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President Calls for Investigation to Reveal Anonymous Op-ed Writer; Kim Jong-un Sends Letter to White House; Papadopoulos In Prison; Trump Rally Attendee Ousted. Barak Obama Breaks his Silence; Dallas Police Officers Defer Case to Texas Rangers; Belgian Beer Weekend is in Full Swing; Rapper and Music Producer Mac Miller Dead. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired September 8, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: The investigation as President Trump and the White House punt for the writer of that anonymous "New York Times" op- ed. That's ahead this hour plus...
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Plus new pen pals, new letter from Kim Jung- un on its way to the U. S. President. This, as North Korea gets ready to mark anniversary celebrations that we are following. Also ahead this hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, be every the rally, they told us you have to be enthusiastic; you have to be clapping; you have to be cheering for Donald Trump.
ALLEN: CNN asked the so-called plaid shirt guy. There he is. What is it like for being booted out of one of President Trump's rallies for making faces reacting to Mr. Trump's words?
HOWELL: OK, they're asking people to act the bit. Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. "Newsroom" starts right now.
HOWELL: At 5:01 here on the U.S. East Coast, the federal probe into Russian election interference has led to a first prison sentence for someone associated with the Trump campaign. We're talking about the former aide, George Papadopoulos. He will spent the next two weeks behind bars for lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians. The U.S. President says he doesn't know Papadopoulos and claims the issue is a distraction. Listen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The level of animosity, it's hard to believe. So if I was going to say there is any one problem in this country, it is definitely that you have two sides and there is great division, and there shouldn't be that division. But it seems no matter what you do, no matter how good -- look wages are going up, such a big thing. Numbers are great; the stock market is at an all time high. There's more people working in the United States today than ever before. The only thing that troubles me is when you see an economy doing so well, a country doing so well, yet, there is this level of division and hatred and that's a shame and maybe we can do something about it.
ALLEN: Meantime, CNN has learned the White House has a short list of possible authors of that anonymous but damaging opinion piece in the "New York Times". A source says the president has become obsessed with finding out who wrote it. Here's more from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump, asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions tonight to investigate and unmask the author of the anonymous essay in the "New York Times" that blasted him as unfit for office. Speaking to report, aboard Air Force One today the president calling it matter of national security, not simply outraged over a public official saying he's ill informed, impetuous, and reckless inside the White House.
TRUMP: I would think Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was. Because I really believe it's national security.
ZELENY: On a two-day campaign swing to Montana and the Dakotas, the president is telling his supporters that their decision at the ballot box in 2016 is being subverted by a government bureaucrat.
TRUMP: Unelected deep state operatives who defied the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy, itself. I think it's backfired. Seriously.
ZELENY: Yet the president made clear he is seething.
TRUMP: The latest active resistance is the op-ed published in the failing "New York Times" by an anonymous, really an anonymous, gutless coward.
ZELENY: Struggling to say anonymous, but adding today the search is still on for the person responsible for the op-ed.
TRUMP: We're going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he is talking about, also where he is right now. Eventually the name of this sick person will come out.
ZELENY: Asked how criticizing his presidency presents a danger to national security. He explained.
TRUMP: Supposing I have a high-level national security meeting and he has got a clearance and he goes into a high-level meeting concerning China or Russia or North Korea or something and this guy goes in. I don't want him in those meetings.
ZELENY: Two months before the mid-term election, former President Obama stepped back on the political stage today with his own message to the anonymous Trump official.
BARAK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that's coming out of this White House, then saying, don't worry, we're preventing the other ten percent. That's not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal. These are extraordinary times and they're dangerous times.
ZELENY: Obama has largely remained publicly silent about his successor until today in a speech in Illinois where he called on Republicans to take notice how Trump treats the rule of law.
OBAMA: This should not be a partisan issue. To say we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents.
ZELENY: Trump who has not spoken to Obama since his inauguration day in January 2017, responded to Obama's hour-long speech like this.
TRUMP: I watched it but I fell asleep. I found he's very good, very good for sleeping.
ZELENY: But Trump made clear he's also worried about Democrats in the mid-term elections, planting early seeds of an argument against impeachment.
TRUMP: ...we will impeach him but he didn't do anything wrong. It doesn't matter, we will impeach him. We will impeach. But I say how do you impeach somebody that's doing a great job that hasn't done anything wrong?
If it does happen, it's your fault, because you did go out and vote.
ZELENY: So even as the president is stewing frankly about the identity of the anonymous author, White House aides say they believe they are narrowing down the list of possible suspects. But it is just that, possible suspects, unclear if the person will ever be fully identified. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.
ALLEN: Well, while the hunt for the op-ed author has consumed parts of the Trump White House, Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway says the president believes this mystery writer is not inside the White House but rather a member of the national security team.
HOWELL: That's right, Conway also denies that the op-ed has made the White House staff more paranoid. Here's what she told our colleague Christiane Amanpour in an interview for Christiane's new hour-long program which premiers Monday on both CNN International and PBS here in the states.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I'm not interested in an investigation of this. I guess those who are investigating, great. I really hope they find the person. I believe the person will suss him or herself out though because that's usually what happens, people brag to the wrong person. They brag that they did this or they did that because they - I assume part of this, isn't the goal here not with the op-ed pretends the goal is Christiane. Isn't the goal here really to sew chaos and get us all suspicious of each other....
AMANPOUR: Is that what's happening? Are you all getting suspicious of each other?
CONWAY: No, that isn't what happened.
ALLEN: Well, let's talk more about it with Leslie Vinjamuri. Leslie is head of the U.S. and the Americas programme at Chatham House, a frequent visitor to our program. She joins us live from London. Thank you Leslie for being with us.
LESLIE VINJAMURI, U.S. AND THE AMERICAS PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: Thank you Natalie.
ALLEN: Well regarding this anonymous op-ed, the president wants to get the Justice Department to find out who wrote it but it doesn't seem to be a legal violation, maybe an ethical one but the president surely wants to know. He claims this is a national security issue. Is it?
VINJAMURI: Well, it's undoubtedly an extraordinarily unusual situation. It's causing tremendous distraction and it's not clear what it's doing that's actually useful. It's certainly confirming some of the things that we have assumed to be true from the various stories that have come out of the White House and the executive branch.
But, you know, whether it's certainly threatening to a president and it would be threatening to any president, certainly to this particular president who puts loyalty right at the top of his concerns, when it comes to who he wants to work with or wants to work for him and so to have somebody publish an anonymous op-ed in the "New York Times" making the kind of allegations is certainly a threat to the president. Whether it's a national security threat, it's a very different kind of claim.
ALLEN: Absolutely. I want to ask what you the op-ed address is toward the end of the article. The person writes, here we go, "The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency, but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility." Is that an issue, Leslie, that the U.S. will suffer from regardless of who takes control of Congress, say, at the mid-terms or who is in the Oval Office in the next term?
VINJAMURI: I think it would be very hard to deny the reality that the level of civility that's coming out of the White House and out of Washington looks incredibly low, certainly when you look at it from Europe, from London where I sit, it's undeniable. To whether that merits writing an anonymous op-ed and continuing to serve this president as opposed to resigning and putting your name on an op-ed and making a much stronger stance. What's happening now, of course, is by remaining in the government, by publishing anonymously, we have a tremendous distraction. And remember in just a couple of days the Woodward volume will be published. That will add to this. It's already been highlighted in certain sections.
At a time when there is just tremendous issues of global significance, national significance that the president should be focused on. But of course you know if you look back to President Obama's speech, he's saying it's time to recognize the distraction, the lack of civility and to get out and vote.
ALLEN: Yes, let's talk about the former president, Barack Obama.
He is back giving a speech and he was critical of President Trump, certainly; we saw portions of it and the Republican Party. Let's listen to one thing he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO)
OBAMA: You're undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia. What happened to the Republican Party? Its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against Communism and now they're cozying up to the former head of the KGB, actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from Russian attack. What happened?
ALLEN: Well, does Mr. Obama make good point there? I guess he does. But the question is, too, it's unusual that a former president would be that critical of the current president.
VINJAMURI: Well, I think that President Obama has decided that now is the moment. We're heading up to the mid-term elections. He wants to highlight what many people have highlighted which is the division. Even President Trump recognizes the division that is palpable across American society right now and to call on people to get out and vote and he's highlighting a number of concerns. Remember, there are many Republicans that feel alienated by what happened in the Republican Party right now.
It's something that is as common across much of American society right now to have this reaction. But yes, it's unusual and Obama has been very quiet for a very long time. He's clearly defined it at the moment when it's incredibly important to stand up and say to people if you have a reaction to the current state of American politics, you must get out and you must vote.
ALLEN: Well, two months to the mid-term elections so yes, now would be the time would it not? We'll wait and see if this anonymous op-ed stays anonymous. For now we'll leave it there. Leslie Vinjamuri, always appreciate your insights. Thank you, Leslie.
VINJAMURI: Thank you.
HOWELL: A former Trump campaign aide has been sentenced to two weeks in prison, this for lying to investigators about contacts with Russians.
ALLEN: George Papadopoulos began cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after pleading guilty last year. You may remember this picture showing him sitting with Mr. Trump and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a campaign meeting in 2016. Papadopoulos says Sessions was enthusiastic about his offer to try to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and Vladimir Putin.
HOWELL: On Friday, President Trump says he quote, "Doesn't know Papadopoulos. The attorney for Papadopoulos says Mr. Trump, himself, has hindered the Russian investigation more than his client ever did. Let's listen.
THOMAS BREEN, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: The problem I have with the fake news twitters that go out or tweets that go out is that he was tweeting seven days before George was interviewed that he's the President of the United States that based on all of his information, I would assume, the information that he had, that this was a witch hunt and that it was fake news that Russia had meddled in the election. Well, I think we're all somewhat satisfied at this point in time at least that we know Russia meddled with the election. There is no doubt about it.
ALLEN: Well Papadopoulos had plenty more to say.
HOWELL: Like this when our colleague Jake Tapper asked him, who he told in the campaign about supposed Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST; There are going to be people out there who think there is no way George Papadopoulos didn't tell anyone on the campaign. Did you tell anyone on the campaign?
GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, FORMER MEMBER OF THE FOREIGN POLICY ADVIDORY PANEL TO DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: As far as I remember I absolutely did not.
TAPPER: You didn't tell Corey Lewandowski?
PAPADOPOULOS: As far as I remember, I absolutely did not share this information with anyone on the campaign.
TRAPPER: Not Sam Clovis?
TRAPPER: Wally Ferris? None of them?
PAPADOPOULOS: I might have, but I have no recollection of doing. I can't guarantee it. All I can say is my memory is telling me I never shared with anyone on the campaign.
ALLEN: You can watch more of that interview at 11:00 a.m. in London, also at 8:00 p.m. on the eastern U.S. that's on a CNN Special Report, the mysterious tape of George Padopoulos.
Well, we don't know what's in it but we know the letter is on its way. Kim Jong-un writing to president Trump. We'll go live to North Korea when we come back here.
HOWELL: Plus powerful storms have lined up in the ocean like planes lined up on a runway. Take a look at that in the Atlantic. The question, how long will these storms be and where will they go? Stay with us.
ALLEN: A new personal letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is on its way to the White House.
HOWELL: This is true, President Trump says it was handed over at the Korean demilitarized zone and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now bringing it to Washington, D.C. We don't know what's in the letter, what it says, but Mr. Trump has told reporters on Air Force One he believes it is a quote, "positive letter."
ALLEN: All of this coming as North Korea prepares for a huge celebration like this one back here in 2013. The country is marking its 70th anniversary this weekend. Korea watchers are curious if the events will be bigger than before, or more toned down, possible clues to what leader Kim Jong-un and his top aides are thinking. This hour, Will Ripley reports from Pyongyang. A lot has changed in the past year.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the height of U.S.-North Korea tensions last year, when fire and fury rhetoric was at a fever pitch, anti-American propaganda was everywhere, from missiles blowing up the U.S. capital to a personal attract on President Trump.
This propaganda banner says that the workers are motivated by their burning hatred of the United States and in fact it reads "let's tear apart the mentally deranged U.S. President, Donald Trump." What a difference a year makes. This is my first time back in Pyongyang since President Trump's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Almost three months since their June 12th meeting, North Korea's nuclear program is still here. What's not here at least as far as we can tell, images like this.
A year ago when we were here in Pyongyang you couldn't turn a corner without seeing anti-American propaganda. Now you're seeing much more of this. This is about building a socialist economy, even the initial imagery itself has kind of faded into the background. Government guides are always with us in North Korea showing us exactly what the state wants us to see. This time, it's all about the economy. (BEGIN VIDEO)
RIPLEY: Nice to see you again.
RIPLEY: I visit the same Pyongyang silk factory and same worker, Kim Jong-jun(ph) I first met two years ago.
RIPLEY: A lot of people used to describe to me emotions like burning hatred when they talk about America. Do people still feel that way now or do they change here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (interpreted by Ripley) Our burning hatred won't go away overnight she says. The Americans are approaching us diplomatically, but they're not very sincere.
RIPLEY: Workers like Kim(ph) used to be surrounded by anti-U.S. slogans; not anymore. This one here says, "Compete with the World, challenge the world, overtake the world." A lot different than nuclear annihilation. What happened to all those signs?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (interpreted by Ripley): Those posters were everywhere, she says, they may be gone now the hatred is still deep in our hearts. We don't have any illusions about the Americans. We can't let down our guard.
Here in North Korea, taking down posters is much easier than building up trust. Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang.
ALLEN: And Will will be covering that humongous, can we say, celebration you will see over there, for the 70th. All right, well Derek Van Dam is here now. He's got humongous storms he's following in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we are rounding the peak of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean but it's not only the Atlantic that's causing problems, it's the Pacific as well. We've got lots to cover so let's get right to it. Check this out. We've got Florence, that's a major concern. But don't forget we've got Olivia, a newly-formed tropical storm Helene, tropical depression nine, tropical storm Mangkhut and Norman. Try to get to it all right here.
Tropical Storm Florence, this is the latest 5:00 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. Still a tropical storm. We're noticing however it's starting to get a little more organized. This is in line with what we anticipate to take place over the next 24, 48, 72 hours and beyond. Well, look at the cone, you don't need to be a meteorologist to see what's coming here. We have all clear indication that this storm will not only strengthen but it will also continue its west to northwesterly trek and that puts it on a bee line towards the East Coast of the United States.
It's being steered by a strong ridge of high pressure just to its north. How strong it becomes? Well that is a deciding factor on whether or not it will curve away from the East Coast or it will make a direct landfall. So there's still time that this could miss the U.S. but it is unfortunately is appearing that it will not do that and it will intensify with warm waters there ranging anywhere there from the middle or upper 80s which is just jet fuel for these tropical systems to develop.
All of our computer models coming into consensus. You've seen this before. We call it a spaghetti plot. It plots all the different possibilities from the various computer models that meteorologists look at. It's honing in on the East Coast, specifically the Carolinas. There's Florence, never mind the 10 percent development in advance of that.
We've got tropical depression nine. That's forecast to develop into a tropical storm and then a hurricane impacting the Caribbean and the Lesser Antilles.
I mentioned that we are on the climatological peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season but the Pacific is also extremely active. Just off the coast of Mexico, Norman, you're not a major player any longer. You're moving north of Hawaii but it's Olivia that's going to cause some concerns for the Hawaiian Island chain.
And just quickly I want to talk about what's happening across Guam. This is a territory in the United States where Tropical Storm Mangkhut has its eye set on this region. It could potentially bring very strong typhoon winds. Beyond that it will reach Taiwan the second half of next week as a super typhoon. So wow, lots to talk about; keeping us on our toes. We will follow these storms very closely.
HOWELL: Could be a very busy couple of weeks.
VAN DAM: It undoubtedly will be.
HOWELL: All right, Derek. Thank you.
VAN DAM: All right.
HOWELL: British Airways apologizing to its customers whose credit card information was stolen in a devastating cyber attack.
ALLEN: The company calls it the worst hack and its experience since launching its website two decades ago. CNN's Anna Stewart explains what happened and who was affected.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another tech disaster for British Airways. This time a hack. The personal and credit card details of some 380,000 people were breeched. The customers had all booked flights within the dates of the 25th of August and 5th of September, so a window of some 15 days. Now today B.A. came out with a full apology, They put a full advert apologizing in many, many British newspapers and the CEO spoke to CNN and this is what he had to say.
ALEX CRUZ, CEO, BRITISH AIRWAYS: ba.com has been running for more than 20 years and we've never had a data breach of this particular type. What we know we have teams working toke with our national crime agency and a great, very large team of actual forensic experts that are going through to try to understand exactly what's happened. But our focus remains with our passengers. We want to make sure that they feel comfortable, that all their concerns are being addressed. As you mentioned before, if any of them have actually suffered any financial loss as a consequence of this event, we will compensate them.
STEWART: B.A. says they've contacted all passengers who were impacted by the breech although social media has been awash of reports customers who think they have had their data breached but they haven't received any kind of contact from B.A. yet. If you think you are a very unfortunate people, you must act fast. The advice is to change your password on the B.A. website.
Also contact your bank, you may need to cancel your credit card and have a new one sent. Also just check out your bank account, make sure no fraudulent activity has happened.
As you heard from the CEO there, any financial losses as a result of this breech will be compensated by them. It's also worth knowing, you should be extra vigilant in the weeks following a hack because your personal credentials could be out there somewhere in cyber space so be extra mindful of spam emails or letters. Meanwhile, B.A. says it's totally safe to book a flight with them now. The breech is over and once the investigation gets going, hopefully they have a better idea of what happened and how they can prevent it from happening again. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
HOWELL: The United States says it's taking military action to send a message to Russian troops in Syria. The latest on a potential standoff there ahead.
ALLEN: Also ahead here, former President Obama breaks his silence calling out President Trump and the Republican Party.
OBAMA: It did not start with Donald Trump; he is a symptom not the cause.
HOWELL: Good morning, coast to coast across the United States and to our viewers around the world this hour you are watching CNN "Newsroom" live from the ATL(ph). I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories this hour. Another letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is on its way to the White House. The State Department says it has been given to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. No word yet on what's in it. President Trump said he believes it is a positive letter. HOWELL: Iraq's prime minister is ordering an investigation. This
after protesters set fire to an Iranian consulate in Basra. You see the video here. The probe will focus on which security units were responsible for protecting the consulate and other key sites.
Violent protests that rocked Bazra over the past week.
ALLEN: A former Trump campaign aid has been sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI about his contact with Russians. George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year and has been cooperating with the special counsel's investigation. His attorney said President Trump hindered the investigation more than his client ever did.
HOWELL: CNN has learned the White House has narrowed down the list of possible authors of that anonymous but damming opinion piece in the "New York Times." On Friday Mr. Trump says the U.S. Justice Department should go after the unknown senior official who wrote that Mr. Trump is unfit for office of the President of the United States.
ALLEN Former U.S. Presidents typically refrain from public criticism of whoever occupies the Oval Office after them but that changed on Friday.
HOWELL: It changed when we heard from former President Barack Obama warning that American democracy is in peril and he blamed the current president. CNN Athena Jones reports.
OBAMA: The politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Obama making his first foray into the midterm election season, delivering a blistering rebuke of his successor's political tactics and calling him out by name.
OBAMA: It did not start with Donald Trump; he is a symptom, not the cause. He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.
JONES: The former president, who has not spoken with the current president since inauguration day, warning the country is the at a critical moment with America's democracy at stake and urging ordinary people to get involved.
OBAMA: You need to vote because our democracy depends on it. A glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different. The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the side lines are more dire.
JONES: He slammed Republicans in Congress for failing to act as a check and balance on Trump.
OBAMA: Republicans who know better in Congress and they're there, they're quoted saying, yeah, we know this is kind of crazy, are still bending over backwards to shield this (inaudible) from scrutiny or accountability or consequence.
JONES: The former president also referenced the "New York Times" op- ed written by an anonymous author who said there are people inside working to thwart Trump's worse impulses.
OBAMA: That's a check. I'm being serious here. That's not how our democracy is supposed to work. These people aren't elected. They're not accountable. They're not ding us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that's coming out of this White House and then saying don't worry we're preventing the other 10 percent.
JONES: Obama argued that preventing nearly 3,000 American from dying in a hurricane and its aftermath, a reference to Hurricane Maria's toll on Puerto Rico, should not be a partisan issue and neither should protecting freedom of the press or denouncing hate, a reference to Trump's much panned, "both sides are to blame" response to last year's violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
OBAMA: We're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be saying that Nazis are bad?
JONES: And he talked about the importance of showing up, not only on the campaign trail, reaching voters in all corners of the country, but also showing up at the polls.
OBAMA: So these are extraordinary times and they're dangerous times. But here's the good news, in two months we have the chance, not the certainty, but the chance to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics. What's going to fix our democracy is you. JONES: Athena Jones, CNN, Urbana, Illinois.
HOWELL: Athena, thank you. U.S. troops are putting on a show of force in Syria, this after what one U.S. official says were threats from Russia.
ALLEN: More than 100 U.S. troops are moving into the garrison in Southern Syria near the border with Iraq and Jordan. They are expected to come in by helicopter and carry out live-fire drills. The U.S. says this is in response to Russia after it said it would attack nearby militants. The U.S.-led coalition has fought pro-government forces in the area before.
Tensions are also ramping up in Western Syria ahead of a likely government assault on Idlib.
HOWELL: And more airstrikes hit the area on Friday and the United Nations' Special Envoy for Syria is warning of a humanitarian crisis. Here is a message for security council members that came on Friday.
STAFFAN DE MISTUI, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA: We have seen warnings and counter warnings about the dangers of a major assault on Idlib.
We've seen intensive fight military presence in the region. I've laid out to you, madam president, all the ingredients for a perfect storm. The dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib could be, would be, a horrific and bloody battle. Civilians are its potential victims and there are ever-present dangers in the case of a full scale assault of incidents or rapid escalations involving regional and international failures.
HOWELL: And away from the United Nations, the leaders of Russia, Iran and turkey are discussing idlib. They met for a summit Friday in Tehran by failed to reach a cease-fire deal. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more now on the talks now from Damascus.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very high level talks about the future of Syria, both at the United Nations in New York and also the Iranian capital of Tehran. It certainly seems as though for the future of Syria, the talks in Iran seem to have been the more important ones. Now, with the leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia, we're talking about the future of Idlib province. Right now it appears as though an offensive on that place might be imminent.
And if you look at what the leaders said, it seems as though they came down on opposite sides of the equation. On the one hand, have you President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey who said an assault on Idlib providence would be what he called catastrophic and could of course harm a lot of civilians. On the other hand, you had the Russians and Iranians saying, yes, civilians need to be protected but on the other hand, they also feel they need to continue to fight what they call terrorism which is, of course the many rebels who are still in that area.
Many of them a part of a very hard line Islamic groups, including some that used to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. On the same time, of course, you also have a reality on the ground here in Syria. That reality is that Idlib Province has been and continues to be
surrounded by the Syrian army, not just with many troops, but with some of the battle-hardened troops that the Syrian military has. At the same time, the Russians have the biggest fleet that they've ever had here since they started their engagement in Syria right now on the Mediterranean Sea and a lot of the ships the Russian have on the Mediterranean Sea are capable of firing cruise missiles so of course, Idlib Providence also very much there in range. It still is unclear whether or not that offensive is going to kick off, but it certainly appears as though it could do so at any time. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Damascus.
HOWELL: A U.N. official once called the war in Syria the worst manmade disaster since World War II. The global body says the conflict killed almost half a million Syrians. It's also created more than 5.5 million refugees kicking off a migrant crisis in Europe and neighboring countries.
ALLEN: Inside Syria, more than 6.5 million people are internally displaced. In all, that is more than 12 million people forced from their homes, almost half of Syria's pre-war population.
HOWELL: The International Rescue Committee is among aid groups calling for an end to attacks in Idlib and for more on that the group's senior Middle East media officer, Paul Donohoe joins us now from Beirut, Lebanon. It's good to have you with us, Paul.
PAUL DONOHOE, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE MEDIA OFFICER: Hi.
HOWELL: I want to get a sense from you about your concern level here. Look, we're talking about 3 million people, plus or minus. A lot of people could be caught in the cross fire should fighting break out, do you think that the risk really even matters in the minds of the Syrian governments, in the minds of Russian backers as they discuss this very possibility?
DONOHOE: Well, this is our real concern that at the moment the talks of workers on what needs to be done from a military consideration and they're overlooking the fears that the world should have for the 3 million civilians in Idlib. This is a very worrying situation with potentially facing the worst humanitarian catastrophe that Syria has faced over more than seven years of war.
HOWELL: The bigger question here, we're talking an exodus of millions of people. Where do they go and what are the plans to tack care of such large crowds for an unknown amount of time?
DONOHOE: Yeah, are you right. The U.N. has warned as many as 800,000 will leave homes if there are assaults on Idlib and there is no other Idlib for these people to go to.
Of that 3 million in the province around half the people who have been displaced by previous rounds of fighting, but after any assault comes to Idlib, then unfortunately what we are more likely to see is people flee towards the border with Turkey.
Now that might mean we see a repeat of the worrying scenes in the south of Syria over the summer where hundreds of thousands of people were living without shelter, without clean water and without toilets, basic facilities like toilets. If that does happen, we can only call on Turkey to once again open our borders and allow people safely within their territory, but still, there is time for a diplomatic solution, a political solution, which means we don't have to see such a catastrophe happen, which would clearly have massive consequences for all those people in Idlib and lead to a great loss of life.
HOWELL: Paul, you have been following this closely. Are you optimistic?
DONOHOE: Well, we are very worried, obviously, for the 3 million in Idlib. Already life in Idlib is very difficult. Children often don't go to school. They can't afford just the materials needed to attend classes or they're forced to work because their parents need to rely on them just to bring in enough meager money to pay for basics like food.
It's a very difficult situation. Around 300,000 people already live in very poor tented settlements, lacking clean water and toilets in many cases. Humanitarian organizations like the International Rescue Community are already stretched to full capacity. The population of Idlib has doubled because of all people that have arrived. So we are already at a crisis point and a full-scale assault which could lead to 800,000 people to flee their homes, would be an absolute catastrophe all around.
HOWELL: This is something that is certainly unsettling to see which way things will go here. Paul Donohoe, again, thank you for your time and perspective. We will continue to watch the story.
DONOHOE: Thank you very much.
ALLEN: A family in Dallas, Texas is mourning their son after police say one of their own made a fatal mistake. We'll have that story coming up here.
HOWELL: We're following a story in Dallas, Texas, where a family is mourning the loss of their son killed in a police shooting on Friday and the community is rallying behind them, demanding answers, demanding justice. ALLEN: Here's what we know. Investigators say the 26-year-old man was killed in his apartment by a police officer who lived in the same building. That officer apparently felt the victim was in her apartment. Andrea Lucia from our CNN affiliate KTVT picks it up from there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Friends, I know we've come gathered together because pressed upon our hearts is the death of this young man.
ANDREA LUCIA, CNN AFFILIATE REPORTER FOR KTVT: At a candlelight vigil the crowd called for an arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're here to ask that this officer treated like any other murder suspect.
LLOYD HARVEY, NEIGHBOR OF VICTIM: The pop, you know it's been ringing in my ear all day.
LUCIA: Lloyd Harvey and his girlfriend heard the gunshot that killed their next neighbor, Botham Jean.
HARVEY: I'm shocked. This is insane that it happened to someone so nice and kind.
LUCIA: Dallas police say the yet to be named officer who fired the shot was coming home from work and still in uniform within she mistook Jean's apartment for her own. Sources say she lived one floor down.
HARVEY: Right in front of his house you have a red floor mat, like it's a bright red floor mat. How do you think that that's your apartment?
RENEE HALL, DALLAS POLICE CHIEF: Based on what we know right now that warrant is the for manslaughter.
LUCIA: Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall says due to the circumstance, she'd personally requested a warrant be obtained for the officer's arrest and call on the Texas Rangers to conduct their own independent investigation.
HALL: We have ceased handling it under our normally officer-involved shooting protocol.
LUCIA: But with hours ticking away, activists have grown eager to see some sign of justice for Jean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't doing anything wrong. He wasn't trying to do anything wrong but sit in his home trying to relax getting ready for the next day at work.
HOWELL: Again, that was reporter Andrea Lucia from our affiliate KTVT in Dallas, Texas, and certainly a story we will continue to follow there from the Metroplex.
ALLEN: Absolutely. U.S. rapper and music producer Mac Miller died at the age of 26. The cause of death has not been released. The coroner's office said he was found unresponsive inside his home Friday.
HOWELL: Tributes are pouring in. Chance the Rapper tweeted this in part, "beyond helping me launch my career, he was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew. Great man." The music streaming service, Title, tweeted, "our condolences to Mac's family and friends. Terrible loss for the hip hop community.
ALLEN: Some animated facial expressions, not the ones perhaps that President Trump's support team liked, got caught on camera. A high school student got kicked out of President Trump's rally in Montana Thursday because of it.
HOWELL: And not long after clips of 17-year-old Tyler Linfesty went viral, you see him there behind president Trump, giving him the nickname the plaid shirt guy. He spoke to CNN earlier about it. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tyler, were you deliberately making faces or was that a natural reaction?
TYLER LINFESTY, PLAID SHIRT GUY, KICKED OUT OF TRUMP RALLY: All of those reactions were my actual reaction. I would have made those faces if anyone were to say that to me. I was not trying to protest; those were just my actual honest reactions. Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what was it like, because we know the president often says things that are not true but the people there are eating it up. LINFESTY: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think they know it's not true? You did. You were like...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you said at one point, not true. And then you said what? And I think you said, have you, when he said he's gained more supporters?
LINFESTY: Right, yeah, I said have you, yeah. Each time I see one of his rallies, you know, I see people behind Donald Trump clapping and sharing and being super enthusiastic. I've always wondered myself, are those people being genuine. So when I got back there, I knew I was going to be genuine; I was going to give my actual reaction to the things he said. So whenever I disagreed with them, you could tell I disagreed. When I agreed with him I clapped as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point they realized, right, that you were -- I guess they weren't happy with what you were doing and then they sent someone in to replace - to relieve you and then they also replaced your two friends even thought they weren't making the same facial expression that you were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why were you and they told to leave?
LINFESTY: Right. Well I think - I think they didn't really tell me anything. But I mean I think I know why they removed me. It's because - well before the rally they told us that you have to be enthusiastic, you have to be clapping, you have to be cheering for Donald Trump and I wasn't doing that because I wasn't enthusiastic and I wasn't happy with what he was saying.
They told us we had to be enthusiastic.
They tried to make me and my friends wear the MAGA hats to make America great again hats. I was not wearing one as you saw. Yeah.
So the woman, she came in she just said, I'm going to replace you. I just walked off. I knew I was getting kicked out for not being enthusiastic enough, so I decided not to fight it. And then just some secret service guys escorted me into like this back room area. They sat me down for ten minutes, looked at my I.D., and then just told me to leave. Very respectfully told me to leave and not come back.
HOWELL: A very interesting interview there, it seems like stage setting is important during these events.
ALLEN: Plaid-shirt guy. There you go. HOWELL: Yes, interesting to follow. So lovers of Belgian beer, they
consider the drink to be the best, even divine you might say.
ALLEN: Perhaps that's because every year brewers parade a keg of it to a cathedral in Brussels to be blessed -- yes they're blessing the beer. The age-old event celebrates their patron saint who is said to have blessed brewery curing people of the plague.
HOWELL: All right, is it divine intervention is important because beer is also big business and important to Belgium's culture. Even the prime minister was there Friday as the country kicked off the three-day party this weekend. Belgium Beer Weekend it's called and that is really what it's called.
ALLEN: The blessing of a beer. That is a first that we're seeing on our program; probably the last. Thanks for watching CNN "Newsroom." I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For viewers here in the United States, "New Day" is next. For viewers around the world, stay tuned for a CNN special report, the mysterious case of George Papadopoulos. Live around the world and in the U.S., you are watching CNN "Newsroom."
ALLEN: See you tomorrow.