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Iran Nuclear Talks: Both Sides Far Apart as Deadline Looms; NBC Ditches the Donald Over "Derogatory" Remarks; Greek Banks Shuttered Through July 6. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 29, 2015 - 16:30   ET





Our world lead now. When we wake up next Monday morning, could we be talking about how many people were killed in a terrorist attack right here in the United States?

Today, the former acting head of the CIA Michael Morell said he would not be surprised if that's exactly what happens this July 4 weekend. And federal agencies tasked with stopping the next attack reflected this very fear on Friday, alerting every single police department nationwide to be on alert this holiday weekend.

Let's go right to CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Jim, these very stark warnings here at home are coming after some very bloody scenes overseas.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I asked a senior U.S. counterterror official if this is the normal ratcheting up of security before a major holiday, July 4, coming, and he told me that this is different, a senior U.S. official saying this is definitely a heightened state of alert here in the U.S. based on ISIS' open call to conduct attacks on the West.

And we saw the depth of that threat in this horrible attack on Western tourists in Tunisia on Friday.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): The most deadly ISIS-inspired attack on Westerners to date as it happened, gunfire ringing out at a Tunisian resort Friday, leaving at least 38 foreign tourists dead, most of them British.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This lady was bleeding so heavily, I was laying in her blood, trying to keep her awake. It was dreadful. I have never witnessed anything like it.

SCIUTTO: All this from what is proving to be a lethal weapon for the terror group, the lone wolf attacker, in this case a radicalized Tunisian university student, seen here running away from the resort after the attack, and moments later shot dead by police after he stopped to pray.

And now, with the July 4 holiday approaching here in the U.S., U.S. law enforcement is, a senior counterterror official tells CNN, definitely on a heightened state of alert based on ISIS' call to conduct attacks on the West.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: There's a great deal of chatter, a high volume, if you will. We're being on the cautious side here to warn the public to remain vigilant.

SCIUTTO: ISIS-inspired recruits are answering the group's call to attack anywhere anyhow during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, spokesman and senior leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani promising 10 times the rewards in heaven.

In a single day, Friday, a gunman stormed a beach resort in Tunisia, a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in Kuwait, killing 27 worshipers, and another assailant beheaded a man in Southern France and attempted to blow up a U.S.-owned factory.

SETH JONES, SENIOR POLITICAL SCIENTIST, RAND CORPORATION: ISIS is able and willing to inspire people to conduct attacks across multiple continents. And they're willing to do relatively easy attacks to pull off, armed assault-style attacks, which are not that difficult to do.

SCIUTTO: The fear of such attacks on the July 4 weekend prompting the FBI to issue a bulletin urging both law enforcement and the public to be vigilant.



SCIUTTO: In the year since it declared an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, ISIS already a global threat, "Jane's Defence" logging more than 3,000 attacks across the Mideast and Africa, and that's just as you're beginning to see similar attacks play out in Europe and here in the U.S. And the concern is that you will see more.

TAPPER: Chilling.

Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about the threat with former secretary of the department of Homeland Security and founder of the Chertoff Group, which consults for companies that work in the national security industry, Michael Chertoff. He also currently sits on the National Security Advisory Board, which advises the NSA.

Mr. Chertoff, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Good to be here. TAPPER: I want to start by playing something that the former number

two at the CIA and acting head of the CIA Michael Morell said this morning. Take a listen.


MICHAEL MORELL, FORMER DEPUTY CIA DIRECTOR: I don't want to tell Americans what to do or what not to do, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States.

That's how serious this is.


TAPPER: Do you agree with that assessment?

CHERTOFF: Well, I think we have seen an uptick in ISIS-linked plots against Westerners both in the United States and overseas. And obviously July 4 is a period of time when people congregate. They go to the beach.

The late -- the call for a series of attacks during Ramadan has probably raised the temperature level. So, I think we do need to be vigilant about this, not only, by the way, in the U.S., but for Americans traveling overseas.

TAPPER: Now, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center issued a bulletin on Friday, a joint bulletin with the Department of Homeland Security. Morell said there's nothing routine about the routine.

You ran Homeland Security. What does that mean?

CHERTOFF: Well, there's nothing routine in the sense that you don't, as a matter of course, issue bulletins. But I do --


TAPPER: You don't just issue a bulletin before a holiday weekend.

CHERTOFF: Correct.

But I don't think that necessarily means there's specific information about a particular plot. I think there are a couple of issues that come into play. First of all, we do have this call for people to rise up and support ISIS with attacks during Ramadan. We do have an American holiday which has symbolic value. We do have a period of time people go to beaches or go to other places to congregate, and therefore that may attract someone who wants to carry out an attack.

So, I would say there's a general climate that requires additional caution. But I don't know that I would translate that into specific evidence of a particular plot.

TAPPER: What do you say when you encounter skeptics, as I do, who say, here we go, another booga-booga, everybody run for the hills, like you're about to be hit by ISIS, and really a lot of these skeptics feel like, A, this is just for us to get ratings, for you to make money, and also, secondarily, for the national security agencies to do CYA, just in case something does happen?

CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, Jake, no one is saying run for the hills or go --

TAPPER: You know what I mean.

CHERTOFF: -- go in a panic.

But, on the other hand, if you look at what has happened, whether it was "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris, whether it's what happened in Tunisia, the plots that were foiled here, where people were talking about building pressure cooker bombs, Boston Marathon plot, that was not made up.

So, I think what we're looking for is what we have looked for over the past 12 years, a certain amount of vigilance and cautiousness, particularly in periods where risk may be elevated, but not a panic or hysteria.

And I think everybody have been pretty level in the way they have presented this over the last couple of days.

TAPPER: Do you think that we as a country need to be doing something differently? For instance, if you go to a country like Israel that it has terrorist attacks all the time, you see soldiers on the beach with semiautomatic weapons. Is that the future of the United States? Do we need that?

CHERTOFF: I don't think so.

But one thing we have done -- and I think the events of what we saw this morning with respect to these fugitives indicate that this is part of our police culture -- is we have trained ourselves to respond very quickly to attacks.

I don't suggest that we ought to have a guard on every corner. I do think we ought to make sure that police are properly trained and equipped, so that when there is an incident, they can respond quickly and effectively and neutralize the threat.

TAPPER: All right. Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, thank you so much. I hope you have a peaceful July 4. I hope we all have a peaceful July 4.

CHERTOFF: I hope you do too.

TAPPER: Thanks so much.

Also in the world lead today, can the U.S. really help stop Iran from building a nuclear arsenal? Time is almost up on negotiations, but who has the upper hand if no deal is reached by tomorrow's deadline?

And Donald Trump feeling a little heat after calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists. It's not just Latino activists calling him out -- coming up, his costly loss on a longtime business deal.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Topping our world lead today, deal or no deal? Time is running out on nuclear negotiations with Iran, as tomorrow's deadline for a final agreement looms. Secretary of State John Kerry insists progress has been made during this latest round of talks in Vienna, but he did caution both sides remained far apart.

Let's get right to CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.

Elise, Iran's foreign minister left the talks to return to Tehran on Sunday. Is that seen as a good sign or a bad sign?


The former minister left Vienna, came this weekend with a very tough negotiating stance, echoed in a sense that we heard from Supreme leader Ali Khamenei over the last week, essentially backtracking from what was agreed to a few months ago in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Now, this weekend, when Zarif met with Secretary Kerry, he said -- Kerry said essentially this isn't going to fly. If that's your red line, there isn't going to be a deal. Foreign Minister Zarif flew back home for instructions.

Now, the same sticking points remain. Iran wants sanctions lifted immediately. Once the deal is done, world powers want them phased out as Iran complies with a deal. We're talking about access for inspectors to Iranian facilities, to answer questions about efforts to develop a nuclear weapon and limits on the research and development of nuclear technology Iran can do while the deal is in effect.

Now, there has been progress on all of these, Jake, but clearly not enough for cross them off the list.

TAPPER: How important is this deadline? What happens if they don't meet it?

LABOTT: Well, I think it's a forgotten conclusion, right, that they're going to blow through tomorrow's deadline.

Foreign Minister Zarif isn't even back in town. They all haven't met in the same room.

[16:45:01] Now, the real deadline here is July 9th. That's when the period Congress gets to review the deal, doubles from 30 to 60 days, every wants a deal done before then, because nobody wants to prolong that period where Congress, the Israelis, hardliners in Iran have to pick it apart.

Now, the question is what if there no deal by July 9th. That I hear depends on how much progress has been made over these next couple of days. It's possible the world powers leave, say to Iran, call us when you're serious, and the interim deal that essentially is in effect right now freezing Iran's nuclear program remains in effect until they regroup and decide how to get back together.

I don't see a scenario where this all falls apart entirely, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Elise Labott, thank you so much.

Critics of the deal, including some former Obama administration officials, and some U.S. allies, argue that it does not go nearly far enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and they have called for Secretary Kerry to walk away.

Its fiercest opponents include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States until 2013. Oren is out with a new book called "Ally: My Journey Across the American/Israeli Divide".


TAPPER: Former Ambassador Michael Oren, thanks so much for being here.

MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Jake, good to be with you. Glad to be back.

TAPPER: Congratulations on your book. I want to get on your book in a second. But, first, obviously, the Iran nuclear deal on the table, a big island of contention.

What does an Israeli-approved nuclear deal looks like, because obviously, Netanyahu and the Israeli government has been really pushing back on this one.

OREN: It's not just the Netanyahu government, but pretty much a national consensus issue in Israel, even the opposition to Netanyahu agrees that the deal as it is on the table is a bad deal, bad for Israel.

TAPPER: What do you want? What do you think you're not getting in this deal?

OREN: A couple things. One is dismantling of a much bigger part of Iran's nuclear program. Right now, part of the program is being frozen, it's not being dismantled. They keep of the subterfuge, some of them aren't plugged in, but they're not being taken apart. The facilities are not taken apart.

But the bigger part for Israel is that the deal is not attached in any way to Iranian behavior. Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terror. It is complicit in the murder of 200,000 Syrians. It is trying to undermine pro-American, pro-Western governments in the Middle East and it openly declares its intention to destroy us, to destroy Israel.

We want the nuclear deal linked to a change of Iranian behavior.

TAPPER: In terms of the worst-case scenario, Iran gets nuclear weapons, which is obviously Israel's great fear. It's obviously an open secret, I don't know what you're going to acknowledge or not. It's an open secret --

OREN: I'm not going to acknowledge --

TAPPER: That Israel has nuclear weapons itself. Is that not a deterrent? I mean, Israel must know that if Iran were to attack Israel, Israel would destroy Iran with nuclear weapons. Why is that not ever part of the conversation? Why is that deterrent not considered?

OREN: Because Rafsanjani, who is a moderate Iranian leader said, Israel is a one-bomb country. It's not as if they bomb us and, you know, there's somebody left around to respond. That's the first problem.

Second problem, remember, Iran is that world's greatest sponsor of terror. When Iran gets military nuclear capabilities, the terrorists get it. And you're not going to have to worry about a rocket coming in, you have to worry a ship container coming in to Haifa Harbor. And you won't be able to trace it anywhere. It would be too late.

And then once Iran gets the bomb, Egypt gets the bomb, Saudi Arabia gets the bomb, Turkey gets the bomb. Israel finds itself leaving in a profoundly unstable nuclear neighborhood. The Iranian nuclear problem is not one existential threat to Israel, it's several existential threats.

TAPPER: All right. Fair enough.

Let's turn to "Ally", your book, "My Journey Across the American/Israeli Divide." You suggested that President Obama reached out to the Muslim world because he was abandoned by his Muslim father and Muslim stepfather, leading him to, quote, "seek acceptance by their co-religionists".

That seems a shocking bit of armchair psychology, and more importantly, I think it might miss the point that Obama would reach out to the Muslim world because of the 9/11, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the threat of terrorism, the need for stability for Israel.

OREN: And it's all in there. I -- as an ambassador, my job was to understand the man with whom I had to -- to whom I had to represent my government. In 2009, the president wasn't well-known, so he's not well known to Israelis.

So, the section of the book called Obama 101, where I talk about how I came to this job as a historian, not as a diplomat. I took my historian skills and used them to study the president. I looked at everything he wrote, everything he talked about, and I looked at his policies. And he used to talk a lot about his own family connections, about his relationships with his biological father, his stepfather, his connections with the Muslim world.

And he would talk with them quite frequently. He spoke about it in his first inaugural address. He spoke about it in his first trips abroad, which were to Cairo and Turkey. His first interview on international television was on al Arabiya Television.

[16:50:03] TAPPER: Right.

OREN: He spoke about it, he thought of himself as a personal bridge between America and what he called the Muslim world.

In the book, I simply quote what he wrote about himself. And it was important for Israel to understand this.

I also said in the book that if the president could reconcile the United States with parts of this Muslim world, as he called it, that would be in Israel's interests.

TAPPER: But do you understand why some people have taken offense to this seeming -- thinking that you are basically suggesting something that they don't think exists, first of all in the president's psychology, but also it feeds into this whole Obama is a Muslim --

OREN: I understand that. I should be sensitive about that, but at the same time, if an individual is writing this about himself and saying this influenced how I look at the world, that is my job as an ambassador to take that seriously.

TAPPER: All right. The book is "Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide". Whatever you think of the politics in it, I have to say you are a lovely writer.

OREN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Michael Oren, thank you so much for joining us.

The money lead, Donald Trump's reaction after learning he's been, quote, "fired" by NBC. They severed ties after the presidential candidate called Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists.


[16:55:30] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our money lead now.

Just hours ago, NBC potentially sacrificing its own bottom line to jettison Donald Trump. NBC claims they booted the presidential candidate off its air waves over remarks he made about immigrants which sparked a fair amount of fury, of course, when Trump branded some immigrants as rapists and drug pushers.

Now, NBC is saying it will not air the Trump shows, including the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. NBC's move comes after Univision, which is part of the NBC Universal empire, already pulled the plug on the Miss USA broadcast. Trump this afternoon fired back at NBC, calling them weak and adding,

"They will stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be."

Trump also told CNN that he might sue NBC for breach of contract.

Also today in money, Greece is a country famous for its ruins, the Acropolis, Parthenon and now the Greek banking system. Greek citizens spent the weekend lined up at ATMs, frantically trying to pull their savings and cold hard cash out of their accounts. Banks in that country are shut down for the next six days while Greek officials wrestle with the European Union over whether Greece should stay on the euro and how the heck to avoid financial oblivion.

What does that mean for you here in the U.S.?

Well, let's talk to CNN's global affairs analyst and assistant managing editor for "Time Magazine", Rana Foroohar.

Rana, thanks for joining us.


TAPPER: Explain this to me. We saw the stock market dip 350 points already because of Greece's woes. Does that mean our collective retirement plans are at risk because of what's going on in Greece?

FOROOHAR: Well, thankfully not, but I think people should get used to some market jitters over the next week other two. I mean, Greece is a small economy, right? China creates a new Greece economically every six weeks. So, it's not that big a deal.

But the bigger worry is if a Greece exists to Eurozone, if it pulls out of the Eurozone, it looks like that's likely that that's going to happen, that it opens the door for other countries to do that, too. European leaders are trying to talk tough, band together, say that's not going to happen.

But the truth is we're in uncharted territory. We've never had a currency created, made up by 18 different nations come together and now possibly fall apart. And there could be bigger ramifications in the market.

TAPPER: And, Rana, you also say this to potentially, potentially might cost some Americans their jobs?

FOROOHAR: Yes. Well, for starters, the dollar is rising. Now, on the one hand, that's a sign of the U.S. economy being a safe haven, being stronger than Europe. But it has the expect of putting pressure on U.S. exporters. So, you know, our companies that are sending goods abroad, they're getting more expensive. That could cause American companies to get into trouble, that could mean job losses for us, depending on how long that goes on.

TAPPER: Are we talking imagine job losses or minor? FOROOHAR: That would depend on the magnitude of the European crisis.

Right now, I'm not expecting GM to start laying people out anytime soon, but you can beat that U.S. products are going to be more expensive in the global markets, relative to European ones. And the longer the crisis goes on and certainly if there were a major breakup of the Eurozone, that effect would be magnified.

TAPPER: What about tourists already in Greece, or folks planning to travel there, do they have anything to worry about?

FOROOHAR: Well, you know, the poor Greeks can only take out about $66 a days from the ATM. There's no limit on foreigners that are travelling in the country can take out. But restaurants, hotels may not want to take your credit cards. It doesn't mean it won't work, but everyone is looking to move to a cash economy, because they're feeling insecure. They want to know if they're going to be able to get their money out of the bank, and they don't know that right now.

So, bring lots of cash if you're traveling in Greece.

TAPPER: I have to say, I was in Greece when they went from their drachma, I think it was, to the euro, it's New Year 2001 to 2002. It didn't seem a country quite ready for this move.

FOROOHAR: No. In fact I think it's likely they'll fall on the floor Eurozone and it will go back to being what it was, which was really closer to an even merging market. I mean, you know, as you mentioned, they invented Western civilization, but they're really a very poor country. They don't resemble the core European countries like Germany or France very much at all.

TAPPER: All right. Rana Foroohar, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

TAPPER: Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JakeTapper, also @TheLeadCNN. Check out our show page at for video and extras. You can also follow me on Facebook.

That's it for THE LEAD today. I am Jake Tapper.

I'm turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."