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Raging Fires Turn Southern California into an Inferno; House Democrats to Formalize Their Impeachment Inquiry; Pentagon Release Declassified Video of U.S. raid; Iran Blames U.S. and the West for the Unrest in Lebanon and Iraq; U.K. PM Honors Outgoing Speaker of the House John Bercow; U.K. Lawmakers Support Duchess of Sussex. Aired 2- 3a ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta with your next 90 minutes of CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get started.
Historic fires are ripping through California with hurricane-force winds, a major concern. We will have an update on the dangerous conditions.
Plus, the impeachment inquiry is getting closer and closer to the U.S. president, as both current and former officials from Donald Trump's administration are being summoned for testimony.
And new video is released of the Baghdadi raid. See the moment when U.S. Special Forces stormed the ISIS leader's compound.
CHURCH: Good to have you with us.
Firefighters to California are in a desperate race to contain at least 10 major wildfires fueled by hurricane-force winds and dry conditions. Some of the flames have reached 30 feet, some 9 meters into the air, sending firefighters scrambling.
Right now both ends of the state are at immediate risk, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes. Our Bill Weir is at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was threatened by flames on Wednesday. The library hosts priceless historical artifacts but was spared from the fire, as Bill reports.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: We're obviously right here in front of the Reagan Library. A statue of the president on horseback here. Interesting that when they dedicated this building, they hosted firefighters who saved this place from a threatening wildfire like this. The Reagans' own Malibu ranch burned back in the day. Fire is always part of this landscape. The folks at the museum say they've never seen anything like this.
Get a load of this valley. When we arrived about 90 minutes ago, it was burning on the far ridge line. In just that short amount of time, these 60-mile-an-hour Santa Ana gusts pushed this thing.
Fire crews just pulled out of there because they have neighborhoods below us that are now in danger. You can see these hot spots kicking back up just within the last few minutes since Cal Fire pulled out of here.
It's really astounding the speed and unpredictability of these Santa Ana gusts. Cal Fire has never managed to contain this kind of fire in the history of the state. All they can do is wait for the weather to shift.
This one was about 15 acres when we started. Now it's in the hundreds of acres and headed toward more residential areas here.
The library itself, they believe is pretty safe. Obviously, crews wouldn't have pulled back. It's fireproof, it's earthquake proof.
What's interesting is that every year they bring in herds of goats to eat the vegetation around this precious home and archives as well.
Look at this moonscape. It's reminiscent of the Woolsey Fire in Malibu just last year when we saw so much of Calabasas and that area burn.
There's still the Getty Fire to worry about in the Hills of Los Angeles. We heard of another fire outbreak in Riverside County. That's a couple of hours from here.
That's not to mention all the fires that are still raging up north in northern California as Pacific Gas and Electric has those rolling blackouts out of fear of another electrical spark here.
We're going to follow this one. It feels like the library and museum are safe for now. So we're going to follow this one to Simi Valley and check on proof of life amongst the ranchers. So much livestock in this area they're evacuating as well.
CHURCH: The impeachment inquiry is intensifying as the U.S. House moves toward making the process public.
In a letter to lawmakers, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a formal authorization of the process was not necessary but she wanted to eliminate any doubt over whether the White House was withholding documents or preventing testimony.
The State Department has agreed to produce some Ukraine related documents by November 22nd. And as Sunlen Serfaty reports, investigators want to hear from more high-level Trump administration officials.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We may have the meeting.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House investigators have extended an invitation to former national security adviser John Bolton to testify next week according to a source familiar with the matter. Bolton would be the most senior official to testify in the impeachment inquiry though it's not clear if Bolton will agree to appear without a subpoena.
Sources also tell CNN Bill Taylor, the president's top diplomat in Ukraine is willing to return to Capitol Hill to testify in public, a potentially monumental moment in the House Democrats intensifying impeachment inquiry.
Taylor's testimony last week behind closed doors sent shockwaves through the Capitol where he completely undercut the administration's defense that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine.
Meantime, two new witnesses testifying on Capitol Hill today. Christopher Anderson, aide to former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker speaking to lawmakers behind closed doors about the concerns voiced by Bolton over Rudy Giuliani's shadow Ukraine operations.
Anderson, according to his opening statement obtained by CNN saying Bolton cautioned Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increase the White House engagement.
Catherine Croft, a State Department special adviser for Ukraine, also appearing today. Corroborating the testimony, the committees have heard from other witnesses about the push to oust the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
And testifying today she was informed that acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney put an informal hold on security assistance to Ukraine, the only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the president, Croft said today.
All this as a fallout continues from the explosive testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.
Vindman who was on that now famous July 25th phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president directly contradicting Trump's public description of the transcript released by the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I had a transcript done by very, very talented people, word of word, comma for comma, done by people that do it for a living. We had an exact transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: President Trump touting over and over again that it was an exact transcript of a phone call. The White House in September saying ellipsis that showed up did not represent missing words or phrases.
SERFATY (voice-over): But not so says Vindman, who told lawmakers what the White House released was not exact and had at least two parts omitted, a reference to a Joe Biden tape and a specific mention of Burisma, the company where Biden's son Hunter was on the board.
Burisma according to Vindman, appearing in the transcript as just the company. Sources tell CNN Vindman testified that he tried to make changes to the rough transcript but his efforts were blocked.
And back on Bill Taylor and the potential for his public testimony. Sources tell CNN that an official request have not been made by the House committees but many Democrats certainly very eager and believe that he is an ideal first witness as they enter into the new phase of their impeachment probe -- Sunlen Serfaty, CNN on Capitol Hill.
CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about this is Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Always good to have you with us.
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So former national security adviser John Bolton has been invited to testify next week in the impeachment inquiry. How likely is it do you think that he will appear and how potentially explosive might his testimony be given what we already know including how he feels about Rudy Giuliani's role in the Ukraine scandal.
SABATO: Right now, at least most people won't be surprised if he appears without a subpoena. But you never know. After all he departed the White House not on the best terms with President Trump. It was one of those goodbye tweets that the president is known for.
So, this certainly could be an opportunity to even the score if he tells what he knows and by all accounts he called the fact that Rudy Giuliani was a big part of this kind of a drug deal. That's an extraordinary thing for a national security adviser to say.
So, everyone is going to be interested in his testimony if it comes to that and most people hope it does.
CHURCH: Right. And then of course top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor says he is willing to return to Capitol Hill to testify in public after his closed-door testimony last week. How significant might that be do you think?
SABATO: The private sounding were, that Taylor was very credible behind the scenes. It wasn't in public but the committee members were impressed with him, the Democrats obviously were very impressed and delighted with what he presented.
The Republicans didn't agree with what he was saying but they also were somewhat fearful that he will be just as impressive in public.
CHURCH: And then White House Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman testified Tuesday, the first White House official to do so and of course the first to have listened in on that July phone call between President Trump and Ukraine's president. And he confirms previous testimony of the existence of an allege quid pro quo.
On Wednesday, we also learned Vindman tried to add missed words to that partial transcript of the phone call but the White House is saying that's false. What do you make of all of that?
SABATO: Well once again, it's a test of credibility. And you are going to believe who you're going to believe based on your party identification. But I think fair-minded observers were inclined and are inclined to believe that that testimony was very precise and accurate.
It really reminds me of what I saw back in the early 1970s when President Nixon released the White House transcript. He didn't release the tapes. He released the transcripts and they were heavily edited and as it turned out they were edited by Richard Nixon himself.
And you know what, Rosemary? He cut out parts that were incriminating for him. So it would be -- there were precedent for the fact that what's missing from what we've seen so far in the transcript would not be helpful to President Trump.
CHURCH: Right. And of course, Vindman trying to fill in those gaps. So, we'll see if we learn more on that. And just finally, in a few hours from now, we are expecting a vote on the House floor on a resolution for the Democrats impeachment inquiry into President Trump. How do you expect that to go?
SABATO: Almost certainly that resolution will be approved. The Democrats have made some concessions to the Republicans on the rules of this inquiry and the Republicans were demanding such a vote. Now they're moving away and saying it's inadequate.
But it's going to pass. The Democrats have a maximum of 235 votes. There are a couple of vacancies. They only need 218. At the current time at most, maybe five Democrats will vote against the resolution and there may be one or two Republicans who vote in favor of it.
SABATO: At least those who are retiring and are no longer under political pressure.
CHURCH: We'll see what happens. Larry Sabato, always great to get your political analysis and perspective on all of these methods. I appreciate it.
SABATO: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And we have new details on the U.S. raid which killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Pentagon has declassified video of the operation from this past weekend.
In the late-night raid, U.S. commandos swooped in on the ISIS leader's compound in northwest Syria, killing five ISIS members before Baghdadi blew himself up.
The raid team recovered documents and electronics at the site that could reveal crucial intelligence to help future operations because the Pentagon warns ISIS will likely try to strike back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We suspect they will try some form of retribution attack and we'll -- and we are postured and prepared to -- and we are postured and prepared for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN's Sam Kiley has more on how the raid went down.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More details have emerged on the killing of Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, the former caliph of the so-called Islamic State by U.S. commandos.
General McKenzie, commanding officer of CENTCOM, was the presiding officer over this operation. Giving more details, he said that there was about an hour's flight from a staging base somewhere in Syria -- the Pentagon is still not saying where -- onto the target.
But just as the aircraft arrived, and he played a video of this, the aircraft came under fire and returned fire, which would appear to be rockets or cannon against infantry, effectively gunman on the ground.
But interestingly General McKenzie said were not believed to be members of the so-called Islamic State but other militant fighters in the area. Later he said that a white minibus that had been filmed on the ground, riddled with bullet holes, had also been attacked as part of operations to try to keep what they call the flood of fighters coming to that location away.
He then showed photographs of commandos approaching the Baghdadi compound, about a dozen men on the ground. Quite surprising to some military analysts, perhaps, that they didn't go down in what's called fast roping, straight out of helicopters, but actually landed on the ground.
They then told us that as they penetrated the compound they were attacked and they responded by killing one man and four women that, later in the press conference, General McKenzie said appeared to be carrying suicide vests and were behaving with hostile intent.
They had a degree of prior intelligence about the existence of a tunnel and the possibility that Baghdadi would be down that tunnel. The general said that it is also -- some reporting was that there was perhaps a shot fired by Baghdadi out of that tunnel and that the dogs played a key role in trying to identify the location of their hiding place before al-Baghdadi, failing to respond to demands in Arabic that he give himself up, detonated a suicide vest, killing two children -- correcting the president's number of three -- based on more complex analysis of the situation.
Eleven children were also rescued from that compound, the general said, before they returned to base. He wouldn't be drawn too much on the intelligence that led to the operation but there has been something of a scramble both in particularly out of Baghdad and out of the Syrian Democratic Forces to claim the key role in providing intelligence as part of the jigsaw puzzle map that led to the killing of the former caliph -- Sam Kiley, CNN.
CHURCH: Coming up next, Iran accuses the U.S. of fueling unrest in Lebanon and Iraq. More on what the ayatollah is saying ahead.
Plus he is bellowing his last orders, a fun farewell for U.K.'s boisterous House Speaker John Bercow.
CHURCH: At least two people were killed and six injured in protests in Bolivia over the October 20th election. The Organization of American States is to begin an order of votes this week. President Evo Morales had a first round win with enough of a lead to avoid a runoff but the ballot counting was disrupted, sparking allegations of vote rigging and nationwide protests.
His main opponent Carlos Mesa says he doesn't trust the audit.
And in Chile, protests have forced the country to cancel plans to host two major summits. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November and the COP 25 climate summit in December.
President Sebastian Pinera says he is sorry but has to put the country's problems first. The protest started over a price hide for subway tickets and has left at least 20 people dead. Eight cabinet ministers have resigned.
Lebanon's president said the country will have a clean government after prime minister Saad Hariri announced he is stepping down. He resigned amid widespread anti government protests but he has been asked to stay on until a new government is formed.
Meanwhile Iran's supreme leader is blaming the U.S. for the unrest in both Lebanon and Iraq. CNN's Ben Wedeman has the report.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused the United States and western intelligence services of stirring up disorder in Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran is deeply involved in both countries both of which have been rocked by mass protests calling for a fundamental change in government and an end to official corruption.
Demonstrators in Lebanon succeeded in bringing down the government of Saad Hariri. Protests here initially spread to traditional Hezbollah strongholds, where for the first time, voices were raised against the group for defending his status quo.
While in Iraq the government remains in place and has used extreme force to try to suppress the protesters. Nearly 200 people protesters and some security personnel have been killed in the last month alone.
Iran is aligned with a variety of Iraq militias, political parties and leaders and it's a major trade partner. The protesters in Iraq have attacked the offices of party supported by Iran, many of those parties and their leaders seen as an integral part of a system mired in corruption.
In his remarks, Ayatollah Khamenei acknowledge the protesters have righteous demands, in his words, but insisted they should pursue those demands through a legal framework. A position similar to that taken by Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.
Iran and its allies in the region have been squeezed by U.S. sanctions. They're suffering from among other things a lack of funds.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Their networks of social support are being curtailed or cut back, which has led to growing dissatisfaction among their followers.
WEDEMAN: The unrest in Iraq and Lebanon it appears is making Iranian leaders nervous -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: Thursday should have been the day the U.K. left the European Union but instead lawmakers are gearing up for a general election. The House of Lords and the queen have to approve the December 12th vote. The prime minister Boris Johnson is already campaigning with a promise to deliver Brexit once and for all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We are going to deliver a fantastic deal by which this country will come out of the European Union, a deal that he has tried to block and that we will deliver. That is the future for this country.
Drift and dither are the Labour Party, are taking Britain forward to a brighter future under the Conservatives. That is the choice this country faces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: An emotional scene in Parliament Wednesday as Speaker John Bercow presided over his final Prime Minister's questions. He's been speaker for a tumultuous decade of British politics and was known for keeping a firm grip on the chamber.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS: Order. Order. Order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The tributes to Bercow came pouring in with the prime minister comparing him to a Wimbledon referee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: The whole house will join me in recording that, after 10 tumultuous years, this is your last Prime Minister's questions and befits the former Wimbledon competitor, you have sat up there in your high chair, not just as an umpire, ruthlessly adjudicating on the finer points of parliamentary procedure with your trademark Tony Montana scowl, Mr. Speaker.
Not just as a commentator offering your own opinions on the rallies you're watching, sometimes acerbic and sometimes kindly, but above all as a player in your own right, peppering every part of the chamber with your own thoughts and opinions like some tennis ball machine. Someone can throw the tennis ball machine, Mr. Speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And Thursday's Bercow's final day on the job and a new Speaker will be chosen on Monday.
Some of Britain's most powerful women are making it clear that they've got each other's backs: 72 female members of Parliament wrote an open letter in support of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
They expressed concern over the treatment she is facing in the British media and the ridicule so many working moms endure for taking care of their families.
They write, "We are calling out what can only be described as outdated colonial undertones to some of these stories. We stand with you in saying it cannot be allowed to go unchallenged."
MP Holly Lynch says she can relate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLLY LYNCH, BRITISH LABOUR MP: As a fairly new mom myself, the challenges of both being in the public eye at managing child care, managing public responsibilities can all be challenges so we did discuss that.
But yes, we were quite happy to stand with her and recognizing that what she is going through has on occasion had acerbic undertones and we are not happy about that at all. We stand with her in challenge that and we will do everything we can at this end if our national press do not have a healthier, shall we say, interest in her life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The duchess thanked the MPs for their support. Both she and Prince Harry have recently sued British newspapers over offensive stories. The royal couple plan to take some time off from public appearances next month.
Still to come here on CNN, a wildfire threatens the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles and its priceless historical artifacts. We'll tell you more on the other side of the break.
CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour. The U.S. House will vote to formalize the impeachment proceedings against President Trump in the coming hours, which will move the process from behind closed doors to public hearings. Investigators have also summoned former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify. His attorney says Bolton won't appear without a subpoena.
The Pentagon has released newly declassified video of the raid which killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video shows U.S. helicopters under fire as they approach the area. The commandos entering Baghdadi's compound, and finally the site being blown up once it was cleared. In California, a mix of hurricane force winds and bone dry conditions is threatening to make an already dangerous wildfire situation much worse. Right now, both ends of the state are at immediate risk, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes. CNN's Paul Vercammen is tracking firefighters across California as they desperately race to put out raging wildfires.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER & PRODUCER: 30 feet in the air, a fire storm of flames briefly arched over the 23 Highway, threatening to push the Easy Fire in Simi Valley further west into Thousand Oaks.
Everything is tenfold. So, what would normally take one engine to handle like a small spot fire on the side of the road. Now it takes 10 engines.
VERCAMMEN: Fueled by hurricane force winds, the flames have scorched at least 1400 acres and maybe growing, forcing about 26,000 people from their homes. The flames circling the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the President and former first lady are buried. Smoke also surrounding farms where animals were swept away to safety. About 100 miles from the Easy Fire, this one in Jurupa Valley dubbed the Hill Fire.
As the flames crept closer, more evacuations. Residents of a senior center hit by the strong winds as they're whisked away in ambulances. Nearby the fire, too close for comfort to this mobile home park. Homeowners here evacuated too. The gusts dangerous for drivers as well. Five semi-trucks overturned on Interstate 15 outside of San Bernardino. The winds expected to continue through Thursday. I'm Paul Vercammen reporting.
CHURCH: Joining me now to talk more about the wildfires north of Los Angeles is John Heubusch, Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Thank you so much for talking with us.
JOHN HEUBUSCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RONALD REAGAN PRESIDENTIAL FOUNDATION (via telephone): Glad to be with you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Now, of course, those wildfires forced the evacuation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library along with thousands of homes in the area. How close did those flames get to the library and how bad could this have been?
HEUBUSCH: Oh, it was almost an incredible tragedy. The flames came right up to the building, and I stood on one hillside right next to President and Mrs. Reagan's gravesite, for example, and the fires were about 100 feet away. So, a lot of first responders were on the scene, and whether through the air or on the ground, they were able to knock the fire out, but they did literally encircled the entire library.
CHURCH: That is extraordinary. Of course, this particular fire, called the Easy Fire, was reported at about 6:00 in the morning, Wednesday. By evening, it had burned more than 1600 acres or that's more than 650 hectares. Those flames fanned, of course, by the fierce winds. Talk to us about the battle to save the library and the homes in the area as well. Incredible that those flames came so close, and clearly, the actions of the responders, that's what saved the library.
HEUBUSCH: Yes, these first responders save the library, they saved the day, they really did. The Reagan library sits on 408 acres of its own and just about every one of those acres burned around the buildings. The -- it was actually a battle from the air and land. Dozens of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft rotated around the library for hours to knock down the flames, and there were several dozen fire trucks and hundreds of firefighters rimming the property and stopping the flames as they tried to come up the hill and probably the one piece of incredible national treasure we almost lost was the Air Force 1. The Air Force 1 sits inside of a massive museum on the library grounds and the flames came right up to that building. But helicopters were able to swoop down and knock the flames down before they reach the building.
CHURCH: Incredible. What a fierce fight to stop the destruction of that library and the nearly 30,000 people forced from their homes and they remain under a mandatory evacuation. What is the scene there now? What are your plans for the library?
HEUBUSCH: Well, the -- so, the library didn't experience any physical damage, at least not that we know of. We're now starting to check indoors for smoke and any of that type of damage. We will not be open tomorrow, unfortunately, but we're going to do our level best to work around the clock in order to try to be -- to reopen on Friday morning. And you're right, the library sits right in a very heavy residential area, and many thousands of people were forced to evacuated and some of the difficulties as well, the fires were so widespread that many of the interstates that gets you to the library are closed as well. So, it's a disaster area right now, and we're just hoping for the best.
CHURCH: Yes, I understand many of those flames jumped across those roads as well. So, talk to us about when you think life may return to normal.
HEUBUSCH: Well, probably about a week, I think it's what it's going to take. You know, schools are closed and out of session, and roads are closed. And, you know, the fires are widespread enough that it's going to disrupt, you know, several hundred thousand lives for probably a good week, at least until these winds die down. And we might have a whole another week of those.
CHURCH: And amazing, as you've been speaking with us, we've been looking at these aerial shots of the library and the surrounding region, just extraordinary when you consider these flames and how close they got to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library that it was saved in this instance. John Heubusch, thank you so much for joining us and talking with us.
HEUBUSCH: Great to be with you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And for more on how you can help wildfire victims, you can head to cnn.com/impact.
Well, five months of unrest unraveling Hong Kong's economy. Not only has the city slipped into recession, some business owners now fear they may have to close their doors for good. Plus, the 737 Max was marketed as a cost-efficient plane, but now it's costing Boeing and other companies a lot of money. We'll take a look.
CHURCH: Well, Halloween can be a crazy night in Hong Kong, even in normal times. But no one knows what to expect this year. Pro- democracy protesters plan another demonstration, a Halloween March, complete with costumes and masks. Now, the month of volatile demonstrations and street clashes have taken a heavy toll on the city's economy now officially in a recession. So, let's turn to CNN's Sherisse Pham, who joins us live from Hong Kong. So, Sherisse, five months of demonstrations are being blamed on this recession. But how much is this about the trade war between the United States and China, as well?
SHERISSE PHAM, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Absolutely. Hong Kong is a major trading hub, so it was already under pressure from this one, two punch of the U.S.-China trade war and China's slowing growth. But economists that I was talk -- that I was talking today, they said, the protests, five months of mass demonstrations where we have seen protesters target stores, shut down major tourist spots, at times even shut down the city's major airports. All of that has tipped Hong Kong into a recession. Economists were saying the trade war and China's slowing growth, that was going to be enough to make Hong Kong's GDP slow down, to decrease year-on-year. But the contraction, the recession that we're facing now, the tipping point was caused by these five months of protests. So, this political crisis is now forcing Hong Kong to face an economic crisis, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, it is a real problem. Sherisse Pham bringing us the very latest there from Hong Kong. Many thanks to you.
Well, U.S. stocks finished higher, Wednesday, after the U.S. Central Bank cut interest rates for a third time this year. The quarter percentage point cut directly affects mortgages, credit cards, and other borrowing. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he does not anticipate any further changes for now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate. As long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook of moderate economic growth, a strong labor market, and inflation near our symmetric two percent objective. Of course, if developments emerged that cause a material reassessment of our outlook, we would respond accordingly. Policy is not on a preset course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, the latest government figure show the U.S. economy grew 1.9 percent in the third quarter, the second straight quarter of slower growth.
Damning internal emails at Boeing are now public after another explosive day of testimony in Washington. In one dated more than a year before the 737 Max plane was approved for flight, employees raised concerns about the very flight control system that's been blamed for the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.
A congressman read out another e-mail, he said, was sent to the general manager of the 737 program four months before the Lion Air crash. In it, the employee warned that Boeing was building planes too quickly with fatigued employees.
It read in part, "Frankly right now, all my internal warning bells are going off. And for the first time in my life, I'm sorry to say that I'm hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane. Nothing we do is so important that it is worth hurting someone."
Well, during Wednesday's testimony, CEO Dennis Muilenburg admitted there were design issues with the 737 Max, but he would not discuss details of the salary he's received since the crashes which killed 346 people.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): What does accountability mean? Are you taking a cut and pay? Are you working for free from now on until you can cure this problem?
DENNIS MUILENBURG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BOEING: It's not about the money for me. That's not why I came --
COHEN: Are you giving up any money?
MUILENBURG: Congressman, my board will conduct a comprehensive review that's --
COHEN: So, you're saying you're not giving up any compensation at all. You're continuing to work and make $30 million a year after this horrific two accidents that caused all these people's relatives to go, to disappear, to die. You're not taking a cut and pay at all?
MUILENBURG: Congressman, again, our board will make those determinations --
COHEN: You're not accountable, then.
CHURCH: The financial costs of the 737 crisis are now piling up for Boeing as CNN's Clare Sebastian reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Max uses 14 percent less fuel than current 737. That's a lot less fuel -- a lot less.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From the beginning, the 737 Max was marketed as a money saver.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 737 Eight can carry 12 more passengers in a --
SEBASTIAN: And it worked. By the start of this year, airlines had ordered more than 5,000 of them. Boeing's fastest-selling plane to date.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights.
SEBASTIAN: The global grounding in March in the wake of two deadly crashes turned any promise of cost efficiency on its head. Boeing's own costs including customer compensation and higher production costs have topped $9 billion.
RONALD EPSTEIN, SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, BANK OF AMERICA: The 737s 40 percent of their earnings, a third of their cash flow. Fair all of Boeing right, so it's a big number, it's a big contributor to -- you know, the profitability of the company.
SEBASTIAN: Since April, Boeing halted all deliveries and slowed production from 52 to 42 planes a month. Finished aircraft piling up in employee parking lots.
J.P. Morgan estimates that production slowed down shaved one to two- tenths of a percentage of U.S. economic growth in the second quarter.
MICHAEL FEROLI, CHIEF UNITED STATES ECONOMIST, JPMORGAN CHASE: There's enough to make an -- leave an imprint on the economic data. We don't think it's enough to really slow the expansion. But if we were to see production slow or just hypothetically stopped, that would have the potential to impact the suppliers and the employment at those suppliers.
SEBASTIAN: There are signs that's already happening. Spirit Aero Systems which makes the plane's fuselage and relies on the 737 for 50 percent of its revenue has embarked on a cost-cutting program. Including a hiring freeze and voluntary retirements.
General Electric which makes the Max's engine says, so far, it's cost them a billion dollars though they are now seeing orders increase, and then, there are the airlines.
EPSTEIN: At any given time, one airplane might have upwards of five different crews. So, you're talking 10 to 15 pilots. You know, on the -- on some of those airplane's three or four flight attendants, so, times five, right?
So, you have a large crew structure that's tied to that airplane that basically went on the beach at cost.
SEBASTIAN: American Airlines estimates it will cost them more than half a billion dollars this year. For European travel company (INAUDIBLE), it's more than $300 million.
GARY C. KELLY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: We have removed the 34 Max aircraft from service.
SEBASTIAN: Southwest, the plane's biggest customer says the cost this year is north of $400 million. Its pilots union is also suing Boeing, claiming $100 million in lost income. And the airline which only flies the 737 including older models now said to be rethinking that exclusive relationship.
A sign that even when the plane returns to the skies, this crisis may leave permanent damage.
Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.
MACCALLUM: Well, just as the 2020 U.S. election season is heating up, Twitter says it will no longer accept political ads. CEO Jack Dorsey made the announcement on Wednesday, tweeting, "We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought."
CHURCH: Social media companies are under intense scrutiny for how they've handled political ads with Facebook recently criticized for allowing false ads.
We have seen them in his tweets and now they're a point of debate in the impeachment inquiry. Why President Trump's favorite punctuation is coming back to haunt him? Back with that in a moment.
CHURCH: Well, who knew three little dots would be such a big deal in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump? Jeanne Moos has more.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is forever saying that Ukrainian phone call summary was --
TRUMP: Word for word, come for comma.
MOOS: Forget commas. Now, people are connecting the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dot, dot, dot.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, THE VIEW, ABC: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I wonder, right? I kept on saying, dot, dot, dot.
BEHAR: -- dot, dot, dot. That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dot, dot, dot.
MOOS: Technically known as an ellipsis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dot, dot, dot, because in legal documents, when you see, dot, dot, dot, that means that there's something left out.
MOOS: There was so much, dot, dot, dotting on "The View" that co-host Meghan McCain got annoyed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever it said Biden, is that dot, dot, dot. And I was wondering --
MEGHAN MCCAIN, CO-HOST, THE VIEW, ABC: We got it. That's -- yes, I got it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they -- and they got it too.
MOOS: But, oh, the irony, the ellipsis comes back to haunt a president who is besotted by dots in his tweets.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, NBC: Dot, dot, dot. He will soon be, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot.
MOOS: President Trump's tweets are so dotty, they read like Morse code.
The president might begin a tweet with a random seven dots. Be shared tweets with as many as 23. Occasionally, he mixes a stray comma in with them or combines his dots with a typo, no smoking gun -- dot, dot, dot.
Colbert once did an obit for presidential dots when tweets expanded to 280 characters.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS: Dot, dot, adding, dot, dot, dot.
MOOS: But announcing the death of Trump's dots was premature.
COLBERT: That dots are back. I missed you, little guys. You're the only part of Trump's tweets that aren't lies.
MOOS: The other day, the president actually tweeted nothing but, dot, dot, dot, dot. Provoking responses like, "Anyone speak, dots?" And "Another coded message to Putin.
Remember the time President Trump stared directly at a solar eclipse, no wonder he seeing dots everywhere. I just want to blame all those ellipses on eclipses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dot, dot, dot.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dot, dot, dot.
KIMMEL: This is not dot, dot, dot, time. It's not, not, not.
MOOS: New York.
CHURCH: A comedians dream, right? OK. So, it's a wrap for the 2019 World Series.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of way, 3-2. There it is! The Washington Nationals, the world champions for the first time in franchise history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The Washington Nationals prevailed over the Houston Astros 6- 2 in Game 7. This was the first championship win for the Nationals. The series was notable for being the first time in major league history, the visiting team won each game. Here's a memorable moment, when dreams came true for Washington fans.
They loved it. And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.