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U.S. Will No Longer Consider Israeli Settlements In West Bank Illegal; Violence Escalates In Hong Kong; Did President Trump Lie In Written Testimony? Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 18, 2019 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight, on THE BRIEF. In a major policy shift, the U.S. will no longer consider Israeli settlements in the

West Bank illegal. Then violence escalates in Hong Kong as a besieged university turns into a battleground. And the U.S. House of Representatives

investigates if President Trump lied in written testimony. We'll speak to a Democratic congresswoman live.

Live from London, I am Bianca Nobilo. Welcome to the show.

Decades of U.S. policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been swept away in an instant. We begin with a major reversal by the Trump

administration. The Palestinians are slamming as an attempt to replace international law with "the law of the jungle."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States no longer considers West Bank settlements illegal. That puts the U.S. at odds with

nearly every country on earth. Until now, U.S. policy was based on a 1978 legal opinion issued by the State Department that found settlements

violated international law. But Pompeo says that policy had a fundamental flaw.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: International law hasn't worked, it hasn't advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is, there will never be

a judicial resolution to the conflict and arguments about who is right and wrong, as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a

complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.


NOBILO: The decision could give a boost to Israel's Prime Minister. He's fighting for his political survival. Benjamin Netanyahu says the U.S.

decision "writes a historical wrong." Let's bring in Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem. Oren, do you think this is likely to inflame tensions in the


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, there is always the risk here especially when there is a big announcement like this that upsets or

reverses decades of U.S. foreign policy and frankly flies in the face of what is international law, and international policy that there will be

protests and in fact the U.S. has put out a warning for essentially a security threat for U.S. travelers to the region because of this


But in terms of is there likely going to be major protests? Probably not. Isn't that much of a surprise? No, even though it certainly is a major

announcement because this is the direction U.S. foreign policy has been moving in for months, if not years. The U.S. stopped referring to the

occupied West Bank as occupied, one of the leaders of the Trump administrations' peace team Jason Greenblatt said, he didn't want to call

them settlements. He just wanted to call them cities and towns.

So, this is an extension of that with Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo saying that they've reversed policy and that the U.S. no longer considers

them illegal or illegitimate under international law. Of course, this was an immediate celebration, but Israel's Right-wing including Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu who gets a boost from this Bianca

NOBILO: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thank you. We're following a tense standoff in Hong Kong. Police are guarding the university campus where

protesters have barricaded themselves for the past week. It's a deadlock that exploded into violence just a few hours ago. Riot police fired tear

gas and rubber bullets, masked demonstrators used their own weapons, bricks, bows and arrows and petrol bombs.

A photographer shared this photo of an apparent explosive device. Some protesters have even cooked up a form of homemade napalm. One pro-democracy

legislator says that even though these measures of violence seem shocking, they are in their view warranted.


TED HUI, HONG KONG LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MEMBER: I must admit that the protest has some level of force. Some homemade weapon, but I think it's

only natural because I will not blame them, because it's the police who initiated the fight and it's the police who escalate that the situation in

the first place. So, I cannot blame the student body. It's only a natural response.


NOBILO: Hong Kong's Red Cross was allowed to treat some 50 injured people inside the university. They say all of them were teenagers or young adults

and six were then taken to hospital. As the siege wore on, frightened protesters tried to escape using ropes to climb down onto the street.

Authorities caught and arrested dozens of people. Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam wrote a Facebook post, which is very rare, accusing protesters of

committing violence against police and urging them to surrender.

Paula Hancocks is in Hong Kong. Paula is there an end in sight for this standoff at the university, any potential to deescalate here. Both sides

seem to be digging their heels in rhetorically speaking.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca at this point that doesn't appear to be any negotiation going on whatsoever. So, it appears to be an

effective siege by the police of these protesters still inside.

The Polytechnic University, you know, she said that there was an escape of some of these protesters late last night, so late Monday night local time.

It was quite a dramatic escape of dozens of protesters repelling down a rope from one of the bridges within the campus or just outside the campus.

And they managed to escape on waiting bikes that were down below. There had been some volunteers that turned up with motorbikes. They jumped on the

back and then they managed to escape.

Now, we don't know how many of them were then rounded up by police and then arrested. But we do know that there were a number of arrests. And then

Monday morning, we ourselves saw an escape just behind us here as well. Dozens managed to run from the campus and tried to disperse. But the police

then widened the cordon to try and arrest people.

So, this is continuing to go on. And at the same time as this is going on, we are seeing an increased number of protesters coming out onto the streets

in the surrounding areas. We were just a couple of blocks away from here on Monday evening. And for hours, there was a cat and mouse game of protesters

pushing forward, throwing petrol bombs at police, police pushing the protesters back with tear gas and rubber bullets. And that lasted a long

time. The protesters saying, they were trying to draw the police away from the campus. Bianca.

NOBILO: Paula Hancocks in Hong Kong. Thanks very much. It doesn't seem like there's any signs that things are deescalating there.

In Iran, nationwide protests over an increased fuel hike are gripping the country. And now it's gone almost entirely offline. Demonstrators took to

the streets for a fifth day with rioters setting government buildings and banks on fire. Now, leaders are warning of an impending crackdown. CNN's

Phil Black reports.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The few videos now emerging from Iran show brief chaotic moments. Security forces firing weapons.

Banks and other buildings severely damaged by fire. Crowds of people, some running in fear. Others together determined and chanting against the

Iranian government.

In this video, people linger in the eerie, smoky aftermath of violence in the city of Shiraz. The world's view of events in Iran has been narrowed by

an almost total Internet blackout. But these images, which have surfaced on social media, appear to show a sudden, dramatic outpouring of anger across

the country by people fed up with tough economic conditions and what they see as corrupt leadership.

American sanctions designed to change Iran's behavior in the region are already biting hard. Now, the government wants to increase the price of

petrol by at least half with steeper hikes for those who exceed strict rationing. The Iranian government says the price increase is necessary to

help Iran's poorest families. And it blames the United States for encouraging riots and sabotage.

Phil Black, CNN London.


NOBILO: Across the border in Iraq, a warning that ISIS may be down, but definitely not out. Iraq's Military Intelligence Chief gave an exclusive

interview to CNN Sam Kiley, and he said some surviving ISIS leaders have bribed their way from Syria to Turkey.

Intelligence Chief says, they're not only creating new terrorist cells, but they're also plotting major jail breaks to free their followers who are

behind bars.


LT. GEN. SAAD AL-ALLAQ, HEAD OF IRAQI MILITARY INTELLIGENCE: We have concluded that the real intention of ISIS is to begin a mission, they are

calling break down defenses, to storm jails inside Iraq and Syria to free terrorists.

SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what do you think should be done about that?

AL-ALLAQ: There should be a large international effort to deal with this, because these criminals could escape camps and go back to their countries.

They pose a great danger to countries in Europe, Asia and North Africa.


NOBILO: The general also says if ISIS regains control over its supporters, the result would be "a catastrophe."

Britain's Prince Andrew is facing increasing fire for what many are calling a disastrous interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. At least

one company that supports the Prince's charitable efforts says, it's pulling its sponsorship, and another company says, it's reviewing its

continued connection with the Prince. Interview is the first time the Queen's second son has spoken about Epstein.


At one point, the Prince tried to defend his decision to stay at the home of the convicted sex offender by saying, it was the honorable thing to do.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to work this out, because you said you went to break up the relationship and yet you stayed at that New York mansion

several days. I'm wondering how long--

PRINCE ANDREW: But I was doing a number of other things while I was there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you were staying at the house of a convicted sex offender.

ANDREW: It was a convenient place to stay. I mean, I've gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, it was a benefit of all

the hindsight that one could have. It was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time, I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do. And I

admit fully that my judgment was probably colored by my tendency to be too honorable. But that's just the way it is.


NOBILO: Reaction from Britain have been nearly unanimous. They said, the Prince seemed unbelievable and unsympathetic to Epstein's alleged victims.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was embarrassing. I thought that he expressed no remorse for the victims. I thought his answers were comically

unbelievable. He somehow remembers that he's at a pizza express. He doesn't sweat. I thought that it was a bad idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe he didn't even, like, apologize or did anything remotely to just say sorry or it was just all about him. So that's

all I can say about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't look good on the establishment, really does it? I mean, they try to uphold their sense of legality. And I think he has let

them down in a way.


NOBILO: A lawyer who represent some of Epstein's alleged victims says the Prince should come forward and talk about what he knows about Epstein's



GLORIA ALLRED, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ATTORNEY: It's time for him to step up, and I might add, if he is asked to testify in any civil case as well, where his

information may be relevant to the civil cases that these underage minors are bringing. They're adults now, but they were underage when they were

sexually victimized by Mr. EPSTEIN. Then he should also take the oath and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him God

in those civil cases as well and not make victims jump through legal hoops.


NOBILO: And there's yet another new controversy surrounding Prince Andrew this evening. CNN's Hadas Gold explains.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To make matters worse, the Evening Standard reports that a former Downing Street aide, Rohan Silva has accused the

Prince of once using a racial slur in a 2012 conversation with him. Real source, however, has told CNN that the claims are strenuously denied and at

that point was made clear in a legal letter to the Evening Standard paper.

The bad news for the Prince is good news for the BBC, which was praised for how their anchor, Emily Maitlis conducted the interview and brought in 1.7

million viewers and even more online, a record for the BBC for a Saturday evening program. Bianca.

NOBILO: Hadas Gold. Still to come on THE BRIEF, a big development in the U.S. impeachment inquiry just hours before the second round of public

hearings begin. We'll talk about the investigation into President Donald Trump for the Democratic lawmaker right after a short break.



NOBILO: It already promised to be a very dramatic week on Capitol Hill with the second round of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry kicking off

tomorrow. But Democrats have just added a new witness to the lineup.

Diplomat David Holmes will testify Thursday. He gave a stunning deposition behind closed-doors last week, saying he overheard a phone call between

President Donald Trump and the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland about Ukraine investigations.

Sondland is one of eight witnesses already on the schedule. As you can imagine, he'll face even more scrutiny given these latest revelations. The

White House is still blocking other key witnesses from testifying, but now President Trump suggests that he himself may be willing to talk.

He tweeted that he likes the idea of testifying and says that he will strongly consider it in order to get Congress focused again. Well, we've

heard something similar before. Remember when Mr. Trump said that he was willing to talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller? He never did. And he

submitted written answers instead. And now and yet another major development when the House is investigating whether or not Mr. Trump may

have lied to Mueller in those answers. Here's CNN's Jessica Schneider.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It really does point to the potentially broadening scope of this impeachment inquiry, so the general

counsel for the House of Representatives went before the court and they are arguing to get even more information from the Mueller investigation.

They want specifically the information that was given to the grand jury. But in making this argument to the judge, the House General Counsel really

making a significant statement here, saying that the House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Trump lied to

Special Counsel Robert Mueller when they told Robert Mueller and written answers that were submitted. I think just about a year ago about the extent

of the President's knowledge about WikiLeaks.

NOBILO: Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell joins me now for the political debrief. She's on the House Judiciary Committee, the

committee that actually drafts the articles of impeachment. Congresswoman, it's wonderful to have you on the program. Thank you very much for joining



NOBILO: If I could begin by asking you with the public opinion polls that we're seeing split on the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Do you

feel that so far during the impeachment inquiry there has been enough evidence to move the dial on that? Do you think that public opinion is

likely to shift?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I think that what we saw last week was very damning evidence for the President. I think that you will continue to hear from

fact witnesses this week, and which is why it's so important for us to conduct these investigations. I was in my district last this past weekend,

and I can tell you that more and more people are starting to pay attention. And they do believe that it is wrong for this President to have asked a

foreign government to help his political campaign and to use extortion as a method to put pressure on this government.

So, I do see that the public opinion is shifting. They're paying much more attention. And at the end of the day, in the United States, no one is above

the law. It's very important for us to hear the truth from all the witnesses, especially this week. We're going to be hearing from Ambassador

Sondland, who is one of the most important fact witnesses that we have coming in front of the House Intelligence Committee. He has firsthand

knowledge of the conversations that he's had with the President and also with the President of Ukraine.

NOBILO: You mention, of course, that nobody is above the law. And with that in mind, do you feel like your Republican colleagues, when faced with some

of the difficult decisions coming up, are being sufficiently open minded because after all, you will need their support at some point if you proceed

with this impeachment?

And they seem at the moment like they're showing very few cracks in their defense of the President.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Yes. You know, it's very troubling to see my Republican colleagues continue to protect this President when they have the

information right in front of them. And we have seen documentary evidence really verifying the information that we heard from the whistleblower. And

this is not only against the constitution, but it's also against the law.


So, I am not going to lose hope. I do hope that my Republican colleagues put the country before their party and that they understand that this has

now become the party of President Trump. It's no longer a Republican Party. I hear that from Republican constituents that they do feel abandoned by the

Republican Party at this point.

NOBILO: And now, of course, related to what you were just saying, the specter of the election in 2020 hangs over everything and all the political

actions that are taking place. Do you feel as a Democrat yourself that the winning candidate is in the Democrats that have already put themselves

forward to run for the presidency?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, I think that we have a slew of very qualified Democratic presidential candidates at this moment, but it's so early,

Bianca, now that I've been living this political life for quite some time, I can tell you that one day in politics can change everything. So, we'll


And what I do see is a lot of enthusiasm. We saw that in the elections that we saw in the state of Virginia. We also saw that in Kentucky and we saw it

in Louisiana. There is a lot of enthusiasm by the Democrats to come out and support the party's candidate. So hopefully we'll get the right nominee.

And I look forward to seeing who that's going to be.

NOBILO: And a name at the moment, which is becoming even more popular, especially internationally is Pete Buttigieg because he was a relative

unknown certainly on the international scene before this. And he does seem to be doing incredibly well, particularly when you look at polling in swing

states. What is it about him that you think is starting to garner more support and capture the imagination of Democratic voters?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I'm not quite sure, because what I can tell you that in Florida, we have support for various candidates for Vice President Joe

Biden, for Pete Buttigieg, for Senator Kamala Harris and also, Senator Amy Klobuchar. So, there is split support in the state of Florida.

I do think that what is attractive about Pete Buttigieg is that he's young. He doesn't have a huge record of government in D.C. And I think that that's

a breath of fresh air for many. But I do see a lot of other candidates that have a lot of experience. And I think at one point that I want to make is

that I think it's incredibly important for us, whoever we elect to lead us in 2020 needs to start rebuilding, especially in our foreign affairs.

And I do hope that we have a Democratic president that's going to start rebuilding trust. We've lost leadership. This President has been very

erratic in our foreign policy. And I hope that we get someone that has a lot of experience in foreign policy.

NOBILO: And Congresswoman, on that subject. Were you concerned by anything you heard from the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo today outlining the

changes in U.S. foreign policy?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, that's exactly what I was referring to when I answered that question previously, that what we see from this President is

a change in longstanding foreign policy that really brings stability and peace to different regions, including in the Middle East. I haven't seen

the details of what the President wants to change in that policy, but I do not think that it is right to tweet a change in policy, especially as it

relates to foreign policy.

And I do hope that he has consulted several officials that understand the years of diplomatic efforts that we have been conducting in the region. So,

you know, the changes in policy by tweet really doesn't help anyone.

NOBILO: Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, thank you very much for joining us and being on the program.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Thank you very much.

NOBILO: And a programming reminder to all of you, CNN will have special coverage of the public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill, Tuesday. That

begins at 8 AM Eastern, 1 PM GMT. Now, when THE BRIEF returns, how week of catastrophic flooding has damaged homes, buildings and centuries of




NOBILO: Venice has always had a complicated relationship with the sea. It depended on it for trade, which turned it into one of the wealthiest places

on the planet. But it's always been at the mercy of Mother Nature. And right now, Venice is suffering badly.

85 percent of the city has been affected after catastrophic floods in the last week. Not only has it destroyed homes and businesses, but many of the

world's cultural and historical sites are at risk. Like the Doge's Palace in St. Mark's Basilica. The city's mayor said that the basilica is

suffering grave damage. One of the issues, the saltwater from the sea is crumbling the centuries old bricks. Here's what one Venetian told CNN Scott



SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Romina Ragini (ph) showed us the brick wall of her home, it's turning to chalk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The salt breaks all day bricks. Because they are completely melted.


NOBILO: Venice has spent more than $6 billion on a flood barrier system. It began in 2003, but it's still not finished. But it's that peculiar

incongruity of Venice, which has made it the source of inspiration for centuries of writers and artists defined and destroyed by the water. A city

suspended between beauty and decay. That's THE BRIEF. I am Bianca Nobilo. And "WORLD SPORT" is next.