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U.S. Operation in Syria Well-Documented; Firefighters Struggling to Fight Inferno in California; Boris Johnson Not Giving Up; Another Key Witness to Testify in Congress. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 29, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again. And welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. It's 7 a.m. in London, midnight in Los Angeles.

From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Just ahead, the Pentagon reveals new details about the raid that took out the leader of ISIS.

More Brexit turmoil. The British parliament rejects the prime minister's call for a snap election. He'll now try plan b.

And intense winds fuel the fires in California threatening thousands of homes and forcing mandatory evacuations.

We begin with new details on the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi. A top U.S. general says they Pentagon will release videos and photos of the raid in Syria in the coming days. Right now, we know the operation started after 11 p.m. local time on Saturday and was completed over a little two hours later.

Two ISIS members were captured. U.S. defense officials have confirmed Baghdadi's remains are now buried at sea.

CNN's Barbara Starr has more on how the raid unfolded.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: U.S. aircraft using bombs, missiles, and rockets to destroy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's compound. After a Special Forces used the cover of darkness, eight helicopters carrying as much as 100 U.S. Special Operations forces landed at a compound in northern Syria.

They entered after blowing holes on the side of the building, believing the front door might be booby trapped. The president said the Special Ops teams were met by local gunfire on the ground that was quickly squashed. At least two ISIS fighters were captured.

According to the president, Baghdadi was chased into a tunnel by military dogs while bringing three children with him. The tunnel came to a dead end where he eventually detonated a suicide vest that killed him and the children.




STARR: Baghdadi's remains were disposed off at sea by a U.S. military aircraft according to two defense officials, but the world may be about to see even more of what happened during the two hours U.S. commandoes were on the ground.


MARK MILLEY, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We do have video and photos, we're not prepared at this time to release those, they're going through the declassification process.


STARR: Iraqi officials say two months ago, they captured one of Baghdadi's closest collaborators. He is said to have provided information about one of the couriers that Baghdadi used. That courier was killed but documents led to his wife who then led them to more paperwork with Baghdadi's location.

Baghdadi, who'd been on the run for more than five years, was eventually tracked down with the help of intelligence from the Kurds. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria had a major impact on the operation, according to one U.S. official.

U.S. troops are now moving back into Syria's oil fields to keep ISIS from coming back and selling oil to finance its operations. But for the first time a specific nod from the defense secretary that U.S. troops could find themselves defending against other military forces.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does that include denying access, preventing Russian or Syrian forces which now will change the battle space?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The short answer is yes, at president it does.


STARR: The president tweeting the photograph of the dog that went on the raid, the dog suffering some electrocution injuries but is recovering. They are still not offering a public the name of the dog.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

CHURCH: We turn to Britain now. And calling the U.K. parliament dysfunctional Boris Johnson isn't giving up despite another defeat in the House of Commons. The British prime minister says he will try again in the coming hours for a December 12 general election. [03:05:04]

This time, with a different kind of bill to get lawmaker's approval, it would only need a simple majority rather than two-thirds majority he needed in the motion that failed on Monday.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Across the country, there is a widespread view that this parliament has run its course. And that is, and that is because I simply do not believe that this House is capable of delivering on the priorities whether that means Brexit or anything else.

But we must have -- we must have December 12th as a hard stop, a parliamentary terminus that everybody can believe in and an election fulfills exactly that purpose.


CHURCH: Well, many Labour M.P.s remain opposed to an election as does the Scottish national party. Their leaders explain why.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: We've said all along, we want no deal off the table and since -- and since there is so little trust in this prime minister. We would agree to nothing until it's clear and concrete exactly what is being proposed.

Mr. Speaker, this is a prime minister who cannot be trusted. He got his deal through a second reading then abandoned it. He promised us a budget on the 6th of November and then he abandoned that too. He said that he would never ask for an extension and he said he would rather die in a ditch. Another broken promise.

IAN BLACKFORD, WESTMINSTER LEADER, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: SNP M.P.s will not be supporting the prime minister in his motion. We will not be bullied by this prime minister. We will not play his games. And we know what he doesn't want. He doesn't want to face the electorate having missed his October 31st deadline.

He has delivered Brexit and the people know that the prime minister has failed. In his own words, Mr. Speaker, it is time for the prime minister to look for the nearest ditch.


CHURCH: Well, Boris Johnson's latest defeat came on the same day that Europe granted an extension to the Brexit deadline from October 31st to the end of January.

Our Melissa Bell has more now from Paris.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The British prime minister has formally accepted the European's offer of an extension, a flex extension till the 31st of January 2020 deadline, urging the Europeans not to consider any further extension beyond that, and saying that that this was an unwanted extension from his point of view

Remember that it was as part of the Benn Act forced through parliament by M.P.s that he was oblige to ask for the extension when he failed to get that deal negotiated with Brussels through Westminster.

But in a sense, his plea that there should be no further extension will only fall on sympathetic here. So, after all the E.U.'s 27 have made it clear that this is a process that from their point of view has gone on for far too long.

Now that extension gets formally ratified by the 27 European capitals to take the form of a written procedure. Now that has meant that European leaders didn't have to go back to Brussels once again to formally agree this extension.

From their point of view this is the last possible one and the idea of that extension is that if the United Kingdom can get the deal through its own parliament before the 31st of January, well it can leave before then as well.

The message from Europe very much with this latest extension today, that there are simply two options now, either the United Kingdom gets the deal through the Westminster and leaves the European Union or we had towards a no deal Brexit on the 31st of January 2020.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

CHURCH: Well, the White House seems to be doing everything it can do block testimony in the impeachment inquiry. But at least one more key witness is ready to talk.

CNN has obtained the opening statement from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. He is a Ukraine expert at the National Security Council who was listening to President Trump's July call with the Ukrainian president. And here is some of what he said to tell lawmakers in the coming hours.

"I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen. And I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government support of Ukraine.


I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security."

Well, Vindman's testimony will come after another key witness failed to appear p for his deposition on Monday.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has more on what lawmakers were hoping to hear from Charles Kupperman.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A significant no-show on Capitol Hill as Charles Kupperman ignored a congressional subpoena.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Witnesses like Dr. Kupperman need to do their duty and show up.


SCHNEIDER: Kupperman was deputy national security advisor and John Bolton's number two at the White House. He filed a lawsuit Friday asking the judge to rule whether he had to comply with the House subpoena.

Kupperman saying today, "All parties would want judicial clarity." His attorney argued Kupperman was caught between competing demands from House Democrats and at the White House, which has told current and former officials not to testify, arguing the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate.


SCHIFF: I think we can infer from the White House on position to Dr. Kupperman's testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the president.


SCHNEIDER: Democrats are eager to hear from Kupperman who was listening to that July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky where Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Kupperman's no-show also calls into question whether testimony from other White House officials will move forward.


RICK PERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: We're going to work with Congress and answer all their questions.


SCHNEIDER: Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry is now walking back what he said earlier this month, telling the Associated Press that he will not testify before Congress even though he's been subpoenaed. Now he's calling the inquiry illegal and improper.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have what are called the three amigos.


SCHNEIDER: E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland has referenced Perry as one of three officials, along with Kurt Volker who were in charge of U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Perry also now says he asked the president to make the July 25th phone call because it was important for the country's energy needs, and had nothing to do with the Bidens.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence is towing the White House line, denying any quid pro quo that predicated military aid or a White House meeting on Ukraine's promise to investigate the 2016 election or the Bidens.


MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I know is that the transcript of the president's call with President Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo, he did nothing wrong.


CHURCH: Jessica Schneider reporting there.

And all this comes as Democrats take the next step in the impeachment inquiry. The House is set to vote Thursday on formalizing the procedures of the probe. If the resolution passes it will set rules for public hearings and due process.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is essentially calling the White House's bluff with this move as Republicans have long tried to discredit the inquiry because it lacked a formal vote.

Well, Chile's government is making changes to try to stop the protest but demonstrators are not impressed. The changes they are demanding as they returned to the streets.

Plus, the head of Lebanon's central bank says his country is just days away from financial collapse. We'll look at what's driving this crisis and whether it's too late to stop it. We're back in just a moment.



CHURCH: Well, bloody clashes between anti-government protesters and police in Iraq have now claimed the lives of at least 82 people.

A human rights group says more than 3,700 have been injured since Friday. Authorities have imposed a nightly curfew on the capital of Baghdad.

Many students have now joined the protest defying a warning from the prime minister who has promised reforms but done little to quell the unrest.

Protesters are angry over high unemployment, alleged government corruption and a lack of basic services.

And Chile is bracing for another day of protest despite the president's cabinet reshuffle and his promise for reforms.

Matt Rivers reports the anger at the government over economic inequality is undiminished.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, after yet another day here in Santiago, Chile with the Pinera administration trying desperately to do anything to quell the frustration and the violence and just the anger at the government. The only thing that remains clear is that they have not found the solution to all of that yet.

And the way I know that? Take a look for yourselves. There are still people out in the streets. This protest have been going on for more than a week now and you can see people absolutely packing the streets. Some peaceful, some not. I mean, look all the way down there. These people generally are heading towards the main presidential palace, kind of right in the center of Santiago.

And there are thousands, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands in the streets yet again. We have seen quite a bit of violence just a few minutes ago, we saw a pharmacy being looted. Looting has taken place quite regularly during this protest. We've seen tear gas deployed and we have seen water cannons deployed and that has become a regular occurrence.

What the government tried to do today was take yet another step to appease these protesters. So, we saw eight cabinet ministers in President Pinera's administration being replaced. That's just the latest move after a series of promised economic reforms after the curfew that had been in place for a long time was lifted by the government.

The state of emergency as of today was lifted by the government. They have promised to increase pensions benefits, and yet still, the people are out on the streets, they would call then not real solutions, just fake promises is what we've heard from people.

And their protests issues remain the same. It all starts and stops with economic inequality, they want tension reform, they want more funding for public (Ph) education, they want wage growth. They think that the policies of this government for 30 years now have benefited the rich at the expense of the middle-classes and the poor classes.

How tis ends, how this all stops, when people stop coming into the streets? That's the open question at this point.

I'm Matt Rivers, CNN, in Santiago, Chile.

CHURCH: Well, five months of protest are taking a heavy toll on Hong Kong's economy. The city's embattled leader Carrie Lam says she expects Hong Kong to record negative economic growth for the year.


CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): There's a large likelihood that for the year 2019 we will see a full year recession. That means we will now achieve our goal of growth of zero to 1 percent so the situation is highly serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: The often-violent protests began over a now withdrawn bill

that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Tourism in Hong Kong has since plummeted, retail sales are down, unemployment is rising and businesses are suffering.

Well, Lebanon also could be on the brink of financial disaster. The head of the Central Bank says protest disrupting the country could cause the bank to default on loans and collapse the Lebanese economy unless an immediate solution can be found.

He spoke exclusively with my colleague Becky Anderson.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: You say that you have enough reserves to ensure that this country can stave off economic collapse as long as the political situation here is sorted out. Are we talking days? Weeks? Months?

RIAD SALAME, GOVERNOR, LEBANON CENTRAL BANK: It's a matter of days because the cause is heavy on the country but more importantly, we're losing every day confidence, more and more confidence. And finance and the economy it's all about confidence.


The banks are closed. The real asset of Lebanon are the Lebanese working outside our diaspora. If they don't see a solution that gives hope for the future then these inflows of which Lebanon relies will diminish in an important manner. And in order to save this situation, we need immediately a solution.


CHURCH: Well, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from all walks of life have taken to the streets in protest in what's being called the October revolution. They're angry and frustrated by decades of corruption and they are calling for the government to resign.

Still to come, wildfires fueled by intense winds are raging in California, threatening homes and causing mass evacuations. Is there an end in sight? We'll take a look.


CHURCH: In California firefighters are getting a brief reprieve from the intense winds fueling massive wildfires in the state, but it won't last. The winds are expected to pick up again in the coming hours. The fires are still threatening homes, forcing schools to close and causing power outages.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thick smoke and fierce flames covered canyons in Southern California as a new fire, the Getty fire burns furiously, consuming more than 500 acres of hillside across the west side of Los Angeles the fire forcing highway patrol to close parts of a major freeway, the 405.

More than 10,000 structures are under mandatory evacuation including the campus of Mount St. Mary's University, just north of the Getty museum.




ELAM: Students at that college running out of their dorm rooms in the middle of the night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look how close the fire is. It's literally right there.


ELAM: Officials warning of extreme shifts in whether that can happen in seconds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't think that you know just because of past experience how quickly a fire can move.


ELAM: In Northern California a similar scene playing out in Sonoma County where crews are battling the Kincade fire for a six day. More than 66,000 acres have already burned in one country. Nearly 200,000 people forced to flee their homes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The road is on fire. The road is on fire. I'm getting over. I'm getting over.


ELAM: Officials say the Kincade fire doubled in size Sunday as winds gusted to hurricane-force. Firefighters are taking advantage of a brief break in winds Monday but forecasters warned it's temporary.


RYAN WALBURN, METEOROLOGIST, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: We've got a kind of a quiet 24-hour wind right now, and then we're going to go into another critical period Tuesday night into Wednesday.


ELAM: Those not forced to evacuate are dealing with power outages out in place for nearly one million people in the Bay area by the local power company. All part of an effort to prevent the fire from spreading.


Out here at the Getty fire just to show you what they are dealing with. Take a look at this home which looks like it is still standing but what we understand from the firefighters it is completely gutted from the back end on the side of the canyon where the fire raised up the hill.

It's been picking up little fires throughout the day and firefighters had been out here still -- right now they're telling us to backup because this may fall. In fact, you can see now it's leaning and we can tell that.

So, firefighters are working to put out any hotspots because they don't want any of those embers to catch up on the wind and perhaps make another home nearby catch on fire as well.

So, while these winds change the fire the danger has not gone away and that is why they are working so hard on this home here in the middle of this congested neighborhoods on this tight street.

In the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Stephanie Elam, CNN.

CHURCH: So, let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri to get more on this. And Pedram, how much of these fires contained and how long will it take to fully contained them do you think?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, Rosemary, across Northern California we've actually seen the most improvement with the Kincade fire in the past couple of hours since it ignited on some four days ago.

So that's at least some good news across that region as you heard in the previous story from Stephanie Elam. The winds have died down in the past couple of hours. That has allowed the firefighters to briefly get the upper hand on what's happening across Northern California.

But again, it is a statewide event from the north all the way to the south, 10 active fires to be had across the region. And unfortunately, we know the pattern will shift once again begin going downhill when it comes to the winds picking up an intensity and these are the Santa Ana winds.

And potentially the strongest Santa Ana event of the season occurring in Southern California by this time tomorrow into say early Wednesday morning. So that is going to be the biggest concern across the region here with portions of Los Angeles metro into Oxnard, Santa Clarita.

All of these regions could see hurricane-force gust, humidifies of course staying very low. If this happens the fires that are in place across this region will expand very rapidly and that's the concern. Because look at the models here, really it turns up to the highest levels here of 70, 80, 90-kilometer per hour winds, all of it coming offshore, all of it warms by compression and all of it is extremely dangerous across this region.

And to the north we know what's happened. In fact, from space you can see the Kincade fire smoke that is kind of shifting all the way across portions of the Sacramento Valley. And across that region we've seen the containment number go up from 5 percent to 15 percent in the last couple of hours because the winds in the interim have kind of died down across that region.

But the area of land consumed in just the matter of four days is roughly the size of say three Paris' combined. So, you take Paris multiply it by three that's the amount of land that has been consumed across this region of Sonoma County in California.

And unfortunately, at least for Southern California, Rosemary, it looks like the winds will pick up an intensity again in the next few hours.

CHURCH: All right, Pedram, thanks for that. We'll continue to watch this very closely. I appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: And thank you for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Inside Africa is up next. But first, I'll be back with the check of the headlines. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.