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Former British Spy Defends Controversial Reports Claims; China's Third Quarter GDP Growth Slows to 4.9 Percent; Jury Selection to Begin in Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial; Parliament to Pay Tribute to Sir David Amess; Braves Stun Dodgers with Another Walk-Off Win; Russia is Using Putin's Vacation Spots to Boost Tourism. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 18, 2021 - 04:30   ET




ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Isa Soares. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

Authorities in Haiti say a powerful gang called "400 Mawozo" is behind the kidnapping of 17 missionaries. 16 Americans and one Canadian were abducted on Saturday. The FBI and U.S. State Department are working to get the missionaries released.

And House Committee members are expected to determine the role the White House played in the insurrection. This week they will vote on contempt charges of former Trump aide Steve Bannon.

Now the vote comes as a former British intelligence officer, who was controversial report is a factor in the investigation of the Russian interference in 2016 U.S. election, is standing by the report's claims. Christian Steele is giving his first on camera interview since the Steele Dossier was revealed four years ago. In an ABC news documentary Steele says he's speaking out now because of problems that were identified in 2016 are arguably getting worse. One of the reports claims that was never proven was that Russia has a video of Donald Trump with prostitutes in a Russian hotel. Take a listen.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Today, do you still believe that tape exists?

CHRISTIAN STEELE, FORMER BRITISH SPY: I think it probably does. But I wouldn't put 100 percent certainty on it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you explain if that tape does indeed exist hasn't been released.

STEELE: It hasn't needed to be released.


STEELE: Because I think the Russians felt they got pretty good value out of Donald Trump when he was president of the United States.


SOARES: Now, retired U.S. army officer Alexander Vindman was a key witness in Donald Trump's first impeachment trial. The Lieutenant Colonel testifying about Trump's campaign to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Vindman was asked Sunday if this House Select Committee is the final chance to hold Trump accountable. And this is what he said.


LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN (RET.) FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: If Trump and his cronies are not held accountable, this becomes a rehearsal for a future insurrection. We need accountability to deal with the crimes, the criminal activity from the previous administration, to be able to expose the big lie, of stolen elections, to expose the president's wrong doing, to expose the corruption of his proxies, and if we do that, we could start chipping away at the big lie, and we could start bringing this country back together, and with that, move ahead. Without accountability, we can't do that.


SOARES: Well, Col. Vindman also told CNN's Jim Acosta he would advise lawmakers to subpoena Trump saying the former president isn't above the law.


Now, the Taiwan Strait remains a flash point between the U.S. and China, and this time, Canada is getting involved. Beijing is furious after reports the U.S. and Canada each sent a warship into the strait last week. The People's Liberation Army says the move threatens peace as well as security. This latest round of gunboat diplomacy comes after China's own show of force of course. Beijing has flown dozens of warplanes near Taiwan in recent weeks.

Meantime, Asia markets have been shaky after officials revealed China's economy grew just 4.9 percent in the third quarter. The weakest showing since this time last year. And this is the reaction really from the stock markets. China has endured a sea of problems this year from the energy crisis to the supply chain and you can see why the markets are reacting. The Shanghai composite down 10 percent. And similar with the Nikkei and the Seoul Kospi and the real standout is Hong Kong Hang Seng.

Let's get more on this, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joins me now from Hong Kong with the latest. And Kristi, stock markets clearly somewhat disappointed with the GDP figures but perhaps expected given the challenges the country has faced post-pandemic here.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was expected. The GDP report that came out today, which is a clear signal that China's economy is slowing down. Earlier today, China announced that in the third quarter, its economy grew 4.9 percent, compared to the same period a year ago, but that was a sharp slowdown from the 7.9 percent GDP growth it posted in the previous quarter.

But China is facing quite an array of economic challenges. It has weak consumer spending, due to flare-ups of the Delta variant across the country. You also have the ongoing energy crisis which is worsening. This is caused by the record high price of coal that has led to widespread power outages across China. It's also forced China to ration electricity in 20 provinces. It's also forced some factories to postpone or suspend production, and that causes a drop in industrial production.

And on top of all of that, you also have the ongoing Evergrande debt crisis. This is of course the Hong Kong listed company, the most heavily indebted property developer in China with over $300 billion in debts. This is a story that's been on and on and really weighing down on the global markets. But even before the GDP report today came out economists and analysts across the region had already been providing these downward revision for their forecast for economic growth, including Aidan Yao of AXA. Take a listen to this.


AIDAN YAO, ECONOMIST, AXA INVESTMENT MANAGERS: I think the data suggests that are multiple problems are facing the Chinese economy at the moment, some of which are temporary, some of them could be more long-lasting. And I think the key long-term challenge is the housing market crackdown.


STOUT: And that was brought up earlier today by the spokesperson of China's National Bureau of Statistics. He acknowledged these challenges that China's economy is facing but also insisted that China's property market will maintain steady growth -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and the consent from the analysts I've spoken to is that there could be more Evergrande's and that could be a concern in terms of the housing market. But Kristi, what is the Chinese government saying about these GDP numbers? How are they interpreting? What's the message to the public here?

STOUT: Well, this is interesting, because you know, this is the question that's being raised, how will the Chinese government respond? Will it somehow revise its policy in the fact of the downturn? And you heard from Aidan Yao, who said the greatest long-term challenge to China's economy is of course the property sector, and the crackdown on the property sector, is it likely there will be some sort of revision in policy with regards to that? Analysts and economists that we've been talking to say no. In fact, that Beijing, Chinese officials, they say right now is the time to make painful but necessary adjustments for the economy. And even by doing so, it looks like China will be on track to achieve its target of just over 6 percent GDP growth for the year -- Isa.

SOARES: Kristie Lu Stout for us there in Hong Kong. Thanks very much, Kristie. Good to see you.

STOUT: You got it.

SOARES: I want to have a quick look -- quick check really of the global stock markets. Here in Europe, you can see a mixed morning right across the board with Zurich, the only one actually in the green. But just about as you can see there, if we show you global markets gearing up for the U.S. markets as well gearing up for a strong start earning season in the United States, the green errors for now. Futures -- all three trending up at the moment with just of course a few moments until markets open. We'll stay on top of that for you.

And still to come right here on CNN, renewed security concerns for British lawmakers after Friday's terror attack took the life of a member of Parliament. We'll have much more on that story just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.



SOARES: Now, in the coming hours, jury selection set to begin in the trial of three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. The 25-year-old unarmed black man was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, in February of last year when two white men in a pick-up truck chased him down and shot him. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis with several charges including felony murder and aggravated assault. A third man who recorded the incident is also charged. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Dozens gathered in Brunswick, Saturday, to call for justice, as well as change. There has been an important progress since Arbery's death. The state of Georgia has overhauled the citizen's arrest law. And for the first time Georgia now has a law against hate crimes. Arbery's family wants to see justice served. Take a listen.


THEA BROOKS, AHMAUD ARBERY'S AUNT: Without this, none of this would be possible, because it takes us to stand together, because we're greater together. We are greater together. I want you all to say, we are greater together. So much greater together.

WANDA COOPER JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: It has been really a long hard road but I'm thankful and I will be there, every day his name is called in court, I will be there.


SOARES: Of course, we'll continue to follow this story and bring you the very latest developments.

Now, here in the U.K., members of Parliament have paid tribute to British MP David Amess in the House of Commons in the coming hours. They're also expected to discuss what can be done to prevent another tragedy like his murder from happening again. Sir David was fatally stabbed while meeting with his constituents on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, England. Police are treating the case as a terrorist incident. The suspect was arrested at the scene. The government source says he's a 25-year-old British national of Somali heritage named Ali Harbi Ali.

Let's bring in CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He joins me now here in London. And Fred, it is of course a somber as well as a reflective day in Westchester.


Talk us through what we can expect today and critically where we are on the investigation front -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, on the investigation front, the authorities here are saying they believe that Ali Harbi Ali acted alone and so that therefore there is no real threat to the public anymore. But he was arrested under the U.K. Terrorism Act which means that the authorities can now keep him in custody until at least Friday to question him and then obviously decide whether or not he is going to be charged. That investigation is certainly moving forward.

But, Isa, you're absolutely right. On the one hand it is a somber day, where today in the House of Commons, tribute will be paid to Sir David Amess. There is going to be a procession also to Westminster Abbey, as well as a church service there.

But there is also a big debate about the safety of politicians, the safety of members and Parliament especially when they're in their constituencies doing those talks with the public, which of course are called surgeries here in this country. And I saw that the British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, he was on several British media this morning. And he said, look, maybe were going to have to find a way forward to see how we can conduct these things in the future to make them more safe. And the big question then is going to be, is there going to be less interaction with the public? Is there going to be a higher amount of security perhaps at some of these events?

And one of the things that the Speaker of the House of Commons said over the weekend, he said look, he doesn't want there to be a knee jerk reactions in all of this. He doesn't want to have too fast conclusions. And essentially what most of the politicians that I'm seeing here in British media are saying, is they believe a lot of this is going to be on a case-by-case basis.

Obviously, all of this people are elected officials. They need to interact with the public. They need to hear what their constituencies problems are. What they want to say to them, but at the same time obviously they also need to be kept safe as well. And there could be solutions where there might be additional security. There could be solutions where maybe there is a little less interaction with the public. But at the same time, of course, you have to keep the democratic process in this country upright and going.

And I think that's something that you're hearing really from all sides of politics here in this country. Is that at the same time, as they need that security, they obviously don't want things to change too much. At the same time, of course, it is a pretty pressing issue here in this country, because we have had these two murders of British members of Parliament, just in the span of five years -- Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and these MPs, they really value the face-to-face, don't they --?


SOARES: With their constituents, that is so important, by getting that balance and making sure they are safe. And interesting, we get to know, Fred, whether MPs will want that security in place, and whether they feel they actually might get in the way, Frederik Pleitgen for us in London there. Thanks very much, Fred. We'll have much more after a very short break. Do stay right here.



SOARES: Have a look at this. An historic first for a Chinese astronaut who's part of the three-member crew orbiting earth for the next six months. 41-year-old Wang Yaping is now the first woman on board the nation's space station, and soon she will be the first Chinese woman to conduct a spacewalk.

Now, the Atlanta Braves are now two wins away from going back to the World Series for the first time since 1999. And the Jacksonville Jaguars have snapped a long losing streak right here in London. Patrick Snell wraps up Sunday's action in this minute in sports -- Patrick.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well, thanks, Isa. We start With Major League Baseball post-season, right here in Atlanta the Braves have been doing battle with reigning World Series champions the L.A. Dodgers.

Sunday night, another thrilling conclusion, Puerto Rican star Eddie Rosario walking off in the ninth for the second time in as many nights for the 5-4 Braves victory. Atlanta now two up in this National League championship series. Game three Tuesday in L.A.

In the NFL, the Jaguars ending their 20-game losing streak in London against the Dolphins. This going down to the wire, a 53-yard field goal from Matthew Wright, for the Jaguars to get the victory.

To Las Vegas, where the golf superstar Rory McIlroy is celebrating a landmark 20th PGA tour title, the four-time major champ from Northern Ireland, carting a 6 under 66 to finish 1 shot clear of the British Open champion Collin Morikawa.

And at the prestigious Indian Wells tennis tournament in California, Britain's Cam Norrie according his biggest career win after coming from behind to see off 36th ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. And with that, Isa, it's right back to you. SOARES: Thanks very much, Patrick.

Now, the winners have been announced for the first Earthshot prize in the environmental protection award founded by the Duke of Cambridge, and naturalists Sir David Attenborough. Now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the ceremony on Sunday -- you can see them there -- with five winners including Cost Rica and the city of Milan where chosen for 15 finalists. Each winner will receive nearly $1.4 million and access to a global network support to really help make their ideas to save the environment a reality.

Now, finally, have you ever wanted to vacation like a president? Well, Russia's tourism industry has a new tactic to get people to travel right around the country, as Robyn Curnow now reports, they're promoting the same destinations where the head of state goes, to get away from it all.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): He's no ordinary tourist, when the Russian President Vladimir Putin goes on holiday, there are usually plenty of memorable vacation pictures, like hiking on a mountain in Siberia, showing off the catch of a day in a chilly river or driving in an all-terrain vehicle through a snowy forest.

A call to the wild for this world leader. Hoping to inspire other travelers to follow in his footsteps. The state travel agency says there's so much interest in Putin's wilderness adventures, it is starting tours of some of the places in Siberia he stayed in over the years.

The Kremlin has pledged to support Russia's tourist industry hit hard by COVID-19, and for travel companies, a trip inside the country seems just the ticket to help.

JANIS DZENIS, AVIASALES EMPLOYEE: The vast majority of trips in Russia are domestic ones.


Now almost 80 percent of travelers all across the country, while lots of European countries are still closed, the internal demand is huge.

CURNOW (voice-over): Some people in Moscow say they would be willing to give it a try, after all if it's good enough for the Russia's traveler in chief.

ALEXANDER ILYIN, MOSCOW RESIDENT (through translator): I think that any leader who travels to some certain places gives motivation. Anyone in their right mind will certainly be interested. Because the places our president chooses are really unusual.

RAISA, MOSCOW RESIDENT (through translator): In general, it's interesting to travel through our beautiful Russia. I haven't been to many places in Russia, but I would like to visit more. CURNOW (voice-over): It may not be in everyone's style though. To go

shirtless on horseback in Siberia, as Putin has famously done, but Russia's tourism industry hopes the tours will encourage more people to enjoy the great outdoors, as much as their president does.

Robyn Curnow, CNN.


SOARES: Hopefully they'll keep your shirt on when horseback riding.

And you are watching the torch lighting ceremony there, for the Beijing 2020 Winter Games. The ceremony is traditionally held in Athens, Greece before the torch moves, of course to the next home city. The Beijing games are slated to start in early February of next year. These are live images for you.

That does it for me. Thanks very much joining. I'm Isa Soares. "EARLY START" with Laura Jarrett is up next. They'll have much more for us on the kidnappings of 17 missionaries in Haiti and the latest on the January 6th insurrection investigation. Do stay right here with CNN. We'll see you tomorrow, bye-bye.