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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Brexit Deadline Confirmed; Senate Impeachment Timeline Remains Uncertain; American Diplomat Charged in Death of Harry Dunn; Civilians Fleeing Airstrikes In Northwestern Syria; Putin Says Impeachment Based On "Made-Up Reasons"; Candidates Spar Over Donors And Experience; Getting To The Bottom Of Deep Fake Videos; Former Telecom CEO Found Guilty Over Workers' Suicides. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 20, 2019 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:16]

HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Happy Friday. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, January 31st will be the big day, M.P.s back Boris Johnson's plan to leave the E.U. We have all the details.

And most evangelicals in America support Donald Trump, but one major Christian magazine is bucking that trend, calling for the president's

removal from office.

Also, can you tell if this video is real or if it is fake? How to tell the difference so we're not fooled by footage made to look like the genuine

article.

After three years of gridlock, bickering and political infighting, British lawmakers are finally moving forward with the prime minister's plan to

leave the European Union.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right were 358. The nos to the left were 234. So the ayes have it, the ayes have it.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, the vote was taken just a few hours ago. That puts the country on-course to withdraw from the E.U. at the end of the next month.

The overwhelming support from M.P.s was all but certain after Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a very comfortable majority in last week's

election.

The prime minister told lawmakers they are nearing the end of the road for Brexit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: This bill learns the emphatic lesson of the last parliament, unlike members opposite, and

rejects any further delay. It ensures that we depart from the E.U. on the 31st of January, and at that point, Brexit will be done, it will be over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now.

It won't be over. That's just the withdrawal.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That's the withdrawal.

GORANI: Then there's a transition period, then you -- and during that transition period, you have to negotiate a trade deal.

ROBERTSON: And the prime minister's made that transition period a finite period now --

GORANI: Yes.

ROBERTSON: -- because there was a possibility it could be extended, but no part of this withdrawal agreement bill.

And one of the things that makes it more muscular is -- is tying the country into 11 months of negotiations on that future trade relationship,

irresponsible. Reckless is what Keir Starmer of the Labour Party said. So, yes, we're going to hear a lot more of that.

GORANI: Yes. So making this extension beyond December 2020 illegal, what if there's no agreement with the E.U. on trade?

ROBERTSON: Clearly, in the prime minister's mind, that having the deadline focuses everyone's mind and everyone makes their compromises before then.

But he was challenged on that point. What if you're very close to a deal but not quite there, and just a couple more months would secure it? You're

taking that off the table, that's why it was called reckless.

The reality is that there's a potential exists (ph) to end up not getting that deal and not having a deal, and leaving on the worst of terms, which

would be the WTO terms, a so-called hard Brexit.

It -- look, it appears the prime minister's set his mind to make some kind of compromise. And, look, he's got a big majority. We've seen him

already, he's prepared to make compromises that cost him some support along the way.

GORANI: But he's also ruling out basically regulatory alignment with the E.U.

ROBERTSON: He is, and that's very significant, isn't it?

GORANI: It is very significant. Because if you're going to -- if your intention is to strike a trade deal quickly, an easy way to do it would be

to say, more or less, let's just keep the status quo. But he's not even saying that.

ROBERTSON: And the strange thing is, just a few months ago, they were saying, we can reach a quick deal because we are starting from the same

point --

GORANI: Yes.

ROBERTSON: -- of regulatory alignment. They've been using that as a -- as an example of why it will be quick. So no, by saying that there won't be

regulatory alignment, we're certainly moving away from what -- what might have appeared to be a soft Brexit, to a harder Brexit.

GORANI: It's also puzzling because the E.U. is the biggest customer for British goods. I mean, the U.S., on a country-to-country basis, is. But

the E.U. as an economic entity is. So if you're not aligned with its standards, with its regulations, how do you continue to do business with

that economic zone?

ROBERTSON: And how do you continue to maintain the support of some of those northern constituencies that have turned from Labour to Conservative?

Because some of those constituencies in the northeast of the country, for example, or where some of the car manufacturing plants are, and they rely

on the sort of -- that -- that easy --

GORANI: The supply chain. Yes.

ROBERTSON: The supply chain, the sort of never running out of parts (ph) because it's a permanent supply chain. As soon as you get a block at one

point, the border, the channel then -- then that puts the future of those plants in question.

[14:05:00]

GORANI: Yes.

ROBERTSON: So the prime minister's toying with something that could really come back to bite him there.

GORANI: Also one of the biggest exporting industries in this country is the chemicals industry. And this is one industry where you need to be in

line with the markets you sell to. So, again, these are all very puzzling statements from the perspective of, I guess, an economist looking at this

and listening to this.

ROBERTSON: I think so. And also I think if you're a politician looking at this as well, you can see, in today's vote, other issues that we know about

that are going to dog the prime minister this coming year.

No Northern Irish M.P. voted to support the withdrawal agreement bill, and very few Scottish M.P.s voted to support it. And that tells you right here

--

GORANI: Yes.

ROBERTSON: -- what we knew sort of already, that Scotland and Northern Ireland are completely out of alignment with the rest of the country. And

the prime minister has to carry that through, and this is, you know, politically has the numbers. But this is going to become a big

constitutional question for him.

GORANI: Certainly, the country is in terms of the different nations, are not on the same page. Scotland as well, as you know so well. Thank you,

Nic Robertson. Have a great Christmas. I'm your last live report of the year, you just told me.

ROBERTSON: We think so.

GORANI: It is an honor. We think so.

ROBERTSON: My pleasure.

GORANI: You never know.

ROBERTSON: This is news.

GORANI: Thank you.

The U.S. Congress is heading home for the holidays, just as Nic is. And as of right now, it's uncertain when President Trump's Senate trial is

expected to start. It all comes down to a standoff between the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Why is that? Because Pelosi is refusing to hand over the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she knows what the process will look like.

McConnell says Democrats appear to be getting cold feet. As for the president ,he's also expected to leave town in the coming hours but one of

his closest allies says he's mad as hell and wants his trial right away.

Let's bring in CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju with more. Any idea when Pelosi will send these articles of impeachment to the Senate?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what she's saying is that she wants a -- excuse me -- the Senate to detail or lay out what

the process would look like before she moves forward.

And because she is saying, essentially, that she can't go forward with naming the people in the House who will actually prosecute the case before

the Senate, until she knows who the Senate will name -- how the Senate will actually carry out its trial.

So there are several steps that need to actually happen for the articles to take place. So essentially, they would break down like this. The Senate

would have to detail the process. Then the House would have to vote to name those impeachment managers who would prosecute the case before the

U.S. Senate.

And then after the House votes to name those impeachment managers, then the articles would be transmitted over from the U.S. House over to the U.S.

Senate, and that would start the Senate trial. So there are -- there are several moving pieces here.

And one reason why we don't know what the Senate process, a trial, would look like, is because there is a partisan stalemate right now between

Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats want witnesses agreed to up- front, people like Mick Mulvaney, the White House acting chief of staff; people like John Bolton, the former national security advisor.

Those individuals did not come before the House impeachment inquiry because the White House intervened and House Democrats decided not to go to court

to pursue their testimony. They're demanding, now, those individuals and others testify in the Senate trial. '

But the Republicans are saying no. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, says it's not -- the House should have pursued those individuals.

This is not the role of the Senate, to go after people who have not previously testified in the House impeachment inquiry. So that's one

reason why they are in this standoff right now and leaving a big question about when that trial will actually happen.

But, Hala, you're right, Trump wants this trial to happen immediately. But Republicans in the Senate, they're -- they'll be fine if this trial never

happens because they just want to move on -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Let's get some perspective from the Republican side of the aisle. Charlie Dent is a former Republican congressman, he was chairman of the House

Ethics Committee and he joins me now, live.

What do you think it would take to get this to a Senate trial at this point, Charlie Dent?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, let me just say this. I do think that the president's misconduct has risen to the level of

impeachment. Having said that --

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: I think Nancy Pelosi is making a tactical error here. She really does not have leverage over Mitch McConnell in determining what the Senate

process should be in an impeachment trial. I mean, could you imagine if the Senate ever tried to tell the House, you know, how to run itself? That

would be considered a human rights violation.

You know, the same things goes the other way. So I don't think she has any real leverage here. She, at some point, will transmit these articles of

impeachment. And I suspect that the real -- the real leverage is with Senator Schumer, you know --

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: -- who will be able to negotiate with McConnell. They may not reach an agreement. And if they don't then this is going to go to the floor to

determine which witnesses will actually testify, and that will be interesting to see --

[14:10:09]

GORANI: All right --

DENT: -- those votes play out.

GORANI: But why would the Republicans give way on anything? I mean, they want to make this as hard as possible for the Democrats. They certainly

won't want to call witnesses like Mick Mulvaney or John Bolton, so what are the Democrats trying to achieve here?

And you're saying it's an error on their part. Are you saying they should just go ahead, right away, send these articles of impeachment and just

whatever takes shape in the Senate, takes shape?

DENT: Yes. Because I think the speaker has an unsustainable position here. If Mitch McConnell doesn't give her what she wants, what is she

going to do? Never send the articles over?

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: Well, of course she's going to have to send the articles over. She's taken a hostage that she cannot shoot. I hate to use that term, but

she cannot shoot this hostage.

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: So she has to send this over. But I do think that -- that Schumer, Senator Schumer will be able to negotiated with McConnell, and I suspect

they won't reach an agreement on these witnesses. And then the individual senators will vote.

And that will put a lot of pressure on Senate Republicans, you know, those who are in the swing states and are up for election, they will be under

tremendous pressure. I actually think there should be some witnesses, you know, Mulvaney, Bolton, maybe Pompeo and maybe a few others. They should

bring them in.

But the House, I think, in many ways, rushed their process too much. They should have gone after those individuals more aggressively, to get them to

appear, and fought them. I think they should have done that rather than, you know, demanding that the Senate do it. Although the Senate should hear

them.

GORANI: Let me ask you about what this evangelical magazine, "Christianity Today," wrote about President Trump. And President Trump, as you well

know, is very popular with white evangelicals in America. The last poll puts him at 67 percent support with white evangelicals.

TEXT: Christianity Today Editorial Criticizes President: "Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next

election -- that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to

the creator of the Ten Commandments."

"Christianity Today" said that the president should be removed as a matter of loyalty to the creator of the Ten Commandments.

DENT: Well, yes, it's always been a bit of a mystery to many of us, that the evangelical community, particularly the white evangelical community --

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: -- has been so loyal to Donald Trump, you know, given his own, your personal failings. That said, what we've seen with the -- at least with

the white evangelicals community, is that many of them have adjusted or adapted their faith to suit their politics.

Usually it's done the other way around. Usually one adjusts his or her politics to suit his or her faith. That's not --

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: -- what we're seeing here. So this has been a real mystery to most of us. And I think that, as was expressed in that article, that you know,

many -- many evangelicals who are people of color, you know, do not share the same feelings as -- for the president that white evangelicals do.

And I think that the evangelical community has to do some real soul- searching here, given the president's comments about people of color, many of whom in our country, particularly African-Americans, are evangelical.

And --

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: -- and they have to think about the entire evangelical community --

GORANI: But therein -- therein is the explanation, potentially. White evangelicals support the -- is this a race issue for white evangelicals as

well?

DENT: Well, I guess -- I don't want to suggest anybody's a racist here. I'm just saying that white evangelicals --

GORANI: No --

DENT: -- have historically been supportive of Republicans --

GORANI: -- it's not necessarily that they're racist, but -- yes. That this could be one of the reasons, yes.

DENT: Well, and white evangelicals have been traditionally very supportive of the Republican Party, based on policy issues. For example the abortion

issue, right to life and other, I'll say, social issues where the evangelicals have been much -- white -- evangelicals generally have been

very aligned with the Republican Party. And Trump has supported them on a policy level.

But clearly, his -- the president's conduct or misconduct and, you know, look, this is a president who paid off a porn star and then wasn't --

GORANI: Right.

DENT: -- truthful about it. I mean, so you just wonder, you know, if the evangelicals can accept that kind of behavior, you know, they didn't --

they couldn't accept Bill Clinton, you know, and his personal failings, but they can accept Donald Trump's as long as the policy is OK, I guess. That

seems to be where they are.

And so there's been a lot of criticism of the evangelical community for their -- for their malleability with respect to the president.

GORANI: You were a member of Congress until very recently. I interviewed Dan Kildee, who's a representative for Michigan, a Democrat. And he told

me that he regular -- and I'm quoting him -- "I hear regularly, Republicans complain about how this president makes a mockery of the office and puts

them in a terrible position." Publicly, obviously, they're all united and supporting the president.

When you were in Congress, did you hear your Republican colleagues also, in the way that Dan Kildee is describing, complain about this president and

saying that he's unfit or that he makes a mockery of the office?

[14:15:07]

DENT: Oh, only every day. Yes. Of course.

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: I've heard -- yes, absolutely. You know, look, I've made those comments myself. I -- you know, I was more public about it, I never

supported --

GORANI: Yes.

DENT: -- I never voted for Donald Trump, I didn't support him. But, no, I would hear regularly from my colleagues, you know, who were very upset,

unhappy, dismayed and, frankly, resentful of being placed in this horrible predicament every day, when a reporter from CNN --

GORANI: But you wouldn't know that by listening to them on the floor of the House, when --

DENT: Yes.

GORANI: -- the articles of impeachment were being debated. So are they hypocrites?

DENT: I'm not saying all of them, I'm saying some of them, or perhaps many of them, will express their anger. I mean, if they're running for re-

election, their base is largely supportive of the president and -- and they're not crossing their political bases right now. I mean, they're just

not.

I mean, we can -- we can have a great argument, whether or not they should be. I have said to many of them, privately, I've said, look, I think you

should be more concerned about your legacy than the next election. You know, do what you think is right.

Then if enough of us -- at that time, when I was in, I would say if enough of us speak up, we will force the president to change his behavior, just as

they did on the Kurdish issue, when the president betrayed the Kurds, many Republicans spoke up and I think then the president at least tried to

modify his position.

So I think he will react. But if he only has, you know, one-off -- a one- off Republican member pushing back, that's not going to be enough to force the president to alter his behavior.

GORANI: Charlie Dent, thanks so much for joining us on the program. Have a great weekend.

DENT: Great to be with you. Thanks.

GORANI: All right. Still to come tonight, the case that is sparking outrage here in the U.K., new charges have just been announced against the

wife of an American diplomat after a British teenager was killed in a crash. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, has been admitted to a hospital in London. The statement says

it's a precaution, and that he's under treatment for a pre-existing condition.

A source tells CNN the 98-year-old was not taken there in an ambulance, but that he walked in. Queen Elizabeth returned to Sandringham in Norfolk as -

- on Friday as scheduled. She'll be spending Christmas there, as she does every year.

The parents of a British teenager are welcoming the decision to charge the wife of an American diplomat over their son's death. Anne Sacoolas has

been charged with causing death by dangerous driving for her involvement in the crash that killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn. Sacoolas fled the country

and claimed diplomatic immunity. Now, Dunn's parents are speaking out about the charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM DUNN, SON KILLED IN CRASH: We set out for this to happen, for a charge to be brought from the start. And today, we've got what we set out to get.

It's a great day.

[14:20:08]

CHARLOTTE CHARLES, SON KILLED IN CRASH: We feel that we've taken a huge step in the start of achieving the promise to Harry that we made. That in

itself, to us as parents, to make that promise to him, the night that we lost him, that we would seek justice, thinking it was going to be really

easy, knowing the circumstances that night as we did --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: You've got to really, really feel for these parents, Phil Black. What does this mean practically? Will she be extradited?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the process is now under way, according to prosecutors. The extradition request is initially with the U.K. home

office, which then, we are told, decides whether or not to issue it through U.S. diplomatic channels.

It's clear that it's not going to be quick or easy, I guess that's -- that's the key point. And crucially, what we know from Anne Sacoolas

herself, her response to all of this today. We have a statement from her lawyer, in which she talked about how she's still devastated by this.

GORANI: Yes.

BLACK: She says that she's cooperated, she accepts responsibility to a point. But here's a complete quote. She says, "We will continue that

dialogue in an effort to move forward from this terrible tragedy. But Anne will not return voluntarily to the United Kingdom to face a potential jail

sentence for what was a terrible but unintentional accident."

It is a potential jail term, you mentioned dangerous driving causing death. The maximum sentence there is 14 years.

GORANI: Fourteen, yes. So what are the next steps, then? What are the options for the parents and their legal team?

BLACK: Well, they've been very good at keeping pressure on this, keeping this in publicity. We know that they've campaigned very angrily, they

lobbied Donald Trump directly in the White House, you might remember.

But it's clear, as I say, not quick or easy, no guarantees and the diplomatic lines have already been drawn between the U.K. and the U.S. on

this, and they're really not very close. On the one hand, you've got the U.K. foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who says he wants to do everything

possible to get justice for Harry Dunn and he says he hopes that Anne Sacoolas will now realize that the right thing to do is to come back and

cooperate with the criminal justice system.

But there's been a statement from the U.S. State Department, where a spokesman says, "The United States has been clear that, at the time the

accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the U.K., the driver in this case had status that conferred diplomatic immunities."

That's been their argument all along, that she was protected by diplomatic immunity and the U.S. State Department today responded by saying that this

decision to challenge her is not helpful and they're disappointed by it.

GORANI: All right. Phil Black, thanks very much.

And still to come tonight, as smoke and fire spread through parts of Australia, the country's prime minister is facing criticism for taking a

vacation. The details, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is apologizing for going on holiday in Hawaii while parts of his country burned. The fires

have claimed at least two lives in the last week, prompting the backlash against the prime minister. Scott McLean has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While a brand- new state of emergency was being declared in Australia this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in a state of relaxation, on vacation in Hawaii

while a record-breaking heat wave fueled a hundred wildfires, burning back home.

Despite being half an ocean away, the P.M. is still feeling the heat about the unannounced trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, everybody. Where (ph) are you?

MCLEAN (voice-over): That line, made famous by an ad campaign during Morrison's time as Australia tourism boss, is now exactly the question his

critics are asking, even the model in the ad.

Worse for Morrison, a photo of him in Hawaii was spotted online, prompting comparisons on social media to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a trained

volunteer on the fire lines.

[14:25:01]

Morrison's holiday comes during a tough week. On Thursday, two firefighters were killed 100 kilometers outside of Sydney. Geoffrey Keaton

and Anthony (sic) O'Dwyer died when their vehicle hit a tree and rolled off the road during a firefighting operation.

On Friday, the prime minister expressed regret on a Sydney radio show about his ill-timed R&R, a trip he said was planned well in advance.

SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Because there have been such horrendous events that have understandably caused a lot of anxiety, I

deeply regret that.

I don't hold a hose, mate, and I don't sit in a control room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. No.

MORRISON: that's the brave people who do that are doing that job, but I know that Australians would want me back at this time, after (ph) these

fatalities and so on. I'll happily come back and do that.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Morrison promised to arrange a flight home over the weekend. Heavy smoke from the fires has caused flight delays and

cancellations for some travelers, and Sydney has been blanketed in a dense smog.

On Wednesday, the average temperature nationwide hit almost 42 degrees Celsius. New South Wales declared a state of emergency, allowing greater

access to resources though already thousands of firefighters are working to control the fires that have destroyed more than 800 homes so far. Scott

McLean, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Still to come tonight, as the Russian-backed Syrian regime intensified air strikes on Idlib, rescuers continue to work to save the

men, women and children under attack. We have a special report, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Syrian forces and their Russian allies have intensified airstrikes, targeting the last bastion of opposition in northwestern Syria.

In the latest wave of violence against civilians and the ongoing humanitarian crisis, what is called a double-tap bombing is often taking

place, designed to hit rescuers at the scene. The White Helmets managed to pull a nine-year-old girl from the rubble in the aftermath of one

particular bombing.

CNN's Arwa Damon has more.

[14:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Islam (ph), nine years old, trapped under her collapsed home from an

airstrike.

Moments earlier, late, the civil defense volunteer you see in this video could hear her mother's bank cries from deeper under the rubble. But then

there is another warning.

When the smoke and dust clears, Nate (ph) is still by Islam's side, but he says her mother's voice is gone.

It's hard to describe, Liv (ph) tells us the following day, what it was like with the girl in my arms and the strike and then realizing that I

couldn't hear her mother anymore.

He said he tried to distract Islam. He tries to focus her attention on freeing herself. He doesn't have the heart to tell her, her mother is

dead. So are two of her little cousins.

And we're on the job, we sometimes have to have hearts of stone, Liv tells us. But in moments, we melt. We really melt.

The last five days have been especially Mosuls (ph), even by Syria standards with more than 50 civilians killed. Liv describes it as being

the most deliberate intense targeting of the civilian population in Idlib to date.

The rescuers, survivors, and the dead, they're like family, Liv says, bonded by cruelty and courage.

Islam is sealed in his heart. The little girl, who he saved, but whose mother was stolen from her.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, Arwa Damon joins me now live from Istanbul. Is she there? She's there.

Arwa, you know, sometimes, and in the last, I have to say, eight, nine years has become harder and harder for me to watch these videos. In the

beginning, I would watch every single frame.

And now, I sometimes have to look away because it is just too much, and I can't imagine someone on the ground, someone who works every single day to

rescue civilians trapped, the kind of psychological trauma that they have to process. It's going to be a lifelong battle for them even those who

survive.

DAMON: It really is, Hala, I mean, we were talking to Nate about just that. And he has a two-year-old daughter and a five-month-old son, and he

was talking about how every single time he says goodbye to his daughter. He kind of keeps an image with her throughout of her -- throughout the

entire day.

And even when he's, you know, pulling bodies out of the rubble, especially when it's bodies of children, you know, on the one hand, he is super

focused on his job, but on the other hand, in the back of his mind, is constantly the image of his father, and this reality of what their lives

have become. This sheer barbaric existence where no one really knows where to go to stay safe. And that sort of an existence is what has sort have

become normal to a certain degree.

You know, Nate says, look, we're used to it. This is what life is for us right now. But, of course, there's always that sort of a hope that maybe

one day, somehow it's going to end. And when we ask him what his message was for the rest of the world, he said, we don't have anything left to say.

Who else do we have left to beg when governments have turned away from us, when organizations have turned away from us?

He said, the only people I would try to reach out to would be populations if they exist anywhere that still have a shred of humanity to keep, you

know, telling our story and spreading the word about what's happening to us.

Because Syrians, Hala, when you talk to them, are also well aware of the fact that, you know, people are beginning to turn away from the story and

actually have been for quite some because there has been so much of it day in and day out, and that's the big tragedy in all of this.

It hasn't ended for Syria, despite the fact that it's not in the spotlight as it used to be before. But these kinds of bombardments happen on a

fairly regular basis. And now, today, you have the U.N. being completely incapable of passing a resolution that would allow an extension of much

needed humanitarian aid to run and cross border of operations.

That was vetoed by Russia, by China, something that's being called a new low. It's just -- it is mind blowing what has happened to Syria and the

attitude of certain governments towards it and what that population has had to go through time and time again.

GORANI: So now, we're talking about the sort of last bastion here held by regime opponents, Idlib, Northwestern Syria. How far off is the regime

from regaining control of those areas?

DAMON: Well, there have been a couple of times over the last two years or so where we thought that it was the final big push, and that hasn't fully

materialized.

But what we have been seeing, especially over the course of the last two years, is these periods of intense atrocious bombardment that mostly target

either hospitals, or markets or now, according to Nate, a shift towards targeting the civilian population that are forcing populations away from

their cities and towns.

And remember, many of these people were displaced more than once, but kind of crushing the space that they're able to live in, shrinking it and

pushing them up against the border with Turkey.

Millions of people living these horrific conditions, Turkey has shut off its borders, so you have a trapped population that is being crushed on all

sides by this horrific violence with nowhere to go, no one to turn to, and right now, no one really coming to help them.

GORANI: And there's also this campaign online from regime supporters, trolls elsewhere discrediting and trying to delegitimize the rescuers.

We'll talk about that. Sorry, I have to move on, Arwa. But we'll talk about that soon as well. Thanks very much for your report.

A landmark rule in France is sending three corporate executives to jail where there are moral harassment of workers.

Labor leaders says at least 19 workers were driven to suicide during a massive downsizing at France Telecom.

Jim Bittermann tells us how employees were badgered and intimidated.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, what makes this such an exceptional case is that this is the first time that a company

in France, in fact, one of the top 40 companies in France has been taken to court on charges of psychological harassment, and its executives have been

charged in such a way that they actually may end up going to prison.

Basically, they get to the facts of the case, you have to go back to 2006 when a rather bloated state enterprise of France Telecom was being

privatized. And in the process, the new executive team that was coming in so they wanted to downsize the company by 22,000 employees, 20 percent of

the workforce is going to be downsized.

And as a consequence, what about making people move from one part of the country to another, telling some people, they had to -- that were in like

alignment, for example, that they had to go into marketing and just basically doing a lot to force people to leave as much as they could.

One of the executives, the CEO, is quoted saying and it was denied that he said this that people would leave either by the door or by their window

which was a reference to the fact that some had actually committed suicide by throwing themselves out the window.

In any case, after this ruling today, the son of one of the employees who committed suicide had this to say about the verdict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAPHAEL LOUVRADOUX, SON OF FRANCE TELECOM EMPLOYEE WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE (through translator): He said we're satisfied because of what the

president of the court said. She said that the procedures used by the management was forbidden, and that brings an answer to what this trial is

about. Can anyone be allowed to do that kind of thing? Can anyone do that in order to save cash, to push people to commit suicide or into depression?

At least the court has said, no, it's not possible. And if you do that, you'll be convicted.

BITTERMANN: Now, the union say, Hala, that in fact many more people than the 19 who actually were established in the court case committed suicide.

But that has never been proven.

There was also been a number of cases of attempted suicide and some say there are depressions, at least, the union says there are depressions that

are going on even to this day because of what the union say were the brutal tactics used by the company. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Jim.

A major test of a new Boeing spaceship fell short of its target. The Boeing's Starliner had no problems with takeoff, but fired its engine at

the wrong time when it got to space.

AS a result, it's not in the proper orbit to rendezvous with the International Space Station. Officials planned to bring Starliner back to

earth over the weekend, and they are going to be studying what went wrong.

The unmanned Starliner is going through testing to take humans to the space station. So that issue, whatever it is, will have to be looked at very

carefully before they do that.

Still to come, can you tell whether this video is real? We'll dive into the world of deep fake videos, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:00]

GORANI: Let's return now to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, within hours of the full house making that move, Russian president,

Vladimir Putin, came to his defense.

On Thursday, Mr. Putin spoke at his annual news conference in Moscow saying the reasons for impeachment were made up.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After the historic House vote to impeach President Trump, Vladimir Putin showing

his support for U.S.'s embattled president.

At his annual marathon press conference, the Russian leader called the impeachment proceedings phony and ineffective.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (voice-over): It still has to go through the Senate where as far as I know, the Republicans hold the

majority. So it's unlikely they will remove the representative of their party for some made-up reasons.

PLEITGEN: President Trump and Vladimir Putin frequently praise each other, and at his press conference, Putin blasted impeachment.

PUTIN (through translator): One party that lost the elections, the Democratic Party, is now trying to achieve its goals with new ways as it

accused Trump of collude with Russia. But then, it turned out there was no collusion and it can't be the basis for the impeachment. So now, they came

up with some pressure on Ukraine.

PLEITGEN: Putin's words closely mirroring Republicans talking points like this one.

REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Democrats have been searching for a reason to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected.

PLEITGEN: Republicans have often claimed President Trump could not have pressured Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, because the Ukrainian

didn't know military aid to Ukraine was being held.

That's contradicted by this former top Ukrainian official, then deputy foreign minister, Elena Zerkov, who told CNN, she saw a cable from

Ukraine's embassy in Washington saying the aid wasn't coming.

OLENA ZERKAL, FORMER UKRAINIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: It was in the end of July. And it was one of the cables we received usually on the permanent

ground from our embassies. It was mentioned there that without any reasons, the issue is not solved.

PLEITGEN (on-camera): It was just one sentence the issue of the foreign military aid has not been resolved.

ZERKAL: That's right.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Well, the deputy foreign minister says the Ukrainians did not know President Trump had placed a hold on the aid, they

did know there were problems with the release of the funds.

Vladimir Putin did not acknowledge those facts as the Russian president continues to stand firmly behind President Trump during the impeachment

battle.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: In their final debate of the year, the U.S. democratic presidential candidates clashed over big money donors and their big

challenge ahead of taking on Donald Trump.

Age, race, and gender also made some headlines, as the least diverse lineup of contenders, so far, squared off in Los Angeles. Ryan Nobles has more on

some of the fighting words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time, South Bend, Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg, felt the fire from his

democratic opponents.

[14:45:04]

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Billionaires in wine cave should not pick the next president of the United States.

NOBLES: But Buttigieg who polls show was among the leaders of the first caucus state of Iowa, was prepared to fight back.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: According to Forbes magazine, I am the, literally, the only person on this state who's not a

millionaire or a billionaire.

NOBLES: Buttigieg took criticisms for his high dollar closed door fundraisers including one held in the wine cave in northern California, but

the mayor stood his ground.

BUTTIGIEG: So to denounce the same kind of fundraising guidelines that President Obama went by, that Speaker Pelosi goes by, that you yourself

went by until not long ago, in order to build the Democratic Party and build a campaign ready for the fight of our lives, these purity tests

shrink the stakes of the most important election.

NOBLES: Meanwhile, Minnesota Senator, Amy Klobuchar, was looking for a break-out moment, offering of her brand of pragmatic politics as an

alternative for democratic voters.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not come here to listen to this argument.

NOBLES: Giving a standout answer, defending the House's vote to impeach President Trump.

KLOBUCHAR: As we face this trial in the Senate, if the president claims that he is so innocent, then why doesn't he have all the president's men

testify? Richard Nixon had his top people testified.

NOBLES: All of the candidates on stage weighed in on the House's vote to impeach the president.

JOE BIDEN (D, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a constitutional necessity for the House to act as it did.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me remind everyone that I'm the person who started the need to impeach movement over two years

ago.

NOBLES: Businessman, Andrew Yang, arguing Democrats need to start looking at the big picture.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we have to do is we have to stop being obsessed over impeachment and start actually digging in and

solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place.

NOBLES: The debate was the smallest and the least diverse. No African- American or Latino candidates cracked the DNC standards to make the field, but identity politics were still on display.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Sanders, you are the oldest candidate on stage --

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm white as well. Yes.

NOBLES: With several of the candidates were forced to explain how they would reach out to minority groups.

SANDERS: The issue is when power resides in America. And it's not white or black or male or female. We are living in a nation increasingly

becoming an oligarchy. We have a handful of billionaires who spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections and politicians.

NOBLES: Several asked if their age might be disqualified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated. I'd like you to weigh in as well.

WARREN: I'd also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.

NOBLES: Two of the top tier candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, clashed over their vision for healthcare.

BIDEN: Put your hand down for a second, Bernie, OK?

SANDERS: Just waving to you, Joe.

BIDEN: I know. I know.

SANDERS: Saying hello.

BIDEN: I know.

So look, it covers everybody, it's realistic. And most importantly, it lets you choose what you want.

SANDERS: On Joe's plan, essentially, we retain the status quo.

BIDEN: It's not true.

SANDERS: That is exactly true, and -- thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: That was Ryan Nobles with that report.

Live viewers of the democratic presidential debate in China got an unexpected nine minutes of dead air. The censorship started when one of

the moderators post a question about the treatment of Uyghur population.

They were asked if the U.S. should boycott the 2022 Olympics in Beijing due to the detention and alleged abuse of the ethnic minority in China.

So if you were watching in China, the blackout continued after that, because the candidates were asked a range of questions about China

including human rights concerns and the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. And after that section was over, China picked up the feed once again.

And from censoring elections, we now turn to a technology that may actually interfere with elections.

Deep fake videos are created with artificial intelligence to look very realistic, and are a growing danger to political campaigns.

I dug a little bit deeper into this world of deep fakes with UCLA professor, John Villasenor. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone who's saying anything at any point in time.

GORANI (voice-over): This may look like a typical address by former President Barack Obama. But, look again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is a total and incomplete (BLEEP). Now, you see, I would never say these things. At least not in a public

address. But someone else would. Someone like Jordan Peele.

[14:50:00]

GORANI: This is what is called a deep fake video, and they are becoming more and more common. They use artificial intelligence to alter images,

swap faces, or voices to create very realistic footage.

I spoke to UCLA professor, John Villasenor.

It's very hard to detect that it's fake, right? How do you spot a deep fake?

JOHN VILLASENOR, PROFESSOR OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, UCLA: Well, in this example, you can -- if you're careful, you can find some subtle differences

between the words that are actually being, you know, said on the audio and mouth movements. Although, again, you have to be looking fairly carefully.

But, yes, they can be -- they can be fairly convincing, especially for someone who's not on the lookout for them.

GORANI: And with elections coming up in the U.S. among other countries, should we be worried that we'll get fooled by video editors using A.I.?

VILLASENOR: We live in an age where, unfortunately, digital misinformation has become part and parcel of the political environment. And so we can

expect both here in the United States and in other countries that the technology that can be used for these deep fakes will, in some cases, be

used in an attempt to influence elections. It's a real concern.

GORANI: You might have seen this video of U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, during the campaign a few weeks ago, appearing to endorse his

political rival, Jeremy Corbyn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friends, I wish to rise above this divide and endorse my worthy opponent, the right honorable Jeremy Corbyn should be

prime minister of our United Kingdom.

GORANI: But the technology can be incredibly sophisticated. Watch Bill Hader morphing into Tom Cruise during an interview.

BILL HADER, AMERICAN ACTOR: I'm happy to be here again. And then Tom Cruise walks in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

HADER: And even those guys were like, whoa, and he's super stoked to be there, you know. It was like, yes, boom, you know, like --

GORANI: So, are we doomed to a future of not trusting any videos we see?

VILLASENOR: I don't know if I'll use the word doom to a future, but I think we do need to sort of recalibrate our expectations. And we now need

to unlearn the habit that we have and assuming that's just because we see something on video, it necessarily happened as it's portrayed in the

videos.

GORANI: So it will be up to us as the viewer to spot the fakes. And sometimes it just takes common sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No hell below us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Let's turn now to one final story on impeachment. U.S. President Donald Trump is only the third president in America's history to be

impeached by the House of Representatives. But it's not the double-edged sword that many assumed.

CNN correspondent, Martin Savidge, talked to Republican voters in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania who say impeachment does not sway

their support for Mr. Trump at all. In fact, they think it just might help them get reelected.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Blair County, Pennsylvania, the impeachment of Donald Trump isn't hurting the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I love him.

SAVIDGE: Supporters say it's helping him.

BONNIE PFEFFER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think what they're doing is completely wrong. And I will vote for him in the coming election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could help him get reelected, actually.

SAVIDGE: Voters here are predominantly white, working class, strong in their conservative beliefs.

[14:55:00]

SAVIDGE (on camera): What do you think this will do for Democrats?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think just put a nail in their coffin.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Trump won more than 70 percent of the vote in this blue-collar county about two hours east of Pittsburgh, significantly

outperforming Mitt Romney in 2012.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To make America great again.

SAVIDGE: But the Republican county chair says, had I asked him a year ago if Trump could repeat his success in 2020, he would have said unlikely.

Now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he'll turn out that percent and more.

SAVIDGE (on camera): He'll do as good as that, maybe even better?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe even better.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): How's that possible? Two reasons. Trump voters we talked to here like the economy and loathe impeachment. They credit Trump

with the former and blame Democrats for the latter.

SAVIDGE (on camera): And how would you say the economy here is in Altoona?

PHILIP DEVORRIS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BLAIR COMPANIES: It's good. It's not people celebrating boom days, but it feels like the kind of long- term

steady growth.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): At Blair Image Elements, they make signs all of us see. But what critics see as clear evidence of presidential abuse of

power, CEO, Philip Devorris, sees as just the same old polarized Washington politics that moved him to vote for Trump in the first place.

DEVORRIS: If it did anything, it would make me want to support him more.

SAVIDGE: It's pretty much the same story down on the farm.

PHIL KULP, KULP FAMILY DAIRY: This location, there's about 1,500 cows being milked.

SAVIDGE: Milk for the Kulp Family Dairy goes into Hershey chocolate and Land O'Lakes butter. Kulp's business is improving, but his attitude toward

impeachment is not. He doesn't follow it much.

KULP: Now, I work too many hours to pay close attention.

SAVIDGE: The way Kulp sees it, voters should elect more like Trump to Congress.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Is the impeachment process, in any way, going to change your outlook or support of this president in 2020?

KULP: No. It just makes me, I guess, more convinced that we need more outsiders in Washington.

SAVIDGE: Not all the Republicans I spoke to here said they support the president. Some object to him, they say, because of his personal flaws.

And that they'll likely do in 2020 what they did in 2016, which is simply not vote.

Because, unlike other Trump strongholds where I've asked, if there any Democrats they might consider, everyone here was unanimous, no.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Altoona, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Well, thanks for watching tonight. If it's your weekend, have a great one, I'm Hala Gorani, "Quest Means Business" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END