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U.K. Prime Minister May Dismisses Talk of Second Brexit Referendum; Reports Show Social Media Push to Help Trump; U.S. Travel

December 19, 2018



<Date: December 18, 2018>

<Time: 09:00>

<Tran: 121819CN.V11>

<Type: SHOW>

<Head: U.K. Prime Minister May Dismisses Talk of Second Brexit

Referendum; Reports Show Social Media Push to Help Trump; U.S. Travel

Ban Separates Dying Child from Mother; Hungary Protesters Fed Up with

Orban’s Government; China Closely Monitors Religious Organizations;

Trump: I Will Review Case Of Accused U.S. Soldier. Aired 2-3a ET - Part 2>

<Sect: International>

<Time: 02:00>

<End: 02:59>

He says he’s innocent. And this is where Goldman Sachs comes in because Goldman was the bank that did the bond issue and says for 1MDB. Goldman raised the money for the fund. Malaysia now says Goldman was part of the problem ignoring the obvious that the money was going elsewhere. According to those charges, Goldman not only misled investors as to where the money was going, but also that they were part of the scheme that diverted more than two billion of what they raised. Goldman Sachs says the charges are misdirected. It’s worth just looking at that and pondering the size and scale.


WATT: CNN’s Ivan Watson now joins us live from Hong Kong. I mean, Ivan, I have been following the story despite Richard claiming that people haven’t. We saw Najib Razak, the prime minister -- former prime minister arrested in the summer. These tales of Jho Low buying jewels, throwing lavish parties, being involved in funding Hollywood movies. But with this Goldman Sachs news today that kicks everything up a notch?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure does because now you have one of the biggest banks, investment banks on Wall Street facing criminal charges in Malaysia. And then the question about how much further in deeper hot water it’s going to get because there are reports of probes involving the SEC, the Federal Reserve. And it’s also being sued in the State of New York by an Abu Dhabi investment fund for allegedly playing a role in kind of embezzling the money.

As far as the Malaysians go, the attorney general has claimed, has accused Goldman Sachs and four individuals of basically helping miss appropriate some $2.7 billion worth of money coming out of these 3 IMDB -- 1MDB rather bond sales that took place in 2012 and 2013. The Malaysian authorities are also accusing Goldman Sachs of vastly overcharging for some $600 million in fees much more above market price for these bond distributions in 2012 and 2013.

[02:35:11] And it is demanding at least $3.3 billion in fines for this as well as up to 10 years in prison. Now, Goldman Sachs has released a statement from CNN saying, “We believed these charges are misdirected and we will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case. They say they’re cooperating with investigators.” But here’s the deal, a former Goldman Sachs partner who is in charge of Southeast Asia, his name is Tim Leissner, last month he pled guilty to U.S. authorities for being involved in corruption and in fraud in 1MDB and this scandal.

And his deputy, a man named Roger Ng, he is facing charges both in the U.S. now and in Malaysia for this. So the list of trouble both for the former bankers for Goldman Sachs and potentially for the bank itself just keeps getting longer.

WATT: And I mean Najib Razak, the former prime minister, he was only arrested in Malaysia after he lost that election last summer. Had he won that election, how would this all be looking right now?

WATSON: Yes. He could have kept fighting this is as he had been and trying to squelch reports about this as well. So he’s facing charges, dozens of corruption charges, and we’re expecting a trial to take place in February for him. And, meanwhile, the investigators just -- they keep trying to gather up all of the luxury goods and assets that were allegedly purchased with these billions of dollars of embezzled funds. So the Malaysian Police, they have unveiled what they say are some $250 million worth of luxury goods and handbags ceased from the former prime minister’s homes.

You’re looking at footage right now of this $250 million yacht that Jho Low, the Malaysian finance here who’s also being charged here both in the U.S. and in Malaysia that he had purchased. Again, allegedly with this embezzled money and the list goes on. It includes paintings by Picasso, Monet, van Gogh. And also, the intellectual rights and property rights to a number of Hollywood films including perhaps appropriately or ironically, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dumb and Dumber To, Daddy’s Home.

These are films that he was allegedly funding with some of this enormous amount of embezzled money. I might go on and add that Tim Leissne, this former Goldman Sachs banker who was involved in making these deals in the first place as part of his guilty plea, he’s having to forfeit himself $43.7 million, Nick.

WATT: Wow. A massive and not particularly sessile scam allegedly. Ivan, thank you very much. Next, a rap battle over censorship is brewing in Russia. President Vladimir Putin says the state needs to guide or control rap music. And the arrest of a popular rapper is the latest move in what appears to be a government crackdown. CNN’s Fred Pleitgen has more from Moscow.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sex, drugs, and a dose of protest. Those are the topics that landed Russian rapper Husky in jail for several days. Known for criticizing the Russian government and Vladimir Putin through his music, his concert was shut down for alleged extremism. Then he was charged with hooliganism when he tried to give an impromptu concert on a car roof. Overall, I was forced into the situation he later said I had to talk to the people who bought the tickets and I felt that it’s my duty to talk to them and they needed to hear me, so I did that.

Russian hip hoppers are on a collision course with the Kremlin. Several artists banded together after Husky was arrested, raised money, and successfully lobbied for him to get him out of jail early sparking a debate about explicit and government critical lyrics and freedom of expression. A music producer during a meeting with Vladimir Putin blaming American culture for allegedly creeping into the minds of Russia’s youth. We have to keep in mind that hip hop and rap are not our inventions, he said.

This is a global trend that came from America, this gangster rap. There were many iterations and it’s based on three pillars, sex, drugs, and protest against everything. It’s not the first time government critical Russian musicians have faced problems, members of the anti-Kremlin band Pussy Riot have spent a considerable amount of time behind bars and they accused Russian authorities of poisoning one of their musicians, a claim the Kremlin vehemently denies.

[02:40:04] But in the case of the rappers, Vladimir Putin taking a fairly moderate line consulting with language experts and then saying if you can’t stop them, steer them. If you continue stop it, you need it to own it, he said, and lead in an appropriate way, but how does one do that? That depends on us. Some politicians suggest age limits for concerts or warning labels for alleged explicit lyrics as Russia’s rap scene gears up for tough times ahead trying to prevent the government from intervening in their music. Fred Pleitgen, CNN Moscow.


WATT: Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. imposes new sanctions on top North Korean officials and Pyongyang is not pleased. We’ll look at whether the move could really endanger the efforts to denuclearize. Plus, Donald Trump promises to review an accused soldier’s murder case. But will his intervention do more harm than good? We’ll have the details.


WATT: Human rights Watch is calling on China to release dozens of Christians including a prominent pastor. Members of the independent Early Rain Covenant Church were taken into custody last week by police. Alexandra Field has an update from Hong Kong.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wang Yi is the pastor of the Early Rain Church, an underground church in Southwestern China. Well, it may be an unregistered church, its prominent pastor hasn’t tried to hide his views. He leads fiery sermons and he’s been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, the Communist Party, Xi Jinpging, and country’s increasingly strict policies targeting religious practice.

It’s legal to practice five religions in China but that’s subject to Communist Party rules and surveillance. Wang’s arrest along with a hundred of his parishioners is seen as another sign of a crackdown on religion in China. Through a U.S.-based NGO, Wang issued a statement calling the crackdown a, “Greatly wicked unlawful action.” He faces allegations of inciting subversion of state power, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison.

The arrest followed demolitions of unregistered churches, crosses being removed from buildings, and a ban on selling bibles on the internet in China. Human rights activists are slamming this as just the latest sign of a crackdown and religious persecution. China is already accused of human rights abuses against hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the western part of the country. There China says its actions are meant at combating violent extremism.

The targeting of religious groups in China though is widely viewed as part of the Communist Party’s efforts to strengthen its control and power all across society. In this case, by combating threats that religious perceived to pose like providing a means for people to organize.

[02:45:19] WATT: China officially an atheist state has an uneasy relationship with religion. Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Catholics, and Protestants are allowed to worship and belong to officially sanctioned religious organizations. But they are all closely monitored and heavily regulated.

The Early Rain Covenant Church is one of many underground Christian churches that occasionally come under crackdowns like this one. The Chinese government has also imposed increasing pressure on the Muslim Uyghur in Western Jinjiang in recent years.

They are subject to mass surveillance, and thousands of them are reportedly held in detention camps. The Vatican and China have long been at odds over who is the head of the church in China. They recently agreed that the Vatican would have a say in the naming of bishops in the country.

And in an unusual show of patriotism, the Shaolin Temple, the home of Zen Buddhism in China and famous for Kung Fu practicing monks raised the Chinese flag for the first time this year. The monastery is more than 1,500 years old.

And now, to North Korea where the regime is talking tough again in response to new sanctions imposed by the U.S., warning that the move could block the path to denuclearization in the peninsula. But is it just bluster or negotiating tactic? What does Pyongyang really want? CNN’s Brian Todd investigates.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim Jong-un’s regime is now making an overt threat to the U.S. government to pull back on its effort to get rid of its nuclear weapons. The North Koreans accusing the State Department and other U.S. government agencies of sabotaging Kim’s deal with President Trump.

Pyongyang is furious over new sanctions on three top officials close to Kim for their human rights violations. Kim’s regime saying in a new statement, those sanctions could, “block the path to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula forever.”

BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW FOR NORTHEAST ASIA, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It’s typical North Korean negotiating behavior. They either want a door prize before they come into the negotiating room. Or they’re sending a signal as to what they want. So, it’s trying to put pressure on the U.S. to reduce pressure or provide benefits if we want the process to continue.

TODD: Experts say, Kim Jong-un badly wants a second summit with President Trump. They say the dictator likely feels he can get more concessions from Trump in a one-on-one meeting. And the North Koreans are trying to drive a wedge between Trump and his own diplomats. Saying that unlike the president’s statements, the State Department wants to bring U.S.-North Korean relations back to where they were last year.

“Marked by exchanges of fire.” Which analysts believe could mean the war of words from last year.

KLINGNER: North Korea has been very careful not to criticize President Trump personally. They will praise not only him but also the agreement that he made with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. And they will blame the lack of progress on denuclearization on either Secretary Pompeo or unidentified senior officials.

TODD: While, Kim’s regime gets more irritated over international sanctions, sources are telling CNN, Kim and his aides are taking new steps to get around those sanctions. One example, smuggling at sea. North Korean tankers are illicitly receiving barrels of oil mostly from Chinese and Russian vessels.

JONATHAN SCHANZER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF RESEARCH, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Down here you’ve got the North Korean ship, over here is apparently a Chinese ship. They are tethered together to make sure that they don’t come apart and they’re transferring barrels of oil. A large amount of oil from one to the other.

TODD: U.S. defense officials say North Korea is changing tactics to evade surveillance from American planes and warships.

RANDY SCHRIVER, UNITED STATES ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The North Koreans are learning evolving getting better, so the ship-to- ship transfers are taking place further away from the peninsula.

TODD: Now, key questions over whether the U.S. and its allies should keep enforcing sanctions, and whether those measures threaten a second meeting between Kim and Trump, which could move them further toward a historic nuclear deal.

SCHANZER: They should not be paused. The whole -- the point of all of this is to demonstrate to the North Koreans that if they engage, if they work with us to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, then, the sanctions will go away.

TODD: But analysts are now really concerned that the resolve among the Americans and their allies to keep up this pressure campaign against the North Koreans is weakening. They say President Trump has been personally reluctant to call for new sanctions. Even though, his State Department has been doing that. They say the South Koreans have backed away from calling for new sanctions are wanting to enforce them. And they say Kim Jong-un is well aware that, that resolve is weakening. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


[02:49:58] WATT: President Trump is also now promising to review the case of a U.S. soldier accused of murder. Matt Golsteyn is accused of killing an unarmed Taliban bomb maker who was already in custody in Afghanistan back in 2010. Jim Sciutto looks at the effect Mr. Trump’s interest may have on the case.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: President Trump threatening to insert himself into an ongoing criminal investigation. This time about a former Special Forces officer who admitted on national television to killing an accused bomb maker who is in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.

Trump tweeting on Sunday, “At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a U.S. military hero, Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder.”

What sparked his interest?

PETE HEGSETH, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Serious story here. A decorated war hero --

SCIUTTO: Apparently, a story that aired on Fox News, Mr. Trump tagging the anchor who broadcast the story in his tweet. Major Golsteyn, the soldier who the president referred to is charged with murdering the accused bomb maker in Afghanistan in 2010.

According to the Washington Post, the man was suspected of making explosives similar to those used to kill two Marines with Golsteyn’s unit. However, according to the New York Times and Washington Post, the suspected bomb maker was not on the predetermined kill list, and he was unarmed.

The U.S. Army has been investigating the incident intermittently since 2011 when Golsteyn admitted to the killing while taking a polygraph test for a job with the CIA. The army then closed the case after determining it did not have any evidence to prosecute according to The Post.

But the military reopened the case after Golsteyn, again admitted to the killing in an interview in 2016, also on Fox News.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Did you kill the Taliban bomb maker?


SCIUTTO: Golsteyn’s lawyer says the killing occurred during a mission ordered by his superiors. And that there is no evidence to justify reopening the case.

PHILLIP STACKHOUSE, ATTORNEY FOR MATT GOLSTEYN: There was nothing described in Bret’s interview that the army didn’t have back in 2011.

SCIUTTO: President’s statement that he will review the matter, raises troubling questions about whether his praise for Golsteyn in that tweet could unduly influence the case. The Pentagon for their part tells CNN, “The allegations against Major Matt Golsteyn are a law enforcement matter. The Department of Defense will respect the integrity of this process.” Jim Sciutto, CNN, New York.


WATT: And in other Donald Trump-related news, the president just called his former attorney a rat for cooperating with prosecutors. One former federal prosecutor, says that is more like what a mob guy would say, not the U.S. president. And he adds, “Stop with the mobster lingo.” Details’ next.


WATT: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is talking about the bull market and what’s happening to it. CNN business anchor Julia Chatterley asked him if the nine-year rally on Wall Street is now in trouble.


JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Is the bull market still intact?

ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES, FEDERAL RESERVE: Not really. No, it’s really to fumble. You can see it by reaction in recent days. It would be very surprising to see it sort of stabilize you and then take off again. But it’s happened in the past. However, at the end of that one, run for cover. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:54:59] WATT: You can hear more from Alan Greenspan on “FIRST MOVE WITH JULIA CHATTERLEY”. That’s Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. in London, 10:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Now, Donald Trump often uses Twitter to trash-talk anyone. He perceives as an enemy. But some critics say he’s sounding more like a mob boss than a president. Jeanne Moos, reports.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When President Trump referred to his former attorney as a rat for talking to the government, critics came scurrying.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Frankly makes him sound more like a mob boss than President of the United States.

MOOS: And not for the first time, the president had previously tweeted about a John Dean type rat, prompting someone to ask sarcastically, “Is this your James Cagney imitation?”

JAMES CAGNEY, FORMER ACTOR AND DANCER: Come out and take it you dirty yellow-bellied rat about give it to you through that door.

MOOS: Or maybe the president prefers The Sopranos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three months ago by you, the rat -- was a second -- coming.

MOOS: The president has tweeted admiringly of how Paul Manafort refused to break. He wondered who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone or Manafort. Former FBI director James Comey noted a similarity.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS: The way the Trump administration is organized, reminded him of something.

COMEY: I had a flashback to my days investigating the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra.

MOOS: But Colbert didn’t think the president was tough enough to be a MOB boss.

COLBERT: Luca Brasi, sleeps with the fishes. But I sleep with the player fishes.

MOOS: Another phrase the president uses.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Flipping they call it. I know all about flipping.

MOOS: You know you could almost mix up quotes from Donald Trump with quotes from the actual dawn of a crime family. Who said it? Trump or Gotti? Asked the New York Times. “He doesn’t know me but he would go down fast and hard crying all the way.” Was Trump not Gotti, responding to a Joe Biden taunt about fighting Trump.

Working in construction, Donald Trump couldn’t entirely avoid the mob.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS: Now, do you -- do you use mob, concrete, or not?

TRUMP: Well, it is the best concrete.

MOOS: And President Trump knows all the best words. Mob Wars.

TRUMP: I know all about flipping. For the 30-40 years, I’ve been watching flippers.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


WATT: Thanks for watching. I’m Nick Watt, you can connect with me anytime on Twitter at Nick Watt, CNN. I’ll be back with another hour of news, next you are watching CNN.


(Byline: Nick Watt; Alex Marquardt; Drew Griffin; Dan Simon; Erin McLaughlin, Richard Quest, Ivan Watson, Fred Pleitgen, Alexandra Field, Brian Todd, Jim Sciutto, Jeanne Moos)

(Guest: Richard Johnson)

(High: Britain’s Parliament appears hopelessly deadlocked over the prime minister’s Brexit deal, but Theresa May is not backing down. She pledged to gain more assurances from the European Union before that vote and she is refusing to give in to growing calls for a second Brexit referendum; Efforts by Russia to meddle in American politics through social media are active and ongoing and far bigger than once thought; As 2-year-old Abdullah Hassan lies dying in Oakland, his mother is thousands of miles away, unable to see him due to the Trump administration’s travel ban, which includes five predominantly Muslim countries; For days now, protesters have been gathering outside Hungary’s parliament. What started as a relatively small rally last week against new overtime laws has morphed into a much larger campaign against prime minister Viktor Orban’s government)

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