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Spain Begins to Impose Direct Rule on Catalonia; White House Not Commenting on Mueller Indictment; Mother Faces Prison for Sending Money to Radicalized Son. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired October 29, 2017 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, everyone, thanks for joining. I'm Cyril Vanier, live from our NEWSROOM in Atlanta.

Dismissed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is calling on his supporters to democratically oppose the takeover by Madrid. Spain is going through its worst political crisis in decades. The central government has imposed direct rule over the separatist after it declared independence.

Madrid fired the region's president and police chief, dismantled the government and put Spain's deputy prime minister in charge instead. A government spokesman said that if Mr. Puigdemont wants to continue in politics, then he should prepare for the new election that's been called the December.

Phil Black has more from Catalonia's regional capital, Barcelona.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One day after Catalonia's extraordinary declaration independence, the region's city, Barcelona, did not feel like the center of a nationalist rebellion. There were no angry or jubilant crowds, just tourists and locals strolling in the autumn sun.

But over the city and the region, there is a great cloud of uncertainty because no one really knows what's going to happen next. The Spanish central government having all this region's autonomy, having dismissed its government, went about putting into place a number of key figures, they say, to continue the management of the region ahead of new local elections on December 21st.

Spain's deputy prime minister will be responsible for Catalonia; there are also new people named in the interior ministry, a new chief of police. But the Spanish government didn't go into detail about just how these people are going to enforce the Spanish government's will on Catalonia when so many people don't want that to happen.

Meanwhile, Catalonia's dismissed president, Carles Puigdemont, gave a short televised address, calling for patience, perseverance and perspective, essentially calling for a calm, democratic response to defend what he said has been achieved so far.

But he didn't give any indication, either, of just what his next steps will be, made no claims to being the rightful leader of this region, did not acknowledge the international consensus against recognizing Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence and he didn't talk about those elections that the Spanish central government has called for late December.

Both sides of this politically constitutional crisis are stalking each other, considering their next moves before showing their hand, knowing that what they do next could play a key role in just how and when this crisis is able to be resolved -- Phil Black, CNN, Barcelona.


VANIER: The U.S. defense chief is warning the nuclear threat from North Korea has accelerated. During a visit to South Korea, James Mattis said it is now more urgent to cooperate closely with Seoul. Mattis is also threatening Pyongyang with a massive military response if the regime attacks the U.S. or uses nuclear weapons. President Trump is set to visit South Korea during his first presidential Asia trip. That begins next week. We will be covering that on CNN, of course.

Meanwhile in Washington, the reality facing the White House is that somebody is going to be arrested as part of the special investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

CNN was first to report that a grand jury had charged somebody in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. While we still don't know who has been indicted, sources tell CNN an arrest could come as soon as Monday. The White House's response so far has been no comment. But in the past president Donald Trump has repeatedly called the investigation a hoax and a witch hunt. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz helped break the story.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: The charges remain sealed and still no word on who is facing charges and what the charges are. We do hope that later today we may get some word on whether anyone has been asked to surrender.

All indications are that, at some point on Monday, the indictment will be unsealed and we'll learn what the charges are. Attorneys representing some of the people who are under investigation, that we have talked to so far, have not been asked to have their clients surrender.

For now, all this, still a mystery that will hopefully get answered sometime on Monday.


VANIER: At the White House, we heard from President Trump on Saturday on a variety of subjects but not about the Mueller investigation. Instead he slammed frequent trunk critic Michael Moore's Broadway show.

He also touted his release of files relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Then Mr. Trump and his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, went after someone who hasn't been in politics for the last 11 months, Hillary Clinton. Boris Sanchez has the details.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House is not commenting on the latest news coming from Robert Mueller's probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

However, they are focusing a lot of their energy on a former political opponent of the president's, Hillary Clinton. Look at the tweets September sent out by Sarah Sanders on Saturday.

She writes, quote, "Clinton spokesman just said he's damn glad Clinton campaign colluded with Russia to spread disinformation about the president and influence election."

She goes on, "The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC and Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable."

That "damn glad" reference in quotations, speaking about Brian Fallon, who said that he was happy that the Clinton campaign solicited the opposition research provided by Fusion GPS during the campaign; however, to call it collusion definitely goes a step further.

Beyond that, earlier this week, House Republicans announced they were launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale of a uranium mining company to Russia.

The president has alleged that the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, got bribes from Russians in exchange for a favorable uranium deal.

And beyond that, CNN has learned that the White House has pressed staffers to work with the Department of Justice to lift a gag order on a former FBI informant, that has information on that sale in order for him to testify during the course of the investigation.

Beyond all of that, the president is also pushing the State Department to release e-mails that it still has pertaining to Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state.

So while the White House, you would imagine, would be on the defensive, as news that charges stemming from Robert Mueller's investigation are imminent, they're very much on the offensive on an opponent of the president that he defeated about 12 months ago -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


VANIER: President Donald Trump is again pledging to release all the secret documents concerning the JFK assassination. Some 2,800 files related to the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy were released on Thursday on the National Archives website. But roughly 300 were held back.

On Saturday afternoon Mr. Trump repeatedly from Friday, saying all files will be released except for the names and addresses of anyone still living. Later on Saturday he tweeted, "The JFK files are released long ahead of schedule."

But at last check, no new files have been made public.

Kenya now, where opposition leader Raila Odinga says low turnout in Thursday's presidential election is a vote of no confidence. The official voter turnout is still unclear with the numbers in dispute by the major parties. Odinga had called on Kenyans to boycott the vote, saying the election process didn't guarantee a fair outcome.

Adding to the confusion, several precincts were not able to vote on election day, with polling stations remaining closed. Thursday's vote was the second time in three months that Kenya held a presidential election. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won the first vote but those results were overturned because of irregularities.

Staying in Africa, Somalia's capital came under attack again, just two weeks after the deadliest car bombings in the country's modern history. At least 19 people were killed on Saturday, when two car bombs went off near the presidential palace and gunmen stormed a nearby hotel.

Officials say a former lawmaker and at least one police officer are among those who were killed. Terror group Al-Shabaab is claiming responsibility for this attack, even as Somalia is still mourning at least 277 people killed in that attack two weeks ago.

Russia is now the top exporter of foreign fighters to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. That's according to a new report from the Washington-based Sufon (ph) group. Take a look at the numbers.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia top this list; just behind them, France comes in at number five. CNN's Melissa Bell met with French parents of jihadist fighters. She sits down with a mother whose son died while fighting in Syria. She was sentenced to two years in prison because she had sent money to her son.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A few photographs are all that Nathalie Haddadi has left.


Nathalie Haddadi would never have believed that her son, Belabbas, whose innocent face stares back from the photos, would decide that his destiny was jihad. The first signs came after a trip to see his father in Algeria, then, with money sent to him by his mother, Nathalie, a holiday he claimed to be on in Malaysia.

A few months later, he called from the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS. HADDADI: (Speaking French).

BELL (voice-over): Several weeks later, another phone call came, the one that every mother dreads.

HADDADI: (Speaking French).

BELL (voice-over): What followed for Nathalie was not a period of quiet mourning but a trial. In September, she was sentenced to two years in jail for having sent her son money while he was in Malaysia.

Nathalie says her son was the victim of brainwashing and that she is now the victim of a witch hunt by a state that is powerless to pursue the jihadists themselves.

In all, French authorities believe there are around 500 French citizens currently in ISIS territory, who are either jihadists or the children of jihadists, men, women and children whose numbers have fallen as they have fallen victim to the war but whose families are now facing prosecution in cases like Nathalie's.

Among those still in ISIS territory, Sylvie's daughter and three small grandchildren. She says her family has been abandoned by French authorities; help lines provided by the government have proven useless and no one seems prepared to help, she says. CNN reached out to the France's interior ministry but got no response.

SYLVIE, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER: "I have more fear than hope but I try to keep faith nonetheless. Not helping them is sentencing them to death without a trial. It is true. And, yes, I'd give money, I'd give my life, yes, of course. It is the same for every mother.

"When we mothers think about it, we get panic attacks. So we push those thoughts away because it is unbearable. It is just unbearable."

BELL (voice-over): Back in Strasburg, Nathalie is waiting for the result of her appeal, alone. Her only support the informal networks that have been created with other mothers of jihadists. They are united, she says, in their grief and in their understanding of the strongest of bonds.

HADDADI: (Speaking French).

BELL (voice-over): -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VANIER: And that's it from us for now. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Cyril Vanier. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is up next.