Return to Transcripts main page


Key Republican Urges Others To Stop Attacking Witnesses; U.S. Official Who Heard Trump's Ukraine Call Testifies; Demonstrators Erupt After Lebanon's Prime Minister Resigns; Prime Minister Saad Hariri Resignation Amid Paralyzing Protests; Great White Sharks Vanishing Off South Africa. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired October 29, 2019 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: --CNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you tomorrow.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST, THE BRIEF: Tonight on "The Brief" British MPs have voted to hold a snap election on December 12th. What that could mean for

Brexit? Plus, Lebanon's Prime Minster resigned after days of mass protests. We'll speak with an activist. And we'll look at why the once abundant great

white shark has vanished from the coast of Cape Town.

Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo. Welcome to the show. The UK is now on track for an early general election on December 12th.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 438 the no's to the left, 20.


NOBILO: Lawmakers voted in favor of an early election by a landslide of margins. Prime Minster Boris Johnson is hoping that this snap election will

break the Brexit impasse. The election bill now goes to the House of Lords for final approval. Nic Robertson is standing right outside the British

Houses of Parliament.

Nic, is this likely to actually break the deadlock and throw up a new House of Commons that can solve the Brexit crisis?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think each of the partners going into it hope that's the case. Certainly Boris Johnson who

really was in the driving seat if you will he did have the option to take a longer time and to try to negotiate the withdrawal agreement bill through

parliament but he decided his better option was to go to the people.

One would expect that he is counting at least to increase the number of the conservative MPs and therefore break the log jam in his favor. That said,

the Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats who have both anti-Brexit, who both want to remain. They also believe that they can win more seats.

The Labour Party will clearly be hoping to hold what it has. It's not doing as well as others in the polls. The anticipation really at the moment is

it's just going to be too close to call.

NOBILO: Nic Robertson outside parliament. Thank you. Nic mentioned Boris Johnson bringing the Conservative Party back together. Boris Johnson's also

reinstated ten of the over 20 members of parliament that he removed the whip from, essentially expelled from the party earlier today.

Now with protesters filling the streets, schools banks and major roads closed. An economic collapse said to be imminent. The Prime Minster of

Lebanon says that he's stepping down, Saad Hariri handing his resignation to the Lebanon's President just hours ago. Mr. Hariri said that he hit a

dead end in the face of anti-corruption protests like that one you can see on the screen. The Prime Minster had this message for his country.


SAAD LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: I call on all Lebanese people to put Lebanese interests and the security of Lebanon and the protection of the civilians

of Lebanon before everything else. Regarding all my partners in the field our responsibility is how to protect Lebanon and stopping any problems

reaching Lebanon. Our responsibility is improving the country's economy and this chance should not be lost.


NOBILO: Some protester say that they will stay on the streets until all of their demands are met. But for a while after the announcement things had a

very different tone.


IMAD SAMAHA, PROTESTER: It was to be expected under the pressure of the people's uprising. It's something joyful for the Lebanese people because he

was one of the symbols of the authority and its strength. They really should all be held accountable and no way can he come back as Prime



NOBILO: Hezbollah has not commented on Mr. Hariri's resignation. The group which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization has been gaining

ground in the Lebanese parliament along with its allies. And in an exclusive interview with CNN, Lebanon's Defense Minister said the nation's

stability is not threatened.


ELIAS BOU SAAB, LEBANESE MINISTER OF DEFENSE: This President in particular was a President that gave assurances that Lebanon should be at equal

distance from all the regional conflicts that are taking place here, and Lebanon is in the middle, in the heart of it. This President is particular

is the one who said that we have to respect international law 1701, that we should make sure there is stability in Lebanon and not allow anyone to take

control of the country or hijack the political decision.


NOBILO: CNN's Ben Wedeman has covered Lebanon for us throughout the years. He joins us now from Beirut. Ben, you have been a very close observer of

politics in the region for decades. What do you think is the immediate impact of his resignation, and what do you think is the broader significant

that we should be looking at?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the immediate impact is that there's something of a political vacuum that's been opened

up by his resignation. It's not altogether clear when someone will come forward and be selected to resignation follow in his footsteps, and even if

they do, they're going to have a very difficult task ahead of them.


WEDEMAN: Apart from meeting the demands of the protest, which are almost systemic, the protesters want to see an end to the confessional division of

power that has been in Lebanon in place in Lebanon since 1943. More pressing really, at the moment, is the economy.

The banks have now been closed since the 18th of October. We have heard from the Riyadh Salam the Head of the Central Bank that the country is days

away from collapse. So regardless of what's going on in the street, when the banks finally re-open, there's a very high probability of a run on the

banks because everybody wants to get their money out, and many of these people here have their deposits in dollars but they're not able the get

them back in dollars they're getting them in Lira, Lebanese lira.

And the worry is that the value of the lira is going to collapse against the dollar. This country Bianca is one that for every dollar it exports it

imports $8 in goods. So it's a systematic deep problem that in a sense exists regardless of whether there are protests or not and in the absence

of an effective government, how are you going to deal with the consequences of that is anybody's question. Bianca?

NOBILO: Ben Wedeman in Beirut. Thank you very much. In a few moments' time we'll be joined by an activist and professor from Lebanon to get his

reaction to this resignation and here what protesters are planning next.

Now, the first current White House official to testify in the U.S. impeachment inquiry says he sounded the alarm twice about the Trump

Administration's effort to pressure Ukraine for political favors. Unlike previous witnesses this one was actually on the call between Presidents

Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky.

Alexander Vindman is a top Ukraine expert and active army officer. He arrived on Capitol Hill in his full military uniform as you can see. In his

opening statement Vindman said I was concerned by the call. I didn't think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S.


And I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government support of Ukraine. President Trump is disputing even the most basic facts about this

witness. Vindman describes himself as a nonpartisan that puts duty to country first. But today the President stamped him as a never Trumper and

said it was not possible he was even on the phone call at all. Other Republicans are also attacking Vindman. The number three House Republican

said that all needs to stop.


LIZ CHENEY,U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Questioning the patriotism, questioning the dedication to country of people like Mr. Vindman who will be coming

today and others who have testified - I think that we need to show that we are better than that as a nation. Their patriotism, their love of country -

we are talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation.


NOBILO: Let's get more now from CNN Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, the Democrats are also accusing Republicans of trying to

oust the whistleblower during the hearing. Was that just a strategy to derail Vindman's testimony because it's so key to the investigation?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this sounds like Bianca, it was a heated moment in today's closed door testimony but sources

telling us that behind the scenes in that room today where Vindman was testifying, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff

essentially shut down a line of questioning from Republicans, in which he believes that Republicans were intentionally pushing Vindman to try to out

or unmask the name of the whistleblower that of course sparked this impeachment inquiry to start from.

I know Republicans are pushing back on that tonight saying that they were trying to out a whistleblower that they were only trying to pick up on who

Vindman was talking to, who he was corroborating his own concerns with. But certainly this taps into a lot of frustration up here from among

Republicans on Capitol Hill who still want to hear from the whistleblower himself or herself appear on Capitol Hill.

There have been negotiations taking place, trying to get the whistleblower into a secure room to be protected. Obviously whistleblower protection's of

utmost concern to a lot of people up here on Capitol Hill. But that has not happened yet but certainly this heated moment in that closed door testimony

really tapping into a lot of frustration today and certainly circling that, many Republicans are zeroing in on their attention to the whistleblower's

testimony. Bianca.


NOBILO: Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill, thank you very much. The CEO of Boeing is admitting that his company made serious mistakes that led to two

crashes and hundreds of deaths. His comments about the 737 Max Jet came in testimony before U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. Family members of the victims

of the two crashes attended the hearing, holding up photos of their loved ones. Dennis Muilenburg told Congress his company is working to make the

jets safe.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: What we have learned from both accidents is that we made some mistakes. There are some things that we can improve. One

of them is this idea of going to a dual sensor feed instead of single as well as limiting MCAS to a single action or activation during a flight.

Those are improvements that we have identified. We take responsibility for that. We feel responsible for our airplanes and we know that there are

fixes that we need to make. We own that, and we are implementing those fixes going forward.


NOBILO: The hearing came exactly one year after the crash of a Lion Air Max Air Plane killing 189 people. An Ethiopian Airlines 737 crashed five months

later killing 157 passengers and crew.

Turning now to California where deteriorating conditions are threatening to make an already dangerous situation much worse. Two huge wildfires are

raging in the northern and southern part of the state and already tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes. On Monday

firefighters got a brief reprieve from the intense winds, but as CNN's Lucy Kafanov explains they're expected to pick up again very soon.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fear here is that those fires could spread yet again those crews again fanning out across the country. They

have more than 4,000 firefighters on the scene. Help from outside states not just California folks fighting fires. The National Guard is here

manning the checkpoints. And some bad news for local's residents, we found out just a few hours though that they'll not be repopulating the evacuated

areas because this wind is just too unpredictable. The fire is behaving erratically. So we're going to have to wait and see just how the story


NOBILO: And we'll keep on monitoring that for you and to help us CNN's Tom Sater has been following the fires. Tom, there was a big uptick in the

winds Tuesday, today as well. What is the fire risk right now? And can you also explain because people are talking about this, how climate change has

exacerbated this problem?

TOM SATER, CNN HOST, @TOMSATERCNN: It's no longer a fire season let's say Bianca. It's more just an annual event now. Never before that we have seen

large fires into the month of December and it's happening now. The Kincaid fire you're right, Tuesday we had winds over 100 miles per hour, it's still

166 kilometers per hour.

They've lined up and they're good 80,000 homes that are threatened. The getty fire was the terrible seen that we saw out of Los Angeles, the

nighttime blazes. But now what we are seeing - and this is really kind of frightening and harrowing for everyone who lives in Southern California.

For the first time in history the national weather service is using the word extreme to go hand-in-hand with these red-flag warnings never been

done before. It's like saying a tornado emergency or a flash flood emergency is going to occur. Here is why 11 large fires right now before

they were small. Now they're growing in size.

The winds, however, have really been broadening what we are seeing in the Kincaid fire to the north that's flying country Sonoma. It's now scorched

an area three times the size of Paris and it continues to grow. Personnel over a 4,000 firefighters over 124 structures but now we are getting into a

highly populated area in the southern part of the state.

This is Pasadena, this Anaheim, this is Irvine, this is Burbank, this is LA in purple, notice the extreme. Broadens out as we get into tomorrow, all

the way down just to the west or east of San Diego, down to the border of Mexico and Baja California because the winds are going to - what the

National Weather Service is telling us, create an event in which we have seen in recent memory.

100 miles per hour winds? Is that possible? Sure but right now even if it is at 80, that's hurricane force winds through all the high terrain and

mountain passes. There's Los Angeles any little spark at all could blow a blaze out of control. It's going to be widespread across Southern

California. So we are looking into that.

The big thing though that really concerned about though, this is going to be something new that we are going to talk more about in the next hour. Why

are we seeing so many wildfires? And it does have a lot to do with climate change, but we'll get into that more in the next hour. Bianca.

NOBILO: Tom Sater thank you very much. Still to come on "The Brief" Lebanon's Prime Minster announces his resignation, but the demonstrations

rage on. Is there an end in sight? Here from an activist taking part in the protests next.



NOBILO: The Saad Hariri is stepping down succumbing to the demands of the nationwide protesters and resigning as Lebanese Prime Minster. The protests

have taken over the country. Banks and schools have been closed for nearly two weeks. These clashes broke out on the street just this morning and the

Prime Minister's resignation doesn't end everything.

Actually it leaves a lot more questions still to be answered. And it's worth remembering that all this is happening in very a small country of

just 6 million people, but it's geopolitically unique. Lebanon sits nested next to Israel and Syria many of its factions and religions making it a

volatile melting pot.

Let's debrief all that's going on in the country. I'm joined by Mark Daou; he is a protester and a Media Professor at the American University Of

Beirut. Great to have you on the program, sir thank you for joining us.

MARK DAOU, LABENESE PROTESTER: Thank you for having me.

NOBILO: I would like to start by asking you how satisfied you are by the resignation of Hariri and who would you like to see him replaced with.

DAOU: We are extremely satisfied by the results that have been achieved so far. This government, not just Hariri it's the entire government because

got 90 percent support in the parliament. So it's a strong blow to the entire regime formed by multiple political parties across the spectrum

which have consolidated their power to effectively have a power grab over Lebanon and steal public funds and go all the way in nepotism and


A strong hit at the downing of that particular government now means there's a real opportunity for effective change and reform in the country. So

whoever will come next, our priorities are for independent nonpolitically aligned individuals with high technical skills to try and save the country

from the huge economic debt that we have, the mismanagement, as well as the legacy of corruption and nepotism prevalent in the country.

So what we are looking at now is getting strong-willed, capable individuals to actually run this country into a safe course that can be sustainable.

That requires, again, containing the political parties which are dominant in Lebanon which includes Hezbollah the - and those that have been in power

for the past 15 years running the country to the ground.

NOBILO: And professor, how do you actually affect that change? The protests are still going on, but what are you going to do to make sure that those

specific demands that you have and changing the composition of the government, the cabinet, fighting corruption and nepotism - what are you

going to do precisely to make that happen?

DAOU: Yes, it's an ongoing fight with government. We'll continue to occupy squares all across the country. There are eight to ten established camps of

protesters across all the country and all regions across all secretary infection.


DAOU: So basically this is a mass national movement which is creating a lot of pressure and the results of the pressure is banks have been closed.

Schools and universities are close. We are creating a lot of pressure which has literally taken out all credibly from the governing institutions.

So to regain trust and to open up the system again which would allow people to spend money and reactivate all of those institutions that requires a

strong positive push through a government that gains the trust of the population and allows for a peaceful transition from what we currently have

into a more stable, more democratic and more accountable government to its people.

If that doesn't happen, then what we are looking at is a power grab by the militias and mafias and others in government going for a power grab similar

to what's happening in Venezuela and we are trying to avoid that scenario and negotiate a peaceful transition where the government is stable

politically and economically and the people in the streets are convinced that we have a government that's capable of leading us out of the economic

traumas that we have been through as well as from the political manipulation that has occurred over the legal institutions of parliament

and government.

NOBILO: Professor, if I could just ask you finally and briefly, why do you think that the world needs to pay attention to this and do you want

international community to do anything?

DAOU: I think what we are seeing given the diversity of Lebanon, given all the risks that are in Lebanon, the risks from Israel, the risks from the

Syrian war, over this small country with all of its diversity, religious and otherwise and its openness to the western world, everyone is

multilingual closely or nearly in this country.

I think this is a monumental mind storm in the Arab communities where we are transforming towards a population which is actively holding its

government accountable and actively participating, informing what type of government is running this country.

NOBILO: Professor Mark Daou thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate your time. When "The Brief" returns, one of the Sea's fiercest predators

seems to have vanished from the waters of Africa. How the disappearance of great whites is taking a toll on the area.


NOBILO: They're one of the world's most fearsome creatures but seeing a great white shark off the coast of South Africa is becoming a rarer and

rarer occurrence. It was one of the best places to see the famed animal, but there hasn't been a single sighting in more than a year. Sharks play an

important role in the ecosystem of the sea. By sitting at the top of the food chain they encourage species diversity and they're an indicator of the

ocean's health. David McKenzie went under water to see for himself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have come to dive with an apex predator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably the world's most famous location for seeing great white sharks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, there he is. There he is. Seeing great white sharks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see plenty of sharks--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, right there, right there, right there. Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But no great whites. These sharks are scavengers not the iconic hunter that made this bay famous. After millions of years in 2019

the great whites of Cape Town have vanished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Losing the great white shark is like me losing a part of my soul. This is an animal that shaped my life. It's given me some of

greatest highs of my life. Chris Fallows the photographer who put these sharks on the math is forcing himself to speak in the past tense. The first

time you saw this, which was it like?

CHRIS FALLOWS, PHOTOGRAPHER: It was unbelievable. I mean, everybody's fascinated by great white sharks but flying great white sharks? To see this

incredible super predator taking to the air, showing off hits athletic prowess it was fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The past season they haven't seen a single shark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the cliffs above, shark spotters used to take these sightings for granted. This year they have reported zero great white

sharks. Not a single one. What if they don't come back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are just going to have to wait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fishermen like Solomon, Solomon say there are more seals now too competing for their catch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems the eco system is already the feeling the effects.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The impact of losing an apex predator for the marine environment is going to be huge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biologists - says the zero sightings is alarming but not surprising. She predicted the collapse years ago in 2012 by studying

genetics she found that the population was smaller and more vulnerable than anyone imagined. What was your reaction to the population of great whites

in South Africa?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Concerned, mostly, but also shock. We were expecting to find 1,000 or more individuals around here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overfishing, shark poaching, and the weak gene pool have all contributed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People don't like to listen to sad story, and it is difficult to realize that humans could have had such an impact on such a

pre-historical, iconic predators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South Africa's once bountiful shores are becoming more and more empty by the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's any hope for great whites to return, he said the focus should be now on what needs to be done, not about what once was.

David McKenzie, CNN, South Africa.


NOBILO: That's "The Brief". I'm Bianca Nobilo. "World Sport" is up next.