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Protests against Spain's Decision to Dismiss Catalan Government; Pentagon Investigating Sgt. La David Johnson's Death; Obama, Bush Warn U.S. Being Torn Apart Politically; Japan Goes to the Polls over North Korean Nuclear Threat; Kurds Protest, Dispute over Kirkuk; A Divided Kenya Votes; FOX Renewed O'Reilly's Contract Soon after Settlement; Possible "Nude Mona Lisa" Uncovered in France. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired October 22, 2017 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Angry protests in Spain after the nation's prime minister moves to dissolve Catalonia's regional government. CNN is live in Barcelona with the very latest.
A fallen U.S. soldier killed in an ISIS ambush, laid to rest. Officials investigate how he was separated from his team in Niger.
And five former U.S. presidents all together, raising money for hurricane relief and sending a message of unity.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. The political crisis in Spain has reached a decisive point with the central government moving to take direct control of a region inside Spain that has had a long- established independence movement. The move triggered sharp reaction across Catalonia. With its economic future now on the line, this was the scene in Barcelona, Spain, nearly half a million people protesting the central government on Saturday.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy wants to dissolve the Catalan regional government and to hold new elections. The prime minister says he's trying to protect the Spanish economy. Catalonia's president, though, calls it an attack on democracy. this after a contested referendum that favored independence. The last time Catalonia's powers were taken away, Spain was under a brutal dictatorship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLES PUIGDEMONT, CATALONIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): What the Catalans decided in elections, the Spanish government has canceled. So the Spanish government with the socialists (INAUDIBLE) has started the worst attack on institutions (INAUDIBLE) Catalonia since Franco's decree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: CNN correspondent Erin McLaughlin is on the story live in Barcelona this hour following events.
Erin, good to have you. How are people there reacting to the fact that for at least now, the government is moving to pull the plug on Catalonia's autonomous rule?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, I was out among some of the protesters yesterday, talking to them. Many of them had voted in that referendum which is at the heart of all of this.
Many of them are pro-independence. They said that they just want their voices heard. They feel like Madrid is not listening. Some of them told me they're scared about what could happen next. Take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to refuse in a particular way but we are going to (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are scared and like nervous all the time.
MCLAUGHLIN: So you're scared, you're nervous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, of course, of course, know nothing -- when you see helicopters kill, I've been here all my life and with what's happening now, they're going to shoot or what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we need to express all this in the streets and we're going to be here upstairs (ph) and free.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) tried so many times to talk with them but they don't want to talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: And we've heard that over and over again from the Catalan people, the Catalan government, a call for dialogue and mediation from Madrid, something the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is very resistant to.
He says Catalonia needs to start acting within the rule of law and now he's making steps to Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, emergency rule over this region. It was interesting.
At his press conference yesterday a journalist asked him, is there anything the Catalan government can do now to stop this process?
And he said, the only thing that could stop it is the Spanish Senate, which is due to vote on Friday but it's worth noting that Rajoy's party has a majority within the senate. So these -- this emergency rule expected to pass -- George.
HOWELL: Erin McLaughlin, live for us in Barcelona, Spain, Erin, thank you so much for your reporting today.
To get some context, I spoke earlier to European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas, also the chair of Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA. And he had this to say about what's happening across Spain right now.
HOWELL: Let's talk about the political risk the central government faces by moving to exert direct rule over Catalonia.
Could this indeed backfire on the prime minister?
DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH & FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA, CALIFORNIA: I think the prime minister has completely misread and miscalculated the situation here. Not only has he triggered Article 155 but he's also been working behind the scenes to enlist --
THOMAS: -- cross-party support so that when he goes to the senate he will essentially be able to put this into action. The king of Spain, which is quite remarkable, because this is after all a constitutional monarchy. And yet for the second time Hussain has spoken out, the king has spoken out on this particular issue.
And he has the support of the European Union. This, I believe, have given the separatists exactly what they want. In other words, it is the narrative that Madrid is overreaching in the region and these latest decisions come on the heels of, as we saw, the police violence that repressed people going to the polls, political leaders that are still being held in prison, the police chief in Catalonia has been threatened and essentially now Rajoy is going to put the region into receivership.
HOWELL: Let's talk about Article 155. It never has been utilized before.
What exactly does direct rule look like?
What immediate impact might it have on people's everyday lives?
THOMAS: The extraordinary thing that you mentioned, it has never has been done. It is a complex document, somewhat vague in many ways, but as far as Rajoy is concerned, there is no ambiguity in the document.
It essentially gives the central government of Madrid the powers to go into the region and take control of it, essentially to put it into receivership, to oversee the operations. In conjunction with that he's also talked about removing the current leadership, which is being democratically elected, one should not forget, and then allow a ministry in Madrid to come in and control the region, day to day actions, economic oversight and so on.
So it essentially takes away their total capacity to be able to function autonomously. And this is galvanizing the local population, even those that were not in support of the referendum, find this profoundly undemocratic and disturbing.
HOWELL: When it comes to economics, let's follow the money trail here.
What are the economic consequences for Catalonia?
Will the portion of Catalonia's tax revenue that would regularly support local government now go to the national government in Madrid?
THOMAS: No, not at this stage because they're not going to take away the funding, they're going to oversee the management of the region. The economic aspect is already significant because many businesses, banks and so on, are relocating to elsewhere in Spain because they are afraid that independence will one day go through, which would give that Catalonia was no longer part of the European Union.
And also Rajoy, when he came to power, a few years ago, Spain was in a terrible economic situation; it managed to lift itself out of the recession, this is an incredibly important region. It is destabilizing to the region. But also for the national economy.
I think this is something that Rajoy is underestimating, let alone the destabilizing aspects for the European Union in a broader context.
HOWELL: This has never been done before and if history is a guide, the last time Catalonia was under direct rule was under a dictatorship. And Catalonia's president has pointed to that act as context and has pushed for independence.
Given the government's latest move here, what would you surmise his next move might be and does he have any recourse?
THOMAS: He doesn't really have any recourse, except to sort of preempt the government and call regional elections himself. That would slow down the process, something that is part of Article 155, if the region goes for early elections and it will calm things down.
What he's really pushing for here by appealing to the international community is for some kind of broad mediation, an opportunity to sit down with Madrid and talk this out.
And I think this is Rajoy's responsibility. He's the prime minister, the leader, he's taking Spain down a very, very dangerous road here, a road that in fact is starting to look like European Union is going to have deal with this and it will pale in comparison to some of the issues it is dealing with Brexit.
But this is Rajoy's responsibility as prime minister to not drive his country into this appalling political crisis.
HOWELL: We'll have to see what happens next. Dominic Thomas, thank you so much for your time.
THOMAS: Thank you.
HOWELL: The Pentagon is investigating the deaths of four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush by ISIS in Niger. Just a little more than two weeks ago this happened. Questions remain concerning what happened to one of those four soldiers in particular, specifically Sergeant La David Johnson.
He was somehow separated from his team and his body wasn't recovered until nearly 48 hours after that attack. On Saturday, Johnson was buried near his home of the U.S. state of Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): His widow saying an impossibly difficult goodbye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson attended that service as well. She knew Johnson and his family personally. She was also one of the people there, who told reporters what President Trump said in his condolence call to the family, that Sergeant Johnson knew what he signed up for.
Wilson said those words had offended the family and Johnson's mother later confirmed that. The White House has spent the week alternating between denials of those words, saying the words were never said. Impassioned defenses of the words, in fact.
Near constant attacks on Wilson that continued on Saturday. President Trump on Twitter again saying the congresswoman was "wacky" just hours before Johnson's funeral. He did not mention Johnson himself, nor did he mention the ambush that killed the soldier.
Scott Lucas is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, live this hour in Birmingham, England.
Good to have you with us, Scott, to talk more about this.
On the day of the funeral, the president had two options: he could offer condolences to the soldier's family, he could remain silent if he didn't have anything constructive to say or he chose a third option in this case, to tweet about this Democratic congresswoman before the funeral.
President Trump actually gave some insight, though, into how he uses Twitter, why he uses it, in an interview with FOX Business. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I doubt I would be here, if it weren't for social media to be honest with you. I have a tremendous platform. When somebody says something about me, I'm able to go, bing, bing, bing and take care of it. The other way I would never be able to get the word out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Before the funeral on the day of the funeral he tweets to the U.S. congresswoman, using the word "wacky" to describe her, on the day of the funeral, so the question here is who is the audience, Scott?
Who do you surmise he's talking to?
Who does this tweet serve?
SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Donald Trump is tweeting over the heads of yourselves in the media; he's tweeting over the heads of those in Washington, politicians, officials who might be concerned about his behavior.
He's tweeting over the heads of those in the military, who are investigating this incident. He's appealing to what he would hope are millions of supporters, who will rally to his defense and say, well, of course, Mr. President, you're absolutely right; you're statesmanlike whereas this congresswoman is wacky.
Let's bring this back to the core. This all started last Monday because Donald Trump said nothing for 12 days about the deaths of these four Green Berets, no condolences, no marker of respect and then he was called out because he was asked about his silence.
And if you remember, his immediate attack was on Barack Obama and past presidents and said, well, they never called or talked to relatives.
That of course was a lie, it was not true. When he was called out, he then scrambled and said, well, I'll call the relatives; he calls the relatives, in this case, Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson but that conversation on speakerphone is the one where he refers to Johnson as "your guy," apparently can't remember his name and then says, well, he knew what he was getting into.
That's at the base of what happens. But you don't want -- Trump doesn't want to say that. That makes him look bad. So the alternative is to go after and say, well, it is Congresswoman Wilson who is the bad person here, she's the one you should be blaming.
HOWELL: This president certainly different than his predecessors and doesn't seem to take their counsel, as we have seen of presidents before him. In fact, just this week, we saw former presidents Bush and Obama on stage, expressing their concerns about the direction of the United States, concerns that are at odds with President Trump, without using President Trump's name though in their appearances.
Do those voices of experience matter for a president who is now on the job for some 10 months?
LUCAS: I think the only thing that matters for Donald Trump is Donald Trump. The broader picture here is, as you started this conversation, we're in a unique presidency. This president is unique in the way he communicates but he's unique in an approach which is very short on detail on policy, very short on actually knowing the issues and very long on trying to attack others.
Now what John McCain said on Monday, Senator John McCain started this by saying, look, this is a very spurious nationalism. When he in turn was attacked by Trump the next day, Trump said, well, at some point, I'll fight him and it won't be pretty.
Then you have George W. Bush, a Republican, Barack Obama, a Democrat, coming in and expressing their concerns about division, hatred and bigotry. They're not just talking about Trump, they're worried about the damage to an American system because of this unique presidency, where conversation is being replaced by insult and where serious issues, whether we're talking about health care, the economy, our --
LUCAS: -- foreign policy, are reduced by these escalating single controversies about President Trump and whether or not he can actually be statesmanlike, even when he calls the widow of a soldier who died in service.
HOWELL: Scott Lucas, live in Birmingham, England, Scott, thank you for your time today.
LUCAS: Thank you.
HOWELL: We're just talking a moment ago about former U.S. presidents. All five living former presidents were together Saturday in the state of Texas for a rare joint appearance.
Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, they all attended a benefit concert for hurricane victims in Texas and Florida and the Caribbean. As of Saturday night, organizers say they raised at least $31 million. In brief remarks, the former leaders praised Americans for coming together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As heartbreaking as the tragedies that took place here in Texas and in Florida and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands have been, what we have also seen is the spirit of America at its best, when ordinary people step up and do extraordinary things.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The heart of America without regard to race or religion or political party is greater than our problems.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I too am here to urge you to give to this fine fund and I want to thank all of the volunteers. But I am here for another reason. I speak for the folks right here when I say we really admire and love George H.W. Bush.
(APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: President Trump did not attend the concert but did appear in a video message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As we begin to rebuild, some of America's finest public servants are spearheading the one America appeal. Through this effort, all five living former presidents are playing a tremendous role in helping our fellow citizens recover. To presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Melania and I want to express our deep gratitude for your assistance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Coming up, the latest on tensions between the Kurds and Iraqi government. CNN live in Northern Iraq as the news continues.
HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
Right now, Japanese voters are casting their ballots in a snap general election but an approaching typhoon could affect voter turnout. Still, the vote is expected to secure Shinzo Abe's position as the country's longest serving post-war prime minister.
Mr. Abe called for the vote in September. He hopes to get a strong mandate to keep taking tough stances on North Korea, which sent ballistic missiles flying over Japan in recent months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Now together with the international community, we have to put the highest possible pressure on North Korea. We will create a society where everyone can have a dream, a society where people young and old can feel safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Live in Japan this hour, in Tokyo, journalist Kaori Enjoji is following the story.
Kaori, this could indeed be a game changer for Mr. Abe. KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: I think so, George. It could cement his legacy as one of the longest serving prime ministers in post-war Japanese history. And I think when the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, called this election, it looked like a gamble.
But it certainly is showing right now, three hours ahead of the poll closing, that that gamble may have paid off. People are very interested in this election; early voting showed that there was record turnout, especially because there is a typhoon approaching.
But also because one of the biggest concerns in this election has been the threat for North Korea. The prime minister has tried to paint himself and his party as the most experienced and safest hands on deck to deal with what he calls a national crisis.
A few months ago, this would have been an implausible turn of events from the prime minister. He had a lot of scandals he was dealing with. But month after month, George, we have seen these missiles being launched, some of them over Japan, and threats from North Korea to sink Japan.
And he has been emboldened by this. So I think today in terms of the magic number, if his party and the coalition wins a two-thirds super majority, it could really cement prime minister Shinzo Abe's legacy and it could change the tide for what role the Japanese military plays in this region. And that could have a tremendous impact not only here but for the rest of Asia as well.
HOWELL: Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo, thank you so much for the reporting.
As people head to the polls in Tokyo, Typhoon Lan is barreling toward the Japanese capital.
HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, the Kurds are a key U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. But now they're protesting against the United States. We'll explain why.
HOWELL (voice-over): Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.
(HEADLINES) HOWELL: Iraqi Kurds are protesting in Irbil after Iraq seized control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk earlier this week. The demonstrators are angry at the U.S. for taking a neutral stance in the dispute, especially given the Kurds' vital role in fighting ISIS.
Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is following the story live in Irbil.
Ben, people are making their feelings very clear about the current U.S. president.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed they are. It is something of a turnaround, you know. George, I was here in Iraq last December; we did a story about the Kurdish love affair with then president-elect Donald Trump.
We went to a fish restaurant that had been renamed Trump Fish. We spoke to a man who had named his newborn son Trump.
But now it appears that that love affair has gone cold, the Kurds feeling that the United States, the country they worked so closely with in the war against ISIS, has turned its back on the Kurds in this, their time of need.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Noisy demonstrations from the Western diplomatic mission is run of the mill in the Middle East. But in the Kurdish Iraqi capital of Irbil, it is a first.
WEDEMAN: In the almost 15 years I've been covering events in Iraqi Kurdistan, this is a first for me, an anti-American demonstrations. It is not necessarily an expression of anger as much as it is disappointment that the Kurds have been let down by a country they thought was their friend.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Kurdish forces played a critical role in the war against ISIS. But since the Kurds voted for independence from Iraq last month and since the central government's takeover of the disputed oil-rich province of Kirkuk last Monday, suddenly, the Kurds are once again alone.
Facing a combination of Iraqi government forces, armed and trained by the United States, and the Iranian-backed popular mobilization units, the irony is not lost here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why we have been attacked by the American weapons and the hands of Shia militia, supported by (INAUDIBLE)?
WEDEMAN (voice-over): The American consulate was never in danger, well protected as it was by Kurdish riot police. The protest was peaceful. But the words were heated. Especially when talk turned to U.S. President Donald Trump who, during the campaign, pledged his support for the Kurds but now the U.S. stands neutral in the clash between Baghdad and Irbil.
"Trump lied to the Kurdish people," says Baja Kassim (ph), an engineer, "America lied to the Kurdish people."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had hopes in Trump. But now we don't know what happened.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): What happened was realpolitik; the government in Baghdad and every country in the Middle East opposed the vote for Kurdish independence. Noisy though it was, the protest may be falling on deaf ears.
WEDEMAN: And, of course, the Kurds may be disappointed with the Americans but they're definitely more angry with the Iranians. Also, yesterday, there was a small demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy, where protesters tore down the Iranian flag -- George.
HOWELL: Ben, is there a way out of this?
WEDEMAN: Well, both sides, Baghdad and Irbil, have expressed a desire to reopen a dialogue. But what we have seen is that at the same time that talk is going on, there have been clashes to the south of Irbil, near the city of Kirkuk.
The Americans have also offered to act as an intermediary between the two sides but as long as there is military tension south of this city, those talks could prove to be difficult -- George.
HOWELL: Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman, live for us in Irbil, Iraq, Ben, thank you for your reporting.
The World Health Organization may reconsider naming Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador. Health experts and rights activists are stunned by the pick because of long-standing corruption and abuse of power allegations that stand against Mr. Mugabe. The WHO's director general says that he's rethinking the appointment in light of WHO values. He says the agency is listening to critics' concerns.
Kenyans are set to cast ballots on Thursday in the country's second presidential vote in just two months but doubt is growing over whether the new election will even happen, as frustrations among Kenyans boils into the streets. CNN's Farai Sevenzo has this report from Nairobi.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Throughout the seven weeks since Kenya's supreme court annulled the presidential elections, Kenya has become a nation of protests.
Across the country, demonstrators have gathered to protest the lack of reform and electoral commission, the IEBC. They have been gathering in all the main cities, from Mombao (ph) on the East Coast to Kisumu on the west.
As you can see, thousands of (INAUDIBLE) supporters have gathered here to protest against the IEBC, the official election commissioning body, and to say that if there are no reforms to the IEBC, there will be no election.
So now we're watching to see if there is going to be some kind of point of contact with security forces.
Will the commission be able to reform?
Veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga decided they would not reform and quit the election slated for October 26th by withdrawing just two weeks before the date. President Kenyatta called the supreme court's decision to annul the August election nothing but a coup.
KENYATTA: I must call it what it is.
SEVENZO (voice-over): And from the moment the IEBC announced the new election date, it seemed to be in doubt.
Kenyatta says his jubilee party was ready to go for the vote with or without their competitors. The government tried to ban protests but the (INAUDIBLE) quashed that move, saying demonstrations were protected in Kenya's constitution.
Just a week before the vote, the electoral commissioner fled to New York, saying she feared for her life and that the IEBC was riven with divisions. And then the next day, from electoral policy chairman, in yet another twist in this country's tense political drama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) attempts to make critical changes but all my motions have been defeated by a majority of the commissioners. Under such conditions, it is difficult to guarantee a free and fair and credible (ph) elections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In what is called a permanent state of elections --
SEVENZO (voice-over): Now days before the election, the big question is will they even happen at all?
With just one candidate and millions of voters not participating in protests. Riots groups and electoral body members warn that if the political situation cannot be contained, it could turn violent, just like a post-election violence that followed course 10 years ago, when more than a thousand people were killed.
(INAUDIBLE) in a Nairobi-based activist, he vied for political office in August and lost. He doesn't think there should be an election at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country should be worried. We are worried because you know that we cannot trust the president with political institutions. We cannot trust the president in the (INAUDIBLE) to protect the citizens. So we are all afraid of what is going to happen. (INAUDIBLE) I believe that the election should be called off --
[04:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and then prepare for elections that are free and fair.
SEVENZO (voice-over): If the vote goes ahead, it will be happening on the day the opposition has vowed to fill the streets in protest yet again, leaving this nation more uncertain about its future -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.
HOWELL: Coming up, new details on yet another sexual harassment claim against former FOX News host Bill O'Reilly. How much he reportedly paid in a confidential settlement.
HOWELL: New details about another sexual harassment settlement involving Bill O'Reilly, the former FOX News host reportedly paid a whopping $32 million to a long-time network analyst. All of this happened just a month before the company renewed his $25 million a year contract.
O'Reilly spokesman responded to the claims, saying the information was provided by anonymous sources and is false and defamatory. CNN's Brian Stelter has the latest for us.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: $32 million. It is a staggering sum of money. The amount of money that Bill O'Reilly paid to a long-time legal analyst on FOX News, Lis Wiehl, when Wiehl came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
Now, Wiehl agreed to the $32 million payout and she disavowed the claims that she made against O'Reilly. All this happened privately back in January, but the timeline here is remarkable because just a couple of weeks after the settlement, the $32 million settlement, FOX News went ahead and renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract. He was making about $25 million a year at FOX, but he didn't last very long at the network.
As I'm sure you recall, back in April, "The New York Times" reported on other --
STELTER: -- settlements by O'Reilly to other women accusing him of harassment. Now, those settlements were smaller sums of money, but the revelations about them caused advertisers to flee from his show and caused FOX News to cancel the show.
All of that happening a few weeks back in April, but now, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and a conversation all across the United States about sexual harassment in work places, "The New York Times" has published this new story about this $32 million settlement.
And that price tag is really astonishing to a lot of people. You know, Harvey Weinstein reportedly paid accusers $50,000 or $100,000. Bill O'Reilly had paid small sums of money to other accusers. But the idea that he was willing to pay $32 million to a single accuser is really shocking and causing a lot of people to wonder why FOX News was willing to renew his contract at all.
Now, here's what FOX says. It says it didn't know exactly how much money was given over. According to the company, when the company renewed Bill O'Reilly's contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O'Reilly that he had settled the matter personally on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company. So that's the official word from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century FOX.
Two big questions moving forward for FOX.
Number one, will this affect the ongoing U.S. federal investigation into FOX News?
Remember, the Department of Justice has already been looking into how settlement payments were paid to accusers of Roger Ailes, the former FOX News boss who was also caught up in his own harassment scandal last year. Ailes passed away a number of months ago, but the ongoing federal investigation is looking into FOX's conduct in the matter. So that's one issue for the Murdochs.
The other big issue is involving the Sky deal, this ongoing attempt to buy up the rest of the British satellite network, Sky. It has had a hard time -- the Murdochs have had a hard time getting the deal through because of scandals back in the United States. And it would seem that this latest revelation about Bill O'Reilly will only complicate matters even more for the Sky deal -- Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.
HOWELL: Brian, thanks.
And "The New York Times" is responding to Bill O'Reilly's spokesman, Mark Fabiani (ph), who said the newspaper maliciously smeared the former FOX News host. A spokesman for the newspaper says this, "Mr. Fabiani addresses everything but what the story actually says, this article, like our previous reporting on the subject, is accurate and deeply reported and we welcome and challenge to the facts the affidavit he claims our story ignored is, quote, in our article -- quoted in our article."
It could be the great secret of the art world laid bare. What may be another Mona Lisa still ahead.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: President Donald Trump says he plans to allow the release of the last secret files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Experts and historians do not expect any evidence to contradict the official narrative that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
But the documents could reveal details about a trip to Mexico City that Oswald took only weeks before that assassination. It is possible President Trump could also keep some of the documents classified for national security reasons.
Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" is quite possibly most famous work of art in the world. Art scholars in France think they may have found another with just one slight difference. Our Jim Bittermann has this report.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the Chateau de Chantilly outside Paris, when Mathieu Deldicque heads down to the basement library were tens of thousands of drawings, books, paintings and other works of art are stored, something is missing.
Designed by Renaissance master Raphael is still there but several months ago, Deldicque purposely set away what is potentially one of the rarest items of the collection.
A charcoal drawing that has been called the Nude Mona Lisa, a sketch that very much resembles, impose and inform Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting of the wife of a Florentine cloth merchant.
MATHIEU DELDICQUE, CURATOR, MUSEE CONDE: Its posture and its position is the same. The position of the arms is very close to as a position, the posture of Mona Lisa.
BITTERMANN: It was a wealthy French nobleman (Inaudible), who acquired the sketch along with the Chateau's huge Renaissance collection. Practically ever since, there has always been the suspicion that the drawing was either da Vinci original, or perhaps done by one of his handful of students.
So with the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo coming up in 2019, Deldicque decided to send the drawing to another Chateau The Louvre or more accurately, the National Research and Restoration Laboratory in the basement of the famous museum.
Here, Bruno Mottin began studying the fragile 500-year-old drawing to try to discover its origins. After infrared, ultraviolet and a host of other analytical techniques, Mottin determined for the paper and other indicators that the sketch is indeed from da Vinci's era and region of Italy.
But what intrigued him most was the thousands of tiny holes of the drawing. Evidence of a Renaissance technique called prickling which was used to copy of drawing to a painting.
With the curator laid out the holes on his computer, they came close to exactly matching to other paintings, one in Russia and one in a private collection, which are known to at least come from da Vinci's workshop and perhaps where even done by da Vinci. A step further towards authenticating
the Nude Mona Lisa, but the mystery still remains.
BRUNO MOTTIN, CURATOR, NATIONAL RESEARCH AND RESTORATION LABORATORY: The main question is still is, who did this drawing? Is it Leonardo himself?
We have some questions that we are not able to also meet but --
MOTTIN: -- remain fine elements which will help to order the conclusion.
BITTERMANN: Once the scientists are finished with the sketch, it will be brought back here in preparation for the big exhibition around the anniversary of the death of da Vinci. And only then will they make known for full results of their studies about the possibility that it was drawn at the hands of the great artist himself -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Chantilly, France.
HOWELL: Jim, thank you so much.
Some good news to share with you back in my home state of Texas, the Houston Astros booked their tickets to the World Series on Saturday night with a decisive 4-0 shutout against the New York Yankees.
The Astros had their backs up against the wall earlier this week, down 3-2, heading back to Houston but they swept both games at home and will now head to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers. The World Series starts on Tuesday.
Good news after all the terrible damage done by the hurricanes there in Texas.
Thanks for being with us here at CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. The news continues here right after the break.