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President Trump Defends Syria Pullout Despite Humanitarian Concerns; U.K. Police Investigating After 39 Bodies Found In A Truck; Republicans Storm Impeachment Deposition; Kurds Pay A Steep Price For U.S. Withdrawal; Bolivia Elections; Chile Protests; Protesters Demand Reform In Lebanon; Judge Orders State Department To Turn Over Ukraine Documents; Mystery Oil Spill In Brazil. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. President declares Syria policy a win for everyone, but disturbing evidence is emerging of war crimes committed against the Kurds. The investigations intensifies in U.K. after 39 bodies were discover in the back of a truck, plus the political calculations behind that chaotic showdown on Capitol Hill. Hello welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I am Paula Newton, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Donald Trump says it's time for the U.S. to get out of northern Syria, leaving it to Turkey, Russia and Iran, now Russian security forces are in the region under a new deal between Ankara and Moscow, together their mission is to push Kurdish forces, 30 kilometers away from the Turkish border. Now, the Syrian Kurds that were staunched the U.S. allies and partners in the fight against ISIS. Turkey says it's encouraging in the northern Syria is over, the move prompted the U.S. president to lift off sanctions against Ankara and he says the Kurds are grateful.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Countless lives are being saved as a result of our negotiation with Turkey, and outcome reached, without spilling one drop of American blood, no injuries, nobody shot, nobody killed. I have just spoken to General Muslim, a wonderful man, the commander in chief of the SDF Kurds, and he was extremely thankful, for what the United States has done, could not have been more thankful.


NEWTON: But now the reality on the ground, and that's the Kurds have paid a steep price for that sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces. Now, the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria, told Congress, the Turkish invasion was a disaster for the Kurds, was evidence of war crimes committed by Turkish backed fighters.


JAMES JEFFREY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA: We have not seen any widespread ethnic cleansing in that area since the Turks have come in, many people fled, because they're very concerned about these Turkish supported Syrian opposition forces as we, we have seen several incidents which we consider war crimes.


NEWTON: Now you heard Ambassador Jeffrey's assessment there and it is backup unfortunately by disturbing video of the Turkish military offensive. Now it shows, what happens when Turkish backed militants move in. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has our report. And again, I want to warn everyone, some could find it disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The gruesome videos keep coming. But not just a normal brutality of war. Something uglier, more radical.

Scenes of the Syrian rebels Turkey is backing, abusing here, the corpse of dead Syrian Kurdish female and male fighters, Tuesday, (inaudible).

Rebel leaders say they have arrested and would punish the fighters behind this.

A U.S. official has said, these fighters backed by Turkey are mostly extremists from ISIS and al-Qaeda. And from the star they were accused of savagery. This is the widely circulated video, for the murder of Kurdish activist (Inaudible), the bodyguards beaten before execution. We found the vehicle heavily shot up, and just scattered on the highway. Startling acts of violence like this have made many reassess exactly who Turkey is using to try and execute its goals here in north eastern Syria?


An autopsy report CNN can't independently verify says the widely traveled activists was drag by her hair and beaten with a blunt object on her head before being shot to death. Some of the videos, rebels have posted of themselves, have support to the theory that Turkey was in such a hurry to build militia to fight for them, it did not bet out extremists, it may now be liable for war crimes.

JEFFREY: We have seen several incidents, which we consider war crimes.

MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I've seen the report as well. We're trying to monitor, and if it's accurate and I assume that they're accurate, they would be war crimes as, best as I know, the law on land warfare's. So, I think all those need to be followed up on. I think those responsible should be held accountable, in many cases, it would be the government of Turkey, should be held accountable for this, because we cannot allow those things to happen. PATON WALSH: Turkey and the rebels has rejected many accusations and

often post media of our life has returned to normal, under their control and some of the behavior here, though, posted on the rebels owned telegram channels is not distant to ISIS's old videos. Turkey has loyal rebel forces in Idlib province, which intelligence has said, it is now infiltrated by al-Qaeda, but it is unclear which units of rebels, Turkey is using. Will these men stop when Turkey tells them to? Most Turkey tells them to and what sort of society would they build? Will it have a place for or reject ISIS. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Erbil, Northern Iraq.


NEWTON: OK, British police are trying to learn how 39 people ended up dead in a truck container outside London. Now the truck's driver has now been arrested on suspicion of murder. And official says, he is 25 year old Morris Robinson of Northern Ireland. Now police say, the first priority is to identify the victims, where they came from, and where they might have been going, but also at issue whether or not this is a case of human trafficking. CNN's Scott Mclean has been on the story from grace, England. And such a mystery here, Scott, we seem to be learning almost nothing, authorities are not really giving a lot of information's and it includes where these victims might be from. Why is that, is it because they don't have the information or because they just don't want to publicly release it yet?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: yes, that is a great question Paula, because you're absolutely right, police had said very little precious little in this case. One of the things that they did confirm yesterday is that the bodies were brought to this dock land, so that they can be unloaded securely. Police say, that is to give those lives some dignity that seem to be lacking before their lives ended.

The question though to your point still remains. Who wore these victims and, where exactly did they come from? Police say they are still trying to figure that out of the information, and they warn they could take a while considering that again, we are dealing with 39 bodies, 38 of them, that outs one, they think is a teenager.

Police, although giving a little bit of information about where they think the actual containers came from. They think that it came from Belgium, arriving here in England, around 12:30 in the morning on Wednesday. They think that the truck or the actual truck park, came from Northern Ireland and picked up that trailer, that means that the driver, 25 year old Robinson, from Northern Ireland, would have been with that container, for only about 30 or 35 minutes, before the police, and the ambulance service actually arrived.

A counselor from Robinson's home area, in Northern Ireland, called his parents, salt of the earth type people, who will need their space as well, one of the things I should mention, Paula is that, oddly the, truck itself is actually registered in Bulgaria, that country's Prime Minister though, it hasn't been there since 2017.

NEWTON: And that is another part of the ministry. I know, Bulgaria is working on this as well, trying to figure out where these victims are from, there is a debate right now in Britain, it has been going on for some time and as to whether the U.K. loss now, and perhaps after Brexit, will makes human smuggling even worse. You know, how has -- as this really been an issue for Britain right now, because, unfortunately this tragedies have happened before?

MCLEAN: Yes, you're absolutely right and it has been no secret that the number of people trying to be smuggle to this island, seem to be increasing, according to Britain's national crime agency who says, that especially the number of people coming in containers, refrigerator trucks, and small boats, all of them high risk, seem to be increasing, people are seem to be getting more and more desperate in order to get to this country.

And so it really made sort of sparked a debate about what can be done about it? One of the things I know from speaking with the ministry expert is that, there are some ports, in Europe, (inaudible), being one of them where authorities have pretty sophisticated methods in order to prevent this type of thing or at least attempt to prevent it.


They have co2 monitors, they have heartbeat monitors, they have dogs, all of those things, to try to detect any humans who might be hiding amongst the cargo, but not all of the ports are necessarily set up that way, and so it's possible that this could give rise to that discussion as to what more can be done in terms of tightening up the border, and tightening up security, Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, and Scott, we'll wait to learn more, it's so horrific, especially as a lot of those victims' families still would have no idea where they are right now. Scott, thanks so much, I really appreciate you being on the ground there.

Now Bolivia's President Evo Morales has claimed victory in the recent election, but now he said the vote is being stolen.


EVO MORALES, BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I've called this press conference to denounce before Bolivia, and the whole world, a coup is underway, although I want to tell you, we already knew it was coming, the right has been preparing for a coup with international support, some confused young people, some confused sectors, should not be strong alarm by untrue messages on social networks.


NEWTON: Now most of his political rival, Carlos Mesa, is calling the election process a fraud, so far the results of the race look very tight. And if Morales can't get a 10 point advantage over Mesa, there will be a runoff vote in December.

And in Chile now, where a horrifying moment was captured on camera, as protesters gathered in Central Chile, a government officials say two people including a four year old child were run down by a car and killed. SO far, 18 people have died during protest right across that country. In the capital Santiago meantime, police fired water cannon and teargas and a curfew was extended for the fifth straight night. The demonstration began last week, after Metro passes and those fares were raise and it has grown to include several other issues. Chile's president is promising economic reforms.

And to Lebanon now, antigovernment protesters took to the street for a seventh day on in a row, they are protesting widespread corruption and mismanagement among the politician demanding Prime Minister (inaudible), resign. Now they've rejected his reform saying that included a 50 percent cut to politician's salaries.

Plus, Republicans struggle to defend Donald Trump against impeachment, so they are attacking the process, were there is a huge stunt on Capitol Hill. Plus, we delve into the testimony of diplomat Bill Taylor, and a clearest indication yet, of a quid pro quo. Now, you're watching CNN, stay with us.


NEWTON: We have some news, just in to CNN, 16 people in Bangladesh have been sentenced to death for the murder of teenager after she accused her school principal of sexual harassment. Now on April 6, she was lured on to the school's rooftop where a group of men gag and restrain her, they dealt her with kerosene and set her on fire. She, died four days later, the principal is accused of orchestrating the murder from prison, according to investigators, he contacted several people, to make it look like suicide.


House Republicans are struggling defend Donald Trump against impeachment. So, instead they are attacking the process. Now they created a huge distraction on Tuesday, storming in the deposition of Pentagon official Laura Cooper, now after a five hour delay, she eventually testified about, how aid for Ukraine didn't follow the normal process. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As President Trump is ordering Republican to get tougher and fight impeachment, tonight House Republicans lashing out in chaos erupting on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a sham and it's time for it to end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a total political hit job on the president of the United States.

SERFATY: With tensions high, Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official in charge of Ukraine and Russia policy, testifying behind closed doors in front of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry, but that testimony coming to an immediate and dramatic halt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't hide from the American people show your face where we can all see the (inaudible) that you were trying to poise on America and the degradation of our republic that you are engage in. SERFATY: Nearly two dozen Republicans not on the relevant committees

forcing their way into the secure room, where the testimony was taking place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to go and see if we can get inside, so, let's see if we can get in.

SERFATY: Flooding in through three different doors refusing to leave.

REP. MARK MEADOWS, (R-NC): There is a number of members -- congressional members, that are not part of the three committees, they're actually in their, planned to stay there, until we have a more open, and transparent and fair process.

SERFATY: Attacking the process and protesting the deposition being held behind closed doors.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): I know Republican are under a lot of stress. And I guess when desperate people do desperate things.

SERFATY: A source in the room calling it the closest thing I've seen around here to mass civil unrest as a member of Congress.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): You may wonder, why is it happening now? Is Bill Taylor gave a devastating opening statement yesterday, they're freaked out. They are trying to stop this investigation.

SERFATY: That expose of testimony of Bill Taylor, the president's top diplomat in Ukraine completely undercutting the administration's defense, that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine. Taylor telling lawmakers, Tuesday, that President Trump would withhold military aide to Ukraine and tell it publicly announced an investigations that could help his re-election chances. Including looking into former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter.

Meantime, as Democrats up here on Capitol Hill continued to push for more witnesses and more testimony and more information in their impeachment probe of Capitol Hill, a federal judge on Wednesday, granted an emergency motion from a watchdog group, ordering the State Department to release Ukraine related documents, including communications between Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The State Department has 30 days to hand over those documents. Sunlen Serfaty, CNN on Capitol Hill.


NEWTON: OK, now some of the president's defender say he cannot be accused of demanding a quid pro quo from Ukraine, if Ukraine did not understand what he wanted, but new reporting could make that a moot point. Now a sources says, Ukrainian President Zelensky and his team were discussing pressure from the Trump administration for political investigations, a full two weeks before Mr. Zelensky took office.

Now the White House says, Mr. Trump only suggested working together to quote, root out corruption. Now the blockbuster testimony this week came from U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor, the envoy to Ukraine, has come under attack from the president, despite he's decades of military and public service, CNN's Jake Tapper has more.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: In his 15 page opening statement to congressional investigators, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, laid out perhaps the strongest evidence yet, of an apparent quid pro quo. President Trump withholding congressionally mandated military aid, until the Ukrainian president announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Taylor testified he had been concerned about quote, an irregular, informal channel of, U.S. policy making, with respect to Ukraine that included then special envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, the now outgoing Energy Secretary, Rick Perry and the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Taylor says that by August of this year, the official and unofficial channels quote, have divert in their objectives.

The official objective for the U.S. included supporting Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and providing Ukraine with military aid to beat back pro-Russian separatists. And little by little, Taylor realized what the unofficial objectives were, pushing Ukrainians to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.


In June, Volker and Sondland told Taylor that quote, the president wanted to hear from Zelensky, before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office, specifically Sondland later told Taylor, quote, Zelensky needed to make clear to President Trump that he, President Zelensky was not standing in the way of investigations.

Investigations of what? By mid-July, it became cleared to Taylor, the meeting, quote, was condition on the investigations of Burisma, unquote, the company, were Joe Biden's son, Hunter, sat on the Board of Directors, quote and alleged, Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. Elections a push, quote, guided by Mr. Giuliani.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY), CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: To hear, what was taken place, the separate group that was going on, talking about U.S. Policy, where 2020 election -- political elections interest was taking place, led by Mr. Giuliani, it was absolutely stunning.

TAPPER: But the Oval Office meeting was not the only thing being withheld. Taylor testified quote, on July 18th, I heard a staff person, from the office of management and Budget, saying there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine, a quote, directed had come from the president, to the chief-of-staff, to OMB.

That security assistance, a $400 million military aid package, overwhelmingly approved by Congress to help protect Ukraine from Russian aggression. Taylor said quote, I and others sat in astonishment, the Ukrainians were fighting the Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It was the most detailed and specific testimony we have heard in this many depositions about the holding up of military aid.

TAPPER: Taylor was the top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine, but testified he was kept in the dark, about that July 25th phone call between President Trump and Zelensky, In that call, after Zelensky talk about javelin missiles, Trump brought up a quote, a favor he wanted. An investigation into the 2016 election, and the DNC server. What a former top trump aide has called a debunk conspiracy theory.

Then the president raise quote, the other thing, investigating the Bidens. Just last month, Taylor testified, to National Security Council officials told them that Sondland told one of Zelensky's top aides quote, the security assistance money would not come, until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation. And that is the alleged quid pro quo, and is what led Taylor to text Sondland, are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are condition on investigations?

Sondland responded, quote, call me. Taylor says, in that phone call, quote, Sondland said, everything was dependent on Zelensky publicly announcing investigations, including security assistance.


NEWTON: Now thanks to Jake Tapper, reporting there from Washington.

Now blacks sludge as thick as tar is now flowing the scenic beaches of Brazil. What locals are doing to try cleaning up the mess and who may be responsible. That's up next.


NEWTON: In Brazil a dark oily sludge is washing up on (inaudible), of its coastline ruining beautiful beaches and killing marine life. Now officials believe it's from an oil spill that CNN's Shasta Darlington reports. Brazil's president is now suggesting something nefarious and attempt to sabotage the nation's oil development. Take a listen.



SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The thick black sludge is a struggle to remove, sticky and (inaudible), a sudden arrival of oils sits stubbornly on beaches like this. Polluting nearly 2000 kilometers of Brazil's shores.

Since September hundreds of tons of oil have been washing up on the country's north East Coast, contaminating one's picture as beaches and threatening marine life, the exact origin of the spill or how to stop it, remains a mystery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is big damage. The longer the oil stays at the beaches, the more severe the pollution will be and more difficult to recover the environment.

DARLINGTON: Brazilian officials say tests show with certainty, the oil is Venezuelan, but the environmental agency president was careful to clarify, that does not mean, Venezuela is necessarily to blame. Venezuela has previously denied any responsibility in the spill. Brazil's environmental ministers suggests the spill may or may not had been an accident, possibly by a foreign ship near Brazil's coast.

Brazil's president was more explicit. Jair Bolsonaro calls it a potentially criminal act, possibly designed he says, to sabotage a multibillion dollar oil auction in November. When bidders will compete for production rights and off shores areas of Brazil. As the government investigates the cause, mostly civilian volunteers are the ones scrambling to clean the shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This tragedy is without precedent, it's unbelievable, the lack of health from the state in whole areas from the municipal, to the state, to the federal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My mother, sister and grandmother come here to help, we've been asking for others to help on social media too, we need the help with the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's great to see all of these people who are mobilizing in front a delay of action on a larger scale by the government.

DARLINGTON: The disaster comes just months after another environmental crisis. When fires raging in the Amazon sparking theory over the president's response and scrutiny of his relaxed environmental policies. Now anger maybe rising again, as images surfaced of locals struggling to clean up, marine life covered in oil and kilometers of sand covered in sludge. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


NEWTON: And I want to thank everyone for joining us, I'm Paula Newton, Winning Post is up next, but first we are back with the check of your headlines. You are watching CNN.