Return to Transcripts main page


Clinton: Comey Letter, Wikileaks "Scared Off Voters"; Trump Claims Budget Win Amid Health Bill Struggles; Parliament To Be Dissolved Ahead Of June Vote; Le Pen Accused Of Copying Fillon's Speech; Trump, Putin Discuss Syria In Phone Conversation; Trump Calls for Government Shutdown to "Fix Mess"; Rogue FBI Translator Marries ISIS Fighter; The Fun Side of U.K. Politics. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 2, 2017 - 15:00:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tonight, Hillary Clinton comes out swinging against the FBI director and Russian meddling, all of the details

of her first interview since losing the race for the White House.

From one election to another, right here in the U.K., our Max Foster is going joins me live from outside of parliament.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Hannah. We are four hours from the dissolution of parliament and the official kick off of the

campaign. We'll have expert analysis from the heart of British government.

GORANI: And we will see you in a moment, Max. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live from CNN London. Thanks for being with us on this Tuesday. This is


Presidential candidate to, quote, "part of the resistance," that is how Hillary Clinton just described herself at her first televised interview

since the election. She spoke live to my colleague, Christiane Amanpour, at the women's forum in New York.

Clinton says she takes absolute personal responsibility for her loss to Donald Trump, but she also said Russian hacking played a role as did she

said FBI Director James Comey's bombshell announcement that revived an e- mail scandal just days before the voters went to the polls.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It wasn't a perfect campaign, and there is no such thing, but I was on the way to winning until

a combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28th, and Russian Wikileaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me, but

got scared off.

And the evidence for that intervening event is I think compelling, persuasive and, so, we overcame a lot in the campaign, we overcame an

enormous barrage of negativity, of false equivalency, and so much else.

But as Nate Silver who doesn't work for me. He's an independent analyst, but one considered to be very reliable, you know, has concluded, you know,

if the election been on October 27th, I'd be your president and it wasn't.

It was on October 28th and there were just a lot of funny business going on around that and ask yourself this, within an hour or two of the Hollywood

access tape being made public, the Russian theft of John Podesta's e-mails hit Wikileaks, what a coincidence. So I mean, you just can't make this

stuff up.


GORANI: Well, CNN political producer, Dan Merica, was in the room for Hillary Clinton's comments and he joins us now with details. She also

brought up Wikileaks. She direct shot at Donald Trump as well, Dan.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Well, what it is remarkable about this even, and the series of events she has done since the November election,

she took some time off and has done a few more event, but it really shows some growth from those first events.

At first, she almost exclusively blamed Russia, Comey, and a few other external factors for her loss, but what you saw at this event with our

colleague is that she is now saying I take personal responsibility.

And with much of what Hillary Clinton does, a lot of people are going to see different things in each things she says, there are going to be plenty

of people who say it took too long for her to take personal responsibility.

And then there are going to be some that say, look, she is taking personal responsibility for what were clear failings in her campaign. But what

remains clear throughout all of these events is that she still deeply believes Jim Comey and the Russian government played a significant role in

her loss. And I think that it is something she will truly harbor with her for her entire life.

GORANI: So what are her plans? Because I mean, listening to her, and if we didn't know better, if she wasn't the age that she is you think, maybe

she is thinking about 2020.

MERICA: And the context here is that the Democratic Party is still looking for a leader. There is no more President Obama. You have Joe Biden out

there on the pseudo campaign trail and you have her, the previous leaders of the Democratic Party.

You know, confidants and aides say that she is not going to run for president again, but she's also not going to stay silent. And what you've

seen at these events is that she is willing to critique Donald Trump especially on issues that she has an expertise.

Foreign affairs, you saw today, she questioned his thought about negotiating with Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, and she said the Syria strikes

would not necessarily change the state of play on the ground, although she supported them.

So what I think you will see going forward is she will speak out against the Trump administration. She said at the event that is now part of the

resistance, which I think will excite a lot of Democratic voters and the base.

[15:05:10]But I also don't think you will see her really wading into politics soon. Maybe more during the midterm elections here in the United


GORANI: So last question, you mentioned the Democratic Party does not have a leader right now, Barack Obama is out of the White House, and Hillary

Clinton was beaten in November, who is going to be taking over? Because they have important midterm elections, and the Democratic Party needs to

get back on track to fight back here.

MERICA: It is the million dollar question for both reporters and political operatives alike. There is a long, you know, cast of leaders of the

Democratic Party. Obviously Tom Perez was recently named head of the Democratic National Committee.

There are plenty of people who see him as an up and coming leader, and there are those who don't. There's many who look to Bernie Sanders and his

powerful e-mail lesson. The campaign that he mustered against Hillary Clinton as the leader of the Democratic Party.

But the fact that I can list a number of names and not one obvious name, I think tells a lot about the state of the Democratic Party and the fact that

they don't have one leader to unite around.

GORANI: Dan Merica, thanks very much with his report there on that event with Hillary Clinton and our colleague, Christiane Amanpour.

Of course, as I mentioned, Hillary Clinton did take direct aim at Donald Trump, she criticized his tweeting about foreign policy among other things,

and that is the man who did win the White House, he was in action today.

Donald Trump appeared at an event for military personnel and he struck an upbeat tone despite some major political battle he's facing. The White

House is struggling.

It wants to get after a resounding failure, another version of this health care bill passed with Speaker Paul Ryan indicating that Mr. Trump does not,

right now, have the votes needed. Nonetheless, the president, though, is touting his achievements.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: To top that, we achieved the single largest increase in border security funding in ten

years. So we have more money now more the border than we have gotten in ten years. The Democrats didn't tell you that. They forgot. In their

notes, they forgot to tell you that. With enough money to make a downpayment on the border wall.


GORANI: All right, and he in fact during that same event said, this is what winning looks like, talking to those in attendance. And later this

hour, we will discuss much more about Mr. Trump's frustrations about dealing with Congress. Larry Sabato is my guest from the University of

Virginia. We'll break all of that down for you.

Now, to the official kickoff of the campaign in the U.K. This is an election that could have consequences obviously far beyond the borders of

the United Kingdom.

Max Foster is outside parliament tonight with more on that.

FOSTER: Hala, Britain will go to the polls with Brexit most crucial negotiations with Europe looking very much in the background. Whoever

comes out on top will lead Britain into those unchartered territories. In the next few hours, parliament behind me will be dissolved and campaigning

officially begins. Nic Robertson has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, how are you?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): The battle for votes well underway. Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, fighting

to boost his flagging support. Targeting the government on health care, education, the economy.

JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: They are a government that is very strong against the weakest. And very weak against the strongest, and

the wealthiest and the richest, and that is difference between them and us.

ROBERTSON: The British Prime Minister Theresa May, campaigning on their party's successful 2015 election slogan --

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Vote for me and the local conservative candidates is the vote for strong and stable leadership.

ROBERTSON: Strong and stable, a mantra, we'll hear plenty of.

MAY: Every vote for me is a vote for strong and stable leadership.

ROBERTSON: May wants to make the election a binary choice, her or Corbyn. The pitch only she can get the country out of Europe successfully.

MAY: Every vote for him is a vote for chaotic Brexit. Every vote for me is a vote to strengthen our hand in negotiating the best deal for Britain.

ROBERTSON: In truth, other options than Corbyn are on the table. Liberal Democrats for a gentler Brexit, and Scottish National Party pushing for

Scottish independence weaken May. But between the PM and the main opposition, the battle lines are clear.

CORBYN: Mr. Speaker, the election on the 8th of June is a choice between the -- yes. Between a conservative government for the few and a Labour

government that will stand up for all of our people.

ROBERTSON: Not everyone is taking kindly to that idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is again without really a good chance of a significant difference is really not helpful.

[15:10:12]ROBERTSON: Without doubt, the election is another big ask of the British people, the Brexit referendum last year, and general election two

years ago. For May's election gamble to pay off with a speaker majority, she needs as many people as possible to go out and vote. This election

still a long way from the slam dunk May hopes it will be. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


FOSTER: With me is political analyst, Carol Walker. She is with me outside of parliament. This is an exciting moment in British politics.

This is when it all starts. Is it a vote for government or Brexit? What are people voting for in this election?

CAROL WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Theresa May has said that this is the most important election in her lifetime, and I think that is

one thing on which her political opponents would actually agree because this election will decide the government that will take Britain out of the

European Union.

It will shape the future relationship between the U.K. and not just with the E.U. but with all the other countries around the world. They have to

form new bilateral trading relationships.

And of course, the future government will have much greater freedom, much greater power to decide a whole host of other issues from environmental

standards, agriculture payments to who comes into the country, the immigration rules and so on.

Because outside the E.U., there will be far greater freedom to do this. Now Theresa May appears to be on course to get a much bigger majority hear

in the House of Commons. The parliament that dissolves in just a few hours' time, she had a majority of just 17 at most.

That meant that any small rebellion on her own side, she is in danger of losing. She looks to be on course to get a much bigger majority. Some of

the polls suggesting could even be as high as three figures.

That will make life much easier for her here at Westminster, but everything we are hearing suggest that it won't make the slightest bit of difference

when it comes to those very difficult negotiations over Britain's departure from the E.U.

FOSTER: She called herself a bloody difficult woman today, which is a reference and that's something former politicians described her as. But

what she is describing is she is going to go into these negotiations and she's going to be really tough.

There's an example about (inaudible) with this very difficult dinner with Juncker here in London. But your suggestion is that she will get a big

mandate, but the negotiations are still just as hard, doesn't make any difference to Europe.

WALKER: Yes, over the last day or so, we have had some extraordinary briefing from the E.U. side on that dinner last week. Afterwards a few

bland words on either side. And now we are told that the two disagree on the way that the talks will be conducted.

Theresa May wants to talk about the future trade deal at the same time as Britain's departure terms. The E.U. saying, well, you got to sort out bill

for Brexit first. Theresa May said, well, there is no way that we are going to do that.

Jean-Claude Juncker apparently saying, well, if you don't pay a bill, you won't get a trade deal. They disagreed on how quickly they could agree the

rights of the E.U. citizens here in the U.K. and British citizens in other parts of the E.U., and they disagreed on the final outcome, we are told.

FOSTER: Galaxies apart as one official told "Politico."

WALKER: One official has told Angela Merkel, and "Politico" website that they were galaxies apart. We've now had Theresa May, yes, reviving that

comment that was made about her by Ken Clark, a former minister, who described her as a bloody difficult woman. Theresa May turned around and

said, well, that is something that Jean-Claude Juncker is about to find out.

FOSTER: So in terms of other elections, how does this one compare? You've covered a few of them.

WALKER: Well, I think there is certainly a huge amount at stake in this one, but I think at the moment what is interesting is that the woman who

called this election, who managed to catch everyone by surprise by calling the election does appear to be as things stand on course to increase her


The main opposition party, the Labour Party is struggling to convince voters of where it stands on this key issue of Brexit, even many Labour MPs

are not convinced that their own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is going to make a very good prime minister.

And the other political party, the Liberal Democrats are still struggling to reestablish themselves. They are going to be positioning themselves

very much as the pro-European party, trying to a closer relationship as possible with the E.U. after Britain leaves and calling for second

referendum on the terms of any British departure.

I should throw into the mix, of course, the whole issue of Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party, would be looking to get a good result so that

they can press their claim to have a second referendum on the Scottish independence. There's a huge amount at stake.

[15:15:08]FOSTER: You will be with us to explain it all. We're going to break it down very slowly overtime, Hala. We'll have much more from

outside of parliament in the hour ahead, but for now, back to you.

GORANI: All right, Max, see you then.

Still to come tonight, Russia's president was in demand today. We are just learning about his phone call with Donald Trump a few hours ago. He also

met with the German chancellor. We're live in Moscow for new details about that.

Still to come tonight, this woman was an FBI operative until she traveled to Syria and became an ISIS bride. We will have that incredible story

when we come back.


GORANI: Some people were asking if this is a Melania moment, the French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, is fighting accusations of

plagiarism and the second round of the election is now just five days away so every development matters.

On Monday, the far right candidate allegedly used extracts from a speech her ex-rival, Francois Fillon gave last month and even if you don't speak

French, the similarities and the exact similarities are hard to miss. Listen.


GORANI: So we didn't need to subtitle it because you could tell that word- for-word and phrase for phrase, it was the same speech at least that portion was.

Our Paris correspondent, Melissa Bell is standing by live. And what did the campaign of Marine Le Pen say when they were confronted with the

obvious that it is a she appears to have lifted entire portions of Fillon's speech from a month ago?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There might have been embarrassment. In fact, not a shred of it in their response, Hala, far

from it. They say it is deliberate and their point is to the reassure the former voters, the people who went out the vote for Francois Fillon that

they could in fact vote for Marine Le Pen.

And what is interesting when you listen to that extract it is its content, its theme, and that is the sort of question of national identity. It is a

reminder of the extent to which in a sense the far right has taken the narrative that's dominated this presidential race for months now, Hala, to

the right even of what the Republicans have stood for so far.

But also, the necessity that Marine Le Pen now faces to really draw together as many of Francois Fillon's former supporters on one hand, but

also, and this is something of a juggling act, also to try and draw in those crucial Jean-Luc Mellenchon voters.

[15:20:09]Now just to remind our viewers, Hala, he is the far-left candidate who did far better than had been expected getting nearly 20

percent of the vote. His voters, she is also trying to seduce and woo.

And there is much in common between their platform strangely on economic matters, the withdrawal from the European Union, for instance, and the

economic protectionism that both the far left and the far right are hoping to introduce.

And so Marine Le Pen is really trying to attract as many of those voters as she can. What the latest poll shows is that Jean-Luc Mellenchon's former

voters were really struggling to decide whether or not they are going to vote for Emmanuel Macron with a huge majority of them, Hala, projected to

be either abstaining or voting neither for one or the other.

Here in France, of course, you can make your way to the ballot box and choose to register a protest vote by voting for neither of the two

candidates, clearly for Emmanuel Macron, that is a huge worry.

GORANI: Right. Any abstention, big abstention number would be bad for him. But let me ask you again about the Le Pen campaign saying this was

deliberate. That remarkable isn't it? This wasn't one line. We are talking a giant chunk of speech that is word-for-word the same.

When it happened to others in the past -- I mean, in American politics decades ago, it actually sank an entire campaign, what is the reaction of

ordinary French people to this?

BELL: Well, we are waiting to see perhaps crucially how the Fillon campaign, and the Republicans are going to be react to this. Are they

going to go on the attack in a judicial sense and try to reclaim those words as their own, and that's one thing we are waiting to hear.

But for ordinary French voters, this is the kind of thing that perhaps will sway some, you know, there are those voters who simply could never vote the

National Front, and there are those Republican voters who are really waiting to see whether they can be convinced to vote for Marine Le Pen.

That she lifted the words is clearly a worry, but that that kind of speech, that kind of rhetoric can belong to both candidates will reassure some of

his voters that perhaps they can hold their noses and vote for her this time.

GORANI: Yes, maybe she's use a thesaurus next time for those passages. Thanks very much, Melissa Bell, in Paris.

Now, some news just in to CNN, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump spoke on the phone just in the last few hours and we are just getting details from the

White House about what they said to each other.

An official statement says they talked about Syria and that the conversation, and this is a quote, "very good." It included discussion of

safety or de-escalation zones in Syria. It was their first conversation since Moscow criticized that American strike on an air base in Syria last


Let's get to Moscow, our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, is there for us on this and also the meeting with the German


But first let's start with this conversation, the White House is calling it very good. What are you hearing from Moscow, the kremlin?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I have the readout here from the kremlin and they are not saying very good. They

are saying it was business like and constructive, which creates the idea of a very different, much more formal atmosphere than the White House readout

is suggesting.

But the kremlin readout says that it is absolutely true that the emphasis is on the situation in Syria, and the prospects of coordinating U.S. and

Russian actions in the fight against international terrorism.

Of course, we have heard this multiple times in the past, the idea that the military forces of Russia and United States could combine in some way to

impose their will jointly in Syria, that's been discussed in the past, and never actually come to fruition.

They also discussed what they call the dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula. They agreed to work jointly, and to try to folks of diplomacy

to bring out to the solution so that is an attempt that has been tried before as well to emphasize diplomacy.

The new thing I think to come out of this was the idea of a personal meeting. Now in the past, the kremlin has always said that look, the time

is not right for a personal meeting. In this phone call, they have discussed having a personal meeting on the sidelines of or in connection

with the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7th until the 8th.

And so there is the possibility there could be a one-on-one meeting between these two presidents finally in that July G20 summit -- Hala.

GORANI: And perhaps on the sidelines now. He had a busy day for Vladimir Putin, because he also met in Sochi with the German chancellor.

CHANCE: Yes, and it's interesting, a bit of flurry of diplomatic activity with Vladimir Putin at the center of things. And illustrates just how

important he's become I think in international diplomacies to have this phone call with Trump.

Today he was meeting with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Tomorrow, he is meeting with President Erdogan of Turkey. The Merkel meeting was a

bit more tense than this phone call appears to have been.

[15:25:05]For instance looking at this Trump phone call readout, none of these issues were mentioned, the situation in Ukraine, for instance was

absent, and so was the allegation of the election interference by the Russians and so is the situation with the LGBT community in this country

because there are allegations that gays in Chechnya are being persecuted.

None of those things were broached in the Trump phone call, but Angela Merkel spoke to Vladimir Putin face to face about all three of those issues

and so it shows the different approaches of the Europeans and the Americans at this point towards Russia.

GORANI: And what language did they speak to each other because Vladimir Putin speaks German from his time in East Germany?

CHANCE: He does and he was a KGB officer, of course, in East Germany, and Angela Merkel speaks Russia because East Germany was obviously, you know,

run by the Soviets when she grew up. So they have undoubtedly communicated with each other in their various and respective tongues, you know, kind of

switching between the two is how I imagine it, but I was not in the room.

GORANI: OK, well, they have language to unite them at least. Thanks very much, Matthew Chance, in Moscow. A lot more ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is known by ISIS as the German, (inaudible), a notorious ISIS fighter and recruiter and a former German rapper who in

intense and disturbing videos called for violent jihad.


GORANI: And he also married this woman who was incidentally an FBI agent. We will have that remarkable story ahead.

Also, ahead, U.S. President Trump puts on a happy face, but expresses major frustrations about working with Congress. We'll take a closer at why the

president says a government shutdown may be what America needs.


GORANI: Hillary Clinton is speaking out about her election loss, and she is not holding back. Clinton told a women's forum that she was on the way

to winning the presidency, but that Russian Wikileaks and a letter from FBI Director James Comey raised doubts at the minds of voters.

Also among the top stories in the final day of the current British parliament, in a few hours it will be dissolved ahead of a general election

next month, the government will remain until the vote which takes place on June 8th. We will be back with Max at Westminster in a moment.

This story as well, Mexican authorities have arrested a man who they believe is a leading figure in the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

[15:30:00] Damaso Lopez Nunez is expected to face charges in the U.S. for distribution of cocaine and money laundering. That information is from a

source close to the investigation. The Sinaloa Drug Cartel was once led by El Chapo, Joaquin Guzman.

It's no secret that Donald Trump likes to shake things up. Well, now, there's another first for his presidency. Frustrated with the pushback in

Congress over his budget and other things, Mr. Trump is welcoming what most politicians go to great lengths to the avoid, a government shutdown.

He tweeted, "The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there. We

either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 percent. Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix this mess."

Let's get some perspective from Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. Again, quite remarkable for a president to say maybe what America needs is

a good old government shutdown because those are costly, and they're also paralyzing. I mean, government just doesn't function for the time that it

is closed, obviously.

DR. LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER OF POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: That's absolutely correct. And Republicans control everything

in Washington, they would get 100 percent of the blame. And by the way, congressional leaders on the Republican side have been falling all over

themselves to repudiate what the President said. The last thing they want in September is a government shutdown.

GORANI: Because it would hurt them politically, obviously. But what is frustrating Donald Trump is, he's trying to get bills and other measures

and budgets and all sorts of things through Congress, and he's facing resistance not just from Democrats but from his own party as well.

SABATO: He is indeed and, of course, whose fault is that? He is not a very good listener, and his people aren't very good listeners. And they're

finally learning, I think, gradually, that we have a system with three branches, three co-equal branches. The President must cooperate with the

Congress to get anything passed.

GORANI: And they're going to try another version of the health care bill, the one that failed a few weeks ago. That was, you know, very quickly

abandoned, and they moved on to something else. But what are the chances that will actually succeed for the President?

SABATO: This new version doesn't seem to be accepted any better than the previous version, so I think it's a major problem. Eventually, they may be

able to find something they can pass in the field of health care, but I don't think it is the current version because the moderates have been

pushed aside while pleasing the House Freedom Caucus, the very conservative members of the House.

GORANI: All right. We will see how that develops and how the White House and, perhaps, Donald Trump maybe alters or fine-tune his approach to


But meantime, we heard from his former opponent, Hillary Clinton. She did say that she took personal responsibility for the loss, but then said she

was basically on track. She was going to win but then there was Russian meddling and then that Comey letter, the FBI sort of reviving that

investigation into her e-mail server. And that had those things not happened, she would have won.

SABATO: Oh, she is actually correct. That was my own evaluation, and I published a book on it called "Trumped." And essentially, I think the

Comey decision, even more than WikiLeaks, cost her the election. That's the FBI Director who decided to violate Justice Department policy and FBI

precedent to intervene in the election, just 11 days before Election Day, November 8th. And he absolutely stuck a knife in Hillary Clinton. It

pushed some of the leaning voters away from her, depressed Democratic turnout, and essentially elected Donald Trump.

GORANI: But I mean, obviously, her critics will say, yet again, she is blaming everyone but herself. She ran a bad campaign. She was careless

with that server. That, really, she needs to look inward, and the Democratic Party, in fact, needs to sort of perform more of a mea culpa

here. How do you react to that criticism, because it is out there and it's pretty prevalent, even among those who might have supported Hillary


SABATO: I agree with everything you've just said because, after all, this was a very close election. 77,700 votes in three states elected Donald

Trump. Nationally, we had 138 million people vote.

So when you have an election that close, there are probably 100 factors that made the difference. Hillary Clinton's campaign was flawed. It was

more flawed than we knew at the time. Never visiting Wisconsin was probably fatal in and on itself.

[5:34:55] GORANI: Last question, and we discussed this with our reporter who attended that Hillary Clinton event. The problem for the Democrats --

I mean, there are many problems, but one of the big obvious ones is they don't have this unifying figure.

They need someone if they want to fight the midterm elections and gain more seats in Congress, and they just don't have it. I mean, Bernie Sanders is

much older. He was a presidential candidate. Is he really going to be the standard-bearer for the party? Who is emerging, if anyone?

SABATO: No one. The four leaders you hear people mention the most are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, as you've just said, Hillary Clinton, and Senator

Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts. They are all either now or will be, by the election, over 70 years old. Two of them will be close to 80.

That is not the future. Younger Democrats have to come to the fore. But, Hala, it is much too the early for that. 2020, the election, even the

primaries, are three years away.

GORANI: Right, OK. Well, but you have other electoral contests. Those are important, too. Obviously, the congressional election and elections

for the Senate, and then even local elections. All those things make a difference in the grand scheme of things for the party.

SABATO: Well, they do, but remember, those early elections are generally about the job approval of the incumbent president. If Donald Trump is

anywhere near as unpopular on Election Day 2018 as he is today, Democrats are going to do better than expected.

GORANI: Larry Sabato, as always, thanks very much for joining us, at the University of Virginia. Check out the Facebook page,

Our next story sounds like the plot from an episode of "Homeland." A German rapper becomes an influential recruiter for ISIS. He later marries

an FBI translator who, get this, was assigned to investigate him. The wife then turns on her terrorist husband.

Now, the FBI is trying to explain how someone with top-secret security clearance became an ISIS bride. Drew Griffin has the details in this

exclusive story.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is known by ISIS as "The German," Abu Talha al-Almani, a notorious ISIS fighter and recruiter, a

former German rapper who, in intense and disturbing videos, called for violent jihad and proudly held the severed head of an ISIS victim.

Denis Cuspert is his real name, a German national targeted by the United States as a specially designated global terrorist who survived a U.S.

missile strike in 2015, and is believed to be still alive somewhere in ISIS-controlled Syria. What has not been disclosed until now is that an

FBI employee with top secret clearance lied to her bosses, secretly traveled to Syria, and married Cuspert for a short time, becoming the ISIS

bride of the very terrorist she was assigned to investigate.

That now former employee is Daniela Greene. Her face obscured due to concerns for her safety. Having violated the public trust and endangered

our nation's security, according to federal prosecutors, Greene served just two years in prison and is now free. She would not answer CNN's questions,

saying, "If I talk to you, my family will be in danger."

The information about her case comes from previously sealed court documents. The records unsealed only after Greene finished cooperating

with authorities and after prosecutors asked the judge to make them public. Unsealing the documents, they write, will allow appropriate public access

to this case.

Greene, who was already married, traveled to Syria in the summer of 2014, and not only spent time in the company of members of ISIS but ended up

marrying an infamous ISIS terrorist.

GEORG HEIL, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: He is calling upon his followers to commit attacks inside Europe. He says, I quote, "Europe is a new

battleground." He says, "Go and slaughter them. Ambush them, shed their blood, take hostages, kill them."

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The FBI hired Greene as a translator, assigning her to the Detroit field office. She was tasked with helping investigate a

terrorist labeled "Individual A" in court documents. CNN has learned "Individual A" is the German rapper turned ISIS fighter, Denis Cuspert.

Greene was able to track the terrorist using three Skype accounts, but it turns out the FBI knew of only two. Greene had sole access to a third

Skype account. And in June 2014, Greene told her supervisor she was making a trip to Germany to visit family. Instead, she crossed the Syrian border

with the help of the terrorists and disappeared.

There in ISIS-controlled Syria, government prosecutors say Daniela Greene met up with the ISIS terrorist, and not only married him but told him she

was employed by the FBI, and that the FBI had an open investigation into his activities. Shortly after arriving in Syria, Daniela Greene had a

change of heart and within weeks was sending e-mails back to the United States.

[15:40:05] "I was weak," she wrote in one. "I really made a mess of things this time." On August 6, 2014, Daniela Greene left Syria, left ISIS, and

did return to the United States where she was immediately arrested.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Unlike other terrorism-related cases, Daniela Greene's arrest and plea deal would receive no publicity at all from the

Department of Justice. The case quietly hidden, court records sealed for months. Even after her case became a matter of public record, still,


GRIFFIN (voice-over): A look on the FBI and the Department of Justice Web site show page after page of press releases about similar terrorism arrests

over the years, but this one stayed buried until now. CNN Investigative Reporter Scott Glover discovered the court documents.

SCOTT GLOVER, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: I think it's a fair assessment to say it's embarrassing when an employee with a top-secret national

security clearance secretly travels to Syria and marries a terrorist who is the subject of the investigation that she is work working on.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): What is even more stunning about this secretive case is how it ended. Greene began cooperating with the FBI immediately upon

her arrest. She pleaded guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism. Well, the government said she skirted a line

dangerously close to other more serious charges.

Similar cases had ended in sentences of eight, 10, 15 years in federal prison. Greene was sentenced to just two. According to prosecutors, it

was because of her cooperation. She is already out on probation, but free.

GRIFFIN (on camera): The FBI had little to say about this case other than to tell us that because of Daniela Greene's case, the Bureau had taken

steps to identify and reduce what they call vulnerabilities. As for the seemingly light two-year sentence, a Department of Justice official told

CNN that it's actually in line with other defendants who have lied to the FBI in terrorism cases, but then offered significant cooperation once they

were under arrest.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


GORANI: Unbelievable story. This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. After a break, we'll take you back to Parliament where our Max Foster is standing by.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, we're at an insurmountable lead for the Conservatives. I'll have two political experts coming up with me to look

at how the opposition could possibly close the massive gap in the polls.


FOSTER: Welcome back to THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Max Foster outside the Houses of Parliament here in London. We'll get back to Hala in the London

bureau in just a few moments, but just hours from now, the starting gun will be fired in the British election campaign.

We've been speaking to political analyst Carole Walker. We've also got Vernon Bogdanor. He's research professor at the Institute for Contemporary

British History at King's College here in London. Thank you both for joining us.

[15:45:06] Vernon, we've been hearing a lot about the polls.


FOSTER: Saying the Conservatives and Theresa May are way ahead in this election, but the polls have been consistently wrong in past campaigns.

But you think you're right this time?

BOGDANOR: Well, it's fair to say that polls only give you a snap shot, not a prediction. They tell you what opinion is at a particular moment of

time. Now, we've got five weeks to go until the election.

Now, that having been said, the Conservatives have a massive lead, the sort of lead that no parties had, really, since 1997 when Tony Blair won a

majority of 179 seats. And if the same were to happen now, Theresa May can look for something similar. But, of course, things can change in five


FOSTER: Yes, they can. And she keeps saying that she's doing this, Carole, because she wants this mandate going to the Brexit negotiations.

But is that really the case? Is it not that she just wants a mandate generally she can rule for the next five years? Well, she didn't have that

mandate when she came into power, did she?

CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think one of the key things about this was the timing. What she didn't want was to be coming up to the

end of those Brexit negotiations with the next general election looming. That would have made it very difficult indeed for her to offer up anything

in those Brexit negotiations that was going to go down badly with the voters.

So that was clearly part of the whole reason why this election was called, but she has also said that she wants to do things differently, that she

wants to change things. She feels that the whole vote for Brexit was a desire for people who felt that they'd been overlooked by society, by the

establishment, and that she does want to bring about wider changes.

I think one of the things that it looks as though she could well benefit from is the fact that UKIP, a much smaller party, who played a significant

role in getting that Brexit vote in the first place, now appears to be rapidly losing support. In part, it is because voters believe that UKIP

has played its part. What is the point in voting UKIP anymore?

The party has also been absolutely riven by internal squabbling and fighting their best-known figure. Nigel Farage is not standing for

election in this. He's no longer leading the party. And I think that the Conservatives can now hope that an awful lot of those voters who voted UKIP

-- we only got one UKIP M.P. at the last election, but they certainly deprived the Conservatives the majority in a lot of seats. They'll be

hoping to pick up those former UKIP voters and that could help to increase their majority still further.

FOSTER: At the same time, the main opposition party, the Labour Party, is collapsing its support, isn't it? Tony Blair is even getting involved

again. Now, obviously, he's worried about the party. Will the Conservatives get their votes as well?

BOGDANOR: There are Labour voters, who voted leave in the referendum, who may well be considering a Conservative vote. But, of course, the main

weakness of the Labour Party's position is the lack of credibility of the leadership. All the survey evidence we have indicates that many Labour

voters, even lesser than Conservatives, prefer Theresa May as Prime Minister to Jeremy Corbyn.

FOSTER: That's extraordinary.

BOGDANOR: That is what's holding Labour back. And the only way I think, frankly, that Labour can improve its position is if it does change its

leadership between now and the election. That is almost impossible, but not quite impossible.

FOSTER: Is Tony Blair in the running for that? Is that why we're seeing - -

BOGDANOR: Tony Blair is certainly not on the running for it. He's not even standing. But there's a subplot to the election, as you hinted, that

what Tony Blair would like to see is a moderate left wing, social democratic, pro-European party, composed perhaps of elements of the Labour

Party, of Liberal Democrats, even perhaps a few Conservatives.

And he has advised people to vote tactically for the strongest remain candidate in their constituency. And that, of course, needn't necessarily

be a Labour candidate. In some cases, it might well be a Liberal Democrat. So the subplot behind this is whether we're going to see a realignment of

the left after the election. And the election is as much about the future of the left, of the Labour Party, as it is about who wins.


FOSTER: And, Carole, this is really important, isn't it? Because without a strong opposition, this place doesn't function properly and, actually,

that's the risk coming out of this election.

WALKER: That's right. And I think that what Vernon Bogdanor was saying is right, that there are even many Labour MPs who do not think that their

party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is the best person to be Prime Minister. That is the biggest problem for Labour. But they are also really struggling to

come to grips with Brexit.

It seems that many Labour constituencies, the constituencies who were Labour heartlands in the past, many of those voted strongly for leave.

They feel that Jeremy Corbyn was a remain supporter. They don't think that the Labour Party represents them. Many of those constituencies could now

turn Conservative. And many remain constituencies simply don't feel that Labour is going to strongly represent their views. On that side of the

argument, either, they seem to be struggling to convince voters on either side of the Brexit argument.

[15:50:21] FOSTER: Isn't this going to be interesting, going into the election, Vernon, because she had, you know, a previous election? People

voted with their party largely and then a lot of UKIP votes came through. Then we had the referendum where people didn't vote along party lines at

all. And now, they're facing this conflict, they might be a Conservative supporter but they might want to remain within the European Union. So how

is that going to play out, do you think?

BOGDANOR: The referendum did break party lines as you suggest, but it appears that it's broken party lines more for leave voters than for remain

voters. The leave voters are more much enthusiastic about leaving, and therefore are likely to vote Conservative. A few will vote UKIP but mostly


They're more enthusiastic about leaving than remain voters are about remaining. And one saw that in the referendum as well, that the remain

areas had the lowest turnout. Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London turned out much lower than the leave areas. The leave people are really

keen about leaving.

But I do want to stress this point you made earlier, that not having a proper opposition is very bad both for the country and even for the

government because all good governments needs scrutiny. And indeed, a government is much better if it's got a strong opposition on its toes, and

it will be very bad for British democracy if we don't have an effective opposition in the next parliament. But if the polls are right and continue

as they are, that looks to be the situation we are facing.

FOSTER: A landslide? Would it be a landslide perhaps?

BOGDANOR: That, if I had to guess, I would say, yes, there will be a Conservative landslide.

FOSTER: OK. Vernon and Carole, thank you both very much indeed. We'll be speaking to you often during the campaign.

This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Hala and I will be back after this short break to discuss the fun side of U.K. politics. There is one, including

the typical "politician eating" photos that always capture candidates at their worst, pretty much.


GORANI: Although the British election campaign officially kicks off in a few hours when Parliament is dissolved, political parties have been out

there canvasing for weeks. And like any campaign, there are gaffes, intrigue, and a lot of the political posturing.

Let's bring in Max Foster once again at Parliament. So we talked a lot about Theresa May, but what about the opposition, Max? What are they up

to? How do they plan on making up -- I mean, it's a long shot for them in the polls -- such a big distance in the polls?

FOSTER: Yes, but they got out so confidently, and the get on the radio like they did this morning. A senior member of the Shadow cabinet, Diane

Abbott, was out there on the radio. She's a very familiar face on British T.V. but also on the radio networks as well.

The problem is, when you're going into a political campaign, you have to sort of get your figures right, and she was not across it today. Have a



DIANE ABBOTT, SHADOW HOME SECRETARY, UNITED KINGDOM: If we recruit the 10,000 policemen and women over a four-year period, we believe it is


NICK FERRARI, LBC RADIO PRESENTER: Three hundred thousand pounds --

ABBOTT: Sorry, three --

FERRARI: -- for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?

ABBOTT: No, I mean, sorry --

FERRARI: How much will they cost?

ABBOTT: They will cost -- it will cost about 80 million euro.


FOSTER: It wasn't the best moment for Labour today, but they were saying, you know, they're not embarrassed about this. At least the party leader

did, Hala. It's pretty awkward by the end of the day. But I think when it comes to a car crash radio, a pretty good example there, then they'll be

across every detail, I'm sure, looking ahead.

GORANI: And we've all been in a spot, I'm sure you have too, where you just kind of lose your train of thought live on air, and it just feels

awful. Maybe that's what --

FOSTER: You're ruffling through the notes.

GORANI: Exactly.


GORANI: But Theresa May is getting some bad press as well though?

FOSTER: She is, and that's because she doesn't eat very well on cameras it seems --

GORANI: Who does?

FOSTER: -- that's what the papers are saying about that one today. Well, exactly, never eat on camera. And you and I know never would. The Royals,

though, in this country, it's a rule that they stick by.

But she doesn't stick by that one. Let's have a look at these pictures down there in southwest of England famous for its chips. So, of course,

she goes out there, and she eats some. But these photos are pretty extraordinary. She doesn't look comfortable eating them, let's just say


And this is, I think I'm right in saying, that the narrative here is that Theresa May, a bit awkward when she is out and about. Socially, she's a

bit awkward so she's trying to get in touch with the people. But never eat in front of a camera. I don't think we'll be seeing much more of that.

GORANI: I was going to say, well, it doesn't matter who you support, it's kind of a low blow to take a picture of someone eating, regardless of what

you think of them as a politician. That being said, I'm sure we'll have a lot more of these examples, photos, gaffes, all the rest of it.

There are five weeks now, Max, to go. And we'll be checking in with you a little bit later as well for more. Thanks very much.

Max was at the Houses of Parliament. Dissolution of Parliament is just hours away. And this, of course, signals, Max, the beginning of the

election campaign.

This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Same time, same place tomorrow, if you'd like to join us. We'd love to

have you.