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The Brief with Bianca Nobilo

U.K. Lawmakers Back PM's Plan To Leave EU On January 31; U.S. Diplomat's Wife Charged In Crash That Killed British Teen; Buckingham Palace: Prince Philip Admitted To Hospital; Trump Impeachment: Prominent Evangelical Magazine Calls For Trump's Removal; Whistleblower: Screening Changes "Making Air Travel Less Safe"; Sixth Democratic Debate; Passengers Jolted As "Carnival Glory" Hits "Carnival Legend"; Boeing Space Test Doesn't Go To Plan. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired December 20, 2019 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF, the British Parliament has passed Boris Johnson's Brexit with full bill. So what happens now? And a

new exclusive report which reveals how safety and in airports could be compromised. And the last Democratic debate of the year, who came out on

top and how a stutter started a spat?

Live from London I'm Bianca Nobilo. Welcome to the show. After three years of gridlock, bickering and political infighting among British lawmakers,

it's all come down to this.


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



NOBILO: filmmakers all finally moving forward with the Prime Minister's plan to leave the European Union. The vote puts the country on course to

withdraw from the EU at the end of next month.

The overwhelming support from MPs was all but certainly after Mr. Johnson's Conservative Party won that comfortable majority in last week's election.

The Prime Minister told lawmakers that they're nearing the end of the road for Brexit.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: 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 EU on the 31st of January and at that point Brexit will be done. It will be over.


NOBILO: Nic Robertson has more on the scene today in Parliament and explains what happens next, all leading up to the big day, January 31st.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, Bianca that majority of 124 certainly enough to put us smile on the face of the Prime

Minister before Christmas.

Where do things go now? Well, parliament is in recess. The second week of January, there'll be three more days devoted to discussing the Withdrawal

Agreement Bill. And every expectation now that with - in the Prime Minister's words is stonking majority in parliament, that he will be able

to deliver Brexit on the 31st of January, his deadline that he said he will.

Now the Withdrawal Agreement Bill that's been voted on here is a more muscular version of what was voted on earlier in the year, just a few

months ago. The most muscular part, if you will, is that the Prime Minister says there will be no extension for the time period to negotiate the future

relationship with the European Union. The trade deal with the European Union.

Now he was criticized heavily for that. The Sir Keir Starmer from the from the Labour Party, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, if you will, spoke up very

clearly about that saying that wasn't enough time. And he called your Prime Minister reckless. He said that this was something that was going to be

hugely difficult to pass in that slender amount of time.

But it's very clear, the Prime Minister here is confident that by making a very clear deadline to have the future trade relationship done by the end

of December 2020, he can focus minds, he can get those compromises he wants to be made. But the indications are this will be a less soft Brexit.

The risks, of course, that the British government, that the Prime Minister may have to make compromises that are a little bit unpalatable to reach

that deadline. But that's where things are set right now. The Prime Minister in a very comfortable position going into Christmas, Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks to Nic.

Now, it's been almost a decade since Britain's had a government with a comfortable majority. But as Nic pointed out, Boris Johnson is sitting

pretty now with the majority of 80. What that means is this government can now deliver on the promises of the Queen's speech. They can overhaul

Whitehall, streamlining and shutting down and splitting up departments.

Boris Johnson is no longer beholden to frantic vote counting on the eve of a division on flagship legislation. And - dare I say it, he can get Brexit

done, well, at the end of the beginning, at least.

Plus, the official opposition is now smaller, bruised after an electoral thumping and now occupied with the direction that the party goes in next,

and who's going to replace the leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Parliament closed up shop today, 2019 behind it. And all but one of the weeks have been characterized by political drama over Brexit. Inertia,

because the government couldn't pass bills as a result and instability as the tory party's fractures over Europe cracked even deeper. But not


One Conservative MP told me this evening, great Queen speech, optimistic outlook exciting times ahead.

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

charged with causing the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn by dangerous driving. He was on the motorcycle and it collided with the car that the

British police said was travelling on the wrong side of the road.

Sacoolas later left the country and then claimed diplomatic immunity. Dunn's parents spoke out about the charges.


TIM DUNN, SON KILLED IN CRASH: We set out for this to happen for a charge to bought from the start and today we got what we set out to get. It's a

great day.

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.


NOBILO: Our Phil Black takes a look at the next steps of British authorities as they pursue justice in this case.



PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL FREELANCE REPORTER: Bianca, prosecutor said the U.K. Home Office will initially consider the extradition request,

examine it and decide whether or not to pass it on through U.S. diplomatic channels.

But it's pretty clear, this won't be a quick or easy process. Already. The diplomatic lines are drawn and they're not close. You've got the U.K.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Rob, who says he hopes Anne Sacoolas now realizes the right thing to do is come back to the U.K. and cooperate with

the criminal justice system here.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department says, it's disappointed by the prosecutor's decision to charge her and it doesn't see this as a helpful

development. But for Harry Dunn's parents this is a big deal. In their words, it's a great day. They have been campaigning, lobbying angrily for

Sacoolas to come back to face justice in the U.K. They even made the case directly to U.S. President Trump in the White House.

But Sacoolas and the U.S. administration have always maintained that when her car collided with Harry Dunn's motorbike, she was covered by diplomatic

immunity. Dunn died a short time after that accident. Anne Sacoolas says lawyer says that she is still devastated by what happened, but she will not

be returning voluntarily to risk a possible prison sentence for what they describe as an unintentional accident. Bianca


NOBILO: Our Phil Black there.

Buckingham Palace says that Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth has been admitted to a hospital in London. The statement says that it's a

precaution and that he's under treatment for preexisting condition.

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

Sandringham in Norfolk on Friday as scheduled, and will be spending Christmas there.

U.S. Congress is now on a break until the new year and when lawmakers return it's not clear what will come next in the impeachment of Donald

Trump. What is clear is the President wants to be tried in the Senate immediately where he believes that he'll be vindicated.

Mr. Trump's impeachment, meanwhile, appears to have been the last straw for one prominent evangelical magazine. In an editorial, Christianity Today,

has this to say. "The President attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader, to harass and discredit one of the President's

political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution, more importantly, it is profoundly immoral."

The President lashed out on Twitter, describing the magazine as Far Left, here's how the editor in chief responded.


MARK GALLI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "CHRISTIANITY TODAY": It's factually inaccurate they were Far Left. We're pretty centrist. We rarely comment on

politics, unless we feel it rises to the level of some national or - concern that is really important and that this would be a case. We wrote

editorials about Clinton during his impeachment process. We wrote editorials about Nixon during his. This struck me as rising to that level

and it needed to comment.


NOBILO: With millions of us set to travel for the holidays, new concerns are being raised about the safety of airline travel. A whistleblower

working for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration is warning that changes to the screening process are putting passengers at risk. He spoke

exclusively to CNN, Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More than 40 million U.S. airline passengers are expected to go

through airport security checkpoints this holiday. This TSA security director says you may not be as safe as you think.

JAY BRAINARD, TSA FEDERAL SECURITY, DIRECTOR: What they're doing is injecting danger into the system.

MARSH (voice over): Jay Brainard is the top TSA official in his State and has been with the agency for 17 years. He says TSA is cutting corners on

the screening process to shorten wait times. One example TSA, reduced the sensitivity on all walk through metal detectors at airports across America.

BRAINARD: They're reducing the concentration of metal that it would take to set off that alarm so that you can speed up lines and have fewer pad down.

MARSH: How do you know that's why they did it?

BRAINARD: Because it's memo out that supports it.

MARSH (voice over): This TSA memo shows the order came in 2013 quote, "Changing all walk through metal detector settings in all lanes to the TSA

precheck setting to normalize the passenger experience.

Brainard says the practice continues today and he worries bomb making components could go undetected.

BRAINARD: You could have a 30-minute wait time and they treat it like it's a national emergency. It is such an unhealthy obsession of placing speed

over security.


MARSH (voice over): Brainard says that obsession also led the TSA to disable technology on X ray machines that screen carryon bags in precheck

lanes. This internal memo states as of last month, those X ray machines should be operated without the auto detection algorithm enabled.

BRAINARD: Put simply, when the item comes through, a box will come around and surround the item. It says hey stop and take a look at this. That box

is no longer on the screen. TSA has made changes to the settings which really hamper the ability of the X ray operator to detect the explosives in

carryon baggage.

MARSH: But TSA will say this is prechecked.

BRAINARD: They have been putting millions of passengers into TSA precheck who are precheck. So you do not have an entire population in precheck that

are vetted.


MARSH (voice over): CNN put this to TSA administrator David Pekoske. He said the agency is not prioritizing wait times over security.

PEKOSKE: Now, I won't discuss any of our particular security procedures, because that's really not appropriate for me to do. But rest assured, we do

provide the level of security that we think is appropriate based on the risk of the passenger.

MARSH (voice over): Brainard says the issues he's raised are especially problematic for an Agency within 95% failure rate in detecting dangerous

items at the checkpoint. That's according to a government audit in 2015. Another audit two years later found there were still vulnerabilities.

BRAINARD: When you sit back and you watch these things happen, it is the most frustrating thing you can imagine.

MARSH (voice over): Going public is his last resort. He's filed an official whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. He sent

complaints to DHS, TSA and sent letters to Congress, not just about the metal detectors, but also the X ray machines.

A policy change allowing some passengers with medical devices to do a self patdown and a new policy called blended lanes where precheck and standard

passengers are mixed in one line, something that could confuse screeners

BRAINARD: They now have to mentally switch themselves on and off about what's permitted what's not permitted with every other passenger. You know,

the last time I checked our detection rates were not stellar and it doesn't make any sense to introduce this kind of variable.

MARSH (voice over): Last year this special counsel order DHS to investigate Brainard's complaints writing, "There is a substantial likelihood that the

information provided to OSC discloses gross mismanagement and specific danger to public safety."

BRAINARD: My biggest fear is having something happened that costs American lives and I didn't step up and put a stop to it, or at least try, because

it's going to happen. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when. We are long overdue for another attack.

MARSH (voice over): TSA did take action on one of Brainard's complaints. He says they continued to use an ineffective test to determine if new hires

were colorblind, a disqualifying medical condition even after concerns about the test effectiveness were raised.

BRAINARD: If you had something in a bag and if somebody were colorblind, they wouldn't see the bomb if it were the only thing in the bag.

MARSH (voice over): TSA is now using a new test for new hires. But according to this TSA memo, the Agency will not finish retesting the

existing workforce until the end of next year. Brainard knows despite whistleblower protections, and consistent top ratings on his TSA

performance evaluations, speaking out could cost him his job.

BRAINARD: --and I fully expect that the first discussion that they're going to have is how they can fire me,

MARSH (voice over): But he believes these issues are too urgent to keep quiet.

MARSH: Well, to be clear, no changes have been made to the body scanners that travelers go through. Now CNN reached out to both agencies

investigating Brainard's complaints, but no comment from either. Brainard has secured a whistleblower attorney.

And in response to the complaints raised in our story, the head of TSA told me that whistleblowers, quote, "Provide a very valuable service, and it's

our responsibility to fully investigate those concerns to see if they represent a valid security risk or not." But TSA says they have not

completed their assessment, Bianca


NOBILO: Thanks to Randy Marsh for that report. When we come back, a look at the winners and losers from the latest Democratic debate in just a moment.



NOBILO: Well, much of America's political focus has been on the impeachment of the President, there's still the matter of picking the person who will

run against him next fall. Seven top contenders in the Democratic field were back on the debate stage Thursday.

And a lot of viewers are talking about Senator Amy Klobuchar and her strong performance. She went off to federal moderate Pete Buttigieg, the youngest

candidate on the stage, on the issue of experience.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you can dismiss Committee hearings, I think this experience works and I have not denigrated

your experience as a local official. I have been one. You know, I just think you should respect our experience when you look at how you evaluate

someone who get things done.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was going to let it go, because we got bigger fish to fry here. But, you implied that my--

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I don't think we have bigger fish to fry than picking a President of the United States.


NOBILO: Age and experience came up again, but it was pointed out that three of the leading candidates all over the age of 70. But just watch how

Senator Elizabeth Warren addressed that.


TIM ALBERTA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO MAGAZINE: Senator Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated. I'd like you to

weigh in as well.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.


NOBILO: Another candidate getting strong reviews is frontrunner Joe Biden. He had been criticized for several mediocre debate performances. Biden has

battled stuttering his whole life and made headlines with this moment when he recalled talking to a young child who also stutters.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My wife and I have a call list of somewhere between 20 and 100 people that we call at least every week or

every month to tell them I'm here. I give them my private phone number. They keep in touch with me. A little kid who says I can't talk, what do I



NOBILO: Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders mocked Biden on Twitter. But was quickly called out and apologized, saying that she didn't

know that he had a stutter.

Candidates are now hoping to carry the momentum into January. The next debate will be just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. But we could see

few people on that stage. the DNC released new requirements to qualify, and it will take even better polling results to get there.

Let's continue this Debrief on the 2020 race by bringing in CNN Political Commentator Karen Finney. She was senior spokesman for Hillary Clinton's

campaign in 2016. Great to have you on the program, Karen, thanks for joining us.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great to join you. Great to join you.

NOBILO: So after you watched the debate, what were your first impressions? Who do you think had the strongest performance?

FINNEY: Well, Joe Biden, as you mentioned, had a very strong performance and this was one of the best if not the best that he's had throughout the

debate season and that he was consistent throughout the debate. And he also - he had very solid answers, and he managed to stay a bit out of the fray.

There were moments, as you pointed out, between Amy Klobuchar, clearly came in with the intention of going after Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He's a little

bit ahead of her in the post. She's clearly trying to create some momentum and take some of that away from Mayor Pete.

Although, I don't think either one of them - they had good performances, but I don't think either one of them did anything that would catapult them

magically into the top of the top tier.

And for the others, each one had a pretty decent night. I mean, it was relatively - in the beginning it was rather calm conversation. And then

when they started talking about fundraising, that's when it got a little heated.

NOBILO: And Karen, let's go back to Mayor Pete Buttigieg, because obviously, one of the main criticisms that's been levelled against him from

the start is his age and relative lack of experience. Do you think that enough body blows were sustained in the debate, cause real problems for him

when it comes to voters believing that he does have what it takes to actually be at the top of government?


FINNEY: This is the thing. We are at the point, as you mentioned, we're about to reach the Iowa caucuses in January. We're at the part of the

process where people are really trying to see do I see a country Commander in Chief on the stage.

And so in addition to looking at Mayor Buttigieg as not having a lot of executive experience, just dealing with domestic issues, people are also

trying to imagine, can I see him with the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Do I see him negotiating the budget?

I don't believe at this point he has fully answered that question. There's still a number of questions from his record, frankly, in Indiana. But he

continues to be someone who inspires people and they certainly like what he has to say. That's part of why he continues to raise money and do well.

NOBILO: Do you think the Democratic candidates are running the risk of attacking each other a little too much? I know it's somewhat inevitable at

this point in the political process, because they have to beat the others. But do you think that could be slightly misguided? Perhaps they need to

focus on other aspects of the domestic agenda or foreign policy?

FINNEY: I don't, and I'll tell you why. I mean, these candidates obviously spend a lot of time on the campaign trail, speaking with voters directly

and talking about issues. I will - I am one who believes that it is good to be tested in the primary, because we know having been through it myself and

2016, the general election against President Trump is going to be brutal. He is going to attack, attack, attack.

As we see, you know, he tweets all the time. And he'll be able to do this both from the White House and from his campaign. So I think whoever emerges

as the nominee will actually be stronger for having had to work out some of these attacks and sustain those attacks, frankly, in the primary.

NOBILO: That's a very interesting point. Something else which has been brewing since the debate, there's been a lot of criticism about the lack of

inclusivity, the lack of diversity that we saw on the stage.

Do you think that that's a problem and that the requirements that the candidates have to meet in order to participate in the debates at this

stage and as they go on are holding back people of color and candidates from diverse backgrounds?

FINNEY: I don't and I'll tell you why. I think it's important that we remember that when she dropped out Kamala Harris had actually qualified for

the stage. And I think there's a dynamic that's happened here we've seen very consistently in our own polling at CNN and across other polls.

Voter's number one issue is they want to beat Donald Trump. Yes, they want to be inspired. They want to hear about health care. But they're looking

for who is the person I think can beat Donald Trump.

And so I think more to the conversation should be, why is it that we as Democrats believe that a white man in Joe Biden is the most likely person

to beat Donald Trump? So I think there's a larger conversation to be had.

When I've asked people who have shared those concerns. Did you support Cory Booker? Did you donate to Kamala Harris? They say no. So I think again, if

we're going to raise the issue, then voters and supporters have got to be willing to put it on the line for this candidates.

NOBILO: And just briefly, Karen, other than being able to sort of sustain attacks and know how to back them and handle that, what are the qualities

do you think are going to be paramount when the winning candidate faces off against President Trump?

FINNEY: Two things. Number one, a vision. When we're talking about health care and the economy, one of the things we know is - despite the fact that

people think the economy is good, it's not shared by everyone.

And now I think healing, and that's the place where Joe Biden started his campaign. This country is in deep need of healing as we try to come back

together from this very course last three years.

NOBILO: Karen Finney, thanks so much for joining us on THE BRIEF.

FINNEY: Thank you. My pleasure.

NOBILO: When the show returns, how the new Boeing spaceship didn't quite pass the test.




NOBILO: Some passengers felt quite the jolt as that cruise ship maneuvered into port in Mexico. One person was slightly injured when the Carnival

Glory hit the Carnival Legend as it was trying to dock in high winds and rough seas.

A spokesman for the cruise lines says there's no major damage to either vessel, and both will continue their itineraries as planned.


NOBILO: The Space Race has been going private for years now. This morning, one of the world's biggest companies, Boeing tried to link up its new

spaceship to the International Space Station. It didn't go exactly to plan.


NOBILO: It started off OK, as you can see here, but problems came quickly. The Starliner Spacecraft failed to put itself on the correct course during

the test flight and will not reach its destination.

Boeing and NASA and now working out ways to bring the unmanned ship back. But NASA isn't attached deterred.


NOBILO: It's administrator said, a lot of things did go right. And that is quote, "why we test." It reminds me of that Thomas Edison quote, who said

that "I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that it wouldn't work." 10,000 attempts might be a bit expensive in this scenario, but I'm sure

they'll give it another few go's.

That's THE BRIEF. Have a great weekend everyone. I'm Bianca Nobilo. World Sports is up next.