Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

New Iran Sanctions; Iran Response to Sanctions; White House Talks Israeli Settlements; Evidence Collected in Yemen Raid; January Jobs Numbers. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: On CNN.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf, thank you so much. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Happy Friday. Lots to get to.

The Trump administration has just slapped these new sanctions on Iran. Punishment for its missile test over last weekend. President Trump saying Iran is, quote, "not behaving" and issuing a warning on Twitter that Iran is playing with fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today, the U.S. sanctioned 25 individuals and entities that provide support to Iran's ballistic missile program and the Islamic Revolutionary Quds Force. These designations are in response to Iran's ongoing ballistic missile program, including its ballistic missile test on January 29, 2017, as well as Iran's continued support for terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now, Iran has already hit back, saying it will not be deterred. It will continue with its ballistic missile testing.

And this is just the latest in this avalanche of developments on the foreign policy front by the Trump administration, including a surprising condemnation of Israel's plans for potential future settlements in the West Bank and an even tougher stance when it comes to Russia and their interference in Crimea. Some noting these moves are notably similar to those made by the Obama administration before them.

Let's begin this hour with Michelle Kosinski. She's our CNN senior diplomatic correspondent.

First, just on Iran, talk us through this missile test and the Trump administration response.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke.

Yes, so the Trump administration has made that messaging over the last couple of days very tough. I mean not only in statements, but in person and, of course, in those tweets that you read. So they want the message to be out there, as one member of the administration put it, an advisor saying that there's a new sheriff in town. His name is Donald Trump. And they're not going to do things like the prior administration did.

So that's really the crux of the message. They want to show that they're willing to act quickly. So they enact these sanctions today on 25 individuals and entities that have some hand in Iran's ballistic program, as well as supporting the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force that you heard the press secretary mention there.

But when - you know, when you really look at these things, how much will this affect Iran, how much business really are any of these foreign entities doing with American companies or individuals, the answer to that is pretty minimal. So, you know, analysts see this as mostly symbolic, that this is kind of a first step in what would be many steps to get to some response that would really hit Iran to the point that their economy or something else would feel it.

But the message is sent. I mean and now you see this back and forth. So, I think, on the one hand you could say that this is a strange new form of diplomacy by tweet, that it is something of an escalation, at least in the rhetoric, and we are seeing action in the form of sanctions. That's the same thing that the Obama administration did just last year after another missile launch.

BALDWIN: Right.

KOSINSKI: So is this going to lead to something, you know, much more volatile? It's - that's not necessarily the case. That's always the risk, though, when you have each side digging in its heels this way.

BALDWIN: Right, as Sean Spicer mentioned, the sanctions were already in the pipeline. But, you know, to your point about - what's the red line and what could be next, I've got analysts standing by on Iran.

Michelle, thank you.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister is responding to what he's calling a threat from President Trump. So let's go to Clarissa Ward for this, our senior international correspondent in London.

Clarissa, what is the Iranian response and I'm also wondering how much are they testing the new White House.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question, Brooke. I think you have two responses kind of coming out of Iran. You have the response to the outside world. We've seen Iran's foreign minister taking to Twitter saying that he won't be threatened.

But at the same time, also an almost conciliatory tone saying, hold on a second, this is only for defensive purposes. We have no intention of attacking any other country, reiterating this idea again that the testing of this ballistic missile does not in any way contravene the agreement of the Iran nuclear deal. So you have that as one message that's going out to the world. Then you have what the Iranian leadership is telling Iranians. The kind of domestic message that seems to be more in line with what we're used to hearing in Iran from the sort of hardliners. And we've heard a top advisor to the supreme leader warning President Trump essentially about what he called "breathless ranting." He also warned him about, quote, "making a toy out of himself." He dismissed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as, quote, "an inexperienced person who has made an illogical claim." So you do see there, quite clearly, a ratcheting up of rhetoric. And that same advisor said, let's be clear, we're going to keep testing these missiles as much as we want to.

[14:05:03] So are they trying to really bring about some kind of a direct conflict with the U.S.? Unlikely. But at the same time, it's important for Iran's leadership to show the Iranian people that they're not just going to be pushed around by President Trump. Important to remember, this comes on the heels of Iran basically being banned - Iranians being banned from traveling to the U.S. So there's a lot of tension right now and I think one shouldn't read too much into the rhetoric we're hearing from the Iranian side because at the end of the day, Brooke, neither side is talking at this stage about dismantling the Iran nuclear deal.

BALDWIN: Right, which is two separate issues. Just listening to someone earlier, fears of conflating the two, it's the ballistic missile test and it's the Iran nuclear deal.

Clarissa, stay with me. I want your voice in this conversation, a broader conversation. I've got Jim Sciutto also standing by, CNN chief national security correspondent, and David Andelman, editor emeritus at "The World Policy Journal," CNN Opinion contributor and columnist at "USA Today."

SO, David, let me just begin with you, and I think Clarissa teed it up perfectly, it's almost like this crescendo. You had, you know, General Flynn saying we're putting Iran on notice earlier in the week. Then you had the tweet from Trump, Iran is playing with fire, they don't appreciate how kind President Obama was to them. Not me. Aka, there's a new sheriff in town. Then, you know, it's these new sanctions. He says nothing is off the table. That last question as he was doing that Harley-Davidson meeting yesterday when it comes to military action. What's your biggest question here?

DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR EMERITUS, "WORLD POLICY JOURNAL": Well, my biggest question is, how are we going to get anybody else to help us go along with these sanctions? Sanctions are fine. These sanctions, we'll remember, as you rightly pointed out, were started by the Obama administration.

BALDWIN: Correct.

ANDELMAN: So they just, you know, flipped the switch and turned it over today.

But what's really interesting is, the sanctions don't work well on their own. And the sanctions, when we had them in effect, before the - before the nuclear deal, they were with all of the European countries, the P5 plus one, it's called. The five members of the Security Council, plus Germany. None of these countries are going along with these new sanctions. And the reason is, they like the no sanctions arrangement right now because they can go in and they can do big business with Iran. They can sell planes to them. They can have banking arrangements with them and so on. So these sanctions, by themselves, are kind of a - you know, a little slap on the wrist, if you will, at least the Iranians would see them that way.

BALDWIN: Jim Sciutto, what do you think, just listening to David and also Clarissa's point, you know, don't read too much into some of this rhetoric. What do you think?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it's not clear what the policy is because it hasn't been clearly articulated. You're getting differing signals from tweets, from public statements and then from the actual policy moves. If you look at the bottom line so far, and keep in mind we're only two weeks into the administration, the Trump policy toward Iran is not that substantively different from the Obama administration approach to Iran, right?

BALDWIN: Right.

SCIUTTO: You're using sanctions as a tool, a punishment in affect, a penalty. In fact, a ratcheting up sanctions begun under the Obama administration, one. You know, the nothing is off the table line is something that President Obama uttered many times over. That's not exactly new. And then as far as the Iran nuclear deal is concerned, President Trump, while campaigning, often talked about tearing it up and now he's given signal that, well, that stays in place but we'll be tougher in other ways. So that's not a dramatic 180 or even really 90 degree turn from Obama administration policy, at least so far. But as with a lot of things, whether we're talking Iran, Russia or elsewhere, a consistent strategy, long term strategy, hasn't yet been articulated by the administration.

BALDWIN: What about, Clarissa, and let's pivot and talk about Israel. We know the White House has warned Israel to stop announcing these new settlements. Not talking about current settlements, but future settlements in the West Bank, saying that that would hurt Middle East peace.

We heard Sean Spicer in the briefing, you know, the president's all about peace. I want to play some sound. This is how the White House is reconciling this new, slightly critical language of the Israeli settlements, despite the Trump transition team blasting the Obama administration for allowing a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlements back in December.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: You said that they were not an impediment to peace, but you also don't want them building new ones, so where are -

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right. That's actually - I mean I think the statement is very clear about that. We don't believe that the existence of current settlements is an impediment to peace. But I think the construction or expansion of existing settlements beyond the current borders is not going to be helpful moving forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: What do you think, Clarissa, of that response?

WARD: Well, this is so interesting because it sort of piggybacks onto what Jim was saying where once again there seems to be a pivot to where the policy doesn't sound that different from what the Obama administration policy had been.

BALDWIN: From the Obamas.

WARD: Now, the Obama administration was using tougher words. I think it's almost timid to say, you know, it may not be helpful. But the bottom line is what he is telegraphing, President Trump, to Prime Minister Netanyahu is, let's put the brakes on here a bit, buddy, because, you know, there's two weeks until we'll sit down and meet face to face. But until then, we need to put the brakes on because Israel has seen this as carte blanche, giving them carte blanche to announce just - I think it's almost 6,000 new homes in just the last two weeks they've announced. Prime Minister Netanyahu announcing the creation of a new settlement. That hasn't happened in 20 years.

[14:10:20] So clearly emboldened by the inauguration of President Trump, Israel was seeking to kind of get in as many settlements as it could and this is a signal that, hey, actually, things might not be quite as different from the Obama administration as we thought.

What's interesting to ask, or to speculate about, I guess, is, is this a real pivot or is this the sort of influences of people like Secretary Tillerson kind of trying to push for a more modest or moderate foreign policy? And I just don't think we know that yet, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I'm wondering - and I'm glad you brought up the Netanyahu meeting in the U.S. days away. David, the question to you, how will this play into that, a, and, b, you wrote about how the president's burned a lot of his diplomatic capital.

ANDELMAN: He has. I mean he's become basically the - I said in my commentary that the third world - a third rail, if you will, of - the third rail of diplomacy for much of the world and - because no one really knows exactly how he's going to react. For example, we have the settlements, right? But we also have - and we have to think back on this. The gentleman that he has designated as his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. David Friedman was a financial supporter of the settlements. He is a major supporter of the settlement concept. Not only that, he wants to move the Israeli - the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is an anathema to the Palestinians. And, in fact, the Israeli press was reporting this morning that Friedman has even said, regardless of where the embassy is, he's going to live in Jerusalem, which is really setting everybody on edge. And Trump wants to - he wants to be the great peacemaker to bring Palestinians and Israelis together. And those (ph) settlements come (ph) and can be seen as a gesture on that line. But if he has an ambassador who is dramatically working in the other respect, in the other direction, the Palestinians are not going to come to the table.

BALDWIN: So listening to all of this and, Jim Sciutto, just looping back to you, what we talked about Iran, we've talked about Israel and now even Yemen. I understand you have some information about evidence collected in the Yemen raid. What is that?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, this is the latest chapter in what's been a confusing response to this raid. The first military operation ordered under the Trump administration. This was last Sunday. You'll remember sadly that a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in this raid. Three other Americans injured. A number of civilian casualties, granted by the U.S. military, the loss of an aspry (ph) aircraft.

In the wake of that, you've had a couple differing responses from the Trump administration. One, they seem to divert responsibility somewhat to the Obama administration, saying that this raid was first approved under Obama and picked up, in effect, by President Trump. That's disputed by Obama administration officials that I've spoken to, one. Two, they talked about - and you heard Sean Spicer describe it as a very successful raid because it gathered so much intelligence.

Earlier today they released some of what they said was that intelligence, which were bomb-making videos, they said, captured during that raid. But just a few minutes ago, before I came on the air, Brooke, Central Command said actually those videos that we released earlier today, those didn't come from that raid. They came from some other earlier raid. So, you know, confusing response to say the least. We don't know that - what -

BALDWIN: Did they get the intel? Did they get intel they wanted?

SCIUTTO: They say they got intel, but we don't know what it is because they said this morning that these bomb making vides were some of that intel. Now they say, actually, that's from another raid. So it's confusing. We've asked the Pentagon to explain how they messed this up and then to give us details of what intel they actually gathered in the raid that killed a U.S. service member.

BALDWIN: Let's find out what the Pentagon's saying. My goodness.

Jim, thank you. David and Clarissa, thank you both, of course, as well.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up here on CNN, breaking news this afternoon as President Trump signs an executive order rolling back a key law from the Obama era. What it means going the economy going forward.

And can the White House claim credit for today's strong January jobs report? We have that for you.

Also, are there cracks in the wall? President Trump's plan to build that border all now facing concern and doubt from some within his own party. What some Republicans are now bluntly admitting to us here at CNN, straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:18:20] BALDWIN: Welcome back.

We've got some pictures here of Marine One up, up and away heading towards Andrews Air Force Base where the president will be hopping on the plane and heading for the weekend down to, as he is calling it, the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach for the weekend. So there's that if we want to stay on those pictures. Just giving you the tick tock of where Mr. Trump is.

Speaking of, before jumping on Marine One, he just signed this executive order that sets in motion the rollback of a law meant to prevent another Great Recession. That is when unemployment hit 10 percent, Lehman Brothers collapsed and trillions - trillions of dollars of household wealth was just whipped out. How can you forget?

But critics, including President Trump, say what's known as the Dodd/Frank law is now keeping business from happening while failing to protect you, the consumer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd/Frank because, frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses, they can't borrow money. They just can't get any money because the banks just won't let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd/Frank. So we'll be talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was the president when he was meeting with corporate leaders in which he hailed a number - a number he once called fiction - the jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And now I want you to watch President Trump today, then candidate Trump from last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And 227,000 jobs. Great spirit in the country right now. So we're very happy about that. I think that it's going to continue big league.

I hear 5.3 percent unemployment. That is the biggest joke there is.

Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:20:07] BALDWIN: OK, well, let's start here with the author of "Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business," CNN economic global analyst - global economic analyst - forgive me - Rana Foroohar. Good to see you.

And I hear you chuckle over the soundbite and the funny numbers. I mean it's chuckleable.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Hate them and love them. Hate them and love them.

BALDWIN: I mean, you know, this is - and this isn't about credit, although Sean Spicer was asked about this in the daily briefing whether these numbers - the January numbers is this, thanks, President Obama, or is this a thanks, President Trump?

FOROOHAR: Well, you know, this is something that's been coming for a while now. The recovery's been gaining steam. And, in fact, thee recovery's in sort of a late period. I mean, you know, if you look at the length of most recoveries, it's about eight, nine years. So we're actually probably ready for a downward dip at some point. You could argue that we're sort of at the tail end of a recovery.

BALDWIN: Yes.

FOROOHAR: Whether or not the president's proposed plans can keep that jacked up for a while, we'll see.

BALDWIN: Yes.

FOROOHAR: But what's interesting is that, you know, numbers did come in a little better than unexpected. Unemployment, though, creeped up and income growth is still slow. And that's one of the key things people worry about, the fact that are folks going to have more money in their pockets to spend and keep that consumer recovery going?

BALDWIN: But what about Dodd/Frank because this is something - you know, and it's clear there's the administrative piece, which he was able to sign these executive action and then there's the legislative piece where he'll need his friends in Congress.

FOROOHAR: Yes.

BALDWIN: And thank goodness for him, he's got a Republican majority in both houses.

FOROOHAR: Yes.

BALDWIN: You know, listening to Sean Spicer, he said today, Dodd/Frank has been a disaster, his word. It hasn't achieved the goal. It's not doing what it set out to do. Fact check that for me.

FOROOHAR: Well, all right, to be fair, Dodd/Frank was really contentious on both sides of the aisle.

BALDWIN: Yes.

FOROOHAR: Republicans hated it because they thought it went too far. Democrats hated it because they think it didn't go far enough. The bottom line is that the banking lobby itself, which was one of the biggest lobbies in the country, had a tremendous amount of influence on crafting this law and that's why it became a little bit of Swiss cheese that doesn't always get done what it needs to do.

I think what's going to happen is you're going to see pushback on two of the most contentious pieces of this law. One would be the rule - the Volker rule that was set up to limit risky trading in some of those taxpayer funded, you know, to too to fail banks. I think that you're going to see a push to maybe let those banks get back into trading. Bank stocks are up today. I think the markets are saying, yes, we might be back in those higher margin earning business.

BALDWIN: They're responding.

FOROOHAR: I think you're also going to see pushback on the fiduciary duty rule. There was a law put into place, and Obama really pushed for this, that said that, look, money managers, if they're going to get you to buy a stock, they have to stand by that stock and not be selling you, you know, a piece of junk knowingly. And you would think that that would kind of be a given, but it actually wasn't until this rule was put into place. And so you might see more freedom now amongst money managers to be able to go out and sell high-fee products to folks.

BALDWIN: What about - here he goes heading onto Air Force One.

What about, though, the fact that he does continue to meet with, you know, business leaders, whether it's small business, mega today. We know huge, huge names were meeting with him, like the Elon Musks of the world. We know the Uber CEO pulled out. But, you know, Elon Musk. And a lot of people aren't thrilled with the president because of the travel ban.

FOROOHAR: Yes.

BALDWIN: And Elon Musk, and I'm paraphrasing, essentially said, you know, I'm going to go but I'm going because I've got to call him out.

FOROOHAR: Yes.

BALDWIN: Do you think the fact that some of these guys and gals have a seat at the table and can have that conversation with the president, is worthwhile, a, and, b, do you give the president credit for continuing to maintain this priority of America first and business?

FOROOHAR: Well, you know, listen, I think that it's a - it's a totally legitimate position to take to say we want to change the rules of trade. A lot of people have felt for a long time that trade is not working in America's favor, that other countries are skirting the rules. So that's a legitimate point.

In terms of the CEOs themselves -

BALDWIN: Yes.

FOROOHAR: They are really dancing on the head of a pin, particularly the folks at Silicon Valley. They want to talk to this president. They know they're going to be in the firing line over things like monopoly power, data that they use, consumer data, security, NSA issues. They want to be close to the president. And yet, you know, with Uber, 90 percent of the drivers in New York were complaining that, hey, we have family, friends that have been affected by this ban. So - and, you know, some of the folks in the valley too are just feeling like, you know, culturally, you know, folks like Sergey Brin at Google, who was at a protest in an airport last week, said they can't get behind some of these issues. So it's going to be very, very tricky and I think we're going to see people -

BALDWIN: Do you give the president credit for keeping this on the table? I mean constantly - and union leaders as well?

FOROOHAR: I think we'll - one thing that's fascinating is that the AFL-CIO and sort of the big old line unions actually did come out finally recently and say, look, we are not anti-immigration, we are not against banning people from certain countries. We want to stand with all working people of color and all nations. That was interesting because there had been a split in the labor movement around identity politics, mostly white leaders, mostly people of color and women in the actual working voter base. So interesting coming together there.

BALDWIN: OK. Rana, thank you very much.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Have a wonderful weekend.

FOROOHAR: OK. You too.

BALDWIN: Coming up next here on CNN, Kellyanne Conway defending that immigration ban we were just talking about and invoking the quote/unquote massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The issue is, there was no massacre. It never happened. So what the heck was she talking about?

[14:25:08] Plus, Howard Stern thinks being president will be detrimental to Donald Trump's mental health? Why, you ask? Great question. We'll find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

[14:29:49] The famous Louvre Museum in Paris will reopen tomorrow after French soldiers thwarted a knife attack. Authorities have opened a terror investigation there. What happened was this man wielding a machete charged a group of soldiers in the underground plaza next to the museum. According to Paris police, the attacker was shouting "God is the greatest" in Arabic. As he was charging forward, a soldier fired five shots in response. The attacker was ==