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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Angry Protesters Storm Local Town Hall; Death Toll Rises As Grief Turns To Anger; U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Hires Outside Counsel; Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister On Qatar Crisis; Syrian Refugee Among The 30 Dead; Trump Cancels Obama's Cuba Deal; Russia Says ISIS Leader May Be Dead; Former German Chancellor Dies at 87; Macron's Party Heading for Majority in Parliament. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 16, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome to the program.
We begin with breaking news right here in London where grief has turned to anger over the Grenfell Tower fire. Take a look at these protesters.
Right outside of the gates of 10 Downing Street. Earlier some other demonstrators flooded a local town hall.
GORANI: You can see it there, a lot of anger, frustration as well. Protesters kicking the doors of that local authority building. The calls
for justice come as police say they may never be able to identify all of the victims of the fire. So far the confirmed number of people killed
stands at 30, but dozens more are missing. So the death toll is certain to rise.
Meantime, the British Prime Minister Theresa May just announced a $6.4 million fund to help the victims of the fire. We are tracking all the
protests this hour. Oren Liebermann has been following community demonstrations in Kensington. Phil Black is reporting from 10 Downing
So Oren, first, tell us more about the anger on the street of Kensington with those very dramatic images of protesters right at that local town hall
building trying to bust or -- trying to knock and kick some of those doors down.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not quite as tense and not quite as uneasy as it was then, but this crowd here behind me, there are
hundreds here marched from the video you just saw from where you just saw, the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, they are here.
Quite a march to speak in front of the church here, which is about as close to the tower, that burned out tower as you can get. They've been shouting
no justice, no peace. You get a sense of the crowd still here, still angry, still frustrated and that frustration has boiled over now over the
last three days.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Anger boils over as the city grieves. Residents, friends and family protesting over how they say their concerns were
ignored, over how they say they are being treated after this tragedy. Near Grenfell Tower, the feeling is similar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is classic and this is (inaudible) over people.
LIEBERMANN: Pictures of the missing, each one, an answered question, the lack of answers fuelling the frustration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People at the top floor, elderly had no chance, not 1 percent chance of surviving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That to make it look (inaudible) surrounding people in areas (inaudible). Let's now focus on the human life inside the building.
LIEBERMANN: The fire has become far bigger than one community. It's resonated around the city like it was a grief and anger growing louder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why wasn't enough done to prevent this, you know? Gentrification, you know, (inaudible) so that all the others thought of,
you know, new builds and invest in the (inaudible) but at the cost of human life it's so unacceptable and someone needs to be held accountable.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in London just a short distance away from multi-million dollar homes and
Porsches. Residents of the Grenfell Tower, a short distance behind me, say they live in a different world, ignored, invisible they say to the
officials who are supposed to represent them. They say that fire would never have happened right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd love to know how much of that 10 million actually went on making the outside look nice.
LIEBERMANN: Joe Delady (ph) lives next to Grenfell Tower, he watched from the very beginning in many ways he speaks for the community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what, it may have been a nice saw, but it certainly wouldn't have killed anyone.
LIEBERMANN: There is a tremendous amount of gratitude here. First for the volunteers who pack supply vans with donations and for the firefighters.
The government has ordered a public inquiry and a criminal investigation has been launched. Still the anger evident. Residents are shouting for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want justice. We want justice.
LIEBERMANN: Those cries growing louder with each passing hour.
LIEBERMANN: A view from above now and you get a sense of just how many people are out here certainly well into the hundreds surrounding this
entire area getting as close as they can to that burned out tower, what they see as a symbol of their anger, symbol of their frustration.
Just a few moments ago, they started once again chanting no justice, no peace. One of the words we've heard repeated throughout the interviews
we've done today, throughout the people we've spoken with this accountability.
[15:05:10]And that's what they want to see here. Certainly the measures from the prime minister, a $6.5 million emergency fund as well as housing,
they will help in the short term and perhaps even the longer term as well, but it doesn't help ease the tension here and it doesn't help answer the
questions they answered here -- Hala.
GORANI: Thanks very much, Oren. I want to tell our viewers what they are seeing there in these live images. These are police cordons not far from
Oxford Circus. We know that there were demonstrators as we showed you at the top of the hour there right outside the gates of 10 Downing Street,
very angry demonstrators.
Certainly critical in the case of that group of people of Theresa May. She was criticized in fact for not meeting on day one with victims of the fire,
but meeting instead with first responders. Her political rival and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn met with residents of that
neighborhood in London that was affected by the Grenfell Tower inferno.
Phil Black in fact is at 10 Downing Street. As it calm down there, Phil, because just about an hour ago, there was a big crowd outside those gates.
PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala. They've marched through Westminster, through the government area of London,
gathered here at Downing Street. They stayed here awhile. They were boisterous, "May must go" is their chants, but they were generally pretty
There must be students, unions, socialist groups that moved on to other parts of Central London, as you mentioned, but it's all just some of the
pressure that's been on Theresa May for the last 24 hours or more ever since she visited the site of the tower fire, but only met with emergency
services workers not the local community.
Since then she'd been called distant, out of touch, lacking humanity and compassion, and even cowardly for not hearing the anger and the concerns of
that local community. Today, she's been trying to turn all that around.
She has been meeting with people, injured people at hospitals. She went to a community center as well. She chaired a government meeting to determine
across government response to help people get back on their feet.
And of course, she threw a lot of money, as you mentioned there, around 5 billion pounds, more than $6 billion. That's what she was talking about
when she came back to Downing Street this evening all the while stressing she has been meeting and talking to real people. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, what I want to talk about today is what the government is making available to that victims of this
absolutely horrendous tragedy. I think we were all -- when we saw the horrific scene of what happened at Grenfell Tower, we all were deeply
affected by that. It's absolutely horrifying and I think hearing stories today from people about their experiences. I've also think hearing from
the local community about the issues and concerns that they have.
Now the government is making 5 million pounds available for -- as emergency funds to people who need -- just get money to be able to buy the normal
things of everyday life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: May's initial response to this disaster was really shaking up as yet another own goal for the prime minister. All of this was announced
late this evening. The key question is will it turn that around politically and of course, will it ease some of the anger, some of the
frustration that we've been hearing and seeing in the community -- Hala.
GORANI: Right. There were even some people asking the dramatic question, is this Theresa May's Katrina? Let me show out viewers once again what's
going on in Central London before I get to the next question. Phil, this is Oxford Circus if you're familiar with the British capital. This is
obviously one of the central points, Oxford Circus.
That's where there is a tube station, Oxford Street as well, is a very famous shopping street. Regent Street is the cross street there
perpendicular to Oxford Circus. Now it's not a huge crowd, but there is some anger, some frustration and people at least in certain pockets, this
one and other areas of London are wanting to voice that anger and frustration.
And Phil, at 10 Downing, is this going to impact Brexit talks? Because Theresa May is going from one issue to the other. First it's that general
election that was a major embarrassment. She lost her majority. Then there was that -- her response to the cowering, fire at Grenfell Tower that
also didn't go down well at all, and Monday, Brexit negotiations start.
BLACK: Yes, it's all yet still more problems for a prime minister that many see as being fatally wounded politically anyway. So Brexit talks
start Monday, she's entering these talks much weaker than she intended. She performed so poorly in the election.
Not only lost her parliamentary majority but crucially didn't get the mandate she was seeking from the British people for the type of Brexit she
wants. That very hard line no deal is better than a bad deal pulling out of the single market, pulling out of the Customs Union, ending freedom of
movement, taking back control of Britain's immigration.
That's so called hard Brexit according to many of her critics is not dead in the water because they argue it is now being substantially rejected by
the British people.
[15:10:05]So the key question as these talks continue is to what extend Theresa May is going to alter her position in the sort of Brexit deal she
is seeking, but she hasn't told us yet. What we do know for sure is that it's going to be a very different experience forward than the one she was
GORANI: All right, we are going to cover this, of course, starting on Monday. Thanks very much, Phil Black, at 10 Downing Street. And later on
the program, a Syrian refugee who fled war at home dies trapped in his London apartment. His brother managed to escape the inferno.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASHEM AL-MAJAB, VICTIM'S BROTHER: Everything collapsed. Everything stopped. Starting again, I don't think (inaudible) start and do everything
again from the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The incredibly emotional interview, so painful to listen to. This young man had lost his brother. His brother who was a Syrian refugee, who
fled the war at home, was a university student in London, and he died in Grenfell Tower. We'll play some more of it for you in about 20 minutes.
All right, let's turn our attention to U.S. politics now where White House officials says a new Twitter storm by Donald Trump shows he's, quote,
"taking matters into his own hands and he's ready to put up a fight."
The U.S. president is firing off more tweets on the Russia investigation today. One appearing to directly target Deputy Attorney General Rod
Rosenstein. It said, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director! Witch hunt."
More of the president's associates are now hiring attorneys to handle Russia-related questions including the Vice President of the United States
himself, Mike Pence, and longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Let's get more from White House reporter, Stephen Collinson. So in that tweet storm, there was also one from the president essentially confirming
that he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Hala. At least that was the way it looked to begin with when the president tweeted that he
was being investigated. A lot of us took it as confirmation that he's been told officially that he was a target of the special counsel, Robert
Mueller's investigation, into obstruction of justice.
Now it later emerged according to people in the west wing, in the White House, that in fact what Trump was referring to were reports in the
"Washington Post" to the effect that he was under investigation, which haven't yet been confirmed by the Special Counsel's Office.
So that caused somewhat of confusion and this has really been a day of bewildering developments on multiple fronts in this investigation, which I
think show us just how angry and frustrated the president is personally, and the shadow this is casting over his White House and his administration.
But also the deepening and the widening of the implications and the various investigations that are actually taking place.
GORANI: All right, and Stephen, the president's tweets that appeared to attack Rod Rosenstein came just hours after the deputy attorney general
released a highly unusual statement. Frankly no one seems to really know what to make of it.
It reads in part, "Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous "officials," particularly when
they do not identify the country let alone the branch or agency of government with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated." Can
you shed some light on this?
COLLINSON: What he appears to be referring to several reports in the "Washington Post," one of which I mentioned, but it was an exceedingly
strange choice of language, which prompted many people to believe that this statement was -- that he was forced to make the statement from the White
The White House says that's not the case, but it's -- what all this has done is focus intense scrutiny on Rosenstein. Rosenstein was facing the
person who wrote the report that said James Comey, the fired FBI chief's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail matter was very important.
That was used by the White House to justify his firing, and then a few days later, he called for a special counsel into looking, you know, this whole
issue of Russian interference in the election, and alleged collusion by officials in the Trump campaign.
So it looks now that Donald Trump has turned against Rosenstein and there's intense speculation now that in fact that he could be the next person to be
fired, which would cause a massive political firestorm along the lines of the one we saw when Comey was dismissed.
So it's very confusing and very intense and no one really today on this day really knows exactly what is going on.
GORANI: Right. It's keeping us all busy trying to read through the lines of some of these statements. But also today Donald Trump is trying to push
through some of his agenda, which involves in many cases, simply the dismantling of Obama era policies or achievements whichever way you look at
[15:15:03]Such as for instance, the opening of the renewed or the diplomatic relations with Cuba. So in Miami today, Donald Trump said
essentially I'm going to throw away this deal. Can he do it?
COLLINSON: He can throw away aspects of it. What he is not doing is closing the U.S. Embassy, which was opened during the Obama administration.
He is re-imposing some restrictions on travel and finance that the Obama administration lifted. So he is going half way, but the speech that he
gave was a very, very hardline speech.
It harkens back to those cold war speeches of American presidents used to make about Cuba and it shows how the president is trying to, as you say,
advance his agenda despite this huge storm that is multiplying around his White House over the Russian issue.
The problem is when he stops the day by tweeting these inflammatory things about the investigation, mostly attention is going to be on that and not
exactly what he is doing in which he's intended to please the people who put him in the White House in the first place, his supporters.
So in many ways, even though the White House came out today and said that Donald Trump believes is his best defender, and this is behind his tweets,
politically in many ways he looks to be his own worst enemy.
GORANI: Stephen Collinson in Washington, thanks very much. Have a great weekend. Speak to you soon.
Still to come this evening --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem with Qatar with regards to its financing of extremism and terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: I speak to Saudi Arabia's foreign minister about why his country is so upset with their neighbor Qatar. We'll be right back.
GORANI: It is one of the biggest political crises to hit the Gulf region in years. A slew of key allies and neighbors have put a diplomatic freeze
on Qatar. Qatar is probably feeling all along right now because of allegations that that country supports terrorism. Qatar calls those claims
I sat down with the Saudi Arabian foreign minister who is in London today meeting with his counterpart, Boris Johnson, Adel Al-Jubeir. I began by
asking him why there was such a crisis in the region.
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI ARABIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER: We have a problem with Qatar with regards to its financing of extremism and terrorism. The steps
that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the Emirates and Egypt took vis-a-vis Qatar have to do with persuading Qatar to stop its support for extremism
and terrorism. We cannot have on one hand support for such groups and on the other hand, an alliance against such groups until --
GORANI: It have also something to do with overtures toward Iran that you found unacceptable? That it also have to do with support for the Muslim
Brotherhood or al-Jazeera, the television news network that some would say perhaps has some sympathies or had some sort of editorial bias towards some
of the groups that you don't agree with?
[15:20:04]AL-JUBEIR: I don't believe that's true. Kuwait has an independent policy. Oman has an independent policy and they are free to
pursue those. But the issue with Qatar has to do with support for violent extremist groups. Some of the groups has support in Syria. The Muslim
Brotherhood that they support is violent and is classified and it has committed atrocities in Egypt. Their support for or their payment of
ransom to militias in Iraq is not acceptable.
They are harboring terrorists as we speak. There are 14 people on the list that we submitted that are classified as terrorist by the U.S. and I
believe nine others are classified as terrorist by the United Nations. This is unacceptable. You cannot have fundraisers in your country raising
money and sending it to ISIS or sending it to al Qaeda.
GORANI: You say Qatar sends money to ISIS?
AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely. That's why these individuals were designated as sponsors of terrorism. Not by us --
GORANI: But will this push --
GORANI: Iran is spending billions -- thousands of tons of food now to Qatar because they can't it through their land border in your country --
AL-JUBEIR: They can get their food from a number of sources. We said we'd be happy to provide them with food and medicine through the (inaudible)
months and should they require it. There are no shortages. I think anyone who comes close to Iran comes and does so at their own peril. Iran is not
a country that is a force of stability. Iran is a country that is destabilizing.
GORANI: The United States through Donald Trump, you saw his tweets, he makes many policy announcements on Twitter. I'm sure you read them like
everyone else. As I mentioned called Qatar a founder of terrorism, but then just a few days ago, Donald Trump sells $12 billion of weapons to
Qatar. Do you think there's any contradiction there? And if so, how do you interpret these --
AL-JUBEIR: I interpret it as Qatar being a difficult ally and you have to balance between the security of the Gulf and between trying to persuade
your ally to do the right thing by stopping certain actions or by taking more resolute steps to stop the funding of extremism and terrorism. And so
I don't see a contradiction between the two.
And with regards to the imposition of the American president, I think he's been very clear from day one that he will be resolute in fighting extremism
and terrorism. And I believe that what the policies that he's articulating now and the policies that he has taken in Syria, Iraq and in this case with
Qatar are a confirmation of the principles he knows that he would take.
GORANI: I've got to ask you about Yemen as well. I know when President Trump visited Saudi Arabia billions of dollars of weapons deals were also
signed with your country, $110 billion, but you have some politicians in America who wanted to block that.
Chuck Schumer is one of them, the minority in the Senate. He's opposed to this sale he said because Saudi Arabia's support for an extremist version
of Islam, Huabism (ph), extremist schools and ideologies. He said, I cannot support this sale because of that. How do you respond to that?
AL-JUBEIR: I think these are legacy issues where we are very firm in fighting against extremism and terrorism. We are very firm in terms of
taking steps against people who finance terrorists or finance extremist groups. We have legislation on the books. We have people that we put on
trial and we have people who are jail. We have zero tolerance with this.
GORANI: So you reject these accusations?
AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we've made it very clear to people. I think that what happened is it was a political football that we
got caught in the middle of. It was between Democrats who wanted to embarrass the president and this was one vehicle that they tried to use and
wanted to do so and it didn't succeed.
GORANI: And speaking of Yemen, I know that part of some of these deals that we signed were for a type of technology that would allow you to avoid
civilian casualties as much as possible. And the civilian casualties have been terrible in Yemen as you know, 9,000 civilian deaths. There's famine.
There's cholera. Is this an acknowledgement on your part that Saudi Arabia, the Saudi-led campaign has led to a very high number of civilian
AL-JUBEIR: No. The coup that the Houthis and (inaudible) staged against a legitimate government that disrupted the transition process is what led to
this. The Yemeni people agreed to a transition. They had a national dialogue. They agreed on what the future of Yemen should look like and
they were about to draft the constitution.
That's when the Houthis went and staged their coup. They took over the capitol. They tried to imprison the president. He fled. They've chased
him to Taz (ph) and then (inaudible) and they almost killed him and he called for assistance.
We've responded under the U.N. Charter in order to stop a radical militia allied with Hezbollah and Iran from taking over one of the most
strategically located countries in the world. We didn't start this. They did.
[15:25:11]GORANI: Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister speaking to me earlier today rejecting accusations that the Saudi-led coalition
campaign in Yemen has led to high number of civilian casualties and accusation that many human rights groups have made and others as well.
Next on THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, a Syrian refugee who escaped war in his homeland dies in the flames of the Grenfell Tower fire. His heartbroken
brother speaks to CNN next.
And later, President Trump invokes the Cuban missile crises of more than 50 years ago as he continues to chip away a Barack Obama's legacy. We'll be
live in Havana. Stay with us.
GORANI: There have been protests in London and demonstrators want to know how the fire at the Grenfell Tower got out of control so fast and why the
safety concerns of residents were ignored for so long?
These are aerial pictures from Central London where a crowd gathered on Regent Street demanding justice. These are live images coming to us. It's
8:28 p.m. here in the British capital.
Now the death toll from the fire has soared to 30 people, but entire families remain missing in the wake of the tragedy. We are talking 70
people still reported missing.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May just announced $6.5 million fund to help residents who lost everything they had in the fire.
Now talk about a tragedy followed by another tragedy. A Syrian refugee is the first named victim of the fire, Mohammad Alhajali, escaped civil war in
Syria to start over in London. He was 23 years old when he perished in the fire. He was a university student.
His brother whom he lived with managed to escape and spoke to our Fred Pleitgen. Fred, what did his brother tell you? He must be absolutely
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He was. He was absolutely devastated and you know, the worst thing about the whole thing,
Hala, was that his brother was actually on the phone with him as Mohammad was inside the building.
And we can show because we are at this new vantage point now, how burned out that building was and it really is a miracle that anybody would have
escaped from that fire alive.
Now Mohammad was actually on the 14th floor of that building. He was with his other brother, Omar, who managed to get out, but Mohammad didn't. And
he then later -- he told his brother as he was inside that the fire was coming closer. That the smoke was coming closer.
That he wasn't managing to get out and his brother said it was an absolute agony listening to this and being powerless. Here's what he told me.
HASHEM ALHAJALI, BROTHER OF GRENFELL TOWER FIRE VICTIM: I said, Mohammad, leave everyone. You make it out yourself. And then he said, I can't,
Hashem. He was speaking slowly and slowly.
Then he was shouting from the window. He shouted, "Water! Water!" from the window. "Help! Help!" He was shouting from the window.
And he felt the water because I told the fire brigade -- they let me through. They didn't at the beginning. I told them, I'm speaking to my
brother. He's still in the building. They wouldn't let me in. And then when they've let me in, I told them where he is.
He told me, I'm at 113, floor 14. They live in 112 but he was shifted to 113. And then he said, "I can feel the water coming in our flat. Hashem,
just tell them to apply some more water, please, on the same place." He was saying, "Please, Hashem, tell them. I can feel it."
And then he couldn't breathe. He was speaking like this, "Hashem, I can't do anything. I can't. I can't." I said, come down. He said, "No,
Hashem, I can't." And then he was crying. He cried. He cried a lot.
He said, "Hashem, please put me through to my mom. I want to speak to my mom." My mom's in Syria. He wanted to speak to her. I didn't do it
because I wanted to save him.
I said he can come out safe and then he would speak to my mom as much as he would. We had big hopes, you know. We thought we will finish our studies,
hoped to leave Syria.
If Syria becomes peaceful, we can go back and do a lot of things in Syria. We can help a lot. Because currently, we can't do anything. It's just
work and then everybody.
Yes, and everything collapsed. Everything felt -- starting again? I don't think we can start and do everything again from the beginning.
You know, my mother is so devastated. She's crying every time. She doesn't know what to do. She wants to see Mohammad. She says, I want to
see Mohammad before the very end.
I can't continue. I can't continue without my family now. I'm lost. Like I can't do anything now. I came here to live with -- I came here to flee
Syria. That's the reason. But why did I come to the U.K.? Because I wanted to live with my brothers.
That's why I came to the U.K., because I want to stay with them. And then one of them gets killed or dies in a building, in a flat. All my dreams
and hopes have collapsed, everything else, suddenly.
PLEITGEN: So as you can see, Hala, there, a devastated brother, a devastated family. And now, what he is trying to do and a couple of the
people he knows here is they're actually trying to get the mother of Mohammad Alhajali over here.
She's currently in Damascus, so they're raising money for that. But, of course, at the same time, the big issue is going to be, is the mother going
to get a visa so that she can come here and do the one thing that she wants to do, which is see her son for the very last time, Hala.
GORANI: I know that's been an issue. Anybody with a Syrian passport trying to get a visa to anywhere had been an absolute nightmare, even when
they have family in certain countries. We've heard so many stories.
But I imagine because of how public this case is, that authorities will be making an effort, I certainly hope, for the benefit of this family that's
lost a son?
PLEITGEN: That's certainly what they are hoping. One of the things that they've done is they started a GoFundMe page, which has already raised a
considerable amount of money to, first of all, come up with the cost but to also, of course, raise awareness for all of these and make sure that all of
these doesn't disappear. You know, that Mohammad Alhajali is not forgotten and that this thing that happened to him is not forgotten by the public.
And so that's certainly one of the things that they're trying to do, is to keep this in the spotlight to make sure that, at least, the mother is able
to come over here and bury her son here and see him for the very last time.
And I can't tell you just how emotional it was, speaking to this young man as he told me about, you know, how much of his dreams, so much of what he
wanted to do has been lost in this fire. So it's certainly very traumatizing not just for him but for the whole family.
GORANI: Yes. It's one of the toughest things to do, is to speak to someone who's lost a loved one, especially when that loss is fresh and raw.
We do a lot of that, unfortunately, in our business. You mentioned that vantage point, which means we can see that building behind you.
GORANI: It's just this eerie shell, really, this charred shell. What can you see from where you're standing now that we couldn't see from the ground
PLEITGEN: Well, you know, one of the most interesting things that we're seeing here, if we go down and look at that building, is that, you know,
we've been talking so much about these side panels, the cladding, that so many people are saying they suspect might be behind this fire spreading so
[15:35:04] And you know, we've been hearing from eyewitnesses, Hala, over the past days, how they believe that the fire started around the fourth
floor. And you'll see that around the fourth floor, the cladding seems to still be very much intact than as you go up the building. That's where
everything is really scorched.
And the higher you get up, it certainly looks as though the worse the condition of the building, of that carcass, still is. But down on the
bottom floor, as you can see the site, there are actually still windows intact. There's also a lot of debris that seems to have fallen off the
So it's quite interesting to see that, if it really was that cladding that accelerated the fire, it certainly seems to be one indication from what
we're seeing right here as that building is really just burned upwards. And you can really see how the fire went up the side of the building.
It is quite a remarkable vantage point and just amazing to see the amount of destruction that this fire has caused. There's one apartment that we
managed to look into from our vantage point here, where you can actually see a burned out washing machine still inside one of the apartments. And
it's just remarkable to see how much havoc that fire caused in there.
And it was actually, also, one of the things that Mohammad Alhajali's brother said, is that he could hear his brother there inside that building
and could hear the fire coming closer. And he said that one of the things that his brother asked him to do was to ask the fire department to spray
that area, that exact apartment that he was in.
And apparently, that happened for a while and it sort of worked. But, of course, the rescuers then, unfortunately, came too late. And you can
really see that the police and the fire department really seemed to have also been quite surprised as to how fast that fire spread up that building.
GORANI: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much for the very latest there and a very sad story with the first named victim of that fire, a
Now turning our attention back to Donald Trump, the U.S. President says he is cancelling the Obama administration's deal with Cuba in the latest
attempt to chip away at Barack Obama's legacy.
The President said the deal had spread violence and instability through the region. Speaking in front of a crowd of Cuban Americans in Miami, Mr.
Trump claimed the agreement had only helped the Castro regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The outcome of last administration's executive action has been only more repression and a move
to crush the peaceful, democratic movement. Therefore, effective immediately, I am cancelling the last administration's completely one-sided
deal with Cuba.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Havana. Reaction in Havana to this, Patrick?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, people thought it was going to be a lot worse, not to say that these sanctions aren't going to hurt
both the Cuban government and the Cuban people. But in the lead up to this, many Cubans were worried this would restrict Cuban Americans' travel,
remittances sent back to the island, and it's not going to do any of those things.
And let's back up, while it was a very antagonistic Cold War-era speech, you know, Donald Trump saying that sanctions wouldn't be lifted until there
was democracy, until political prisoners were released, until there was a free press in Cuba, until fugitives are sent back, really, his policy is
not nearly as tough as his speeches.
His policy, as of right now, is going to limit but not bar Americans from traveling into Cuba. A lot of the Obama-era policies are going to stay in
place. The United States embassy is going to stay here. U.S. airlines and cruise ships will continue to travel here.
And Americans will continue to travel here. There will just be some more restrictions. Americans could face audit. They're not allowed to stay in
hotels controlled by the Cuban military.
But, really, talking to Cuban officials, there was a bit of shrug. And as one told me, we've dealt with 60 years of these sanctions. This is nothing
GORANI: So interesting. So it doesn't seem like there's any -- I mean, because what you're saying, Patrick, is that some people expected worse in
terms of going back to the pre-Obama era, so to speak?
OPPMANN: Well, candidate Trump said he was going to tear up the Obama deal. And a lot of people, there has been a build now for six months ever
since he's been elected that that's what he was going to do.
That he might pull the embassy, that there could've been really much deeper cuts, that he could revert everything back the way it was before President
Obama made this historical thing with Cuba. Really, the president who has done the most in terms of U.S.-Cuban relations since Fidel Castro took
And despite what President Trump said, that is not the policy. And the policy will not go into effect, as he said today, right away. It's going
to take months to fully define how this will work. And it has a lot of impacts, or perhaps not, expected.
You know, for instance, not allowing Americans to stay in a hotel that's controlled by the military. Well, the only American hotel here is done
with a joint venture with the Cuban military so that could mean that Americans will not be able to stay at Sheraton Hotel in Havana.
[15:40:10] So a lot of these details still have to worked out. But for many Cubans who expected much, much worse just off President Trump's speech
today -- I mean, if you think how many American presidents have now said that change and freedom will come to Cuba soon.
Perhaps President Trump will be that president but that remains to be seen. And certainly, Cuban officials don't --
GORANI: Well, have they --
OPPMANN: -- don't seem to be very scared by his bluster.
GORANI: Have they embraced Airbnb down in Cuba? That might be the best option for American tourists.
OPPMANN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Forty million dollars in the last two years.
OPPMANN: To Cubans running Airbnb, it's been a tremendous success, so that seems to be the way things are going.
GORANI: Well, that's, I guess, a mutually beneficial arrangement. Money for the Cuban economy, and a fun holiday for American tourists. Thanks
very much, Patrick Oppmann in Havana.
OPPMANN: Thank you.
GORANI: Now, the U.S. congressman who was shot on Wednesday has improved. The doctors say they are encouraged by his progress, but he's likely to
stay in the hospital for several weeks.
They say Steve Scalise will need further operations after undergoing a second surgery for internal injuries and a broken leg. Now, Scalise,
you'll remember, was one of four people shot when a gunman opened fire as Republican politicians practiced for a charity baseball game in Virginia.
That game is an annual tradition between Republicans and Democrats. It went ahead as planned just a day later. The Democrats won but gave the
trophy to their opponents. It will be kept in Scalise's office.
This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Just ahead, reports that a Russian air strike may -- may -- have killed one of the worlds, or I should say, the world's
most wanted man, the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Why Moscow cannot confirm it so far.
Also, the statesman credited with steering German reunification has died. When we come back, the life and the legacy of Helmut Kohl.
GORANI: Russia's Defense Ministry says it's investigating reports that one of its air strikes in Syria last month killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the
self-declared leader of ISIS. And as former Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty tells us, Russian officials are exercising an abundance of
caution about those reports.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The Russian Defense Ministry is releasing images of what it says is the destruction of an ISIS command post near
Raqqa during a meeting of ISIS leaders in those buildings. In essence, these are before and after pictures. The after picture is showing what the
Ministry says are traces of missile and bombing strike and then noting objects destroyed.
[15:44:59] Now, again, the Russian Defense Ministry has been the main body that's talking about this attack. But it hasn't gone so far as to say
that, definitively, al-Baghdadi is dead.
The Defense Minister, Sergey Shoygu did brief President Putin and his security council, telling them about the attack, saying that 100 people had
died. But, again, not going so far as to say definitively that al-Baghdadi was killed.
Other Russian officials also are being very cautious. Dmitry Peskov, who is the spokesperson for the President, said that he cannot definitively say
that it actually was a hit and that Baghdadi died. Also, the Defense Minister is being very cautious, as I said.
And finally, the Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, saying he cannot say, 100 percent, but also warning that even if al-Baghdadi or the leadership were
killed, it does not necessarily mean that ISIS will stop existing.
That is an important point that is being pointed out by experts in many corners. That the decapitation of the leadership does not mean the end of
Jill Dougherty, Moscow.
GORANI: Thank you, Jill. Germany is mourning the death of former long- time Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He was 87 years old. Kohl's death was announced today in a memorial message from his Christian Democratic Union
Fred Pleitgen looks back at the life and legacy of the man who will be remembered as the architect of German reunification.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): November 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall. The beginning of the end of a Cold War. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
basks in the limelight. But behind the scenes, there was suspense.
HELMUT KOHL, FORMER CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): Tonight, after the fall of the wall, was the most decisive moment.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): It was a make or break moment. How would the Soviets react? Helmut Kohl says he and then U.S. President, George H.W.
Bush, assured Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, that Soviet forces based in the east would not be attacked.
KOHL (through translator): Gorbachev trusted our words and decided not to send in the tanks.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Conservative Chancellor Helmut Kohl peacefully shepherded the two Germanys to unity and was hailed as the father of
reunification. But the excitement of the moment wore off.
The economy in the former communist east was in disarray. Many former communist companies were shut down. There was mass unemployment and mass
Kohl had promised the east would flourish. But after 16 years and three terms in office, the German public was no longer convinced there was
efforts on the economy, and he was finally voted out. His tenure was full of other hard-fought and often controversial accomplishments.
When he came to power in 1982, he supported the stationing of U.S. medium- range nuclear missiles in Germany, a response to Soviet SS20 missiles in Eastern Europe. Kohl faced down fierce protests over the policy, which
supporters say helped win the Cold War. Others say Germany's so-called Ostpolitik, which sought to ensure closer ties with Moscow did more to tear
down the Iron Curtain.
KOHL (through translator): My strategy was to do everything possible to keep the idea of a unified Germany alive.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): His political thinking from the start was defined by the horrors of World War II. He lost his brother on the battlefields of
France and was determined it must never happen again.
KOHL (through translator): When Gorbachev visited, we sat along the Rhine River one evening and talked about our personal experiences in World War
II. His father was seriously injured. His brother was shot. I lived through more than 100 raids in my hometown. We both knew what we were
talking about when it came to war.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): In 1984, he and then French President, Francois Mitterrand, agreed to meet on the First World War's bloodiest battlefield,
Verdun. Their handshake the most powerful image of Franco-German reconciliation.
KOHL (through translator): We held hands as an example. We wanted never again to go back.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): After the wall came down, the two leaders joined hands once again as the driving force behind a growing European Union with
a single currency, architects of the Maastricht Treaty, which critics, today, say they rushed into.
But after Kohl left office in 1998, his image was seriously damaged. His party was involved in a campaign donations fraud scandal, and the former
Chancellor admitted he had known about it. Still, Kohl refused to say where the illegal money came from, a move many Germans viewed as a
[15:49:58] And there were personal tragedies. In 2001, Kohl's wife, Hannelore, took her own life. She'd been suffering from a rare allergy to
Then in 2008, Kohl remarried, the 44-year-old economist, Maike Richter. Not long after, a bad fall confined him to a wheelchair. Difficult years
in which he withdrew further and further from the public light.
Now that the world looks back on the life of Helmut Kohl, he will be remembered as the father of German reunification and the country's longest-
serving post-war Chancellor.
GORANI: The death of Helmut Kohl. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, by the way, paid tribute to Helmut Kohl on Twitter in German.
Well, his party is projected to win a big majority in parliament after voting this Sunday. His candidates include many political new comers. A
former bullfighter, for instance. A man who once commanded France's most elite police unit, among others. CNN's Melissa Bell has more on the faces
of a colorful new political party.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cedric Villani was known as an award-winning mathematician. Now, he is campaigning as part of
Emmanuel Macron's movement to become a member of parliament.
Villani is one of 525 candidates standing for Macron's movement. About half are new politics and like Cedric Villani, hope to bring to parliament
more than just their ambition.
CEDRIC VILLANI, LA REPUBLIQUE EN MARCHE CANDIDATE: I know about science. And science is more important than ever in the public debate. Even very
technical scientific questions are now, every day, in debates about climate change or artificial intelligence, so you name it.
I've been a teacher and very much involved in the scientific culture. And this will be important because one of the crucial things needed in politics
now is people being able to explain to wide audience, not thinking that people are too dumb to understand the complexity but explaining the
complexity in simple terms.
BELL (voice-over): Jean-Michel Fauvergue hopes to bring another set of skills to parliament. The former head of France's elite police force says
security is why he joined Macron's movement.
JEAN-MICHEL FAUVERGUE, LA REPUBLIQUE EN MARCHE CANDIDATE (through translator): He's a man who could bring people together. And more
importantly, for the cop in me, he's a real Commander-in-Chief.
BELL (voice-over): Another candidate is Marie Sara. The former bullfighter says she is simply taking to another arena the determination
she'd known in the bullring. Polls suggest she's on course to beat the far-right incumbent.
MARIE SARA, LA REPUBLIQUE EN MARCHE CANDIDATE (through translator): There's an extraordinary movement which is happening in France, with a real
renewal of the political class. If I can be a part of that, then I will be very proud. I'm going to try and meet people to explain to them they don't
need to be scared.
BELL (on camera): The El Marche candidates will find out on Sunday night whether their campaigning and the meetings they've held in town halls like
this one in Gers has actually paid off.
Emmanuel Macron will also find out whether he's won the second part of his gamble. Last month, he became President without the benefit of an
established party, something that's unprecedented. Now, he is hoping to secure a parliamentary majority, the likes of which have never been seen in
the history of the Fifth Republic.
Melissa Bell, CNN, in Essonne.
GORANI: And we'll be covering that second round of the French legislative elections. You'll remember, obviously, it was a big deal for Macron. He
needed a majority. And it appears as though French voters, for now at least, are giving him that majority and giving him a chance.
Don't forget, you can get all the latest news and interviews and analysis on our Facebook page, facebook.com/halagoranicnn. We'll be right back.
[15:55:16] GORANI: For those who survived the terrifying fire that destroyed an apartment block in London, the ordeal is not over. They are
still waiting on news of family members and friends. Here's Robyn Curnow.
SAWSAN CHOUCAIR, MISSING SIX FAMILY MEMBERS IN GRENFELL TOWER FIRE: This is Nadia Choucair, my sister.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sawsan Choucair points to posters she's hung of her family -- her mother, sister, brother-in-law, and
their three children -- all six missing in Wednesday's fire. They lived together on the 22nd floor of the tower. Susan wasn't home when the blaze
CHOUCAIR: I got a text from my friend. And then I got a phone call from the person in the building phoning me. I spoke to her. She was like,
Sawsan, please help me. She's crying her eyes out, saying, please help me.
CURNOW (voice-over): Like dozens of others, she spent the days since the inferno looking for her loved ones. Putting up posters, handing out
fliers, talking to reporters. But so far, there's been no word.
CHOUCAIR: No one's giving us any information until now basically. They don't know. We don't know. Who knows?
CURNOW (voice-over): Choucair says she's frustrated and angry over what happened but her focus remains on finding her family.
CHOUCAIR: I'm just hoping they're in hospital. You know, they've made it through the stairway, got out. Everyone, not just my family. Every single
person in there. I'm praying for them.
CURNOW (voice-over): For now, all she has left of her family are her memories and the photos.
Robyn Curnow, CNN.
GORANI: All right. Unbearable agony for so many. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Richard Quest is next.