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Russia and Turkey Celebrates for Their Brokered Deal; Top U.S. Diplomat's Testimony Crucial to Impeachment Process; Troops Are Going Home Soon; Brexit Still Hangs in the Balance; Picture Perfect for Britain's History. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 23, 2019 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church here at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Vladimir Putin's big diplomatic move in the Middle East, striking a deal with Turkey's leader over what happens in northern Syria.

Added pressure on Boris Johnson, the U.K. parliament blocks the prime minister from trying to rush through his Brexit deal.

Plus, the impeachment inquiry gets a jolt with damning testimony from America's top diplomat in Ukraine.

Good to have you with us.

So, in northern Syria there has been a dramatic shift in the balance of power, with the U.S. brokered ceasefire winding down the leaders of Russia and Turkey agreed on their own plan to take control.

Under the deal, Kurdish fighters have to withdraw from the Turkish border, Russia and Turkey are to conduct joint patrols to enforce the buffer zone and Turkey controls the strip of territory that you see there in red.

Moscow and Ankara are celebrating the deal, but serious Russian backed president is not. Bashar al-Assad told his forces the Turkish president is a thief who is stealing land.

And for the latest, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is with us from near the Turkish Syrian border. So, very interesting situation here for Syria and the president they're not particularly happy, although he's putting on a brave face for the cameras, isn't he?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you, know I wouldn't read too much into that, Rosemary, I think the Syrian president is actually quite happy with what he is getting there. He's getting a part of Syria they have not even been fighting for, basically handed an area that was pretty much under the control of the Syrian Kurds for the past few years. So, you have the Russian ally providing them with that, and I think these kinds of comments that you are hearing from the Syrian president there are pretty much for his own supporters. It's that kind of strong talk to show that the president is still in control.

But if you look at the readout that the Kremlin put out of a phone call that President Putin made to President Bashar al-Assad following that agreement being reached between Putin and President Erdogan, it did sound like he was very grateful for what Russia has been able to provide here, and what they were handing him.

And it is not just about the territory where you are looking at now basically the Syrian military who is going to be moving back into these areas that they haven't controlled his before 2011, before that uprising and the Civil War, you also look at what' going on where you have Turkey here that for years was opposed to the Syrian regime.

They made no secret that they wanted Bashar al-Assad and his regime toppled by supporting the Syrian opposition, the free Syrian army, different factions of it there.

Now you have the situation where the Turkey is going to have to deal with the Assad regime, so really, Russia here paving the way for what is becoming more and more clear here that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has survived, the revolution, has survived the Civil War and its neighbors and different countries, the international community is going to have to comes to -- come to terms with this and deal with that Assad regime, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Jomana Karadsheh joining us there from the Turkish Syrian border, many thanks.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, the U.S. defense secretary sat down to discuss Americas strategy in Syria. Mark Esper met the Saudi crown prince, as well as our Christiane Amanpour and she asked him when the U.S. troops moving out of Syria will be coming home.


MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We will temporarily reposition in Iraq pursuant to bringing the troops home, and so it's just one part of the continuing phase, but eventually those troops are going to come home.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: So, they are coming home.

ESPER: They will come home.

AMANPOUR: None will stay in Syria.

ESPER: Well, right now, the president has authorized that some would stay in the southern part of Syria, now Al-Tanf. And we are looking at maybe keeping some additional forces to ensure that we deny ISIS and others access to these key oil fields, also in the middle part of the country, if you will.


But that needs to be worked out in time. The president has not approved that yet. I need to take him option sometime here soon, but the bulk of the force would reposition in Iraq and then eventually go home.


CHURCH: Esper also spoke about the intense criticism the U.S. has received for abandoning its Kurdish allies who lost thousands in the fight against ISIS.


ESPER: We didn't sign up to fight a war to defend the Kurds against a long-standing NATO ally and we certainly didn't sign up to help them establish an autonomous Kurdish state.

That was the conflict that the Turks put us in between, an advancing Turkish army opposed by the Kurds, at least elements of the SDF, at the same time, you had Syrian and Russian forces moving in. That's not the position which we want our young American service members to be in.


CHURCH: Christiane Amanpour's full interview with the U.S. defense secretary is coming up in just a few hours from now. You can catch it at 10 a.m. in London, 5 p.m. in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

Well, a day and night of high drama in London leaves all eyes on Brussels as the E.U. decides whether to grant the U.K. a Brexit delay.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to fast-track his withdrawal agreement through parliament, effectively killing his dream of an October 31st Brexit, yet he claimed a victory in principle, for the first time, lawmakers advance the bill in the House of Commons. But after all that Brexit is now on hold.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Is that the government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no deal outcome.

But secondly, I will speak -- I will speak to E.U. member states about their intentions until they have reached a decision, until we have reached a decision, I must say, we will pause this legislation.


CHURCH: All right, so, let's turn to CNN's Melissa Bell, joining us live from Paris. Good to see you again, Melissa. So, the ball now in the E.U.'s court. Will they extend this for Brexit, for the U.K.?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Almost certainly, Rosemary. Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, is even now consulting with European leaders, the E.U.'s 27 leaders to work out what sort of extension to grant.

The question is whether it grants an extension through to the 31st of January as requested by the letter that was sent according to the Ban Act on Saturday by the prime minister, or it will go for a technical extension that is slightly shorter that simply gives the British parliament the time to give that bill, the withdrawal bill the examination, the proper time that M.P.'s clearly wanted it to receive.

Because after all, this was an important victory for Boris Johnson last night. The fact that his bill got through was crucial, it was the fourth attempt at getting the deal pass parliamentarians, this time it worked. But, of course, there was that speedy reading of it, the rushing through parliament of it without what M.P.s judge was proper scrutiny that fell.

So, it us up now to Europeans. We've heard from both France's Europe minister and just a couple of days before that vote from the German foreign minister, both have spoken about the possibility of a technical extension, that would mean just a few extra days' time for British parliamentarians to have a look at it and then passed it or not.

If they decided to go for longer, of course that would change everything because it then gives the United Kingdom the possibility should parliamentarians back the requested Boris Johnson to call in that election to hold one which then possibly changes the entire thing.

I think the most likely thing you are likely to see from Europe though, is that idea of a technical extension, giving the parliament just enough time to give proper scrutiny to the bill.

But clearly, all eyes on what Brussels will decide and of course that will depend on what the wider European Union is prepared to grant, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Indeed. I mean, the E.U. wants to see this happen and they want to get that ball from its court back over to the United Kingdom, don't they?

BELL: Absolutely, Rosemary, and this has been a theme of theirs over the last few weeks, a real sense of fatigue at this whole process because bear in mind that this is precious time and energy that has been taken away from the European project. It eats away the projects credibility even as it is just trying to look ahead to oppose Brexit Europe.

And we have this slight dissention within Europe, the slight differences of focus. A French leader, for instance, who is absolutely adamant that this be done as fast as possible, German leaders who are more open, perhaps, giving the United Kingdom every chance, it has to avoid a no deal Brexit at all costs.

But all in all, there has been remarkable unity from the Europeans throughout this. I think there is a sense of relief, at least, that the deal that came through almost miraculously on Thursday should have been reached, that should have passed parliament.


We are inching closer to Brexit in one form or another and that is really something the Europeans are keen should happen at this stage as quickly as possible, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. I think them and the rest of the world. Melissa Bell, many thanks for joining us from Paris live, where it is just after nine in the morning. I appreciate it.

Well, more protests are expected in the coming hours in Chile. The demonstrations began over a fare hike in public transportation, but have escalated to calls for President Sebastian Pinera's resignation.

At least 15 people have died. Mr. Pinera is proposing a guaranteed minimum wage, a hike in state pensions and a stabilization of electricity costs.


SEBASTIAN PINERA, PRESIDENT OF CHILE (through translator): It is true that the issues have not started in recent days. They have been accumulating for decades, it is also true that the different governments were not, and we were not able to recognize the situation in all of its magnitude.

The situation of inequality, of abuse, has already meant a genuine and authentic expression of millions and millions of Chileans. I recognize this lack of vision and I apologize to my country.


CHURCH: Bolivia's government is asking the organization of American states to order a vote in Sunday's election. Angry protesters accused President Evo Morales of trying to rig the election.

A televised address by the president is expected in just a few hours.

Democrats call a troubling, dramatic and damning, Bill Taylor's testimony has rocked Washington. But will the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine's testimony bring lawmakers closer to impeaching President Trump? That's ahead.

Plus, U.S. President Trump's top trade adviser admits he made up a nonexistent expert to bolster his case about China's threat to the U.S. economy. Hear what China has to say about the matter. That's next.


CHURCH: Well, the Trump impeachment inquiry what started as a campfire is threatening to turn into a blazing forest. Explosive testimony from William Taylor on Tuesday. The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine lit a match to President Trump's claim of no quid pro quo, and although some Republicans are downplaying Bill Taylor's testimony, one Democrat called it his most disturbing day in Congress so far.

CNN's Manu Raju reports.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What he said in his testimony was that the president conditioned everything, quote, "everything" on this public declaration that the probes were taking place, because President Trump wanted President Zelensky of Ukraine in a, quote, "public box" to make that declaration that there was a probe ongoing in order to -- before they decide whether or not to release that aid, and whether or not they agreed -- before agreed to a meeting that Zelensky sought in Washington with Trump, but Trump had yet to agree to that.


This all comes amid significant concerns of a -- from a number of people that they have raised about the president's efforts to push off bolstering this key strategic alliance with Ukraine until these investigations are pursued, until Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney was dealt with.

He had directed a number of U.S. officials to talk to U.S. -- to Rudy Giuliani, but it also contradicts, in some ways, testimony from last week of the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who provided some different accounts of some of these conversations.

Although there are further questions from lawmakers to clarify that testimony. But nevertheless, Democrats are coming out saying that they believed they have heard even more evidence to say that there was a quid pro quo demand from the president of the United States to further the Ukrainian government to do something to help his reelection in order to release aid that have been approved by the United States Congress.

CHURCH: Well, the White House is dismissing Bill Taylor's testimony as triple hearsay. They released this statement. "President Trump has done nothing wrong. This is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution."

But Democrats are not done yet. On Wednesday, it will be Laura Cooper's turn to testify. The top Pentagon official for Ukraine policy was involved with overseeing the aid package frozen by the Trump administration.

Well, President Trump is fighting fires on several fronts. He is being criticized for comparing the impeachment inquiry to a lynching and for pulling out troops from Syria.

The polls seem to be stacked against him, and next month, an administration official will be releasing a new tell-all book.

CNN's Jim Acosta has the details. JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For a president who

loathes tell-all books, this one might cause Mr. Trump to hit the roof.

The senior Trump administration official and the writer behind the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times last year is now coming up with a book, entitled, "A Warning," that promises more damaging revelations about the president. The authors literary agent says the book has been written as an act of conscience and of duty.

Keeping behind closed doors President Trump is lobbing another distraction from his social media bunker. Tweeting, "So, some day if a Democrat becomes president and the Republicans win the House even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the president without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here, a lynching, but we will win."

Aides to the president defended Mr. Trump's comparison of the impeachment proceedings to a lynching, insisting he wasn't conjuring up the painful history of African-Americans being murdered by white mobs in the decades following the Civil War.


HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: But the president is not comparing what happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history. He is just not. What he is explaining clearly is the way has been treated by the media since he announced for president.


ACOSTA: Democratic presidential candidates pounced with Senator Cory Booker tweeting, "Lynching is an act of terror used to uphold white supremacy. Try again." While some of the president's own party were uncomfortable with a lynching tweet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't agree with that language, pretty simple.


ACOSTA: Others in the GOP hopped on the bandwagon.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Yes, this is a lynching. In every sense. This is un-American. What does lynching mean? And a mob grabs you they don't give you a chance to fend yourself, they don't tell you what happened to you. They just destroy you. That's exactly what's going on in the United States House of Representatives right now.


ACOSTA: The president and his defenders are complaining about the guarded impeachment process, with key witnesses like the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor testifying behind closed doors.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): We want to conduct it in a way that other witnesses don't know what witnesses are going to say, because otherwise they could work together and cook up alibis and tailor their testimony, and the fact that we've been able to keep it so close has protected in some respect against that.


ACOSTA: The president's allies are telling him to accept the likelihood he will be impeached, as a new CNN poll finds 50 percent saying Mr. Trump should be thrown out of office, all part of a steady trend toward supporting impeachment.

Bipartisan outrage is building over the president's green light for Turkey's invasion of Syria. Russia and Turkey reaching an agreement for patrolling areas of Syria abandoned by the Trump administration.

The announcement featuring a meeting between Turkey's president and none other than Russia's Vladimir Putin.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'd like to thank them for a very businesslike and open conversation, the talks, and all of this, of course, has been done on the basis of good (Inaudible) and mutual interest.


ACOSTA: Democrats say the president should have seen this coming.



SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Turkey, Russia, Iran, Syria, the Assad regime are all being empowered by this, when the president is withdrawing, all of these nations are being empowered.


CHURCH: CNN's Jim Acosta there reporting from the White House.

Well, for the first time in more than 10 years, someone besides Benjamin Netanyahu will try to form a government in Israel. Israel's president plans to ask the leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, to form a coalition.

Prime Minister Netanyahu called two elections this year and twice tried to form a government and failed. Gantz has the support of 54 lawmakers, seven seats short of a majority.

A murder suspect freed from a Hong Kong prison says he will return to Taiwan and turn himself in. Chan Tong-kai bowed to cameras as he apologized. He is accused of killing his girlfriend last year in Taiwan.

After she died, he returned to Hong Kong where authorities could only charge him with money laundering for stealing his girlfriend's cash and property. For that, he served a 19- month sentence.

His case led to the controversial extradition bill that has sparked months of protests in Hong Kong.


CHAN TONG-KAI, MURDER SUSPECT IN TAIWAN (through translator): I understand it because of my irreversible wrongdoing I have caused huge pain, and I have been blaming myself. Therefore, I am willing to pay the price for my impulsiveness and my wrongdoing, which is to turn myself in to the Taiwanese authorities and serve my sentence there.

I hope Poon Hiu-wing's family will feel relieved now and Poon can rest in peace.


CHURCH: Chan also asked Hong Kong citizens for forgiveness, but he did not address the months of unrest that followed his arrest.

Well, after a short break, a fresh look at Brexit. A photographer who has kept the British culture for decades focuses on this pivotal issue.


CHURCH: Well, now to Beijing's reaction to an awkward revelation about White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.

China's foreign ministry is slamming him for citing a nonexistent expert in at least six of his academic books to bolster his arguments about Beijing's threat to the U.S. economy. Navarro has long had a hard-line stance on China and championed U.S. tariffs on Beijing.


HUA CHUNYING, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): I think this also reflects that certain people in the U.S. had tried all methods without having any limits to suppress and tarnish China because of their own interest or political intentions.

They fabricate and sell lies, even make policies based on lies. This is not only ridiculous but also dangerous.


CHURCH: In a statement to CNN, Navarro admits he made up the character named Ron Vara, an anagram of his own name, for entertainment value. Well after almost three years of Brexit nearly anyone would be growing

weary of it, right? Prolific photographer Martin Parr has chronicled the quirks and eccentricities of British culture for nearly 50 years, and Brexit fatigue is no exception.

Rosy Tompkins spoke to him about what it means to be British at this critical moment.

ROSY TOMPKINS, CNN PRODUCER: Almost 50 years since prolific photographer Martin Parr first trained his lens on British life and culture in his famously humorous anti-for-real style.


That same nation finds itself in a critical moment of self-reflection, questioning the very notion of what it means to be British.


MARTIN PARR, PHOTOGRAPHER: I love this country and yet I am annoyed by it. I am a classic remainer, so therefore I was very annoyed and upset by the whole Brexit process, so that sort of tension I feel when I look at Britain, I try and reflect to my photographs, so it's almost like a form of therapy.


TOMPKINS: That form of therapy has seen Parr establish himself as one of the foremost chronicles of the cultural melting pot that is the United Kingdom.


PARR: This is maybe three quarters million prints of mine, all 10'8" inch from way back, from black and white pictures through the color negatives through to now.


TOMPKINS: Whatever the year, Parr's candid approach brings a satirical edge to the complex question of British identity.


PARR: So when I'm out shooting, I'm looking almost for a little story for little been yet where there's going to be some tensions, some ambiguities, some contradictions, something a peg to hang a story on, really, because, you know, the pictures have to have some kind of sense of meaning. They have to have some kind of clash, if you like.


TOMPKINS: Conflict, tension, ambiguity, all familiar themes for Parr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PARR: I think Britain is changing because the politics in the future I don't know whether in 10 years' time we'll be divided in the way between leave and remain as opposed to say, labor and left and conservative and right, so that's a thing that's really up for grabs.

This is a butcher shop and I guess the thing that makes this work is the hand coming down from the butcher echoing the sausages. You know, you need to have something in the picture that gives it a click, gives it a buzz.


TOMPKINS: Parr's unflinching photos have always created a buzz that he maintains like many artists, his role is simply to document and entertain, not to make political statements.


PARR: You know, everyone comes with their own baggage to pictures. You know, I'm not going to change your point of view about anything politically or on the Brexit front or whether how to what extent you want to support climate change or Extinction Rebellion.

I'm not going to be able to tell you that, but if you have your opinions and your prejudice and your baggage, you will be able to find arguments within my pictures to support them.

TOMPKINS: Rosy Tompkins, CNN.

CHURCH: And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. African Voices is up next. But first, I'll be back with a check of the headlines. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.



CHURCH: Hello, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN News now.