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CONNECT THE WORLD
Sanctions bill signed by Donald Trump; Sanction bill also increases sanctions on North Korea and Iran; President Trump signs RAISE Act; North Korean missile testing pose risk to passenger jets; Dow reached 22,000 for the first time; President Maduro to swear in new constituent assembly, Barcelona striker Neymar bid farewell to his team; Suspected suicide bomber attacked a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan. Aired at 11-12p ET
Aired August 2, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAIN ASHER, CNN CONNECT THE WORLD HOST: This is "Connect the World." I am Zain Asher sitting in here in New York for Becky Anderson who is off now.
After weeks of speculations and some heavy pressure from Congress, Donald Trump -- we just got word -- has finally put pen to paper, signing a bill
that slaps new sanctions on Russia. We're expecting a statement from the White House very, very soon and President Trump is likely to speak in about
half an hour from now from the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
Now, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said just yesterday that Mr. Trump was not, and I quote for you "was not very happy with this bill" which also
restricts the president's own ability to ease those sanctions. Now Russia obviously is clearly not happy with this bill either. It did not wait -- it
did not wait for Mr. Trump to even sign this bill before retaliating.
We are live on the story all around the world. We've got our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott who's joining us from Washington. We've got Oren
Lieberman in Moscow. So Elise, let me begin with you. What message, what is the clear message that this sends to Vladimir Putin?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, I mean I think there's a mixed message. You know, clearly this is a message that the
administration is not going to stand for Russian meddling in the election. It's a message that the U.S. doesn't want to to do it again and will take
actions if it did. You know, over the weekend, Secretary Tillerson put out a very strange statement that said that this was the American people
wanting a better relationship with Russia and this was trying to force that to happen.
I certainly don't think that Vladimir Putin's sees it as that and this is a message that you know, even though President Putin expected a better
relationship with President Trump, these concerns over Russian meddling in the election are still lingering. President Trump himself is really the
only one in this administration that, you know, continues to refuse to speak out against it, but the fact that he did sign this legislation, I
think is a sign that the pressure will be kept up on Russia.
ASHER: But the fact is, yes, he signed it and yes, I guess technically he could have vetoed it but vetoing this bill would have been so difficult
because of the political opposition to it. You had both houses of congress support from both sides of the aisle in both houses of congress, and heavy,
heavy support. So in a sense, signing it was really the most obvious option for him.
LABOTT: Well, it was the most obvious option and it definitely seemed like, you know, the Congress had enough votes to kind of overturn, you
know, the president's veto of the bill, but I don't think this president is really someone who doesn't shy away from a fight. And so I think if he
obviously made the political calculation that he was going to sign this bill, but still he's been very quiet about it.
You know, other members of the administration have spoken out whether it's Vice President Pence, ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley -- him and
Secretary Tillerson have clearly made, you know, notice that they do not like this legislation. That they think it will hamper their ability and
their flexibility with Russia and you can see by the retaliation by President Putin even before the legislation was signed. That this tension
with Russia is going to continue to linger.
ASHER: Yes, President Vladimir Putin had already kicked American diplomats out, but is the State Department, Elise, is the State Department really
ready for the even further retaliation we are likely to see from the Kremlin?
LABOTT: Well, I mean, you know President Putin kicking these diplomats out, yes. This is a dramatic move and the State Department and the
administration clearly not happy about it. But if you remember, this is in retaliation for actions that President Obama took in December before he
left office. And so President Putin was kind of waiting to see if things would improve with President Trump before he took any retaliatory measures.
So in President Putin's eyes now, he was patient. He wanted to see if things would, turn around. These actions were kind of long expected.
Normally, you would have seen them happen like the day after President Obama did that. I'm not sure that we're going to see further retaliation
from Russia. I think we'll have to see, but this was really a kind of delayed tit-for-tat for what happened beforehand. I think that, you know,
we have to see whether this will calm the waters.
ASHER: All right, Elise, standby for us. I want to bring in Oren Lieberman who joins us live now from Moscow. So Oren, as you know, there was so much
hope at the beginning of
[11:05:00] this year when President Trump took office. So much hope from Moscow that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia would indeed be
repaired. And now it comes to this. Has Russia meddling in the U.S. election exceptionally backfired on the Kremlin in the worst possible way?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't know if I'd go s far as to say it's in the worst possible way, but Putin made it clear that he sees this
and exactly what you said, he saw an improvement in relations or expected improvement in relations with Trump and it simply hasn't materialized. He
did leave open the possibility of further actions against the U.S. not just the removing of diplomats and staff at the missions here, but he said those
are not likely now.
And then he went on to point out all the areas where the U.S. and Russia are still cooperating, whether it's space or Syria or North Korea or energy
or a number of other aspects there. He went on quite a lengthy statement there and perhaps that was a veiled threat saying he has other options and
that was one of the -- or the options he pointed out saying there are other ways we can retaliate but we don't see that a necessary right now.
Still, in the statements we're hearing both from the U.S. and from the Kremlin, there doesn't seem to be any expectation that the relationship is
improving. In fact, it was Tillerson who said the relationship is at its worst point since the Cold War and could get worse. Now, Tillerson and
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet this coming weekend in the Philippines.
They will certainly exchange statements and talk about the sanctions and whatever statement they make perhaps it will be largely symbolic as there
isn't a great expectation on other side with that meeting and those two working together can change the way the relationship right now is moving
between the U.S. and Russia.
ASHER: So is all hope lost at least on Russia's side that this relationship can improve at least in the short term?
LIEBERMAN: It certainly seems that way right now in one of Lavrov's recent statements. In fact, it was a call between him and Tillerson that happened
on Friday. He said it seems as if Russia-phobic influences have taken over Washington at this point with the passing -- the overwhelming passing of
the sanctions bill and now the signature from President Trump that we expected.
So, the expectation is that it will take much longer to improve the relations between the U.S. and Russia, perhaps even that it's not happening
under this president.
ASHER: All right, Oren Lieberman live for us there. Elise Labott, I'm not sure if she's still there but if you are there Elise, thank you so much.
Oren, thank you. Appreciate that.
The bill also increases sanctions on North Korea. The U.S. has been grappling with how to deal with Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. A key member
of the U.S. Senate is warning of the possibility of all-out war. But after months of tough talk from the White House, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
now appears to be taking a shot at diplomacy.
Meantime, it's emerged that officials fear that North Korean missile testing may pose a risk to passenger jets. All in all, certainly a lot to
digest as Tillerson heads to the region. I want to bring in Alex Field who joins us live now from Seoul. Alex, just walk us through this. I mean how
is Pyongyang likely to react to this sanction bill just signed by President Trump?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Pyongyang has never reacted kindly to any of the actions or any of the threats that you've see from the
U.S. You've seen them continue to act with impunity, with total disregard for any sanctions that have been levied against them. You saw two ICBM
tests in the space of just a month. And then recently even in the days since that ICBM test you see them testing components that could be used t
launch a missile from a submarine.
So it is very clear that whatever the U.S. intentions are, they are not reaching North Korea. You've got this wide array of responses that are
coming from Washington now in terms of how you deal with North Korea. There has been no cohesive decision from the Trump administration. On the one
hand you got Senator Lindsey Graham talking about the inevitability of military action if North Korea progresses.
You've got President Trump himself saying he'll handle it reiterating that all options are on the table then you got the Secretary of State, Rex
Tillerson saying that this is a time for dialogue and pushing an avenue of diplomacy saying, you know, that talks maybe the way to go, but that it
would have to come with a pre-condition of an agreement for denuclearization. And at this point, and from this vantage point, it seems
that there is no incentive for North Korea to agree to that.
We have seen that they have rejected that option before. This is an idea that's been floated in the past by the Obama administration that was their
pre-condition as well. And there's really no indication that North Korea has any incentive to give up on its program to develop these nuclear
weapons. They see it as key to the survival of this regime, Zain.
ASHER: And Alex, how are the South Koreans reacting especially Moon Jae-in given his sunshine policies, given that he takes a more sort of diplomatic
approach as well? How are they reacting to the mixed messages that you talked about coming out of Washington?
FIELD: We've heard one statement from a government official today who was asked to respond essentially to that comment from Senator Lindsey Graham
who talked about, you know,
[11:10:00] thousands of people are going to die. They're going to die over here versus dying over in the U.S., and those are very blunt words for an
ally like South Korea to hear, but it's being taken in stride here in South Korea. Not much is being made of that. They are re-affirming the fact that
there is this strong and decades old alliance with the U.S.
The Trump administration has gone through great pains over many months to assure allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, that they are committed
to the defense of this region and to work together to counter the North Korean threat. You point out President Moon Jae-in who is newly elected to
office. He's obviously come with his own opinions about how to resolve the crisis in North Korea. He has advocated for more transparency, more open
dialogue, more engagement with North Korea.
And in fact, his government has extended an invitation to North Korea to open up talks. That invitation didn't get any kind of response but he also
has to deal with the reality of the situation, which is a mounting security crisis. And in the face of that, you have seen President Moon taking some
steps to try and shore up the defenses here in the region, agreeing after this latest ICNM test, to move forward with the U.S. to deploy additional
outstanding parts of a controversial missile defense system.
The government here in South Korea also now looking at the possibility for increasing the payload on their own missiles so, while they are advocating
for talks and diplomacy, they are also clearly taking steps to work with the U.S. to build defenses in the region, Zain.
ASHER: And Alex, this news about an Air France jet that was apparently close to the North Korean missile flight path, as these tests, these
missile tests become more and more frequent, how much of a concern is safety in the region?
FIELD: Yes, it's a concern on top of all the other concerns at these ICBM tests present at this point. You have had the spokesperson for the Pentagon
coming out after this latest ICBM test and the previous one signaling the fact that North Korea does not give warning when it's conducting these
That is in violation of international agreements. To say nothing of the fact that the launches themselves are also in violation of the
international sanctions that have been levied against North Korea. What you had in this situation was some analysis where the Japanese military
identified the splashdown point of this ICBM, some 93 miles off of a Japanese island.
If you look at the flight data patterns, you can see that there is an Air France plane that was about 100 kilometers away from that splashdown site.
That's about seven minutes flying time. The splashdown site was also within about 16 kilometers of two heavily trafficked air routes. So you've got a
lot of traffic going on in the sky. You've got a lot of traffic on the seas and you've got no warning from North Korea.
Again, the Pentagon has been condemning North Korea for failing to give notice which is reason for a concern in the skies and in the sea. It's a
legitimate concern but how likely would an event of a problem actually (INAUDIBLE) as this Pentagon spokesperson points out. It would be a very
low likelihood according to analysts. They're talking about a very large swath of space in the air of course and also at sea, but yes, it's a
You're talking about missiles being fired up into the air and this isn't the first time we've seen a situation like this. Actually, back in 2014
there was a similar situation involving the launch of the North Korean rocket and a Chinese airliner that was in the area at similar times, Zain.
So this is something they have confronted before.
ASHER: Right, MH17. Certainly a chilling reminder. OK, Alexandra Field live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
All right, we are watching Wall Street very closely at this hour. Let's take a look at the big board because the Dow has actually topped 22,000 for
the first time today. It is down ever so slightly at 21,000 a little over 900 right now. The average by the way -- the bull mark has been in the run
since Election Day. The average is actually up more than 3,600 points since Donald Trump took office.
The Dow will actually mark its sixth straight record close if it actually ends up closing higher today. I want bring in our resident business expert,
Maggie Lake who joins us live now at the New York Stock Exchange. So Maggie, this is interesting because it really is all about earnings,
earnings, earnings. In fact, you know, investors have really shrugged off politics and focused squarely on earnings, why is that?
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it's so hard to figure out what's going in Washington. First of all, you don't really have
anything tangible to trade on and the earnings have been good. They've been solid. And when I was asking an analyst about this, he said you know before
we saw a lot of cost-cutting and that's where you were getting the profits so we're really squeezing productivity out.
Now, you're seeing real organic growth and that's really encouraging to investors and that's why you see them continue pile in U.S. equities. Zain,
you mentioned that Dow run since the beginning of the year. Dow is up 10 percent. S&P 500, the broader measure in many ways the more important
measure also up 10 percent from the beginning of the year. That's a really big move. Now, we mentioned 22,000. We did get above it right out of the
gate this morning. You see us pulling back a little bit. We'll probably going to see that battle all day long.
Whenever we hit these big, round psychological milestones that's all they are really. We always seem to have a hard time sort of grabbing above them
substantially. But every time
[11:15:00] I ask people are you worried about a pull back? Does it seem frothy? They say no, it doesn't. Because it's based on fundamentals, it
seems like this can continue. So there is an awful lot of optimism out there and it will be interesting to see as people sort of open up their
retirement statements whether that optimism is expressed to the consumers. And we see a little bit of a wealth effect. We're going to watch for that.
ASHER: Yes, it is interesting Maggie. So even though it is all about earnings and that is the focus and I know that investors tend to shrug off
politics, is there still hope that President Trump's pro-growth policies will eventually at some point bear fruit? Is that what the market is hoping
on? Is that what they're riding on right now?
LAKE: Well, it's still out there. It's not necessarily what they're trading on everyday but I certainly think that they are still holding out
hope especially when it comes to that tax reform. I understand that the time line maybe pushback but they are still betting with a Republican
Congress, controlled Congress, and a Republican in the White House that you are going to get some sort of tax reform.
If it looks like that is dead and not going to happen at all or Zain, if you see a real fight begin and us go up against the deadline on raising
that debt ceiling, which is going to happen when Congress comes back, I think that will cause some concern and worry, but right now they're happy
to sort of put it to the side and hang on to that hope.
ASHER: All right, Maggie Lake live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
All right, still to come here on "Connect the World," a few things connect the world like football. We all seem to love it. Now it looks like one of
the games brightest stars is set to make a record shattering move for an eye-watering amount of money. We'll explain what Neymar is up to, just
ASHER: Welcome back to "Connect the World" everyone. You're watching CNN of course. I'm Zain Asher. Let's get to Venezuela now. In just a few hours,
President Nicolas Maduro will swear in the country's new constituent assembly, but dozens of countries have condemned the election establishing
that assembly as sham orchestrated by the president. And now an electronic voting company says voter turnout figures were clearly tampered with. They
believe they were fake. Data obtained by Reuters show that only 3.7 million people had voted by 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. It's not long before voting
The government claims that more than 8 million people turned out. Stefano Stefano Pozzebon is joining us live now from Caracas. Stefano, now that you
have a situation where you have this opposition figures who have been arrested, dragged from their homes in the middle of the night. You also
have President Nicolas Maduro moving ahead with his plans to re-write the constitution, what exactly is the opposition's plan of action moving
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes Zain, the opposition is trying to make a stand and firm stance against these new constituents as
[11:20:00] we understand is going to be sworn in today and installed probably tomorrow. Their position is firm in not recognizing these result
and in doing so, they know that they have the backing of several countries around the world, most of the countries here in Latin America have said
that they do not recognize the result of the elections on Sunday.
And that the U.S administration just on Monday announced a new round of sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro just related to the elections on
Sunday. And the news of today is that a big company, an advisory company that used to work here, they have worked since 2004, they oversaw a good
number of electoral process that resulted in victories for both Chavismo and the opposition. Today these companies telling us that they cannot
standby these results and they think that the result -- the vote was fraudulent so, a very dramatic development here in Caracas, Zain.
ASHER: So Venezuela is dealing with obviously these individual sanctions from the United States as punishment for the election that was held on
Sunday, but is there any chance whatsoever or at least any fear whatsoever on the ground there that these sanctions could actually spread to oil
POZZEBON: The risk, Zain, is that these sanctions could backfire against the U.S. administration or against the international communiity because
Chavismo figures are known to try and use the sanction almost as a badge of honor against what they call is a foreign intervention into internal
affairs in Venezuela. The government has rejected and refused the latest round of sanctions on Nicolas Maduro as they did in previous times when
other ministers or other members of the government were subject to sanctions from both U.S. and other international bodies.
We have yet to see how these would play out in the long term future, but at the moment it seems the government is adamant to go ahead with the punching
style (ph) the new constituent national assembly. So the sanctions have not played out quite yet.
ASHER: All right, Stefano Pozzebon live for us there in Caracas. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
Here's the one name wonder kind of Brazilian football. Now, the 25 year-old strike Neymar looks like he's about to make history both football and
financial off the pit. Sources telling CNN the star player has bid farewell to his teammates at Barcelona football club. He's now expected to move to
Paris Saint-Germain to the tune of wait for it, some $260 million -- it's about _222 million.
That is staggering eye-watering amount of money required by Barcelona to actually get Neymar out of his current contract with Barcelona. All right,
let's go now to out Amanda Davies of CNN's "World Sport." She's joining us live now. The fact that Paris Saint-Germain, Amanda, is actually willing to
write this check, they're willing to pay this amount of money for a player. What does it suggest about what Neymar means to the sport?
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What does it suggest about the world that is probably going a little bit crazy? I think is --
ASHER: Good point. Good point.
DAVIES: -- in real terms. Neymar is a fantastic footballer. There's no doubt about that, 25-years of age. The Brazilian captain who helped led the
Brazil men's football team to Olympic gold in Rio last year. He's a Champions League winner. He has helped Barcelona to two league titles since
he's been there but is any player really worth that amount of money? That's what you have to question.
What we -- we have to say we don't know as fact as things stand but it is definitely Paris Saint-Germain that are going to pay that amount of money.
What we do know is that as you said, Neymar has said goodbye to his teammates. He arrived at the Barcelona training grounds earlier on
Wednesday morning with his dad an his agent in tow.
He is understood to have said farewell to the players that he's been playing with since 2013, and Barcelona the club themselves have admitted
that he has asked to leave and that they have indeed given him permission to discuss his future. But the big part is that Barca have said we insist
that this _222 million or $260 million buyout fee is paid in full upfront.
The understanding from what we're hearing is that (INAUDIBLE) are saying that because they want to be seen by their club's fans to be putting up a
fight for all of their players who has been one their stars in recent times. He of course is one of the three, the triumvirate of the MSN, the
Messi, Suarez, Neymar trio. One of the most attacking, feared strike forces in
[11:25:00] world football, but they feel that the player has said he wants to leave. His head has been turned by what PSG are offering him and so
there's very little that they can do, but there is still negotiations going on. The deal hasn't been done but definite today, as we sit here now but it
is expected to be coming in the coming days.
ASHER: Yes, so he's part of that trio, the striker force with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and he has actually scored about 105 goals for Barcelona
since he's been with them. How much of a huge loss is it for that team to lose Neymar?
DAVIES: I mean, this is the team that is full of superstars which undoubtedly be a big loss for them particularly given Barca force (ph) to
execute his services for a few years because it was only last October that he signed a new deal to see him through at Barcelona until 2021. And for
everything he's brought to the club, Barca were not (INAUDIBLE) at their best last season under Luis Enrique.
Enrique decided to step aside. They have a new boss in charge who took over just a month or so ago, Ernesto Valverde, with the aim for Barcelona in the
season ahead to win back the La Liga title from Real Madrid. Of course, Real Madrid dominated across Europe last season, didn't they -- not only in
La Liga but also winning the Champions League.
There is some suggestion, you know, this is the transfer window. We always hear names being bonded around but they are being linked now, Barcelona
with the likes of Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool, of Dembele from Dortmund, also suggesting there might be a bit of a swap deal perhaps with PSG with
Verratti going the other way. It's certainly not ideal thought as they try to rebuild and mount an attack on their great rivals within Spain.
ASHER: So how does Paris Saint-Germain, how do they hope that this eye- watering sum is going to eventually pay off for that team?
DAVIES: Well, Paris Saint-Germain have made no secret of the fact in recent years, since their Qatari sports investment group took over, that
their aim is to take Paris Saint-Germain not just from a French championship winning side but to a Champions League winning side.
Last season it didn't go so well for them. They were beaten for the Ligue and title by Monaco and they were knocked out of the Champions League in
the rounds of 16. They've never really replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he left as their great talismanic striker up front to join Manchester United.
So there is certainly a gap for him to fill there.
From Neymar's perspective, why a PSG an appealing side? Well, he feels that yes, he's been a star at Barcelona, but he's been one of many. He sees that
at 25-years of age it's his opportunity to step up and be the star. And PSG in recent times have built a good base of Brazilian players, friends of
Neymar that he has played for his national side with the likes of Dani Alves and Marquinhos and the feeling is that they will have maybe gotten
the air of Neymar and said this club wants to build itself around you.
This can be your moment to step up and really, really make you mark. So everything that Neymar has done in a fantastic four years at Barcelona,
he's never been able to win the Ballon d'Or for example. That of course is the trophy that has been won by the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano
Ronaldo over the last few years. Nobody else has got a look in the trophy that's awarded at the start of each year for the best footballer of the
year as voted for by the national coaches, and captains and the top international journalists. He sees that this is a move that could
absolutely take him to the next level of sporting superstardom.
ASHER: All right, Amanda Davies live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
And lots more to come on "Connect the World" including more on that breaking story as President Donald Trump has signed a bill slapping a raft
of sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. We'll have much more in a moment. Don't go anywhere. You're watching CNN.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ASHER: This is "Connect the World." Let me get you caught up with top stories at this hour.
Donald Trump has put pen to paper, signing a bill that imposes new sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran. In a statement he says it's
significantly flawed but he's signing it for the sake of national unity. The bill also restricts the president's own ability to ease those
And we're hearing contrasting tones from Washington over how to handle North Korea. The U.S. Secretary of State says America is willing to talk
with Pyongyang if North Korea ends its nuclear weapons and missile program. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham struck a tougher tone warning of the
possibility of war.
A suspected suicide bomber attacked a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan. A statement from the NATO-led resolute support mission confirmed there are
casualties but gave no further details.
And a source tells CNN that Barcelona's star striker Neymar has told his teammates officially that he's signing on leaving the club. (INAUDIBLE)
speculation he could be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain in a deal, get this, worth $262 million.
And now back to our top story, our breaking news story this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump signing a bill that imposes sanctions on Russia,
Iran, and North Korea. We've talked about how this plays out in Moscow and Pyongyang. Now, let's go Tehran, where our Nick Payton Walsh is joining us.
So Nick, what has been the reaction there in Tehran especially in terms of how it connects with the Iran nuclear deal?
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Where this point (INAUDIBLE) specific reaction with the signing of the bill but (INAUDIBLE)
that was a technicality that we have heard in the previous days. Very vociferous statements from Iranian officials in which they have been deeply
unhappy about directions in which the Trump administration is going.
Recall Donald Trump has been very specific that he may at some point potentially in the next three to four months ahead try and certify Iran is
in violations of a nuclear deal it signed with the Obama administration back in 2015. A call for JCPOA back itself allowed a number of sanctions
put in place because of Iran's nuclear activities to be lifted.
The other sanctions are somewhat different. Some of them were put in place because of a recent ballistic missile test that the U.S. believed was sort
of in violation of the spirit of the nuclear deal, the nuclear deal that would specifically prevent Iran from such tests but those suggest they
shouldn't be doing things in that particula way (ph) or could refrain from them.
Iran is angry because it believes this is a broad violation of the deal itself and they actually accord in a nuclear deal that says the U.S.
shouldn't be doing things -- I'm paraphrasing here -- that harms Iran's ability on a world stage to grant itself economically so, both sides
effectively have a completely different opinion as to how they can proceed moving forward. And I think the concern certainly from Tehran here --
[11:35:00] is that they're looking at a Trump administration that seems keen to undermine the nuclear deal frankly at any cost. Donald Trump
campaigned on the notion that he thought it was bad deal and they now perceive perhaps they've done what they've got (INAUDIBLE) in terms of
moderating their behavior and nuclear emission and et cetera. But they haven't seen a Trump administration calming their sanctions and instead
they're seeing extra sanctions being put on.
I should point out the sanctions we're seeing from the U.S. at this stage are of a different nature to the one that was (INAUDIBLE) lifted under the
nuclear deal but none the same, the spirit of that is not lost on Iranian and its officials. As you can see frankly and I wonder (INAUDIBLE) frankly
embarrassing for those moderates here who tried to campaign for a deal in the first place but they've been ousted (ph) in the Trump administration
making their life in defending that original nuclear deal harder by the hour.
ASHER: All right, Nick Payton Walsh live for us there.
Donald Trump is set to make an announcement about immigration at the White House. For more on what he's saying, I want to bring in CNN's Dan Merica.
So Dan, Donald Trump is set to speak or I believe he is speaking now or he's set to speak, but he's likely going to talk about immigration and I'm
assuming also bring up this new sanctions bill that he's just signed.
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: He is said to actually just announce his support for a bill that has already been worked on by two senators, two
Republican senators that basically remakes the immigration system. It creates a path for green cards, two different pass. So under this plan
there will be a path that would allow for only a few family members, basically minor children and spouses to get green cards.
And then there's this second path, which is the path that Donald Trump has spoken abo during the campaign, a merit based or a points based system that
would allow officials here in the United States to basically grade people who want to come to the United States based on everything from their income
to their advanced degree, the skills they bring that would allow that point system to grade whether they would be granted a green card or not.
Now, it should be noted that this bill faces very, very long odds on Capitol Hill. It has the backing of a president now. It has the backing of
some Republicans senators but it's still a long shot. We've seen multiple times how hard it is for anything to get done in the Senate and that is the
case certainly for this bill as well.
ASHER: And Dan, even though the focus of what the president is going to be talking about in just a moment from now is going to be on immigration. He
talked about that bill. The other bill that everybody is talking about is of course this sanctions bill that President Trump did actually end up
signing. Is there a surprise there in Washington that he actually didn't end up vetoing this bill especially given the relationship he wanted to
restore with Russia?
MERICA: They've been wishy-washy about this bill since it was passed in the Senate and the House, but the reason I think he didn't veto it
obviously is that it was passed with veto proof majority -- huge majorities in both the Senate and the House who approved this bill. As you noted, the
president did sign it behind closed doors. He issued two statements, actually one official White House statement and then one statement from the
And in those statements they raised the constitutionality of aspects of these sanctions because House negotiators and Senate negotiators included
in these bills, they included things that kind of hamstrung the White House and President Trump's ability to change sanctions on Russia. So, he
certainly said I'm not happy about this but he did sign it and as White House aides said, he was planning on singing it.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker told us yesterday actually that he wasn't worried that the president was going to sign the
bill because as the constitution lays out, this bill would ha become a law within 10 days if the president didn't veto it. And if he vetoed it, it's
likely that both the Senate and the House would have boxed (ph) the president and passed these -- and overrun the veto, but the president could
ASHER: And Dan if we just take sort of bird's-eye view of what's been happening there in Washington, particularly at the White House in terms of,
you know, Scaramucci being let go. Reince Priebus being let go. Sean Spicer being let go. John Kelly being brought in, you know, with John Kelly there
as chief of staff, is there now a sort of renewed focus on policy on getting back to business and obviously you have the immigration bill that
they're talking about and also the sanction bill that was just signed, is that the now focus, to focus back on policy?
MERICA: I think if you talk to White House officials they would argue that they had always been focused on policy but certainly the personality
aspects of it have overridden and been the major story as you listed just three or four people who have left the White House. There are names that
you could add to that. General Kelly comes in with a reputation of somebody who value and craves absolute order and a sense of order.
ASHER: All right Dan -- Dan, I've got to interrupt you because President Trump is speaking now.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- that would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century. I want
to thank Senators
[11:40:00] Tom Cotton and David Perdue for their tremendous work in putting together this historic and very vital proposal. As a candidate, I
campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers, and that is why we are here today, merit-based. The
RAISE Act, R-A-I-S-E, the RAISE Act will reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.
It will do this by changing the way the United States issues green cards to nationals from other countries. Green cards provide permanent residency,
work authorization, and fast track to citizenship. For decades the United States was operated and has operated a very low-scaled immigration system,
issuing record numbers of green cards to low wage immigrants.
This policy has placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers, and community resources. Among those hit the hardest in recent years have
been immigrants and very importantly minority workers competing for jobs against brand new arrivals, and it has not been fair to our people, to our
citizens, to our workers.
The RAISE Act ends chain migration and replaces our low-scale system with a new points-based system for receiving a green card. This competitive
application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills
that will contribute to our economy.
The RAISE Act prevents new migrants and new immigrants from collecting welfare and protects U.S. workers from being displaced. And that's a very
big thing. They're not going to come in and just immediately go and collect welfare. That doesn't happen under the RAISE Act. They can't do that.
Crucially, the green card reforms and the RAISE Act will give American workers a pay raise by reducing unskilled immigration. This legislation
will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens.
This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and
that puts America first.
Finally the reforms in the RAISE Act will help ensure that newcomers to our wonderful country will be assimilated, will succeed, and will achieve the
American dream. I'd like now to invite Senator Cotton and Senator Perdue to say a few words. Thank you. Thank you very much.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Thank you Mr. President. I'm very excited to be here with Senator Perdue and President Trump to be introducing the
new version of the RAISE Act. Our legal immigration system should accomplish two main goals. One, it should help American workers get a
decent pay raise and have a higher standard of living. And two, we should help promote economic growth, make America more competitive in the world.
Our current system simply doesn't do that. It's over a half century old. It is an obsolete disaster and it's time for it to change. So first, we bring
over 1 million immigrants into this country a year. That's like adding the population of Montana every single year, adding the population of Arkansas
every three years. The vast majority of those workers or those immigrants come here not because of their English language abilities or their job
skills or their job offer or their educational attainment.
In fact, only one in 15 -- only one in 15 out of the million new immigrants come here because of their job skills and their ability to succeed in this
economy. That means it puts great downward pressure on people who work with their hands and work on their feet. Now, for some people, they may think
that's the symbol of America's virtue and generosity. I think it's a symbol that we're not committed to working class Americans and we need to change
Second, we also lose out on the very best talent coming through our country. The most ultra high-skilled immigrants who can come here and bring
their entrepreneurial spirit and their innovative capabilities and make a higher wage, create new jobs for other Americans and new immigrants. Speak
English and contribute to our economy and stand on their own two feet, and pay taxes and not receive welfare, and not drive down wages for working
The RAISE Act will change all of that by re-orienting our
[11:45:00] card system towards people who can speak English, who have high degrees of educational attainment, who have a job offer that pays more than
a typical job in their local economy, who are going to create a new business or outstanding in their field around the world. And I'm excited
and I look forward to working with Senator Perdue and President Trump to pass this legislation through the Congress and make this kind of very
fundamental sweeping change for the first time in over 50 years to our immigration system. Thank you.
SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: Thank you Tom. Thank you Mr. President. Good afternoon everyone. First of all, Mr. President, I want to thank you
for your leadership on this immigration topic. I think this is extremely critical for our country. You talked about it often on the campaign trail.
You said job one was growing the economy. That's part of what I believe you're standing here and why I'm standing here. You you've also said that
as a Fortune 500 CEO -- I'm the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and I've lived around the world much of my career and I can tell you nothing that
we're going to do right now is more important than this in terms of growing our economy.
The reason we need to do this is very simple. Our current system does not work. It keeps America from being competitive and it does not meet the
needs of our economy today. Today as Tom said, we bring in 1.1 million legal immigrants a year. Over 50 percent of our households of legal
immigrants today participate in our social welfare system. Right now only one out of 15 immigrants that come into our country come in with skills
that are employable.
We've got to change that. As business guys Mr. President, you and I understand we need a new approach. We need to fix this immigration system.
So we took a look at best practices. We looked at countries like Canada, Australia and others. What we're introducing today is modeled on the
current Canadian and Australian systems. It's pro-worker, it's pro-growth. It has been proven to work, both of them extremely successful in attracting
highly skilled workers to those countries.
We can all agree the goals of our nation's immigration system should be to protect interests of working Americans including immigrants and to welcome
talented individuals who come here legally and want to work and make better life for themselves. Our current system makes it virtually impossible for
them to do that.
If we're going to continue as the innovator in the world and the leader economically, it's imperative that our immigration system focus on highly
skilled, permanent workers who can add value to our economy and ultimately achieve their own version of the American dream. What we're talking about
today is very simple. It's measured. It's a rational approach to immigration that will allow us to finally fix once and for all this broken
system in a strategic way that will reposition America as a global leader economically.
Mr. President, I'm proud to stand here with you and Tom Cotton. I look forward to passing this in the U.S. Congress and making this the law of the
land and letting it be a sweeping change for America. Thank you.
TRUMP: I just want to state that, as you probably have noticed, the stock mark hit an all-time record high today, over 22,000. We've picked up
substantially now more than $4 trillion in net worth in terms of our country or stocks, our companies. We have a growth rate, a GDP which has
been much higher than as you know anybody anticipated, except maybe us, but then it's going to go up. It's going to go higher too.
We're doing a job, and you're going to see jobs are pouring back into the country, factories and plants are coming back into the country. We're going
to start making product in America again and that's happening all over. As I mentioned yesterday, Foxconn is going to spend $10 billion in Wisconsin
and other places and I think the $10 billion is going to end up being $30 billion.
They make the iPhones for Apple and others and it is a truly incredible company. So we have a lot of things happening that are really great, but
again today, the stock market hit the highest level that it has ever been and our country is doing very well. I just want to thank you all. Tom and
David are going to be outside. They're going to speak to you at length about what we're going to do with respect to this aspect of immigration. I
think it's going to be very, very important. The biggest in 50 -- biggest change in 50 years. Thank you all very much.
(END LIVE FEED)
ASHER: All right, President Donald Trump there at the White House alongside Senators Tom Cotton, David Perdue announcing a major change to
U.S. immigration policy. Anyone who's watching this around the world who is thinking of moving to United States better listen carefully. So, they would
like to switch the current immigration policy to a merit-based points-based system known as the RAISE Act, and they're going to make sweeping changes
to the way the United States issues green cards.
So right now,
[11:50:00] green cards are oftentimes, not always, oftentimes family based. So, you can immigrate to the United States if you get married, if your
husband, wife, mother, sister, parents is an American citizen. They want to shift the focus away to a points-based immigration system whereby you have
more priority if you, A, can speak fluent English, B, you have certain skills, C, you have a job offer, that sort of thing.
The focus, their goal is to help American workers They don't want essentially immigrants coming to this country and taking jobs away from
American citizens. I want to bring in Dan Merica again who's been standing by. So Dan, what is, you know, for people around the world -- this is
obviously CNN International. We have people around the world watching this program who a lot of them might have hopes and dreams of moving to this
country eventually getting a green card. What do they need to know? What should they -- what are the sort of top three things they should need --
they need to know based on what president Trump announced there?
MERICA: It's important -- if this bill is passed and that is still a long shot that the Senate still needs to do and so this bill if passed would do
two major things. It would limit the family aspect of immigration. So you know that a number of different family members could be -- could immigrate
to the United States in the old system, in the current system really.
In this new proposed system, that would limit green cards to minor children which we've taken children under the age of 18 and spouses. So that would
mean grandparents, siblings, older children, children over the age of 18 would likely not be given automatically a green card under this new system.
And then secondly and this is maybe even more important, it would switch the system to a merit-based system that would grade prospective immigrants
on a number of different qualities.
As you heard President Trump say, speak English, their ability to pay taxes, what skills they bring to the United States, their advance degrees,
all of that would be kind of ranked in way and then that point total would determine whether an immigrant would be let into the United States or not.
Now, again, I want to set -- this is international audience. There are maybe people who are thinking about immigrating to the United States, it's
important to remember this has not passed Congress and Congress is not exactly been a well-oiled machine as of late, getting a lot of different
So, it's on the list of things they need to do. I had a senior administration official tell me today that it's a priority for this White
House, but it's important to remember this has not passed and therefore it is not law so this right now is all hypothetical and what the president
wants to do, not what he's actually accomplished.
ASHER: I'm sure a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief there. But in terms of, there was one thing that the president said that did sort of
strike me, and that is he said that they want to limit the number of green cardholders that rely on welfare. From what I understand in terms of the
way the United States work, if you are just a green card holder, you cannot get welfare. That is for American citizens only. Can you walk us through
that aspect of what he said?
MERICA: It's not an accurate statement to say that welfare is granted almost instantly when an immigrant comes to the United States. That is not
accurate. A lot of what President Trump said today boiled down to fairness. The idea that he wants more fairness for American workers, for American
companies and that means limiting the number of low skilled immigrants to come to the United States and they say then compete with lo skilled
American workers and then that means also trying to up the number of high school workers that companies can have come-over to the United States and
work for American companies.
But you are right, it was not an accurate statement to say that welfare is instantly granted to any immigrant that comes to the United States.
ASHER: I'm trying to put myself in a position of people who are watching around the word who actually, you know, want to come to the United States
and who are hearing this news and who might be nervous. How long, you know, I know this is just an idea and this is just, hypothetical at this point
that the current law still stands but if this was to move forward, how long hypothetically might it take to actually become law?
MERICA: It's a great question and it really remains to be seen. We were told that the president plans to talk at length about this in the coming
weeks and months, but again, it's important to note, senators and house members are going away for the entire month of August. When they come back,
they have a long list of things they have to get done, none more important to this White House than health care.
I know you and I have talked about how it's been a struggle to pass health care reform here the United States. There are a number of other issues
including something known as the debt ceiling. They want to pass tax reform. They have to pass a budget. So there's a long list of things that
needs to get done. So, while this maybe the priority -- the immigration priority of this administration, I think it's fair to say this is a long
You're not going to see a number of Senators rush to get back to Washington to vote on something like this when they have so much so really -- really a
number of other issues that are higher o their list and higher on this White Hous, list. And that could change. The Trump administration could
decide that they're going to stop
[11:55:00] focusing so much on healthcare and then decide to go more -- to focus more on immigration. But I don't see that becoming a reality. So, I
think it's fair to say that this is a long layoff, if it passes at all.
ASHER: OK, and Dan, just quickly. I mean, this doesn't necessarily mean that chain migration to the United States is going to actually end. Does it
mean that, you know, if you're married to an American citizen or you're related to an American citizen that you're not (INAUDIBLE) are they going
to be able to come to the United States. It just means that they're planning to limit it and they would prioritize other categories. Am I
interpreting that correctly?
MERICA: Yes, that's exactly right. The senior administration official we spoke with said it would limit the amount of chain migrations so, someone
who is married to a U.S. citizen or a minor child of a U.S. citizen would be granted citizenship or immigration status, and then you'd have that
points-based system. It would make it more difficult for a low income, low- skilled workers to come in but high skilled workers would have an easier time possibly.
ASHER: All right, Dan Merica live for us there. Thank you so much.
MERICA: Thank you.
ASHER: Thank you for wrapping that up for us. Appreciate that. All right, I'm Zain Asher. I hope that helps for people who are watching around the
world who might intend on coming to the United States. That was "Connect the World." Thank you so much for watching. Have a great night.
[12:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)