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Meng Wanzhou: Trump Could Intervene In Case Of Huawei Executive; Passenger Train Crashes in Turkey, Killing 7; British Prime

December 14, 2018

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<Date: December 13, 2018>

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<Head: Meng Wanzhou: Trump Could Intervene In Case Of Huawei

Executive; Passenger Train Crashes in Turkey, Killing 7; British Prime

Minister Theresa May Survives No Confidence Vote; Trump’s Ex-Lawyer

Given Three-Year Prison Term; International Manhunt for Christmas

Market Gunman Cherif Chekat. Aired 2-3a ET - Part 1>

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<Time: 02:00>

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[02:00:00]

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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A high-speed train crash near the Turkish capital, more than 200 people were on board and emergency teams are now on the scene, scouring the wreckage.

Theresa May avoids one disaster, a challenge to her leadership. But she still faces renewed questions about the future of her Brexit plan.

Plus he was one of Trump’s closest confidantes, now his former lawyer and fixer is headed to prison.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I’m Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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CHURCH: Rescue teams are at the site of a deadly train crash in Turkey. At least seven people were killed when the high-speed train derailed and crashed into an overpass at a station in Ankara.

The city’s governor said he hopes the death toll won’t go up; 206 passengers were on board that train, dozens of people injured. Teams are searching the wreckage for more casualties. We want to go live now to Jomana Karadsheh who joins us from Istanbul.

Jomana, what are you learning about this terrible train crash?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, according to the state news agency and the governor of the capital, Ankara, they say this happened at about 6:30 this morning. This is a high-speed train service that was going from -- from -- in Ankara, the capital, south to Konya.

And near Istanbul at one of the stations, the train derailed and it crashed into the base of an overpass, they say, leading the bridge to collapse onto two of the carriages, absolutely horrific images that we’ve seen coming out of the aftermath of this incident. You could see that -- two of those carriages that seem to, what is left of them basically, mangled carriages. We’re told there’s investigators on the scene and three prosecutors and an investigation has been launched into the cause of this crash by the chief prosecutor.

As you mentioned at least seven people were killed, according to the governor; 46 others were injured.

A total of 206 people were on that high-speed train. They say the injured have been taken to several hospitals and that the governor hopes that the number of those killed will not rise. Our understanding according to officials is that three of the 46 injured are in critical condition.

CHURCH: I know it is early at this point but do they have any idea, have they narrowed it down to possible causes of this crash?

KARADSHEH: Not at this point, Rosemary. They’re pointing out that an investigation by the chief prosecutor has been launched into the cause of this incident. The rescue operations are ongoing on the scene. They also have three prosecutors who are looking into this.

They will look at this different possibilities of what caused the train to derail, whether it was -- whether it was weather related perhaps. You had heavy snowfall yesterday, in Ankara, whether it was an accident or human error. They’ll look at all these different possibilities.

We know that another similar crash took place back in 2004, one of those high-speed trains also. So they will look at all the different possibilities. We will wait to hear more and we’ll bring that to you as by hear more from officials.

CHURCH: It is horrifying for those involved and any loved ones associated with that crash. Jomana Karadsheh, joining us there live with the latest. Many thanks.

Well, Britain’s prime minister resumed her diplomatic efforts for Brexit Thursday after a one-day delay that felt much longer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (voice-over): Theresa May won a no confidence vote in her own Conservative Party Wednesday. The vote was 200 to 117, highlighting the political gridlock she still faces on the Brexit agreement.

She acknowledged the opposition but she also called for unity to deliver the exit from the European Union that Britons voted for in the 2016 referendum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This has been a long and challenging day. But at the end of it, I’m pleased to have received the backing of my colleagues in tonight’s ballot. Whilst I’m --

[02:05:00]

MAY: -- grateful for that support, a significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I’ve listened to what they said. Following this ballot, we now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country.

For my part, I’ve heard what the House of Commons said about the Northern Ireland backstop. When I go to the European Council tomorrow, I will seek legal and political assurances that will assuage the concerns that members of Parliament have on that issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Let’s go to Anna Stewart, who is outside 10 Downing Street. She joins us live with the latest.

Good to see you, Anna. Theresa May won the vote but not by the margin she would have hoped for of course.

Is she really safe at this point?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, not by the margin she would have hoped for, over a third of her own MPs wanted her out. But she would say it was a victory nonetheless, she did win. I’ll show you some of the headlines.

“The Daily Telegraph,” “A vote to remain but when will she leave?”

We have the “Daily Mirror,” possibly my favorite of the day, “Her Goose Is Cooked. It’s Lame Duck for Christmas.”

And then we have the “Daily Mail” and they’re saying, “Now Let Her Get on with the Job,” which is exactly what she intends to do.

As you said, she won a confidence vote but is she safe?

She is safe in terms of a confidence vote from her own party. They can’t do that again for 12 months. However, there’s the risk that she could face a parliamentary vote of confidence on her government, on her premiership. That will take a major in Parliament.

Currently Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, doesn’t seem keen and there are calls from the other opposition parties, the SMP, the Greens, the LibDems to mount that.

So she’s got to see what she gets in the next few weeks. If she doesn’t get support, that’s a possibility going forward.

CHURCH: Right. Anna, what does this mean for Brexit, because that’s the big challenge that remains as well?

STEWART: Right. What does it mean for Brexit? We’re literally almost back to where we began. Essentially this doesn’t change anything in terms of the parliamentary mass. She does not have the support she needs in Parliament to get this withdrawal agreement, the Brexit deal she got with the E.U. through Parliament, they want significant changes, particularly for stuff like the Irish backstop.

Now we had her going around Europe earlier in the week to speak to European leaders and they made it extremely clear that they will not reopen the withdrawal agreement and won’t make significant changes.

So you’ve got to wonder what she can come back with. There’s discussion that she might get some sort of legal wording around the backstop in a political declaration. Arguably that wouldn’t be binding. So maybe an assurance that it won’t be permanent. But it probably won’t be enough.

So we’ve got to see what she comes back from this.

Will she try and push through a vote anyway?

Will she face the confidence vote in Parliament?

And will we end up with a general election sometime next year?

The bookies still seem to think that’s generally a possibility -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: So many questions, Anna. So few answers. Anna Stewart, joining us there from 10 Downing Street, just after 7:00 in the morning. Many thanks.

So the British prime minister is holding onto power but she still needs to seal her Brexit deal. Here’s what’s ahead, an E.U. Council summit in Brussels on Thursday. The 27 countries say they won’t renegotiate Brexit but they will try to help to get the deal ratified in the U.K. January 21st is Downing Street’s deadline for a Parliament vote on the deal.

If Ms. May can squeeze more assurances out of Brussels, she may get more votes than she already has secured.

Keeping in mind that Brexit day is March 29th and it is fast approaching. If Parliament has not approved a deal by then, the U.K. will crash out, a no deal scenario.

Thom Brooks is a professor of law and government at Durham University and the dean of the Durham Law School. He joins me now from Durham, England.

Thank you so much for being with us.

THOM BROOKS, DURHAM UNIVERSITY: A pleasure.

CHURCH: So Theresa May has survived the no confidence vote but she still faces her biggest challenge, getting approval for her Brexit deal.

What do you see as the future for Brexit right now?

BROOKS: It is a very difficult feature for her particular plan for Brexit. The prime minister very quickly triggered Article 50 beginning the Brexit process and yet before she had come to any set principles as to what she wanted to achieve out of Brexit.

Her own cabinet has been largely left in the dark until they saw a first draft in September. That’s when we started to see resignations; her --

[02:10:00]

BROOKS: -- foreign secretary left, her Brexit secretary left the cabinet as well. Many others were to follow.

Not much seems to have changed since then. While she won this vote of confidence among her members of Parliament, her colleagues there, she had 117 going against her. What that means is only one-third of members of Parliament have confidence in the prime minister being prime minister.

And not all of them have support for her particular Brexit plan. So I think that there’s a real challenge right there in terms of any plan getting through Parliament right now, despite the victory.

What makes is more complicated is that, on Monday, the European Court of Justice said that there was a third option, it is not simply just a choice in Parliament between May’s plan or no deal scenario. The Parliament could choose to stay in the European Union without negotiating any extra deal with the E.U. if it wanted to before March.

CHURCH: That’s a good point but nobody seems to be talking about that. They don’t seem to be considering that as an option.

BROOKS: They aren’t considering it as option as such for Parliament but there’s increasingly firm support for some type of second referendum, whether reopening the original question of should the country stay or go?

Or having some referendum on whether to support May’s plan or effectively go back to the drawing board. If Parliament remains gridlocked, if they can’t come to a decision at the moment, it seems that it will not be able to, there’s a lot of opinion out there that either the -- the Parliament should goes to the people and hold another referendum.

Or it should have another general election because something like a referendum might help the prime minister and say, look, to members of Parliament, you guys are not going to support me right now but if the public was in firm support of my plan, that might give me a push.

Likewise if there was a general election, obviously massive risk for the prime minister and her party getting through that. But if they were to win, there would be a new mandate to have some kind of new, firmer footing to negotiate a new deal with Brussels.

At the moment, there’s no new mandate for reopening things, the E.U. has been very clear that it will not do that. For almost two years, the prime minister has tried to work behind the scenes at different European capitals to effectively divide and conquer and get different capitals to help Britain get a more sweet deal. Some in Brussels call it cherry picking.

But none of that came to any fruition. So she is in a very difficult position for Brexit and there’s every possibility it might either be postponed or they will still be stuck.

CHURCH: Who would have to trigger the second referendum?

Who would push for that?

There doesn’t seem to be any political will on the part of Theresa May to push in that direction -- or her party.

BROOKS: There is no clear will with Theresa May or the majority in her party. But there’s a fairly large minority, many of those 117 that are against her, who would be for -- for having a second referendum.

There’s many such as Jacob Rees-Moog, who has been campaigning for a kind of no deal harder Brexit. Even he said during the referendum debate that there ought to be a second referendum on the deal itself. So you see support there.

Most of the support comes from the other side. So while -- while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has not called for a second referendum, many in his party are. You do have large calls for this in the Scottish National Party and the other opposition parties.

I think what is critical here, is remember that Theresa May has got a minority government. She does not have the majority anyway in her party. Her party’s clearly divided. A third is against her. Most of her Parliament is not on her side. She’s had a lot of trouble over the last several days getting any bills through and I think that changes the arithmetic.

CHURCH: So we see Theresa May pushing on with her deal, doesn’t look like at this point she has -- she has enough votes for it.

The other option, if it is triggered, is for -- for this second referendum and then there’s a possibility that -- that Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition leader, could -- could perhaps call a no confidence vote for her government.

So which of those three options do you think is more likely going forward?

BROOKS: I think, at the moment, the most likely option would be the move for a no confidence vote that might reopen a general election fairly soon. I think at the moment, that’s probably the most likely option. There seems to be a very strong mood around no confidence, not just in the -- in Theresa May’s own party. There was 117 of her colleagues that do not have faith in her being prime minister.

[02:15:00]

BROOKS: There wasn’t another candidate against her. This is basically anyone else but her in the party would be central to them. Most of Parliament is -- are not Conservative Party MPs. And so I think that is probably the most likely right now, leading to a props general election in the new year.

And given that European Court of Justice judgment on Monday, it means if there was a general -- if there was a general election, if you did have a new government and had a new mandate to try to reopen things, it would be possible for Britain to -- to delay the start of any Brexit process, to create some extra time to -- to have some renegotiation.

And I think at the moment, with no change and which party is in government and which -- and effectively who the members of Parliament are, Brussels will continue to hold the firm line it has got.

But if there was a new mandate and new people in government, whether they be new members of the Conservative Party or -- or whether they be a party -- party -- Labour Party led by Corbyn or something else, I think that would change things and would give some impetus for another change.

CHURCH: It’s a bit of a mess, isn’t it?

They’ve got to sort it all out and they’ve only got a few weeks to do it. Thom Brooks, thank you so much for your analysis. We appreciate it.

BROOKS: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Few people outside of Donald Trump’s immediate family have been closer to him over the years than his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. Now Cohen is heading to prison after pleading guilty to numerous crimes.

Among them, making secret payoffs in 2016 to two women, who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump before he became president. We get the latest now from CNN’s MJ Lee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison in a dramatic day of reckoning for Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer.

It is the longest amount of prison time yet handed down to a former associate of the president in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. With his family watching in the courtroom, an emotional Cohen saying he takes full responsibility but also pointing the finger at the president, saying, “Time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight criminal counts and last month to lying to Congress. In a final plea to Judge William Pauley, Cohen describing his life as, quote, “personal and mental incarceration” since he started working for Trump.

All of this a stark reversal from Cohen’s years of praise.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I care about Mr. Trump.

He’s a man of great intellect, great intuition and great ability.

He will ultimately go down in history as the greatest president.

LEE: The judge delivering harsh words to Cohen, saying he thrived on his access to wealth and powerful people and he became one himself.

The president turned on his former lawyer earlier this year, as Cohen began cooperating with investigators.

TRUMP: What he’s trying to do is end -- and it’s very simple. He’s got himself a big prison sentence. And he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story.

LEE: At the center of Cohen’s unraveling, two women and two infamous hush payments, former “Playboy” model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels. Both allege they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.

Federal prosecutors now confirm Cohen facilitated those secret payments at Trump’s direction.

The president also denies this, despite being recorded discussing the payments with Cohen.

COHEN: When it comes time for the financing, which will be --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Wait a sec, what financing?

COHEN: Well, I will have to pay him something.

TRUMP: -- pay with cash --

COHEN: No, no, no, no, no. I got it.

TRUMP: -- check.

LEE (voice-over): The special counsel’s office saying in court today that Cohen continues to cooperate to this day with their investigation.

Prosecutor Jeannie Rhee saying Cohen has, quote, “told the truth.”

One business deal Mueller’s team has zeroed in on, Cohen’s negotiations with Russians to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Those talks went on until 2016, when Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee.

Cohen admitting to investigators that he discussed the project with then candidate Trump, even though Trump said frequently on the campaign trail that he had no business ties to Russia.

TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia, folks, OK? I will give you a written statement. Nothing to do. But they tie me into Russia all the time. They like to tie me into Russia.

LEE (voice-over): MJ Lee, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: Just hours after Cohen’s sentencing, prosecutors, a nonprosecution deal with AMI, the parent company of the “National Enquirer” tabloid, its chairman is Donald Trump’s longtime friend, David Pecker. AMI will not be charged for its role in securing hush money from Michael Cohen.

And as part of the deal, the company admits to making a payment in cooperation with the Trump campaign to prevent a former “Playboy” model’s claims of an affair from being made public in 2016.

[02:20:00]

CHURCH: All right, still to come, anti-terror police are now on an international manhunt for the suspect in a deadly attack at a Christmas market in France. What we’re learning about his background.

Later, an alarming new report on the state of press freedom around the globe and which countries are the worst offenders in the war on truth.

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CHURCH: Anti-terror police are now part of an international manhunt to find the gunman who attacked a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France. Authorities have release a photo of the suspect and details on his extensive criminal background. We get more now from CNN’s Ben Wedeman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The French police have put out a notice identifying the prime suspect in the attack on that Christmas market in Strasbourg. They identify the alleged shooter as Cherif Chekatt, 29 years old, born in Strasbourg. This is an individual who certainly has had a troubled past.

The police apparently were aware of him when he was a mere 10 years old. His first conviction happened when he was only 13. He has a total of 27 convictions; noteworthy that all of them are for petty crimes of theft and violence.

But, nonetheless, this did land him on what’s known as France’s Fiche- S or S-list of individuals believed to pose a potential threat to public safety. There are about 20,000 individuals on that list, somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 of them are at least in theory supposed to be under police surveillance.

Now Mr. Chekatt’s home was indeed raided on the morning of the attack in Strasbourg on an unrelated issue. We know that his father, his mother and his two brothers were in police custody today for questioning. No idea of whether they provided any useful information as to where Mr. Chekatt may be at this time.

But police do believe that, during his time in prison, which was spent in France, Germany and Switzerland, he may have been radicalized.

[02:25:00]

WEDEMAN: They point to the fact that when he did carry out this attack at the Christmas market, he shouted “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great.”

Now today we heard that the French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, said that, in addition to the 700 security forces already involved in this manhunt, they would supplement it with 500 soldiers and in the coming days an additional 1,300 personnel at the border between France, Switzerland and Germany.

Which is -- Germany, of course, which is very near Strasbourg, has been tightened but no idea at this point where the suspect may have gone -- I’m Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And just hours ago in Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark in tribute to the victims of the Strasbourg market attack. The city’s mayor says it was to show support for the victims’ loved ones and the citizens of Strasbourg.

A new warning from the U.N. secretary-general on climate change, Antonio Guterres says the planet no longer has the luxury of time to find solutions to global warming. He told delegates at the global climate conference in Poland that they must be successful in resolving key political issues and move the Paris climate agreement forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: This opportunity would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The negotiations are expected to continue through Friday.

Well, up next, the retaliation game is -- a second Canadian is missing after being questioned in China just as Beijing admits it is holding a former Canadian diplomat.

Is this all about Ottawa’s arrest of a top Chinese executive?

We’ll find out when we go live in Hong Kong.

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CHURCH: Welcome back. I’m Rosemary Church. Update you on the stories we’re following this hour.

(HEADLINES)

[02:30:00] CHURCH: Now, it comes as Canada confirms this former diplomat has been detained in Beijing. Both men were reported missing after the Chief Financial Officer of telecom giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States. She was suspected of violating sanctions on Iran. Meng Wanzhou is now out on bail waiting for an extradition hearing. But Donald Trump says he may intervene if it could help reach a trade deal with China. So let’s go to our Andrew Stevens. He joins us live from Hong Kong and get some more on this. So Andrew, let’s start with the two missing Canadians in China? What are you learning about them?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we’re hearing and it’s coming from the state media in Northeastern China is that the second person, Michael Spavor was investigated on December the 10th for activities which could have endangered the national security of China. Now, that’s exactly the same phrase that the Chinese used to describe the activities of Michael Kovrig. So what we’re seeing there is a clear link with China is going after the same sort of activities of these two Canadian nationals.

We don’t know at this stage where they are. Only that they have been investigated with Michael Spavor. That investigation is now under review. This coming from a wire service if you like in the northeastern part of China, a place called Dandong which is on the border with North Korea which is where Spavor is understood to have been living. So these two moves by China come as you say, Rosemary, after the arrest of the Huawei Chief Financial Officer.

But it also comes a few days after China had threatened grave consequence against Canada if they did not release Meng Wanzhou straight away. So we are seeing this linkage. We -- the Chinese and the Canadian government are not yet saying that the two are link, but are certainly looking more and more the case that there is some sort of direct line between these two events. CHURCH: It does seem to look that way, isn’t it? The detention of the two Canadians in China of course coming after President Trump raised the possibility of using tech executive Meng Wanzhou as a bargaining chip in the trade negotiations with China. So what is the likely next step if that indeed is what’s happening here?

STEVENS: Well, if you talk to the officials in charge of the trade negotiations and the overarching picture here is the trade negotiations, an intense trade negotiations on a deal between China and the U.S. They say they’re still talking to the Chinese. There was a phone call two days ago between the top trade negotiators of both countries to push negotiations forward. We don’t know what the timeline of that is at this stage. But we’ve heard from two top trade representatives from the U.S. saying point-blank that the arrest of Meng Wanzhou was not related to the trade talks.

Donald Trump has obviously drawn this parallel and is now linking the two directly. But at this stage, it’s in the interest both of the U.S. and of China to reach some sort of deal here seeing both economies are being hit. So there hasn’t been a Chinese official Chinese line saying that the arrest of Meng and the arrest of the Canadians or the detention of the Canadians are linked. But the Chinese as with the U.S. trade negotiators at least want to get on and do some sort of a deal.

Remember, there’s a hard deadline here of March the 1st before the U.S. kicks in with new tariffs against Chinese goods going to the U.S., Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Andrew Stevens reporting on the latest on this ongoing story there in Hong Kong where it’s -- it is -- what is it? 3:30 in the afternoon? Many thanks to you. Appreciate it.

STEVENS: Thanks, Rosemary.

[02:35:02] CHURCH: Well, new report details the growing number of journalist jailed for their work. When we come back, what role does President Trump play in the war on truth? Back in a moment.

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CHURCH: Well, the U.S. Congress appears stymied in its effort to hold Saudi Arabia responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Senate began debating a bill to curb U.S. Military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. But on the other side of the U.S. Capitol, House Republicans tinkered with the legislation to ensure it could not come up for a vote there. The Senate bill is one of several in Congress aimed at holding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman accountable for Khashoggi’s killing.

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