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Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, holding back tears: 'Not many people have asked if I'm OK'
By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave a rare glimpse into her personal life when she admitted that she has struggled to deal with the repercussions of being a new mother in the spotlight.

A snippet of her powerful interview with reporter Tom Bradby was released by ITV on Friday. The clip is a part of the British television channel's documentary, "Harry & Meghan: An African Journey," which will be released in the UK on Sunday.

In the video, Meghan talks about the issues she's grappled with as a new wife, mother, and duchess whose life has been judged and dissected by the media and public since she first began dating Prince Harry.

"Any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging," Meghan said in the emotional video. "And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it's a lot. So, you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed."

Holding back tears, Meghan thanks Bradby for asking about the impact the pressure has had on her mental and physical health.

"Thank you for asking. Not many people have asked if I'm OK, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes," she said.

When the reporter asked Meghan if that meant she wasn't OK, and that it "really" has been a struggle, the former actress simply says 'Yes.'

Following the release of the touching interview, the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan trended on Twitter, with hundreds of thousands expressing sympathy and support for the 38-year-old mother.

Meghan has been a target of intense public scrutiny, especially from the media.

Most recently, Prince Harry and Meghan said they were suing British newspaper Mail on Sunday for releasing an edited version of a private letter Meghan sent to her father.

"Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences -- a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," Harry wrote in an online statement.

The documentary, which will offer a behind-the-scenes view of the royal couple's tour of southern Africa, will exclusively debut on ITV on October 20.


Driver in fatal Indiana bus stop crash found guilty of homicide

Driver in fatal Indiana bus stop crash found guilty of homicide
By Chenelle Terry and Theresa Waldrop, CNN

A 25-year-old Indiana woman was found guilty of reckless homicide in the 2018 deaths of three siblings at a school bus stop in rural Rochester, Indiana, CNN affiliate WNDU reported.

Six-year-old twin boys, Xzavier Ingle and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, were killed on October 30, 2018, when a pickup truck driven by Alyssa Shepherd struck and killed the three children, who were crossing the two-lane road to get to the bus.

A 11-year-old boy, unrelated to the other three, was hit, but survived after being airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. He spent nearly a month in the hospital and is continuing to recover from his injuries, WNDU reported.

Shepherd, 25, was also found guilty of criminal recklessness and of causing injury by passing a school bus that had its stop arm out, according to WNDU.

Shepherd faces up to 21.5 years in prison, the report said.

Her sentencing is scheduled for December 18.

CNN has reached out to Shepherd's attorney for comment. It confirmed the conviction from a source with direct knowledge of the situation.


Honduran President's brother found guilty of drug trafficking charges
By Amir Vera and Maria Santana, CNN

The brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was found guilty of trafficking cocaine Friday, according to the US Department of Justice.

Juan Antonio Hernández Alvarado, also known as "Tony Hernández," was arrested in Miami last year on charges of trafficking cocaine, weapons offenses and making a false statement. He was taken to New York and charged.

The guilty verdict means Hernández is facing 30 years to life in prison. He will be sentenced on January 17, 2020.

Between 2004 and 2018, Hernández was involved in processing, receiving, transporting and distributing multi-ton loads of cocaine that came to Honduras by plane, boat and, on at least on occasion, by submarine, a federal indictment states. Hernández had access to labs in Honduras and Colombia, where some of the cocaine was stamped "TH" for Tony Hernández.

"Hernández bribed law enforcement officials to protect drug shipments, solicited large bribes from major drug traffickers, and arranged machine gun-toting security for cocaine shipments," said Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a news release.

The Justice Department said that Hernández helped import nearly 200,000 kilograms of cocaine. Hernández was accused of drug-related murders in 2011 and 2013, the release said.

One of the most explosive allegations against Hernández during the 11-day trial was that he funneled the drug money to National Party campaigns "to impact Honduran presidential elections in 2009, 2013, and 2017," the release said. Between 2010 and 2013, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, helped Hernández with cocaine shipments and delivered a $1 million bribe to the Honduran president during the 2013 national elections in Honduras, according to the Justice Department.

Guzmán is the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel now serving a life sentence in the United States.

President Juan Orlando Hernández denied the accusations against him and tweeted that he received the news of the verdict with great sadness and that the decision was "based on the testimonies of confessed murderers."

The allegations made in court against the Honduran president have sparked protests in the country and calls for his resignations. A group of Honduran citizens celebrated the verdict outside New York federal court with chants and banners that read "Fuera JOH" or "Out J-O-H," the president's initials.


An African American security guard asked a student to not call him the n-word. That request got him fired
By Sheena Jones and Leah Asmelash, CNN

An African American security guard told a student to stop calling him the n-word. It cost him his job.

Marlon Anderson was a security guard at Madison West High School in Wisconsin. Last Wednesday, he was called in to help the assistant principal escort a student from school grounds, he told CNN.

The student was resisting, including yelling and pushing the principal. Anderson called for backup, and the student started yelling expletives at him, including the racial slur, Anderson said.

At first, Anderson said he asked the student to stop calling him that, without saying the word. But the student continued to call him different variations of the word.

Finally, Anderson said he responded: "Don't call me (n-word)."

That's the comment that got him fired.

A 'zero-tolerance' policy



When contacted for comment, the school did not respond directly to Anderson's firing, but said it has a zero-tolerance policy for the use of racial slurs.

"We are working to make our school climates the best they can be for all students and staff," said Gloria Reyes, president of the Madison Board of Education in a statement. "We've taken a tough stance on racial slurs, and we believe that language has no place in schools."

But Anderson doesn't agree with the policy.

"The district just wants to say you can't use this word, period," he told CNN. "These policies are hurting the kids and staff. Without context this isn't helpful; it's more hurtful."

The school board plans on reviewing their approach, Reyes continued in the statement.

Anderson is represented by a union, which filed a grievance with the school district this week on his behalf. He's seeking reinstatement and back pay, according to a statement from the union.

Anderson had been working at the school district for 11 years. He has two sons who attended Madison West High School. One is a current senior and the other is a graduate of the high school.

Anderson isn't without his supporters, though. The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County hired Anderson as its temporary director of program operations. In a Facebook post announcing the hire, the nonprofit wrote that Anderson has "an amazing track record" with local teens.

CNN affiliate WKOW reported that Madison West students staged a walkout on Friday in support of Anderson.

And if that wasn't enough, singer Cher even offered to pay his legal fees if he chooses to sue.


A man missing for a week is found alive inside his wrecked car at the bottom of a gully
By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

A Missouri man who'd been missing for a week was found at the bottom of a ravine by a biker.

Ryan Linneman, 37, was discovered at the bottom of a 50-foot ravine where his car come to rest after tumbling off the road near Kansas City Wednesday, Lee's Summit Police told CNN.

He was reported missing in his 2004 Honda Accord on October 10 when his family became concerned about his mental and physical well being.

After exhausting the usual efforts to find him, detectives turned to the public, according to Sgt. Chris Depue, the public information officer for the LSPD.

A motor biker riding off trail found Linneman. Since it was outside the LSPD jurisdiction, Kansas City, Missouri, police were the first to arrive at the scene.

"It's an area that's very remote, you can't see it at all from the roadway. He appears to have been there for several days," Bill Mahoney, KCPD Accident Investigator, told CNN affiliate KSHB.

However, police are still trying to narrow down the timeline in order to determine how Linneman survived.

"To say it was fortunate for him that the biker came by, is an understatement," Mahoney said.

Linneman was taken to the hospital in critical condition with multiple fractures and severe frostbite, according to Depue. He remains in the intensive care unit.


Has the White House tainted Barr's investigation of the Russia probe?
By Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

The Justice Department's investigation into the origins of the Russia election interference probe keeps getting unwanted assists from the White House, raising questions of how the department will be able to defend the legitimacy of any of its eventual findings.

From the start, the probe has been driven by Attorney General William Barr's suspicions -- critics call them conspiracy theories -- that some of the officials overseeing the counterintelligence investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign may have acted improperly. His embrace of these theories aligns with President Donald Trump's chief grievance that he was the victim of a "deep state" spy operation that has clouded his presidency. And some steps taken already point to the investigation being anything but a typical law enforcement inquiry.

But Justice Department officials have bristled at recent events that threaten to taint the investigation being led by John Durham, a respected Connecticut federal prosecutor who established a temporary office in Washington to conduct the probe.

Department officials have said Barr didn't know that Trump had mentioned his name in a July call with Ukraine's President suggesting he work with the attorney general and Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal attorney, whose activities are near the center of the congressional impeachment inquiry. And a senior Justice official objected after acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney linked a freeze of Ukraine aid to the Justice Department probe.

A picture of Durham's work has begun to emerge from other US agencies and from people who are expected to be part of his review.

Barr, who has long had a reputation as a micromanager, has taken an unusually hands-on managing approach to the probe as well. He has traveled with Durham to foreign countries to help gather information, according to a person familiar with the trips.

Some witnesses have already been interviewed, with a few speaking with Durham over the summer, several sources say. But at least two people had been unwilling to speak to investigators, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. Durham has yet to interview any CIA officials, according to sources, but has been spotted in the hallways there.

Durham has refrained from forcing some testimony with subpoenas, signaling that at least publicly the department isn't ready to call it a criminal investigation. But the possibility remains that criminal charges could emerge from the probe.

Other signs point to the review being atypical among law enforcement efforts. For instance, the department's inspector general's office, a unit that operates independently, has shared information with Durham from its own foreign intelligence surveillance review.

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department's inspector general, acknowledged as much in mid-September congressional testimony.

"I have had communications with him, but it's really -- they're a separate entity that he's working on at the direction of the attorney general," Horowitz said. "I'm obviously independent."

Justice Department officials have provided only limited information on what specifically Durham is looking into. A department spokeswoman declined to comment for this story, as did Durham and the inspector general's office.

The investigation



Durham has a small team that includes Justice Department headquarters employees assisting him, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

Barr previously signaled that the review would include an examination of former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele's work compiling research about Trump and Russia in a dossier that was commissioned by Fusion GPS, a research and investigative firm.

His department also addressed some of what Durham was investigating regarding Ukraine, when a White House summary of the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was released last month.

"Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. While the Attorney General has yet to contact Ukraine in connection with this investigation, certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said at the time in a statement.

In many ways, the outlines provided by the Justice Department have buoyed the President's hopes. Trump has asked the prime ministers of Australia and the United Kingdom for help in the probe, which he views as discrediting the Russia investigation, CNN reported this month.

Barr's role



Barr's trips have been unusual not just for their secrecy, but also for how the Justice Department has gone about them, with the attorney general's personal work as investigator.

In other investigations, including special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, prosecutors used a formal process to send requests to foreign governments under the guidelines of a treaty. It's unclear if this has been done in the Durham investigation, raising questions about how any information that Barr has found could be used in court.

Among the Barr-Durham trips to gain public attention is one last month to Italy to meet with Italian officials in part to gather information on Joseph Mifsud, a shadowy professor whose discussions with a Trump campaign associate became part of the Mueller investigation, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mifsud has become a subject of fascination in some conservative media, where stories have claimed he was working for US or Western intelligence and was tasked to spy on the Trump campaign.

But not all foreign forays are going as planned.

British officials have expressed reluctance to become part of US political infighting this year, and have pointed to information they provided to US law enforcement in 2016, according to a person briefed on the matter.

And more recently, the Australian ambassador in Washington reacted sharply when Sen. Lindsey Graham publicly urged Australia and other countries to assist Barr's probe and used a characterization commonly found in conservative media to describe the role of a former Australian diplomat at the start of the Russia investigation.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said the Australian diplomat had been directed to contact a Trump campaign aide. Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey responded publicly that while his country would cooperate with Barr, "We reject your characterisation of his role," referring to the Australian diplomat whose tip to the FBI jump-started the Russia investigation.

A 'serious red line,' Barr says



The attorney general had broad skepticism about the Trump Russia investigation and how it had started long before he took office.

Early in his tenure after he appointed Durham, he described concerns.

"There were counterintelligence activities undertaken against the Trump campaign. And I'm not saying there was not a basis for it, that it was legitimate, but I want to see what that basis was and make sure it was legitimate," Barr said in an interview on CBS in May.

He wanted a review of the intelligence, he said in that interview, because "the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign, to me, is unprecedented and it's a serious red line that's been crossed."

It's not clear whether Barr learned information from his own sources or whether those suspicions were driven by conservative media stories that have spun a broad tale alleging US security agencies illegally spied on Americans as part of the investigation.

Barr has touted how the review is "broad in scope and multifaceted," and Mulvaney pointed to the review on Thursday as justification for the administration's demands from Ukraine.

With no sign of the review's conclusion in sight, it could continue to be used by the White House during the presidential election next year.

But in recent days, the White House and Justice Department have made clear that the review covers the waterfront of the President's lingering griefs about the Russia investigation.

Mulvaney said Thursday at the White House that the administration had held up aid to Ukraine in exchange for help with investigating the 2016 election, an act the House is now considering as it looks at potential reasons to impeach the President.

Mulvaney then invoked Durham. "So you're saying the President of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask somebody to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing? That's -- that's just bizarre to me, that you would think that you can't do that," Mulvaney countered to a reporter when pressed about the quid pro quo.

The Justice Department quickly distanced itself from Mulvaney, with a senior official saying, "If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us."

Durham's review is far from being done -- meaning any potential conclusions from it could be made public close to the 2020 election. A separate report by the Justice Department inspector general on the foreign surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page is much nearer to being released, as soon as next month. Barr has been briefed on it as recently as last week, according to one source, and the FBI is also reviewing it, according to several people with knowledge. Horowitz said last month that his office had turned over factual findings to the Justice Department "for their marking."

Trump has also regularly claimed the report's release was imminent. But that appears not to be true, in part because witnesses involved have not yet received an opportunity to review draft versions, as is standard procedure.


Why the Trump-Ukraine scandal isn't dominating the news in Ukraine
By Hadas Gold, CNN Business

On Friday an English-language Ukrainian paper called the Kyiv Post made a splash on social media with an arresting front page.

With a red headline, "Shady Cast of Characters: Engineers of Trump-Ukraine Scandal," the entire front page was filled with photos of everyone allegedly connected to the scandal currently engulfing the Trump administration and Ukraine and which has led House Democrats to look into impeaching Trump.

Under 18 different photos on that front page was commentary on how the individuals -- including Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland and Mick Mulvaney -- were allegedly tied to the scandal.

The paper's tweet with the front page was retweeted thousands of times.

The Kyiv Post, which is geared toward expats in Ukraine and Ukrainians abroad, is an outlier in the country's media.

Olga Rudenko, deputy chief editor of the paper, said the front page was part of their long running coverage of the scandal.

"A large part of our audience are Westerners, we naturally are at the intersection of the Ukrainian and Western news agenda. That's why Trump's impeachment story has been one of our top priorities," she said in an email.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said the paper "represents a Western oriented, staunchly pro-reform point of view which I think pretty much gets the story right."

Herbst, now director of the Eurasia center at the Atlantic Council, noted that many media outlets in Ukraine are owned by oligarchs.

"[The Kyiv Post] is by no means the major voice in media in Ukraine," he said.

Elsewhere in Ukraine the impeachment inquiry is not a major headline.

"For the first week or so, there has been a lot of discussion about whether it will hurt Ukraine geopolitically," Rudenko said. "But then the news cycle moved on and this story was overshadowed by local news."

It's not just that there's a lot of other things going on that are demanding more attention, like the war in eastern Ukraine or that a top ally of ex-President Poroshenko was arrested in a corruption case. It's also that there's a bipartisan fear among Ukrainian politicians that their country's centrality in the scandal will hurt Ukraine's relationship with the United States.

"Ukraine's survival as an independent state depends upon strong American support and strong American support is only possible if it's bipartisan," Herbst said. "Ukraine has been a bipartisan issue since its independence. But the impeachment hearings put that in danger."

Ivan Verstyuk, a journalist for the independent publication Novoye Vremya, said Ukraine's biggest fear is that the word "Ukraine" will become a partisan issue in the United States.

"We don't want the average Trump voter to think 'Ukraine is bad' because it brought trouble for their president," Verstyuk said.

As a result, politicians in Ukraine have been keeping quiet on impeachment, Verstyuk noted.

"It's a consensus in Ukraine that Ukraine should not move on and build up on the conflict, and just try to keep it as silent as possible, not to make matters worse," he said.

Christopher Miller, a freelance reporter in Kyiv who has worked for BuzzFeed and Radio Free Europe, said the "presidential administration [in Ukraine] has imposed a policy of silence," with only the president or his chief of staff commenting.

That's not to say Ukrainian media is not covering the matter. When the transcript of a July call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was released, Miller said, the Ukrainian media focused on Zelensky telling Trump that the prosecutor who would look into the subjects Trump wanted investigated would be "100% my person, my candidate."

That was a problem. Ukraine has been trying, for years, to shake out corruption from its politics, and Zelensky ran on a platform of rooting out corruption, Miller said.

"So to hear him say to Donald Trump that the prosecutor was going to be his man, made him out to be like all the presidents before him who used this position as their own to carry out political vendettas," Miller said.

The media also honed in on Zelensky's comments from the July call that France and Germany are not doing "as much as they should" for Ukraine and that the European Union was not their biggest partner, Verstyuk said.

Ukrainian media is covering the news from the States, Verstyuk said, like the resignations of now-former US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, both of whom have ties to the scandal. And the Ukrainians are interested in news about Trump because of how much their country depends on US aid.

"Ukraine follows Trump a lot, it does care about its interests, what kind of politician Trump is," Verstyuk said. "So it's interesting and important for Ukraine society now -- it gets a better feeling of what Trump is."

Rudenko said Ukraine has bee in the global headlines for the wrong reasons and should instead by in the headlines because it is "the only country in Europe suffering from war, an invasion."

"This should be the reason for the world to talk about Ukraine," she said. "Unfortunately, what brought Ukraine back to focus was a dirt-digging campaign of the top U.S. officials, fueled by a handful of shady and disreputed Ukrainians who were telling the Americans what they wanted to hear."


Fact check: Cutting through the misinformation on Syria, Turkey and the Kurds
By Tara Subramaniam, Daniel Dale, Marshall Cohen and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

Since the White House announced the withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria on October 6, President Donald Trump's attempts to control the narrative have been rife with misinformation and political spin.

He insinuated the Kurds would be fine without continued US support because the US had already given them "massive" amounts of money and weapons. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told CNN that at least five Kurdish fighters have been killed as a result of Turkish attacks, while the UN estimates that more than 160,000 people have been displaced by the Turkish offensive.

Trump threatened to "destroy" Turkey's economy through sanctions. Then shortly after implementing them, he rolled back the most punitive measures.

On October 17, Trump announced a ceasefire had been agreed to, after falsely denying claims that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made days earlier that he wouldn't declare a ceasefire.

Turkey referred to the deal as a "pause," and there are questions as to whether the terms have held amid reports on Friday of shelling and artillery fire.

Wading through the flood of misinformation surrounding this ongoing conflict can be confusing, so we're here to parse out the facts from the fiction.

Origin of the conflict



Trump has framed this conflict as both having started under Obama and one that's hundreds of years old.

Facts First: While Trump can argue that Obama's Syria policy led to the current state of affairs, Obama obviously did not "start" the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds or the conflict between Turkey and the PKK in particular. According to experts, the origins of the conflict between the Kurds and Turkey can be traced to shortly after the First World War.

Full fact check here.

Aid to the Kurds



Trump said on several occasions that the US has given "massive" assistance to the Kurds, implying that that although the Kurds were allies in the fight against ISIS, they no longer needed further aid.

Facts First: Though the definition of "massive" is nonspecific, the annual amount the US has given to the Kurds is far less than the billions of dollars the Pentagon spends on foreign military aid to other countries.

Full fact check here.

Help from the Kurds



As part of his defense for removing troops from northern Syria, Trump suggested that the Kurds have not come to the aid of the US in previous conflicts, specifically citing the fact that the Kurds did not join the US during the invasion of Normandy in 1944.

Facts First: They couldn't. They had no military, no government, no means of transport.

Full fact check here.

The Kurds and ISIS prisoners



After Turkish forces launched their military offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria, President Donald Trump echoed talking points from Erdogan, suggesting that Kurdish forces guarding many of the prisoners might be purposely allowing ISIS detainees to escape camps and prisons.

Facts First: US officials told CNN there is no evidence that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have intentionally released any of the 10,000-plus ISIS prisoners they guard and believe it would be against their interests to do so given the direct threat the terrorist group poses to Kurdish-held areas in Syria.

Full fact check here.

US soldiers in Syria



Trump claimed on October 10 that the US had "no soldiers in Syria."

Facts First: There were still 1,000 US soldiers in Syria at the time, though Trump had withdrawn a small number from the part of northern Syria where Turkey planned to attack.

Full fact check here.

The Kurds and "a different part of Syria"



Trump has at least twice appeared to refer to a 2017 dispute between the Kurds and Iraq as having taken place in a "different part of Syria."

Facts First: The dispute was over the contested city of Kirkuk, which is in Iraq, not Syria.

Full fact check here.

Trump's Turkey deal vs. previous administrations



The day a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was announced, Trump claimed people had tried to make that deal with Turkey for 10 years but were not able to. Then he said it had been 15 years or more.

Facts First: The Syrian Civil War is less than 10 years old, Trump made a narrow deal specifically related to Turkey's offensive this month, and no previous president had sought to offer Turkey such concessionary terms.

Full fact check here.

The Turkish economy



In a tweet and in a letter sent to Erdogan, Trump claimed the US could destroy Turkey's economy -- as he claimed his administration had done "so" in the past to pressure the country for the return of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Facts First: Experts say the US certainly has the capability to cause some damage given the fragility of Turkey's economy.

Full fact check here.

The PKK and ISIS



Trump told reporters the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a separatist group of Kurds in Turkey, is likely a larger terrorist threat than ISIS, mimicking Erdogan's rhetoric about the PKK.

Facts First: Though the PKK is also designated as a terrorist organization by the US, experts do not consider the separatist group to be a global threat on the level of ISIS.

Full fact check here.

Russia and ISIS



On several occasions, Trump has described Russia and the US as equal partners in the fight against ISIS. He made this argument in October while defending his Syria policy, saying, "Russia hates ISIS as much as the United States does."

Facts First:Trump's comments don't reflect the reality on the ground in Syria. Top US generals have said that Russia's actions have helped, not hurt, ISIS. Also, by equating the US and Russia, Trump is rejecting the assessment of US generals and echoing a favorite talking point of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Full fact check here.

This post will be updated as events unfold.


McConnell slams Trump administration for Syria withdrawal after talking to Pence
By Veronica Stracqualursi and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday strongly condemned the Trump administration's decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria, calling it a "grave strategic mistake" in a blistering op-ed.

The rare criticism of the Trump administration from McConnell followed a phone conversation the Republican leader had with Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence phoned McConnell on Thursday night as the vice president was on his way back from Ankara after brokering a five-day ceasefire between Syria and Turkey, an official told CNN.

The conversation, however, clearly did not keep the GOP leader from penning an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday, ripping the President's decision to withdraw from Syria -- without naming him.

McConnell warned that the withdrawal of US troops from Syria "will leave the American people and homeland less safe, embolden our enemies, and weaken important alliances."

He said the US pullback "risks repeating the Obama administration's reckless withdrawal from Iraq, which facilitated the rise of the Islamic State in the first place."

Earlier this month, the White House announced -- following a call between Trump and the Turkish President -- that US forces in northern Syria would move aside in advance of a planned Turkish military offensive. The move effectively greenlighted the Turks to attack US-backed Kurdish forces, who were key allies in the campaign against ISIS in the region. McConnell and other congressional Republicans forcefully came out against the decision.

This week, the US House approved a bipartisan resolution opposing the Trump administration's move, and McConnell said he wants the Senate to pass an "even stronger" resolution.

Trump has defended his decision, saying on Twitter, "It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home."

In the Post op-ed, McConnell wrote that US withdrawal in Syria and the escalation of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict is "creating a strategic nightmare for our country." He argued that the absence of the US will allow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime and Iran to expand influence in the region.

In another break from the President, the Kentucky Republican also said the Syria situation "must chasten the United States against withdrawing from Afghanistan before the job is done."

"As neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and the right, we can expect to hear more talk of 'endless wars.' But rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not just end; wars are won or lost," McConnell wrote.

The President had announced last December that he would withdraw all US troops from Syria, which sparked outrage and led to the resignation of then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. McConnell said in a statement at the time that he was "particularly distressed" by Mattis' departure and urged the President to "select a leader who shares Secretary Mattis'" view of US global leadership.


Buttigieg campaign says attorney who blocked release of police shooting footage no longer co-hosting fundraiser
By Kate Sullivan and MJ Lee, CNN

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign said Friday that it was returning money donated and raised by a Chicago attorney who had tried to block the release of footage showing a fatal police shooting of a black teenager in 2014.

Steve Patton donated $5,600 to the Buttigieg campaign in June and had been scheduled to co-host a fundraiser for the Democratic presidential candidate on Friday, The New York Times reported. The Associated Press was first to report on Patton sponsoring the fundraiser.

"Transparency and justice for Laquan McDonald is more important than a campaign contribution," Buttigieg spokesperson Chris Meagher said in a statement. "We are returning the money he contributed to the campaign and the money he has collected. He is no longer a co-host for the event and will not be attending."

The reversal comes as Buttigieg struggles to win support from nonwhite voters. The mayor had just 2% of support from nonwhite voters in Nevada and less than 1% in South Carolina in CNN's latest polls in the two early-voting states.

"It's frustrating," Buttigieg told reporters at an event in Chicago on Friday when asked about the controversy. "I'm going to figure out how it happened and make sure it doesn't happen again."

CNN has reached out to Patton for comment.

Seventeen-year-old McDonald was shot and killed on October 20, 2014, by now-former police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. Van Dyke was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.

Video from the police dashboard camera that captured McDonald's shooting and contradicted police accounts was not released for 13 months, until a judge ordered it. Patton was the city attorney at the time, and the city argued the video could not be released while the FBI and the US attorney investigated the shooting.

Once it was released the footage sparked protests, a Justice Department civil rights investigation, criticism of then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the eventual ouster of the police superintendent. Earlier this month, an inspector general report outlined what it described as an elaborate cover-up by 16 officers and supervisors, including Van Dyke.

Buttigieg's campaign faced one of its most challenging weeks earlier this year after an officer-involved shooting in South Bend. The shooting brought attention to the palpable tension between the city's African American community and its police department, which has grown less diverse during Buttigieg's tenure.

The following month, after Buttigieg had taken time away from the campaign trail to address the shooting, the mayor outlined new aspects of his plan to combat racial inequality, if elected president in 2020.

Buttigieg's first major decision as mayor in 2012 was met by outrage from community activists, when he ousted the city's first black police chief. Buttigieg asked Darryl Boykins to step down in the midst of a contentious situation centering on a federal investigation into tapes of recorded phone conversations inside the South Bend police department and allegations that the tapes contained racist comments about Boykins and that Boykins had threatened subordinates. The mayor subsequently named two white officers to lead the department.


Utility pole skewers car in Thomasville right after parent drops kid off at school
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    THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) -- One Thomasville parent had a terrifyingly close call during a crash on Salem Street.

Before 9 a.m. Friday morning, Thomasville police shared photos of the car crash near Winston Street.

"No injuries but extremely lucky!" police said in the Twitter post.

The parent driving had just dropped off their child at school when they crashed into a utility pole. The pole ended up smashing through one of the backseat windows.

Police closed Salem Street from Winston Street to Lodge Drive.

According to Duke Energy, 241 people are without power in the area. This stretches from Main Street in the historic district to Interstate 85 Business.

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Death toll rises after a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in North Carolina
By Nicole Chavez and Jamiel Lynch, CNN

Another person has died from an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in North Carolina, bringing the death toll to four.

None of the victims have been identified by authorities and health officials have not discussed the circumstances of their deaths.

There have been 141 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease, an airborne lung infection, or Pontiac Fever, a milder form of the disease since last month. Health officials said nearly all of those infected were attending the NC Mountain State Fair in Fletcher between September 6 and 15.

The outbreak has been linked to a hot tubs display in one events center and officials said it took place during the last five days of the fair, a preliminary report shows.

There were no other significant sources of aerosolized water -- small droplets of water or mist that can be inhaled -- at the event center, and no other ongoing potential sources of exposure identified, the health department has said.

Legionnaires' disease is a lung infection contracted when people breathe in the Legionella bacteria through a mist or by accidentally getting water into their lungs that contains the bacteria.

The disease is serious but can be treated with antibiotics, the department said. About 1 in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires' disease die, a recent government report found.

Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment but can become a health concern when they "spread in human-made water systems like hot water tanks, cooling towers of air conditioning systems, decorative fountains and hot tubs or spas that are not properly maintained," the North Carolina health department said.


Exclusive: Giuliani pushed Trump administration to grant a visa to a Ukrainian official promising dirt on Democrats
By Manu Raju, Michael Warren, Kylie Atwood, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators in his closed-door testimony this week that Rudy Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official who Joe Biden had pushed to have removed when he was vice president, according to four people familiar with Kent's testimony.

Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified that around January 2019 Giuliani requested a visa for former Ukrainian prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin to travel to the United States. Shokin had been pushed out of his position as Ukraine's top prosecutor in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including Biden, over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases.

Giuliani has previously told CNN he wanted to interview Shokin in person because the Ukrainian promised to reveal dirt on Democrats.

Kent told congressional investigators the State Department had objected to the request, and State did not grant the visa. Giuliani, Kent said, then appealed to the White House to have State reverse its decision. Shokin's visa was never granted, although Giuliani eventually spoke with Shokin over Skype.

The incident reveals how Giuliani's work to dig up dirt on Democrats went much further than previously understood -- and included an attempt to directly influence the actions of the federal government. Concerns that Giuliani was inappropriately involved in shaping and driving the administration's Ukraine policy form a significant part of the intelligence community whistleblower's complaint, which prompted the ongoing impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

Giuliani did not reply Friday to questions from CNN. The White House did not respond to request for comment. Kent's lawyer declined to comment for this story.

When asked about the matter, a State Department said that visa records are confidential under US law and the department does not discuss the specifics of individual cases.

Generally, visa applicants are required by US law to be interviewed by a consular officer at a US diplomatic mission. A visa application can be denied for a number of reasons, including if the reviewed information falls "within the scope of one of the inadmissibility or ineligibility grounds of the law," the State Department's website says.

In their January 23 Skype interview, Shokin provided information, Giuliani has told CNN, about supposed coordination between Democrats and people in Ukraine, as well as claims about Biden's son Hunter Biden, who had sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings. Shokin's successor as prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, did travel to the US and spoke with Giuliani about these claims later.

Details from those interviews were included in a cache of documents Giuliani delivered to the State Department earlier this year, in hopes that the administration would investigate those claims. The State Department inspector general eventually turned the documents over to congressional investigators.

According to a write-up of his interview with Shokin included in the documents, Giuliani claimed that Shokin "believes the current Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch denied his visa" and noted that Yovanovitch was "close to Mr. Biden." In her recent testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Yovanovitch said she has met Biden "several times over the course of our many years in government, neither he nor the previous Administration ever, directly or directly, raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me."

Giuliani's efforts to push a smear campaign against Yovanovitch ultimately led to her removal from her post in May.

But Shokin also had a damaged reputation among plenty of US and European diplomats. Dogged by criticism he had not pursued corruption aggressively enough, Shokin was forced to resign as Ukraine's top prosecutor in 2016 after both internal pressure and pressure from Western governments and financial institutions.

Among the leading advocates for Shokin's resignation was Biden, who at the time led the Obama administration's anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.

Shokin has claimed, Giuliani has told CNN, that Biden pushed for his removal in order to stop an investigation into Burisma. There has been no evidence the Obama administration's push to remove Shokin was linked to stopping this investigation, which had been dormant for two years before the time of Shokin's resignation.


Welcome to one of the most important days in British political history
Analysis by Luke McGee, CNN

Welcome to what might be one of the most important days in British political history.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the European Union.

Astonishingly, after months of saying that Theresa May's deal could not be changed, the EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, cooked up by team Johnson.

Even more astonishingly, EU leaders seem happy with this deal and have been effusive about Johnson -- the man with whom they dreaded negotiating.

Brexit wrecking ball?



However impressive Johnson's Brussels victory might be, securing it could turn out to be the easiest bit of the Brexit process.

The UK Parliament is sitting on a Saturday for the first time in decades, where lawmakers will give Johnson the thumbs up or thumbs down. The immediate fallout of that vote could have profound consequences for the future of the United Kingdom.

Some lawmakers have already tabled amendments that could ruin Johnson's day. Unsurprisingly, opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or to hold a second referendum. But the amendment getting the most attention right now is one tabled by a former Conservative minister, Oliver Letwin.

Letwin says he personally will vote for Johnson's "excellent deal," but wants to ensure that the UK doesn't fall out of the EU without a deal by accident. In short, if this amendment passes, it means that Johnson's deal cannot be fully approved in Parliament for another week or so. The reason, Letwin says, is to give Parliament enough time between October 19 and 31 to pass all of the legislation required to deliver Brexit.

That is not how Johnson and his allies see it. They think it's another wrecking ball designed to frustrate their plan to deliver Brexit from an MP who doesn't want to leave the EU. They think this is because if lawmakers haven't passed the Brexit deal by 11 p.m. on Saturday, Johnson will be legally required to request a Brexit delay. More on that later.

Johnson's charm offensive



Back to the main vote on Johnson's deal. Right now, it's far too close to call. Johnson doesn't have a majority in Parliament and his supposed Northern Irish allies, the DUP, have already said that they will not back the government. His opponents have lined up to criticize the deal. And there's serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party could vote against the deal.

His closest allies are confident that Johnson can win over enough people to get the numbers.

And they have good reasons to be confident. In recent weeks, Johnson's tone towards Europe had been far more measured and diplomatic. It did the trick with the EU, so why not British lawmakers? His charm offensive has been less the bombastic flurry of energy we are used to with Johnson, and more the calm and cooperative man we've seen lately.

"I don't think there is a great deal of arm twisting per se. Much more about cajoling, giving briefings and accurate information, as opposed to rumor and misinformation, which is rife," one government minister and Johnson ally told CNN.

And he's been reminding opposition lawmakers that if they don't vote for his deal then they can't be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 p.m. on Saturday night.

Last month, opposition lawmakers passed legislation that bound Johnson to this commitment. He has said that he will comply with the law, but is keen to remind his opponents that this decision relies on the EU27 unanimously agreeing to it.

Johnson: My deal or no deal



So, that's the Johnson calculation today: it's my deal or the real risk of no deal.

While he's technically correct that the EU could refuse an extension to avoid a no-deal exit, it's perhaps wishful thinking. The EU has always said that delays are only granted if there is something concrete that could break the UK's domestic deadlock. Under the circumstances that Johnson requests an extension, it's almost certain that an election would follow.

That's why the so-called Super Saturday sitting is so important. If the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalize on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you'd think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it's approved, then we get into the nasty election. Both sides would be looking to tear lumps out of each other. Johnson will point at his opponents saying that they stole Brexit.

Remainers will say that Johnson played chicken with the UK's economy and nearly took us to the edge with no deal. And hardline Brexiteers will say that Johnson is a sell-out.

No one knows what the outcome of this election would be. Johnson is ahead in the polls at the moment, but that could change quickly as his credibility takes a hit and the opposition parties present alternative options to Brexit, such as a second referendum, no deal exit, or scrapping Brexit altogether.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

So for all that, Saturday might look like just another vote on another Brexit deal, but its long-term implications for the future of the world's fifth largest economy could not be more serious.


Los Angeles jury recommends death penalty for the 'Hollywood Ripper'
By Theresa Waldrop and Sarah Moon, CNN

A jury has recommended the death penalty for Michael Gargiulo, known as the "Hollywood Ripper," the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Friday.

Gargiulo, 43, was found guilty in August of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of willful, deliberate and premeditated attempted murder and attempted escape, according to a news release from the DA's office.

The jury, made up of six men and six women, deliberated for "several hours" before reaching the death sentence recommendation, the office said in a release.

Prosecutors depicted Gargiulo as a killer who charmed his female victims as a helpful neighbor and handyman before breaking into their homes and stabbing them to death, according to CNN affiliate KABC.

One of the victims, Ashley Ellerin, was stabbed 47 times. She had planned to go with Ashton Kutcher to a Grammy Awards after-party on the night she was killed in her home in 2001. Kutcher testified at the trial.

A second murder victim, Mario Bruno, a neighbor of Gargiulo's, was killed and mutilated in December 2005.

In 2008, Gargiulo attacked and stabbed Michelle Murphy, who survived. He accidentally cut himself in the attack, allowing investigators to link his DNA to the other killings, KABC reported.

Gargiulo's sentencing is scheduled for February 28, the DA's office said. The judge will have the final decision.

He has also been charged in a 1993 slaying in the Chicago area, the DA's office said. Prosecutors claim that victim, Tricia Pacaccio, was Gargiulo's first. He was 17 at the time.

CNN has reached out to Gargiulo's attorney, but hasn't yet had a response.


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