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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Troops Now Heads to Iraq; Mick Mulvaney's Fate in the White House Hangs in the Balance; No More Acting for an Actress Behind Bars; Tornado Swept Through Dallas, Texas; Ringo Starr with His Upcoming 20th Album; Ceasefire in Northern Syria About to End; Boris Johnson's Tight Deadline for Brexit; Mick Mulvaney on Defense for His Mess; U.S. Troops Now Moving to Iraq. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour. If you first don't succeed, the British prime minister trying again to get his Brexit deal over the hump. More on that ahead.

And it comes just days after the latest defeat in parliament which set off massive protests across London.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: In Syria, U.S. troops are on the move continuing their withdrawal from the front lines. Despite concerns the ceasefire there is not holding.

HOWELL: And the White House in reverse. President Trump changing course on his G7 plans while acting -- his acting chief tries to walk back recent comments on Ukraine.

Hello to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Good to have you with us.

So, a U.S. brokered ceasefire is set to o expire Tuesday in northern Syria, and that means time is running out for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkey is vowing to restart its offensive if the SDF do not leave a so-called safe zone.

Both the Turks and Kurds say that ceasefire has already been violated. But U.S. President Donald Trump seems unphased by it all moving forward with his plans to withdraw troops.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more from northern Syria.

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 such a hasty end.

What they're 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 the campaign against ISIS but from a different territory so complicated now their fight against that terror group. And just at the moment where it seems 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 movement broadcast weeks possibly before they get to implement it. And certainly, they've 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 policy makers 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 its troops say the Syrian Kurds who died in over 10,000, sons and daughters in number fighting to rid this area of ISIS, left them very much willing to catch up with their decision 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.

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 you 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 pause, whatever you want to call it, is holding if violations are committed?

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

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

But in this case, we're looking at a tenuous ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities that's going on right now in northern Syria.

[03:05:00]

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'll 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 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 plan. So, what I think we're seeing here, Rosemary, is a redeployment of forces within the theater. This redeployment of forces was never intended to be a leaving of the Middle East, an exit from this area, and in spite of the president's rhetoric, what we are seeing is a tactical redeployment where those forces could potentially be used in continuation of the fight against ISIS.

Some 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. 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, 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 backpedaling 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. In this particular case that is of course antithetical to what President Trump just did.

And we see him trying to in essence 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's conducting right now. And you know, whether it's a yellow light or a green light, I would say, you know, the car, the Turkish car is still speeding through the intersection and that's what we're 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.

HOWELL: And now switching to the issue of Brexit. The drama continues there. The British prime minister giving it one more try calling for a new vote on his Brexit deal to leave the E.U., a so-called meaningful vote. That is set to happen in the coming hours.

CHURCH: The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, will have a lot to say about that. It's his decision whether that vote will take place. The British government is trying to recover from Saturday's stunning loss in parliament which forced the prime minister to seek another Brexit delay from the E.U. But now the government says it has enough M.P.s on board to get Mr. Johnson's deal proved.

Well, Max Foster is standing by for us in London. He joins us now. Good to see you, Max. So how likely is it that the Speaker of the House, John Bercow will allow that vote to go forward on the prime minister's new Brexit deal?

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll have to -- yes, we'll have to wait and see. He could argue that this deal was already voted on Saturday, therefore you can't vote on the same thing twice in a parliamentary session. That those are the rules. There's some debate about whether or not that what's being presented today is exactly what was presented on Saturday.

I think ultimately there will need to be a vote. Everyone, generally, broadly, does want a deal here and this is the best one on the table.

[03:09:57]

The issue for Boris Johnson is that this bill is amendable. So, what we're more likely to see is the amendment will be added to this bill which will appease those on the other side but certainly won't appease Boris Johnson.

So, one of them being talked about this morning is that this deal goes through but Britain remains part of the customs union. That's something that's coming from the Labour side, something that Boris Johnson almost certainly won't support. It would also require him to go back to Brussels to renegotiate the deal, which he said, he certainly won't do.

The other idea is that there will be an amendment attached to it which would call for a second referendum, again something that Boris Johnson doesn't want to do. So, it's another one of those days, Rosemary, where we go into it really not knowing what's going to happen.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, we know that there have been a lot of protesters out on the street. A lot of Brits not happy with how this is all playing out. Talk to us about just how representative they are of Brits.

FOSTER: Well, the demonstrations I wouldn't say are widespread. I mean, we see them here in London. We don't see them in other parts of the country particularly. There are demonstrators out and about, of course. But I wouldn't say that this is sort of a mass crisis. A lot of people simply aren't engaged in the protests at all. They don't know what's going on. And we're struggling to work it out ourselves. So the public is struggling as well.

In Brussels that we're seeing watching events unfold here wondering what's going to happen next. But actually, I'm hearing from there is that they're carrying on with the deal that Boris Johnson presented to them trying to go from the legal process of getting that ratified.

So, they're just letting parliament get on with its business hoping that they'll push something through. Probably acceptable to have a delay of some kind but they don't want that in Brussels either. So, they need to find some way through this process.

And the game is smaller parties, the DUP, some of the rebels which really hold all the cards here. And a lot of euro skeptic members in the conservative party who have caused problems for government in past to saying they will support this deal this way around but they say they're compromising this time.

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to watch this. Our Max Foster joining us live from London. Many thanks.

HOWELL: Let's get perspective now with Thom Brooks. Tom a professor of law and government at Durham University in England joining us this hour via Skype. Good to have you with us.

THOM BROOKS, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNMENT, DURHAM UNIVERSITY: Thank you. Good to be back.

HOWELL: Thom, look, so Boris Johnson wants another vote. The question, will he get that vote? It all comes down to whether Speaker Bercow will allow that to happen give that this particular deal has been brought up. How do you see it playing out?

BROOKS: Exactly right. And this issue first arose of course during Theresa May's time as prime minister where three times she presented the exact same motion for a vote hoping that the second or third time during the same thing she would get a different result which of course that didn't happen. Well, basically it gets getting worse for her. So, I expect Bercow probably will not allow this extra (Inaudible) vote. I think it will decide that on Saturday that on Saturday that already happened. And I think that is (Inaudible) for the prime minister (Inaudible) a symbolic for them to folks saying yes or no for the idea of going it all but it still left a bigger (Inaudible) because the bits of legislation (Inaudible). It was all still to come and very much still up in the air.

HOWELL: Also want to talk to you about those contradictory letters sent to the E.U. Mr. Johnson sending one that was boilerplate, not signing that. The other that he sent in requesting that they turn down, you know, the proposal.

The question here is what do you make of that? First, I want you to hear Labour M.P. John McDonnell speak about it. We'll talk about that on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCDONNELL, BRITISH LABOUR M.P.: Not really because he's also sent another letter, hasn't he, which seems to be -- well, actually I think he may well be in contempt of parliament or the courts himself because he's clearly trying to undermine the first letter. And not signing the letter, he's behaving 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 flies in the face of what both parliament and the courts have decided.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So, the suggestion of contempt, that's one question that was just raised there. And the other simply trying to figure out which way is Mr. Johnson going with the strategy.

BROOKS: Well, on the one hand this isn't a good look for the E.U., his negotiators who he's trying to do a deal with when he's sending both sides of the argument saying, a, and b at the same time. Not a good way of showing confidence and trust at a critically important time which were (Inaudible).

[03:15:00]

Because only a week or two ago Boris Johnson's lawyers told that same court in Scotland there was no need for the (Inaudible) to give him some (Inaudible) telling him to comply with the (Inaudible)because he was going to comply with the law. He (Inaudible) honor what parliament had agreed.

Now he's backtracked on this in not signing and not having it on letter head. Not putting a date on top. I mean, this is seemed to be doing everything he can (Inaudible), the biggest fingerprint of (Inaudible). And he may get himself in some trouble.

It seems that the E.U. is recognizing this to say a lawful attempt, a request to get an extension and honoring the steps though, particularly it's going to (Inaudible) will be OK at least (Inaudible). It seems the (Inaudible) is really playing fast and loose with the law right now which you would think he wouldn't do after losing the 11-nil at certain courts on suspending parliament.

HOWELL: Thom, we're going to have to cut the interview short. I think we got the gist of what you're saying. Some audio issues. But we appreciate you joining us. We will see whether Mr. Johnson gets that vote that he wants. Be very interesting to see this play out. Thank you, Thom.

CHURCH: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was in Afghanistan this weekend and so was one of President Trump's chief opponents. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office said she's just wrapped up an unannounced trip to the country. She and other lawmakers met with Esper and top Afghan officials.

HOWELL: Nancy Pelosi also visited Jordan on Saturday. She led a congressional delegation and met with King Abdullah. Middle East peace -- policy, rather, in Syria topped the agenda.

The U.S. president's acting chief of staff is having a challenging week, you could say. It all started with Mick Mulvaney's quid pro quo comments on the Ukraine controversy.

CHURCH: And the more he tries to clean up the mess, the worse it seems to get.

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 cleanup 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 aid to Ukraine was in part frozen over President Donald trump's interest in Ukraine investigating this 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: You were asked by Jonathan carl. Is that you've described a quid pro quo and you said, that happens all the time.

MULVANEY: Well, again, 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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 interests in that Democratic investigation in Ukraine was part of 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 shaky ground. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Mulvaney's exit is imminent.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, White House.

HOWELL: Live state side and all around the world you're watching Newsroom.

And still ahead, the anger in Chile takes a deadly turn. The government there scrambling to stop the massive unrest before it gets worse. That story as Newsroom pushes ahead.

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CHURCH: And we want to return to our top story now.

A U.S. Brokered ceasefire is expected to expire Tuesday in northern Syria as Washington moves forward with plans to withdraw troops. Now we showed you that exclusive video earlier of U.S. forces on the move.

And now this breaking news, a CNN crew in Iraq has seen dozens of U.S. military vehicles on the road to Duhok having just crossed into Iraq from northeastern Syria.

And CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is on the ground for us in northern Syria. He joins us now. So, what all are you learning about this, Nick?

WALSH: Well, this essentially marks the end of, I would say the more perilous part of the journey of this enormous American convoy. Let me wind you back to yesterday afternoon when we first came across it, it was near Hasakah in the east the sole eastern part of Syria where Syrian Kurds still have control.

And that base a large number of vehicles got together to move. The images you're seeing now though, are the other end of their journey, crossing from Syria. The area is still held by the Syrian Kurds into northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan. A different country. One which had an ISIS threat for some time but it has since subsided and essentially where the troops will now be based.

Remember, Donald Trump said he would be bringing them home. That was his key message as president of the United States. But it turns out this convoy, large and it's 200 vehicles or so. We've seen it pass by during the night and large numbers of vehicles, this convoy will be repositioned around the region.

I understand that there are 500 personnel involved in its movement. It's unclear precisely how many that means are left here in Syria. It depends on what has been relatively fuzzy about their numbers in terms of locations inside Syria here.

But we understand that this is the majority of the withdrawal. This is the large convoy, the largest ground movement they've done inside of Syria. And those images you see of them leaving Syria into Iraq are deeply symbolic.

[03:25:01]

Because many analysts really say this simply didn't have to happen this way or at all perhaps. When you wind the clock back to the Sunday -- two Sundays ago, and the phone call between President Erdogan and Donald Trump, clearly something was said that made President Erdogan feel he could move ahead. And practically U.S. troops pulled back.

That set-in motion a chain of events which involved a Turkish incursion which involve Syrian rebels that backed by Turkey possibly acting faster and more dangerously than anybody had anticipated. That changed the situation on the ground for U.S. troops who consider those Syrian rebels to be mostly extremist according to one U.S. official I spoke to, former ISIS and Al Qaeda.

And that meant last Sunday, a week after that phone call alone, the quite precipitous decision was taken to get these U.S. troops out.

You have to remember, these are elite Special Forces, not people who normally run from a situation but perhaps who saw the constant changing ground around them here and the lack of clarity from their political leader about how willing they were to back their mission meant they couldn't really sustain their presence here.

So, we've seen the withdrawal faced various outpost abandon, sometime Russian flags flying quite shortly after U.S. flags had been taken down. And this convoy which is leaving has predominantly come from the Kabani landing zone, that's a big airstrip out for the west near what they used to call the cement factory.

That was the main headquarters for the U.S. coalition here against ISIS. They had to bomb it on their way out to prevent those who they consider armprothese (Ph) to getting hold of munitions and equipment inside there. That convoy move to Hasakah. We saw it yesterday, and now it's moved out to the east out across the border into Iraq. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, many thanks to you for bringing us up to date on that situation. HOWELL: And thank you for being with us this hour. If you're watching

around the world, the Young and Gifted is next.

CHURCH: If you're joining us from here in the United States, stay tuned. We'll have more news for you just ahead.

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[03:30:00]

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course, from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom.

I'm Rosemary Church.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

CHURCH: U.S. troops have crossed into northern Iraq from neighboring Syria. It appears to be part of President Donald Trump's withdrawal plan from northeastern Syria.

CNN earlier captured footage of vehicles gathering for a convoy to leave that region.

HOWELL: In the United Kingdom, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants another vote, a new vote on Monday on his Brexit deal. His government hopes to hold a so-called meaningful vote in the coming hours.

It now says that it has the backing of the 320 M.P.s needed to get the deal over the hump even though it lost a key vote on Saturday.

President Trump is gearing up for a busy week ahead with challenges on several fronts. First, the criticism that he's faced regarding his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

CHURCH: Plus, the impeachment inquiry is going full stream ahead. Among those expected to testify this week, Bill Taylor. He is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who raised concerns about freezing U.S. aid to Ukraine.

HOWELL: Also, a Democratic source tells CNN Democrats may be planning a vote to condemn the president for steering the G7 summit to one of his properties. That's even after Mr. Trump ditched that move after a fierce backlash.

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

They add, Mr. Trump is getting increasingly agitated with him after watching media coverage this weekend. Here's what Mulvaney said on Thursday that got him into trouble. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he also mentioned to me in the past the corruption that related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about it. But that's it. That's why we held up the money. And I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Well, joining me now, Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham. Thank you for being with us.

SCOTT LUCAS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, we saw the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, still reeling from his admission last week that the Trump administration did, indeed, take part in a quid pro quo involving Ukraine military funds. Now he's denying saying that despite all of us witnessing it on camera. And the president apparently is losing patience with him. Can Mulvaney survive this? And what does it reveal if he doesn't lose his job over?

LUCAS: Rosemary, I want to be honest with you, I don't care what happens to Mick Mulvaney now with all the in fighting within the White house and the story is that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and his daughter-in-law Ivanka are fed up with Mulvaney and may push him out just as they wanted John Kelly out before him as chief of staff.

The big issue and the issue that continues that should concern us is what happened between Trump and Ukraine regarding the attempt to investigate Joe Biden and the Democrats and indeed to pursue conspiracy theories to cover up Russia's role in the 2016 election.

And whether or not Mick Mulvaney his chief of staff where he's pushed out, that is the issue that is still front and center. I have three words telling from Mulvaney's rambling contradictory statement yesterday in his interview which was get over it. Make this all go away. You don't pay any more attention to it just like we should have gotten over Trump's Russia or get over Trump's conflict of interest, we should get over Trump of Ukraine. And that will be the strategy whether or not Mick Mulvaney survives.

CHURCH: All right. So, Mick Mulvaney also said this about the other issue that's causing headaches for the president. His initial plan to host the G7 summit at this Florida resort and he has since abandoned that plan. But this is what Mulvaney said about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: At the end of the day, you know, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: You say he considers himself in the hospitality business.

MULVANEY: Sure.

WALLACE: He's the president of the United States.

MULVANEY: Yes, but that's his background.

WALLACE: Does he understand that it looked lousy?

MULVANEY: I think he knows -- he thinks that people think it looks lousy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: OK. So Mulvaney seems to think it's perfectly OK for the president of the United States to still think he's in the hospitality business. What's your response to that and the news that the Democrats plan to condemn him for making that suggestion in the first place, the president?

[03:36:06]

LUCAS: The commander-in-chief, the president, should not be in the hospitality business. He should not be in the hotel business promoting his resort at a G20 summit, a G7 summit, any summit. He should not be in any business whatsoever. That's called a conflict of interest.

And whether or not Donald Trump made a sense off of hosting the summit at the Doral resort is irrelevant. The promotion of that resort and his private interest conflict with his public role. It is a violation of the Constitution; it is a violation of any business and ethical practice.

But it is one of a series of alleged violations he's carried out since January of 2017. When remember he told us at a press conference that there would be no conflicts of interest. He declares all of them. There is nothing to see. Well, there is clearly is something that continues to be seeing here.

CHURCH: We also do want to listen to what the president's former defense secretary had to say, General James Mattis, about to President Trump referring to him as the most overrated general. And this is how General Mattis replied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm not just an overrated general, I am the greatest, the world's most overrated. And I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So, I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: And he also said that he earned his bone spurs on the -- out there fighting. So, what impact can comments like this have on the president's reputation? And people laughing at him. That is something the president does not like.

LUCAS: Well, again, we've known through a series of people who have been pushed out of the White house, not just Jim Mattis Mattis, but General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser.

We know that Trump had a point when he thinks he's over shadowed by these foreign military men, or by other advisers, a series of diplomats who have been pushed out of the State Department that he will get rid of them, both because he doesn't like to be challenged and simply because of his ego.

So, that's an open secret. And Jim Mattis simply made it no longer a secret with those very funny but very accurate statements.

But again, what's important is what lies behind this. This isn't just about the personalities. This isn't Trump versus Mattis. This isn't Trump versus Bolton. This isn't Trump versus McMaster. This is a question of running your country's military and foreign policy.

And remember that Jim Mattis resigned at the end of last year because Donald Trump suddenly ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria without consulting the military, without consulting his diplomats throwing American policy to disarray.

Here we are almost a year later and guess what, Donald Trump has not only ordered but insisted upon and gotten the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria causing disarray, causing chaos. That's far more important than the fate of Jim Mattis or anyone else because chaotic presidency is not going to stop as long as Donald Trump is in the White House.

CHURCH: Scott Lucas, many thanks for your analysis, I appreciate it.

LUCAS: Thank you, Rosemary.

HOWELL: The mayor of Santiago, Chile says that 10 people have been killed during violent protest this week. Two died on Saturday, and eight on Sunday. In the last week, public anger over rising transportation costs spilled into the streets of the capital there.

CHURCH: Chile's president says he will take back the proposed train fare hike that kick of the protest. Senators are meeting in the coming hours for a special session to discuss the issue.

Unrest in Spain as well. The rip between Catalan separatists and the Spanish government appears to be growing. For nearly a week, demonstrators have taken to the streets of Barcelona. They are protesting harsh sentences handed down to nine pro-independents leaders.

Meanwhile, opponents of Catalan independent rallied Sunday in front of the Catalonian government building.

HOWELL: We've been following events in Hong Kong, these pro-democracy activists who have been planning many protests. They're planning a sit-in later on Monday. That's marking three months since a violent mob attacked protesters inside a station enduring dozens of people.

This is the 20th week that we've seen these protests. After two weeks of relative peace we saw some street battles in one of the city's biggest tourist districts on Sunday. People with masks set bomb fires, vandalized buildings and threw Molotov cocktails. Police then responded with tear gas and water cannons.

CHURCH: And the Lebanese government says it agreed on a package of economic reforms since it's hoping to put an end to days of massive street protest and to ease the country's spiraling death.

[03:40:03]

Lebanon's prime minister also reversed a plan to tax WhatsApp calls which kicked off the uprising. Tens of thousands of people of all ages, background and religion have crowded into the streets of Beirut. They are calling the government corrupt and demanding its members resign.

HOWELL: The U.S. college admissions scandal is not over yet. One Hollywood mother is in jail and may soon be joined by others.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: And that was the scene at the construction site of the Hard Rock hotel in New Orleans on Sunday. Two cranes were blown up so recovery crews could begin the search for two bodies.

Parts of the hotel collapsed earlier this month. Three people were killed there although only one body has been recovered so far.

U.S. federal prosecutors are expected to file new charges in the college admissions scandal.

CHURCH: Law enforcement officials told CNN some defendants who pleaded not guilty could face additional bribery and fraud charges. This came 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. Ten people have been sentenced so far. Actress Felicity Huffman is among them. In fact, she's serving a two- week sentence for her role in the college admission scandal.

HOWELL: In fact, the actress is serving her prison sentence in California.

Alexandra Field has more.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actress Felicity Huffman, now federal inmate 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.

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It's far from the Hollywood star's Hollywood Hills home but close enough for her husband actor William H. Macy to visit.

Thirty-five miles outside of San Francisco, Dublin has more than 1,200 female inmates. Like the rest of the prison population, Huffman 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 Housewives" isn't the prison's first famous inmate. Patty Hurst was sent there in the '70s. In the '90s the so-called Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss did time in Dublin. She later describes the low security prison as anything but easy.

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HEIDI FLEISS, FORMER DUBLIN PRISON INMATE: You're in a very anti- social environment. It's very hostile. There are times when I felt like, my God, I'm going to have to go to 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.

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FIELD: Huffman's sentence just 14 days was handed down in a bust in courtroom last month. The actress pleaded guilty in May to paying $15,0000 to inflate her daughter's SAT scores.

In a letter to the court she wrote, "In my desperation to being a good mother I talked to 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've 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 Field, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: Well, rescue crews are checking for damage after a tornado swept through Dallas, Texas, on Sunday night. No reports of anyone killed or seriously injured.

HOWELL: But a Home Depot got hit severely there by the storm. Time now to check the weather as these fires continue to burn out west.

Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is here with more on that. Pedram?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, guys. Quite a bit happening across portions of the country. And you know when it comes to severe weather, about 1,300 miles stretch of land there from portions of the Midwest all the way towards the gulf coast where we have active thunderstorms even at this hour. And in fact, in a 60-minute period I counted some 1,400 lightning

strikes across this region. And of course, several storms are producing tornadoes across the area as well. A lot of severe weather as far as severe wind gusts and also large hail to be had across this region.

But here's the front responsible, it is skirting off to the east. And we do have about 16 million people are near to severe weather risk across other areas east of that region as you work your way into say Alabama, Mississippi, eventually into areas around Louisiana as well.

But here's the tornado climatology across the U.S. And of course, we know the primary tornado season is right there in the spring months. March, April, May and into June, that's when we see the most large area of tornado coverage across the U.S.

But there is a secondary season that happens in the months of October and November. Much smaller scale. But certainly not unusual to see tornadoes, upwards of 100 or so happen in this couple of months.

And the threat now shifts a little farther towards the east, it includes New Orleans, it includes Jackson, Memphis as well, a slight risk in place there for some severe weather on Monday afternoon.

And notice the temperature trend. Lower and middle 70s across the region, while back towards the west, big time heat in place, Los Angeles climbing up into the upper 80s. In fact, the weather elements in place here to have not only off shore winds and extreme heat in store but also have some active fires across this region that are nearly, but certainly not going to help when you take a look at the forecast here.

Los Angeles, guys, running almost 20 degrees above average. Each of the next several days plenty of sunshine and plenty of winds and storms are going to will make it a challenging go across that region. Guys?

HOWELL: Pedram, thank you very much.

CHURCH: Thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

HOWELL: Well, it has been the subject of British tabloid speculations for many months. But now Prince Harry is confirming that he and his brother are on different paths.

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HOWELL: For the first time Prince Harry is acknowledging tensions with his brother.

CHURCH: Talk of a rift has been in the tabloids for months now especially around the time Harry and his wife Meghan moved out of Kensington Palace in May. Harry was asked about it during an interview with ITV during the couple's trip to Africa.

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PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: 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 will always be there for me. But as brothers, you have good days, you have bad days.

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HOWELL: A source says Harry and Meghan will take a break from official royal duties toward the end of the year. They will reportedly divide their time between the United States and the United Kingdom.

CHURCH: Well, he attracts the best musicians in the business.

HOWELL: That's right. Hardly a surprise if you're one of the Beatles at nearly 80 years old. Ringo Starr told CNN producer Rick Damigella that he wants to spread peace and love with his 20, 20th studio album.

RICK DAMIGELLA, CNN PRODUCER: What's his name? Ringo Starr, of course. What's my name is the title of star's latest solo album.

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RINGO STARR, MUSICIAN: There's always peace and love if you listen to any of those songs. There's a lot of peace and love songs. It causes a lot of the expression, peace and love.

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DAMIGELLA: Starr takes a home-grown approach to recording.

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STARR: As long as we have a title, as long as we have one line, we can write a song.

It unfolds as it goes along. I open up the studio in the guest house at our house. I like to go home. The last six or seven albums I've done at home. And you know, I have a lot of good friends, a lot of good players. And that's how I start.

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DAMIGELLA: The album features the song "Grow Old With Me" which has a true Beatles pedigree.

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STARR: And you know, everyone thought about that one because John wrote it, I'm singing and playing drums on it. Paul came over to play bass for me. He's on, you know, like several of the records. He's on the last record.

Bu, anyway, I wanted him on that one and if you listen closely, you'll hear a George song. So, we're all there. You know, we're all represented. So, it's good. There's some food -- so that looks like a face to me. There's a little face. I see faces in a lot of things. There's a whole person.

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DAMIGELLA: Starr recently published "Another Day in the Life," his latest book of photography, an art form he took up as the Beatles rose to stardom.

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STARR: Sixty-four.

DAMIGELLA: Right in the beginning?

STARR: Yes. Well, we could afford cameras. I had no plan. It just worked. Whatever attracts me.

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DAMIGELLA: In Hollywood, I'm Rick Damigella.

CHURCH: I'm getting that album. And he looks amazing.

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HOWELL: Yes, he looks great. That's amazing. Yes.

CHURCH: I can't believe it.

HOWELL: Yes, solid.

CHURCH: Yes, really solid. I mean, we want to look like that at 80, right?

HOWELL: Yes, that would be great.

CHURCH: Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues with Early Start in New York.

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