Law enforcement officials tells CNN some defendants who pleaded not guilty could face additional bribery and fraud charges. This game reportedly involved at least 50 people, among them celebrities, wealthy parents and college executives.

Prosecutors say they made illegal payments in order to get students into prestigious universities. 10 people have been sentenced so far. Actress Felicity Huffman is in the middle of a two-week sentence for her role in the college admissions scandal. The actress was spotted wearing a green jumpsuit at the California prison where she's serving time. CNN's Alexandra Field has more.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Actress Felicity Huffman now federal inmate number 77806-112 reported this week to prison in Dublin, California. A low security lockup once dubbed by Forbes Magazine in 2009 as one of America's 10 cushiest prisons. It's far from the Hollywood stars Hollywood Hills home, but close enough for her husband, actor William H. Macy to visit. 35 miles outside of San Francisco Dublin has more than 1200 female inmates.

Like the rest of the prison population, Huffman who often will wear a khaki uniform and wake up by five in the morning. She can buy some personal items and food at the commissary and there's a wellness program that includes arts and crafts and team sports. The small screen star who shot the famously "Desperate Housewife" isn't the prison's first famous inmate. Patty Hearst was sent there in the 70s. In the 90s, the so-called Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss did time in Dublin. She later described the low security prison as anything but easy.

HEIDI FLEISS, AMERICAN MADAM: You're in a very anti-social environment. It's very hostile. You know, there are times I felt like, oh my god, I'm going to have to go the weight pile and kill this girl, and I'll be stuck here for the rest of my life. You know, there are some scary situations.

FIELD: Huffman's sentence, just 14 days was handed down in the Boston courtroom last month. The actress pleaded guilty in made to paying $15,000 to inflate her daughter's SAT scores. In a letter to the court, she wrote, "In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I've done is the opposite of fair. I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter, and failed my family."

Huffman is one of more than 30 mostly high profile parents facing charges in the nation's largest college admissions scandal, operation Varsity Blues. Many have already been sentenced, others are still fighting the charges, including actress Lori Loughlin, who could face as much as 40 years behind bars. Alexandra Fields, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. Still to come, Lebanon's government says it will start making concessions, but crowds of protesters are not leaving the streets anytime soon. We'll have that next for you.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are planning a sit in later Monday. It's marking three months since a violent mob attack protesters inside the U.N. long train station injuring dozens of people. It's the 20th week of protests. After two weeks of relative peace, we saw some street battles in one of the city's busiest tourist district Sunday. Mass group set bonfires, vandalize buildings, and throw Molotov cocktails. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

Well, Lebanon's government has agreed on reforms in an effort to put an end to days of massive street protests. The mood is beginning to change in the country, but Lebanese people of all ages, background, and religion promised to keep fighting. Ben Wedeman has our report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the drumbeat of revolution. Banging in Beirut and across Lebanon. For the fourth straight day, the protests 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. 5-year-old Youssef (ph) suffers from a hereditary disease. His father Ibrahim, an ex-soldier, can't find work, can't afford Youssef's treatment. Along with his wife Farrah (ph), they tried to leave the country by boat with Syrian refugees to Turkey.

We paid 8000 euros says Ibrahim. We sold our car, my motorbike hoping we would find something better outside. The boat sank, they barely survived.


We almost drowned when he was 8-months-old, Ibrahim says. We risk his life to escape this disgusting country. It's all politics, sectarianism that alluding.

Beyond the specifics of the economy, there is deep resentment toward Lebanon's political and business elite often playing the same.

MABEL KHOURY, PROTESTER, BEIRUT, LEBANON: They have been taking a lot of money since years to their -- here. They are perfect.

YUSRA ITANI, PROTESTER, BEIRUT, LEBANON: They are -- they're 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 and anger and outrage at a political system that for nearly 80 years used sectarian divisions to pull it apart. The pressure from the street is mounting and in just days has showed the results.

Repeatedly, the government here is retreated. It 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.


CHURCH: Well, South Korean teens are attached to their technology. But the government thinks it's a habit they need to break. The plan to help smartphone addicts, that's ahead.



CHURCH: Well, the Dallas area is dealing with storm damage and we're hearing a tornado touchdown in the northern part of the city. Let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri to find out more about some of the details here. What are you learning, Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Rosemary, though this tornado touched down there just after 9:00 p.m. local time across the region. And anytime you talk about tornado is coming down after it gets dark, we know statistically nocturnal tornadoes two times more likely to cause fatalities by obvious reasons. When you're talking about a storm that's really hard to see, of course, coming in into the overnight hours and into the dark hours.

But, the perspective is such here with the tornado developing just north of Dallas metro area. In fact, we do have some video to show with you -- share with you what's happened across this region to the flashes of lightning hail illuminate the tornado itself.

The gentleman who took this video shared with us that the tornado just like it appeared it quickly went back up into the cloud. So, certainly, it was a short-lived event. But when you're talking about a metro area, it's very densely populated even that is enough here to cause significant damage.

And officials on the ground right now assessing a situation. No reports of any serious injuries, no fatalities, fortunately. But they are saying if significant damage is found in place in some of these areas, as they believe there might be, then, some of the schools in the area might be impacted when it comes to early Monday morning. But notice three reports of tornadoes. Two in the Dallas metro area, one farther towards the east, quite a bit of wind damage across the region as well.

And we know the tornado peak season is typically in the spring season. Whether it be the months of say March, April, on into May, even June, that's when the vast majority of tornadoes occur. But, there is what is known as a secondary season, so beyond that primary season that accounts for more than half of all tornadoes across the U.S.

Secondary season develops from October into November and that, in fact, is another time we see with the transition of the seasons because of the cooler air well to the north still seeing milder temperatures. In the southern tier of the United States put the patterns together. And, of course, you have yourself volatile that weather, and that's the concern moving forward Rosemary, for the next 24 hours across portions of the Gulf Coast states for another round of severe weather, some strong storms, potentially, even some isolated tornadoes there.

CHURCH: Pedram, many thanks for keeping a close eye on all of that. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, Rosy.

CHURCH: Well, South Korea is one of the most technologically connected countries in the world. But all that Internet availability comes with a downside.

The government says nearly 30 percent of South Korea's young people are addicted to their smartphones. Paula Hancocks shows us what they're doing about it.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was 4:00 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, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): At first 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, GYEONGGI-DO YOUTH COUNSELING AND 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.


S. YOO: These teenagers get obsessed with games and refuse to go to school and cyberbullying 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-RIN (through translator): I did not know what she was watching. Whether she was 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, SOUTH KOREA: 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.

C. YOO: It would be a lie if I say I don't use my smartphone, but it's true that the duration and the number of times I use it have decreased. I even recommended the camp for my younger brother. He would really struggle without his phone.

HANCOCKS: Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


CHURCH: And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. Another hour of news is coming up in just a moment. Stay with us.