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Rallying In Iran, Talking Again; Pushing Buttons; Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 3, 2018 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:33] ROBYN CURNOW, CONNECT THE WORLD, CNN: Thousands attend regime organized rallies in Iran and antigovernment protest in their seventh day.

We have the latest on Tehran in just a moment also ahead, North and South Korea open up their telephone hotline after two years of silent even as

U.S. President Donald Trump post his nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong-un. And from nuclear ones to global hot button, Trump's first three

days touch all of them, we break down his Titter tirade over the last 72 hours.

Hello and welcome this is Connect the World, I am Robyn Curnow in Atlanta, we begin this hour in Iraq where the head of the country's revolutionary

guards says the recent addition and term used to describe many a week of antigovernment protest is over, he also has this morning organizers could

be charged with taking up arms against the state. Now this all comes the thousands of pro-government demonstrators have just held marches of their

own at least 21 people we know have been killed since the unrest broke out on Thursday hundreds of being detained and more antigovernment

demonstrations are expected. Let U.S. get straight to Iran, Thomas Erdbrink is the town bureau chief for the New York Times he joins U.S. by

skype also, Nick Paton Walsh is covering this from Washington.

Nick to you, in just a moment, Thomas you there on the ground what's happening right now?

THOMAS ERDBRINK, NEW YORK TIMES TEHRAN BUREAU: Well right now it's dusk in Tehran as usual time the demonstrations take place the opposition channels

on social media are continuously calling for people to come out around this hour, but I don't know if many people actually join the protest of the

capital today, because we have seen a decrease in the number of protesters participating in such protest and roaming that of course has to do with the

number of security personnel that has been put on the streets here in an attempt to quell those protest and in other cities where there's also been

a call for protest, it is much more unclear on see what's what protest actually will take place. And then of course we witness those huge pro-

government protest today where thousands of thousands of people at several locations inside the country came out to show their support for supreme

leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying that they love him that the blood in their veins belong to their leader, and it was of course all reaction to

the wildfire protested that Iran has witness during the last six days, when in over 80 cities in this country, there were protest mainly about the

economy, but also with many political slogans including slogans against Mr. Khamenei and those slogans were clearly countered today during the pro-

government demonstration.

CURNOW: The calling from the head of the country's revolutionary guard, these warnings that had an impact, we haven't seen the revolutionary guard

from the streets though.

ERDBRINK: General Jafari, who was the head of the rest of the Revolutionary guard Corps and one of the highest military officials of the

country is today in an interview try to really make clear that of his forces were not involved in quelling the protest and of course what he's

keeping in mind, more of protest of 2009 you might remember the time that Iran went to the so-called green movement that sprung up right after the

disputed presidential elections in that year, In that time the revolutionary guards on was very present on the streets and kicking and

beating those protesters and sending them home and now General Jafari said that only in three provinces is forces had been present of course there is

no way to check that because you know most journalists are only inside Tehran but that is what the general said.

[10:05:10] CURNOW: And Nick to you as you analyze all of this, broadly though the grievances of these protesters may have them working class are

about real issues and in fact Rouhani has acknowledged that their economic hardships and that will continue.

PATON WALSH: It hasn't change, and it may be this last week has provided U.S. those angry youth, passive social media, have seen a world that really

in the hands of an immediate future and fell behind and that's how the sanctions really so promised on the nuclear deal as we change their lives

at all and hassles of pounds of to the streets, because of basic price rises over essential commodities that may be a week in which they were

allowed to let self-esteem they needed to perhaps and we may seek to have some elements of calm coming in there. You got to bear in mind that these

protests came out this unanticipated, unexpected and suddenly as they can possibly return. We seem to be seeing them and slightly Thomas saying it

is not quite a sense of people on the street or coming to the street of dusk again today and to also I think there's been a troubling since I was

played internationally to some degree we've seen a running hotline is particularly. Mr. Jafari himself he said to the protesters never really

anytime behind in 15,000, quite a small numbers he's coming at this point the hardliners Medicare, they believe must as being fermented by outsiders

namely the U.S. The U.S. has lashed on to much of this supporting the protesters. The State Department officially was saying in fact they been

communicating with protesters of our social media platforms strange statements made given out facing the claim that the U.S. is somehow

fermenting this and the fear of course being in the past as such claim might be used to (inaudible) more repressive crackdown against theirs on

the streets, but potentially we are seeing a week here which might be beginning to slow their sense of unrestricted points out Robyn is, the key

reasons behind all of this the economics failing frankly of moderate government Rouhani handling results.

CURNOW: And the point and the big question is about names and nobody knows where this is going, because it was such a surprise that you talk about

that the Trump administration's attitude towards is surprisingly some coordination which we haven't seen between the State Department and the

president's tweets, in many ways are they laying the groundwork particularly ahead of Mr. Trump having to sign that six-month update of the

nuclear agreement, I mean what is this mean? Are they playing the long game here in these protests providing you a good opportunity for the


PATON WALSH: It was generous I think it is quite hazardous task for the strategy sometimes from the Trump White House, but certainly he's been

consistent in his message about supporting those people on the street saying that recently they tried to get rid of that corrupted regime and the

U.S. will do something quote an appropriate time in the most recent tweet. The press secretary is being clear that they are not at this point

recalling for regime change and also to have made their mind up on the key issue differently has most people more concerned here, does Donald Trump as

he threatens not to certify Iran as being compliance of the JCP away the nuclear agreement when it comes round about 13th of January. So literally

it is 10 days away from now, but it does occur the U.S. does not recertify the U.S. may choose to re-impose more sanctions that were quite rift

between them and the European allies there is some saying that perhaps President Rouhani and Iran's comparatively measured response to these

protests may perhaps be designed to not alienate those in Europe who would rather have the report from the Iran right now.

Some of the very difficult to do for significant bloodshed and repressing protest like that, that will cause a sense I think of revulsion in many

European capitals of that we have President Macron, France according to his counterpart President Rouhani just yesterday to talk about the full-size

refrain from violence. We are entering geopolitically and to an incredibly sense of important time on the next 10 days for the future of Iran nuclear

deal. It comes of the surprise protest on the street also to U.S. to point out a time of peace Iranian influence regionally as they know they have

ancestry certainly, but their regional influence after the defeat of ISIS is pretty much unprecedented, certain in the last 10 or 20 years also since

this domestic unrest uncertainty not really anticipated. And I think it plays now broader into the complex decision Donald Trump has to make and I

think those longer term services are complexed is reflected paths from the choices that he makes.

CURNOW: Excellent points to the thanks guys Thomas and Nick appreciate it. Now Iran, Pakistan, the Palestinians and the careers of all positive tweets

storm unleashed U.S. president Donald Trump as he began the new year by focusing on foreign policy. Joe Johns now report, perhaps the most high

raising remark was a warning to North Korea about the prospect of nuclear war.


[10:10:14] JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump taunting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over the size of America's nuclear arsenal.

Asserting that his nuclear button is much bigger and more powerful than North Korea before the U.S. button works. Mr. Trump lashing out after Kim

Jong-un brag the U.S. within range of a North Korean strike asserting the nuclear button is always on his desk. The ratcheting up attention raising


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER INTELLIGENCE CHIEF: There or potentially millions of lives at stake on hold death and destruction here and to me it is very

disturbing, no one in the White House knows what Kim Jong-un's ignition point is where one of these tweets is going to set him off and hit that


JOHNS: Hours earlier Mr. Trump again mocking Kim Jong-un with the name rocket man.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself.

JOHNS: The president responding after South Korea showed an eagerness to opening up talks with his North Korean neighbor.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: North Korea can talk with anyone they want, but the U.S. is not going to recognize it or

acknowledge it until they agree to ban the nuclear weapons.

JOHNS: The tweets about North Korea to 16 messages the presidents sent on a range of unrelated topics during his first day back in the Oval Office

after the holiday break. Mr. Trump began the day attacking his own Justice Department as the deep state, referencing a conspiracy theory.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously he doesn't believe the entire Justice Department as part of that.

JOHNS: The president going after top former Hillary Clinton aid Huma Abedin asserting that she should be jailed over her handling of State

Department email despite the fact that after an FBI investigation she has not been charged with a crime. President Trump is also urging the Justice

Department to act in prosecuting former FBI director James Comey fired by the president last May.

TRUMP: When I decided to just do it, what I said to myself I said you this Rusher thing with Trump in Russia is a made-up story.

JOHNS: Other targets of the president's twitter attacks, the 3New York Times, former President Barack Obama, Pakistan, Iran and the Palestinians.

Mr. Trump threaten not to give future funding if they do not rejoin peace talks. President Trump also taken credit for record year of safety and

commercial aviation without citing any measures that his administration has implemented.

JIM HIMES, CONNECTICUT CONGRESSMAN: It really doesn't matter what the president of the United States says anymore because it is so bizarre,

strange, not true, and infantile.

JOHNS: Joe John CNN Washington.


CURNOW: So let U.S. get some reaction now from Alexander Field in Beijing were also joined by Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem and wide ranging tweets,

that Democrat there saying they are bizarre, but the point of the matter is that this are tweets from the U.S. president. We had heard reaction, angry

reaction from the Palestinians, Oren.

OREN LEIBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: We certainly have this tweets about the Palestinians threatening to cut off aid was not vague or ambiguous in any

way. It was a direct threat to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that the U.S. gives the Palestinians and $660 million just a couple of

years ago in 2016 predicted by the reaction was furious and this is on top of it already angry Palestinian leadership with the White House with the

American administration over Trump decision in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital if Israel a few weeks ago. That anger has simply grown and this

two administrations that met fairly regularly as of say more than a month ago are now essentially freezing communications between each other with

Palestinian rejecting whatever it is that Trump is working on in terms of the peace plan.

The Palestinians has set a number of different statements, first Jerusalem is not for sale, second saying they will not be blackmailed and that

settlement has been repeated by multiple Palestinian leader we spoke with today.

CHURCH: So there was that angle, let U.S. go to Beijing where you are Alexandra Field, because in this 72 hours, it's wide-ranging tweets focused

on nuclear threats, my button is bigger than your button, but has those tweets in ways over shadow, what is a real breakthrough in terms of

conversations between the South and the North?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: officials here are not going to wade into the debate over who button is bigger and frankly they

don't, really comment directly on President Trump tweets and people in this region are used to seeing this kind of language from president when it

comes to North Korea, but you are right point out these rising tension between United States and North Korea this kind of tension that we see

played out really of the course of last year does overshadowed what has been at least a slight indication of potentially some warming operations

between North Korea and South Korea.

[10:15:02] It did start back on New Year's Day, at the same time that Kim Jong-un is taunting the United States think you got a nuclear button on his

desk he was also reaching out to some extent South Korea saying that he was hoping for talks about sending a North Korean Olympic delegation to South

Korea that prompt a lot of optimism from South Korea they see this as a possibility to promote peace on the peninsula. South Korea officials they

had been calling a hotline to North Korea every day twice a day for two years has not been answered, but today Robyn the breakthrough that your

point under Kim Jong-un orders the phone rang North Korea actually called South Korea we are told to South Korean officials that the initial phone

call first in two years lasted for about 20 minutes don't get too excited, it was symbolic and significant that it happened, but it wasn't terribly

substantive from what we understand they just sort of established technical connection to nature was working there was however a follow up call later

in the day that was also initiated by North Korean, but South Korean officials say it was only two suggest that business was concluded between

the two countries for the day.

South Korean officials went on to say that there was no discussion about the North Korean delegation potentially attending this South Korea and

there was no word on whether there will be further talks South Korea has continued to invite North Korea to talk, in fact has suggested a high level

delegates have a meeting on January 9 not clear when North Korea would respond to that invitation or how so this is a step Robyn, but at this

point just one step.

CURNOW: It is, enemy six might dismiss it but at the same time as you say, I mean it is a step kind pretty low base here so significant and symbolic I

think at the same time and back to you Oren, I mean on this issue of threats to cut aid to Palestinians, it is implemented, I mean the U.S. aid

cut would affect five million Palestinian refugees I mean that is how many assisted by the U.N. relief agencies so a third of those that is over 1.5

million Palestinian refugee living in camps, in Lebanon and in Jordan and in Syria and they rely heavily on this assistance. I mean the impact of

this, it is not just to throw away tweet, the impact I absolutely wide- ranging and regional.

LEIBERMANN: I would go beyond wide range against (inaudible) but truly was cut that 600 million plus dollars, the impact would be devastating because

that money touches just about every aspect of Palestinian society both in the Palestinian territories and outside of this as you point it out there

are Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Syria and in other countries and it affects the hospitals, the infrastructure project, it affects

education all that would take a severe hit if Trump cut all or some of the $660 million in foreign aid or whatever the numbers is this year, a number

that is certainly certain to be what you were would affect everything and yet the importance of Jerusalem, remember that the center of all of this

cannot be overstated as one Palestinian leader told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One must understand, we the Palestinian would not sell our land or Jerusalem for a few hundred millions of dollars. We have

struggled for more than 70 years to get our freedom and few million dollars will not stop us.


LEIBERMANN: And that certainly would be widely shared the idea that if you put U.S. foreign aid versus Jerusalem, Palestinian leaders I would say many

of the public as well, would take Jerusalem as well. Robyn it is also worth pointing out that many Israeli leaders have responded notably not

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they hailed Trump's threats saying that this is how to get the Palestinians back to the table to show them if

they don't accept the previous offer, the next offer only gets worse.

CURNOW: OK. That perspective there from Jerusalem, thanks so much Oren Liebermann and also from Beijing Alex, I appreciate it. Now another

example of this administration's foreign policy the U.S. ambassador to the UN will be playing host today at a thank you reception for countries

supporting the U.S. recent shift on Jerusalem. Nikki Haley sent out invitations to more than 60 countries but did not oppose President Trump

recognition of the city as Israel's capital at the U.N. in December, now at the time Haley delivered a stern warning to those nations trying to

criticize Donald Trump action especially does receiving U.S. aid. She said quote, we don't respect those we helped to target U.S. the U.S. will be

taking names and speaking of names, President Trump has lashed out at Pakistan as well. He accuses Islamabad of lies and deceit. The Pakistani

ambassador to the United States join U.S. next.


[10:22:31] CURNOW: You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World with me Robyn Curnow, thanks for joining U.S. and welcome back. Now in his

first tweet of the year, this is his first one, U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out on a surprising target, south, and Pakistan he accuses Islamabad

of lies and deceit and he suggested U.S. aid to Pakistan and billions of dollars had been wasted, because Islamabad provides Haven -- safe Haven to

terrorist. The U.S. must hunt in Afghanistan. The tweet unleashed angry protests in Karachi demonstrators burned the American flag and held up dump

Trump sign. Pakistan government held an emergency meeting calling the U.S. president's comments completely incomprehensible. We I am join now from

Islamabad Pakistan Ambassador to the U.S. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry attended Tuesday's emergency security meeting. Mr. Ambassador thank you so much for

joining us. Tell us about that meeting, what was the mood like in the room the last three hours.

AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY, PAKISTAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: It did, thank you Robyn for your time. The message that the committee had the wall that

Pakistan values its relationship with United States. We will conduct relationship because it is work to be done, we have (inaudible) Pakistan is

a lot of work to be done in an Afghanistan. we also believe that all these actions that we need to put together make it imperative that Pakistan and

work together for the message was that if you build mutual confidence and the things that we have done in the past 50's, 60's, 80's, 2000's there is

no reason why we can't do that now and then there was a feeling that the common ground of 60 minutes talk about when in Pakistan that should be the

focus. That would be the message from the committee meeting and we also found that the context in which this tweet has been made of course was the

more disappointing because it has been a genuine desire on the part of Pakistan to work together U.S. to stabilize Afghanistan who will achieve a

whole lot else.

CURNOW: I mean you are coming across very conciliatory, you talk about common ground, but the American president is not. I mean he is trying to

change suggesting a Pakistan political behavior needs to change and he is tweeting that your country is full of lies and deceit, I mean this is

different to the way you dealt with things before.

[10:25:18] AHMAD CHAUDHRY: Certainly, it's hurts to hear such words. Pakistan has been the most affected by the war on terrorism. We had

sacrificed a lot we have also had many achievements and I believe that one value on all the achievements and to use the words like deceit and lies I

think does not inspired any confidence, it actually undermines and that's why for us it is incomprehensible and disappointing.

CURNOW: I mean you mentioned the good words that were put across by the American as the American State Department recently it seems in the message

it a few weeks ago Mr. Trump was praising Pakistan on it's on his behavior, so is there any other channels going on? I mean we are getting this twitter

diplomacy, are they the same back channels of conversation going on is this all just theatre?

AHMAD CHAUDHRY: We don't know about that what we do know Secretary Tillerson is here in Islamabad, Secretary Mattis is in Islamabad, we had

this conversations, because we believe that is what to be done together and therefore it comes to us as a surprise if Pakistan is not regarded as a

friend and apartment we have been partner, we have we work together and Pakistan has achieve results. In fact Pakistan success in counter

terrorism and there are lessons to be learned that computer predicted to stabilize Afghanistan.

CURNOW: But at the same time. Mr. Ambassador I mean the Americans broadly might have a point because if you look at just one example in a month ago,

Pakistan ordered the release of an Islamic militants, Mohammed, he designated as terrorist by the U.S. he had been previously offered $10

million bounty of information that leads to his arrest. I mean you say you had successes with terrorism but certainly pictures like this (inaudible)

sort of basis for the U.S. stance?

AHMAD CHAUDHRY: For years, many of these militants who are under the U.N. list 1267 rehab complied fully the obligations that we need to do but for

Mr. (inaudible) to be behind bars we need evidence because the court releases him if we don't give the evidence and evidence has to come from

India where the incident has had happened. Nevertheless Pakistan has still kept him behind the bars because we believe that we would like to comply

all obligations upon us and this part of a long struggle that we are doing. I think we want we have been many successes is work to be done and we are

continuing to do that work.

CURNOW: Mr. Ambassador Ahmad Chaudhry, the Pakistan ambassador to the U.S. thank you so much for joining us here on Connect the World. Coming to us

live from Islamabad, I appreciate it sir.


CURNOW: Right next door to Pakistan is Iran which the American president has of course, being tweeting about. We will look at why the most powerful

man in the world. May (inaudible) in Iran is post likely.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Seven straight days, thousands and thousands of people cross Iran. Look at just how wide and far had been going out onto

the streets demanding change there. Angry about corruption there, angry that it's hard to find jobs and they are angry that prices are going up.

They are also angry at the system. They are chanting down with the clerical regime, and take a lot at this video on the right, the crowds may

look similar to the other ones we have been showing you but there is a difference.

Those demonstrators are backing the government. The first we've seen so far. So which side better reflects the real mood of Iran? Let's ask

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, an expert on this extremely complex country. I think the important question is, who has protested and why this is the


ESFANDYAR BATMANGHELIDJ, FOUNDER, EUROPE-IRAN FORUM: Well, I think one of the things that the observers both in and outside notice very quickly is

that this is a slightly different composition of a protest than we've seen in the past for a mobilization on the scale.

I think the core constituency of the protest seems to be primarily individuals with a working-class background and the protest has spread in

cities where usually these types of mobilizations have not occurred.

And interestingly, Tehran has seen relatively less activity. And I think that points to something -- it's a little bit different about this

mobilization that everyone is trying to grapple with.

CURNOW: OK. So, it's also being organic, leaderless and there is a different constituency there all voicing their disapproval. What that does

mean and particularly going forward -- I mean, what are the objectives particularly if this is uncoordinated or is it?

BATMANGHELIDJ: It's -- I think the question on objectives is a very good one. It's difficult to speak of objectives when protest doesn't have a

clear leadership.

First and foremost, I think the people of Iran want to have their voices heard and we're talking about a group of the population, a segment of the

population that has perhaps had a little bit less purchase in the political and economic debates that have been taking place in Iran over the last few


The Rouhani government is -- has a mandate very much from the middle class to push series of economic reforms that are meant to benefit primarily the

middle class consumer cost part of Iran's economy.

[10:35:00] And the question in a lot of cities outside of the larger ones of Iran is, where is there place I think in the economic plan of the

current government, and of course of the Iranian state at large.

CURNOW: Yes, and I think that's a very, very important point because many do feel like this is actually a class issue as you say, and it's a pretty

stark -- pretty stark disparities and wealth. And they're jarring.

I mean you just need to look for example, there is an Instagram account called the Rick Kids of Tehran, and they are young, and they are

extravagant, and they are in the Iranian capital, and again, that also points to this disconnect and the anger perhaps.

BATMANGHELIDJ: I think that's exactly the right touch point. I mean, this motivating factor for a lot of Iranians is not necessarily whether or not

their standard of living has improved over the last few decades.

I think it largely has but the relative levels of inequality between those who may be have the most access in the system and to those that have been a

little bit left behind is the thing that's quite difficult.

And there are segments of the population that even the past few years, although the post-sanctions, economic recovery of Iran hasn't done quite as

well as expected, have seen their fortunes improve.

But that has happen out of step with the benefits flowing through this other segment of the population and that's where we see the frustrations

reaching a kind of boiling point.

CURNOW: So when we talk about district blaming of various people within the -- within the government, within the regime, I mean, it's been shifting

in terms of who to blame is being laid at.

And now, we have come out with the head, the man who is basically in charge of keeping the peace, and these protests is also Iran's highest military

official. He just come out in later blame of these protests on Iran's former President Ahmadinejad.

BATMANGHELIDJ: That was the implication for statement. I think there's a lot of elite competition happening here, different political factions

trying to make sure that whatever the situation is at the moment, they come out ahead.

Ultimately though, there's a question about who's to blame in terms of certain groups and individuals within the system but also the economic

composition of Iran at large.

Iran is a middle -- upper middle income country, it's how to complex path of development and it's difficult that at certain stages in that

development, decisions are made that are difficult to undo later.

And the Rouhani administration is between a little bit of a rock and a hard place. His budget is well-designed to try and address certain problems in

Iran's economy like inflation, high-interest rates, the overextension of the welfare economy.

But it's poorly designed to do things like create jobs and drive developments domestically and not rely on the private sector of foreign

investors, and so the balancing act there is difficult.

CURNOW: And when you talk about competition with the elites, I mean I think this is quite a key point because also, how much resentment is there

not towards the rich kids of Tehran but towards the religious elite.

I mean I think, Mr. Rouhani, revealed his budget recently and people saw, I think it was the first time just how much money goes to religious

institutions and entities. What is the implication to that?

BATMANGHELIDJ: I would offer -- I would say basically we should have some caution particularly from the outside. I think it's been very easy for us

to see slogans and the mobilization as a questioning of the authority of the religious elite.

And certain groups outside might suggest that that's a questioning of the religious nature about authority but there is an earlier and perhaps more

sort of important qualifier which is that the mismanagement of those institutions are perhaps taking in apart and/or the misuse of funds that

are being allocated to them by the government might be the prior consideration.

But the original source of frustration. I think it's an open question and I would simply argue that we should wait, and perhaps see how the protest

play out, how those objectives become more clear before questioning exactly the political nature of what seems to be an economic mobilization.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for your analysis.


CURNOW: Esfandyar, I appreciated it. So from Iran to North Korea, Pakistan to the Palestinians, the American president is certainly stirring

things up.

Now though, he's facing the same done to him. In an explosive new book seen by the Guardian newspaper, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon,

had this to say about Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 Trump Tower meeting with someone he thought was a lawyer for the Russian government, that quote.

Even if you thought that this was not treasonous or unpatriotic, or bad, and I think that it's all of that, you should've called the FBI


So let's bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider on all of this. Jessica, Mr. Bannon also reach for a hurricane metaphor saying, they are sitting on a

beach waiting to try and stop a hurricane five -- category five hurricane essentially.

[10:40:00] I mean how explosive is this reporting?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, this seems to really be Steve Bannon unleashed. We see lots of quotes like this throughout the excerpts

that have been released so far. And really Steve Bannon unleashed, it's not completely atypical.

We have seen this sort of theory before ever since he left the White House and rejoined very conservative Breitbart. But now we saw with a few of

those quotes he is going after Donald Trump Jr. hard in particular.

He's calling out that June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. Of course it wasn't only Donald Trump Jr., it was also Paul

Manafort, who was then campaign chair.

Also Jared Kushner, and that meeting happened about two months before Steve Bannon joined the campaign as really the CEO and he ushered now President

Trump through the rest of the election.

So you know, Bannon, he put it in a very stark terms. He told the author of the soon-to-be released book, Fire and Fury, he put it this way, he

said, they are going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national T.V.

Now of course, Don Jr. has repeatedly said that he took that meeting at Trump Tower as someone who is new and na
it as a businessman where you basically take every meeting that presents, himself, or presents itself, that was his words.

He -- Donald Trump Jr. also said he viewed it as getting opposition research. But we see in these excerpts, Bannon hitting back hard on that


And Bannon also says, Robyn, that in the end, he believes that this investigation will all come down to one thing, he says it's all about money


He points the finger at Jared Kushner saying that he'll come down as well, perhaps even the entire Trump organization empire, so a lot of fiery

rhetoric from Steve Bannon here, Robyn.

Of course, we are used to fiery rhetoric but rhetoric from Steve Bannon, or really he seems to be taking direct aim at the president and his family,

something we haven't exactly seen before, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, I think, Michael, select 200 people surrounding Mr. Trump. This is a well research as part of one of most explosive political book

that was expected this year.

So, Mr. Wolff also writes that Thomas Barrack Jr., a millionaire -- a billionaire, sorry, who was one of the president's oldest associates,

allegedly told friends that he, the president is not only crazy. He is stupid.

What kind -- I mean, these sorts of comments coming from associates, friends of Donald Trump and what's the endgame here, particularly someone

like Bannon and all of these people. And why does all of these matter.

SCHNEIDER: Well, in terms of an endgame for Bannon, he is one that consistently tries to shake up the political establishment to the point

where it seemed that he is just trying to make everything implode.

He really has come out all guns blazing. We saw him do it in the Alabama Senate race, and now he's taking specific aim at the president.

But what's probably more damaging in that quote that you just showed from Tom Barrack, long-time associate, friend of Donald Trump, fellow

billionaire, the fact that he allegedly said this to a friend that he is not only stupid but he's also crazy.

So, I mean those are explosive words as well and we have seen, you know this sort of unhinged President Trump. We saw it just yesterday when he

tweeted out 16 separate times everything from North Korea, talking about the nuclear button.

He also had an odd tweet yesterday, talking about -- come Monday, he would have his own media awards, talking about the craziest, the most untruthful

media outlets out there.

So this is a president who is repeatedly been criticized but to see it coming from people who are part of his team from his close associate, Tom

Barrack, this could really do some damage to the president, to the presidency, and to the White House.

So this is going to continue to play out especially, Robyn, this book. We have seen the excerpts from it but it does actually -- it will be released

next week. Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. I think people that might be my answer about that one. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much for joining us. So coming up here on

Connect the World, French President Emmanuel Macron soon lays out his grand vision for the world and his country plays in it. The latest from Paris,

that's next.


CURNOW: You are watching CNN, and this is Connect the World with me, Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. Now, as the ongoing crisis in Iran expands into its

seventh day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has spoken with only one European leader, and that's French President Emmanuel Macron.

Now in their phone call, Mr. Macron expressed concern for the victims of violence and reiterates its support for the nuclear deal with Iran. All of

this coming as the French president prepares to layout his vision for his country, at home and abroad.

Well, Paris correspondent, Melissa -- Melissa Bell joins us now from the French capital. Melissa, good to speak to you. I mean, Mr. Macron is

certainly not only laying out his grand vision but this is an impactful year because it is a critical time. Brexit, the Iran, rise of the rights

in E.U. immigration, there is a lot.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is an awful lot that will be laid out here today. The press will be invited and just a short while, Robyn,

to hear him -- first of all, wish the press a good New Year. This is a habit that we really dropped over the course the last two or three year.

And Emmanuel Macron is bringing back but it is of course the opportunity are with the gathered press, not just the French press for the

international press while he lays out his vision for the coming year.

And specifically, on those international issues and one of the things that is interesting, you mentioned that phone call with Hassan Rouhani, the

great difference in style that there is between the French president on so many of these issues, and the American president.

And this is something that Emmanuel Macron has really thought to do and make a great deal of actually. No one is expected when he was elected,

Robyn, that he would fill this role as convincingly or as confidently or is this much conviction as it has.

And he has really always come to present himself as sort of the alternative leader of the free world, another vision of the world with that very

different style. So tweets directed at the Iranian leader, but should rather a phone call, urging achievement, rather than seeking confrontation.

And I think that is why perhaps so much -- its interest will be paid. And so what Emmanuel Macron, has to say will matter about this year.

And as you say, the French president know that his ability to speak to the world, his ability to help determined its future, his ability to act as the

peace maker, depends also on his ability to reform the European Union.

That's really his biggest challenge of the year. He announced it on New Year's Eve in (Inaudible), he wants it transformed into a much tighter,

more federal Europe to conduct with much more bigger, much more efficiency and therefore much more weight on the international stage.

CURNOW: Yes, I mean, he came that office young and tested, and he certainly has huge ambitions. Melissa Bell, there in Paris. Thank you so

much. And still ahead, it is so cold outside here. A brutal deep freeze hits the American deep south. Where this windstorm is headed and when it

would end, that's next.


CURNOW: You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World, with me Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. And they are brutal, brutal winter temperatures

being felt here where you least expect it, in the deep south on the United States.

Even Florida is seeing the effects of the cold weather. This fountain there is frozen solid. Now millions are bracing for a massive winter storm

as it makes its way up the East Coast. And Jennifer Gray joins us now to tell us all about that. Hi, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. Yes, and the storm is going to travel up the east coast is starting in Florida. You said it, it was

very rare to see further precipitation in North Florida and they are getting it this morning, a lot of kissing snowfall in their hometown for

the first time.

Because you will have to go back to 1989 to find any measurable snowfall in Tallahassee, and they had snow and even ice this morning.

We have also had a lot of road closures, bridges closed, schools close, all because of this icy precipitation. We've had a lot of car accidents. Look

at the snowfall in Tallahassee, and you say it's doesn't look that impressive but from people in North Florida, this is extremely impressive.

Because it is so rare for them to get any snowfall at all, and you bet, people have been making snowmen that are rather tiny but to them, they are

definitely something to be proud of.

So, they have gotten quite a bit of snowfall across this area. It's going to continue to push to the east. As we go throughout the day, it's going

to climb up the coast and we are going to get this to continue and actually strengthen as it heads up the coastline.

So if you can advance by graphics for that manner, you will see that big step. We are going to -- let me switch it off for you guys. Hold on for

one second. There we go.

We are going get a wintry mix as we goes up the coastline, you can see the Carolinas, the low country. Up until North Carolina, we're going to get

snowfall anywhere from say 10 to 15 centimeters of snowfall.

And this is going to rapidly intensify, and so once he gets up to the northeast, we are going to be talking about possible blizzard conditions.

As well as very, very strong winds, heavy snowfall, so travel, Robyn, across the northeast as we go through tomorrow, it's going to be a major,

major headache.

CURNOW: Yes, I think we're going to keep an eye on that. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

GRAY: Thanks.

CURNOW: So, we know strange things can happen when the temperatures hit low like their hitting here at the moment. And Jeanne Moos has all of that

with today's Parting Shots.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who needs a thermometer to answer the age- old question, how cold is it? Cold enough for the Calgary Zoo to temporarily bring its penguins indoors before letting them out again, cold

enough to freeze a shark.

At least three of them were found washed up on Cape Cod, likely stranded due to cold shock, near to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. They had

to be thawed to be autopsied -- a true sharkcicle.

How cold is it? Not cold enough at six below to detour a guy dressed as a banana from water skiing on the Mississippi, but definitely cold enough to

generate Internet memes.

I'm not going outside until the temperature is above my age. Remember this trick from previous cold snaps, turning boiling water instantly into snow

is so last year. This is the year of...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frozen bubbles.

MOOS: Craig Boehm created a perfect specimen at a temperature of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit.

[10:55:00] In Saskatchewan, Canada, it has all the allure of a fragile homemade snow globe with over 4 million views.


MOOS: There's pretty much one basic recipe for making ice bubbles and it doesn't involve using that store bought bubble blowing stuff.

Another Canadian who has helped whip up hash tag bubblemadness recommends warm water, corn syrup, dishwashing soap and sugar. The corn syrup, what

does it do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It basically hardens. It gives it a little bit of structure. Otherwise they just blow away.

MOOS: And if you really want a snow globe affect, add a Christmas tree. So when the temperatures dip, just dip your straw and...


MOOS: Even penguins love bubbles. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: All the things you really wanted to know. I'm Robyn Curnow, that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching.