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CONNECT THE WORLD

Wolff's Fire and Fury: book to be released Tuesday; "Bomb cyclone" blasts northeastern U.S.; Big button diplomacy. Aired at 10-11a ET

Aired January 4, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

{10:00:27] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CONNECT THE WORLD GUEST HOST: Hello and welcome to "Connect the World". I'm Robyn Curnow in Atlanta. Now we are

barely four days into the New Year and what a year it has already been. From blistering attacks from a formal oval office insider to boastful

tweets about the size of nuclear buttons to reporters asking the White House press chief to comment on the President's mental state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Americans be concerned about the President's mental fitness that he appears to be speaking so lightly about threats

regarding nuclear button?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: We heard the phrase bandied about last year. But does 2018 herd yet another new normal for this administration where today's extraordinary

events are tomorrow's ordinary state of affairs? That question and many other this hour.

So we begin with that explosive new book, allegations about the Trump White House that have left the U.S. President furious and threatening to sue. A

salacious new book contends that Donald Trump never even wanted to be President and also portrays the west wing as a chaotic mix of clashing

egos, betrayal and revenge. Joe Johns now reports. Some of the most damaging claims come from Mr. Trump's own former chief strategist.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's lawyer threatening imminent legal action against Steve Bannon accusing the president former

chief strategist of defamation and arguing that he violated a nondisclosure agreement when speaking to the author of this bombshell new book. Excerpts

published in the guardian quote Bannon suggesting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort had been treasonous and unpatriotic for

meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton at Trump tower in 2016. Bannon also reportedly saying that the chance Don Jr. did not walk

these up to his father's office on the 26th floor is zero. A claim that runs contrary to the administration's longstanding position.

DONALD TRUMP JR., OLDEST SON OF DONALD TRUMP: It was such a nothing. There was nothing to tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President wasn't aware of the meeting, did not participate in the meeting.

JOHNS: Bannon has also quote discussing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe claiming they're going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on

national TV. Allegedly predicting that the investigation will center on money laundering. News of the book prompting a scathing statement from the

President asserting in part Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think furious, disgusted would probably certainly fit when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against

the President.

JOHNS: Bannon saying this about the controversy this morning.

STEVE BANNON, CHIEF STRATEGIST TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Nothing ever came between us and President Trump and his agenda. Don't worry about that.

We're tight on this agenda as we've ever been.

JOHNS: Democrat Andre Carson telling CNN Bannon is scheduled to come before the House Intelligence Committee later this month.

ANDRE CARSON, CHIEF INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We want to make they're not out of emotionalism or spitefulness. We want to really find out what he

really thinks.

JOHNS: Bannon's remarks one part of journalist Michael Wolff's stunning new book characterizing the first year of the Trump presidency as chaotic

and dysfunctional and President Trump as uninformed. Wolff saying this about the impression Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh allegedly had of the

President. He didn't read. He didn't even really skim. Some believe that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate. It was like

trying to figure out what a child wants.

Walsh denies making these remarks, but that passages is similar to a different quote published in New York magazine from aid Nunberg who

reportedly said this about Trump's attention span when he was sent to explain the constitution. I got as far as the fourth amendment before his

finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head. The White House denying these accounts saying the book is filled

with false and misleading accounts from individual who have no access or influence with the White House.

(END VIDEO)

CURNOW: Thanks to Joe Johns for that. Now, as Joe laid out, in fact, those excerpts are - just believe it or not scratching the surface. Let's

bring in White House reporter, Jeremy Diamond and Matthew Chance in Moscow. Hello to you both. Jeremy, you work there at the White House. These are

explosive allegations. What do we make about them, what strikes you?

[10:05:06] JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: They are explosive allegations that this White House is so far is vehemently denying. Of

course a lot of this is because of this author Michael Wolff had extraordinary access to the White House, spending time as he describes on a

couch in the west wing for much of several days throughout the course of these six months during which he chronicled what has gone on in the White

House. I think it's important to note that a lot of what's in this book actually confirms in a lot of ways the reporting by many of the White House

reporters here who have chronicled kind of the dysfunction, the chaos that has taken place inside this White House.

And so the White House is of course pushing back very vehemently, because it paints a pretty negative picture not only of the systems going on here

on the White House, but of the President himself and his kind of behavior described by some aids in this book as childlike, as not fit to serve as

President. Of course all of these questions surfacing as these questions of the President's fitness are resurfacing again in Washington. You know,

the President's tweet the other day about North Korea and his nuclear button once again raising those questions about the President's temperament

and his fitness for office.

CURNOW: OK. Matthew to you, beyond the palace intrigue, but the substance once again all roads leading back to Russia. We're hearing some details of

what Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Putin to say or like about it.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some of the comments that are recorded in this book from Steve Bannon, you know, do

ring true, I mean this one about how Trump wants him very much to travel to Moscow on several occasions and want, to meet Putin, but Putin, to

paraphrase what Bannon said in much more salty terms didn't care about him and so didn't. That is kind of what we've been thinking throughout the

whole course of the past couple of years. We're been tracking Trump's various trips over the past several years to Russia, most recently of

course in 2013 when he was focused on the staging of the Miss Universe competition and where he is been trying to do a deal with various Russians

to get a Trump hotel erected in the Russian capital.

For all accounts, you know, failing miserably and failing to meet President Putin himself even though Trump was kind of trying to fudge the issue

whether he met Mr. Putin or not. From a Russian point of view, remember Trump was a second rate property developer, who was looking for

opportunities here and Putin had no reason to meet him. It wasn't until Trump became this candidate in the Presidential race in 2016 that he really

I think appeared on Russian radar screens and came to the proper attention of the kremlin and of the Russian President. So a lot of what Steve Bannon

is saying rings true to many of us watching.

CURNOW: OK. Matthew Chance in Moscow and Jeremy Diamond there in the White House, thanks, guys.

One person weighing in on the story that is been dominating the hour, you might remember the mooch, former communications Director Anthony

Scaramucci. Here is what he has to say earlier at some of the claims in the book.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP'S TRANSITION TEAM MEMBER: It is a treason thing, because you know, you have the criminal intent, obviously we both know

that. Donald Trump Jr. is a very patriotic guy. He is a very honest guy. I would bet my life's savings he is not done anything treasonous. If Steve

Bannon was a smart enough guy he'd get on the TV or somewhere and say I'd like to take it back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impact of the book on the President, how angry do you think this stuff is going to make him?

SCARAMUCCI: You see, I think you know how I feel about Sara. I think she is done an amazing job in her role. She is a very compassionate person. I

haven't talked to the President since the book came out or since the statement. My gut tells me that he is probably not all that angry as much

as he is distracted by it. This is another unnecessary distraction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saying his son is treasonous doesn't make him angry?

SCARAMUCCI: In my opinion people think he is angry and volatile and temperamental, I don't see that in his personality at all. I see him as

honest and straightforward. Sometimes he wears a lot on his sleeve. Sometimes he wears a lot on his sleeve on twitter. At the end of the day I

wouldn't describe him as angry as much as I would describe him as frustrated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

{10:10:00] CURNOW: Speaking to our Chris Cuomo. Let's go to Josh Rogin. I'm just reading "the Washington Post." I see they're putting out -- you

guys are putting out a lead that the President is seeking to block this book from actually being released next week.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITIAL ANALYST: Well I'm sure that the White House is considering a range of measure to both trying to discredit the book and to

try to limit its impact on the public perception of the White House, the President and this administration. I doubt that any efforts to stop the

book from being published will bear fruit. Likewise there's going to be a range of legal actions. None of that will be able to sort of un-ring this

bell. The information in the book, the sourcing in the book, whatever the debate over it is, is now in the public arena. This administration we see

that the perception of reality often becomes reality. That is what we're seeing even in the first couple days. Whether or not you believe that the

President said these things as Bannon said them, the relationship is fractured. The fight is on. So it's almost too late. You can't put the

genie back in the bottle. Whatever this book says is now part of the narrative of this administration.

CURNOW: You make an excellent point there. As Jeremy Diamond was saying a little bit earlier when I spoke to him from the White House. You and a lot

of reporters there in Washington having saying, this have had your own scoops that is forming the foundation of this book as well. The context

points to legitimacy here even though some people have questioned Michael Wolff the author. I think that is important to note.

ROGIN: I think you're exactly right. The point is that the reason that all of these anecdotes is many of them confirm reporting that is already

happened or support reporting that is happened over the past year. They fall on three main themes. One theme is infighting amongst the White House

full of advisers who are scrambling for access and influence of the President and stepping all over each other to do that. That is true. In

each and every detail of that in the book true? I don't know. Overall it is true. The second is a President who's just unpredictable, mean, doesn't

like to be, you know, bothered with a lot of details, doesn't like to read. You know that is true.

So if you think about it, and all these details sort of fit a pattern of framework that already existed. So the White House has been denying this

for months and months and months, but my reporting and the reports of hundreds of both, reporters who have sources inside the White House, the

administration, supports the general idea here that this is a White House, you know, severely fractured, besieged by infighting and all responding to

a President who has a management style that is at the very least chaotic and at the worst dysfunctional.

CURNOW: Beyond that, what is also interesting about this, and again, talking broadly about the context of other reporting, is that what we're

seeing here is a member of Trump's inner circle, former member of his inner circle is essentially saying that they're there to the Russian

investigation. I mean that is key, isn't it?

ROGIN: Yes, I mean essentially what he is saying is the Trump team made horrendous mistakes in the handling of several contexts with Russians

throughout the campaign and the transition. Again that seems obvious. OK, it seems that all of these meetings were very badly mishandled. Those that

rise to the level of collusion? I don't think that is what Steve Bannon's asserting or what the evidence is proving yet. Yes, they've handled this

Russia situation really, really badly and consistently and Steve Bannon is just exposing the fact that he is believed that for a very long time and he

is placing a lot of the blame on that on the President and the President's son, the President's son-in-law, et cetera. Again, this is not a

revelation. We know that they've been handling the Russia issue terribly. That is clear. To have someone at the top levels of the White House say it

so bluntly is just shocking, because it reveals again how much he is breaking with the official position of this White House administration.

CURNOW: Bluntly salty language. All of this book. But what's also again interesting I think particularly to people reading this outside of the U.S.

and even to governments who are trying to do business with this administration is that what it paint system a picture of a President

isolated, erratic, ranting, perhaps eating a cheeseburger at 6:30 p.m. on his bed, calling all his billionaire friends, what does that mean

particularly going forward for national security for example, how do you do business with this write-ups?

[10:15:00] ROGIN: This is what really touch me most actually about the excerpts that I have been reading and the reporting that is coming out of

the book already is that, this is a President who is completely unpredictable and doesn't necessarily make decisions in any way that

relates to the actual cases made by his advisers and influencers on the merits of any issue. What that means is especially for national security,

there's no way to know what the U.S. policy is going to be, what the President's going to decide. That is incredibly destabilizing. It's

profoundly dangerous. It is really bad for alliances. It's even bad for managing relationships with adversaries. Because if you have a White House

besieged by factionalism, where everyone's fate is depending on who the president decides to anoint as the winner in a daily battle of wills, that

is a situation that weeds all kinds of bad policy decisions and also creates risk of miscalculation that could be resulting in really horrible

outcomes not just for America, but around the world.

When we see the sort of tweets then we see the background reporting of how these decisions are getting made, it tells everyone in the world that they

can't rely on this President which means they can't rely on this administration which means they can't rely on the United States. That

causes second and third degree effects around the world which are not only dangerous, but also not in America's interest and not in the interest of

peace and stability.

CURNOW: Yes, I mean Michael Wolff at one point calls the comings and goings a situational comedy. I'll put it to you and many people world

agree, it's not so funny, all of this. Thanks so much. Josh Rogin there from "the Washington Post." Also CNN political analyst. Appreciate all of

your perspective.

ROGIN: Anytime.

CURNOW: OK. From meetings with Russians to Ivanka Trump's hopes of becoming President, these are just a fraction of the claims proposed in

this exclusive new book about Donald Trump's White House. Stick with us. We're going to discuss this more with our media man Brian Stelter. So

don't go away. We also want to give you big news from CNN in the last hour, take a look at this numbers. The Dow has passed 25,000 points for

the first time ever. It happened shortly after the opening bell this morning. It's just the latest milestone in an ongoing rally since Mr.

Trump became president. The Dow has climbed nearly 7,000 points or 36 percent since he was elected. Still not backing down. Supporters of

Iran's government return to the streets after a week of anti-government protests. We're live in Tehran for the latest. And picking up the phone,

North and South Korea made contact after a long dormant hotline. We'll tell you how it works and why they're getting connected.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:20:30] CURNOW: You're watching CNN and this is "Connect the World." With me Robyn Curnow, thanks for joining us. Welcome back. Now on the

streets for the second day supporters of Iran's government are making sure their voices are heard. We're getting these pictures from Iranian TV.

You'll remember this follows a week of anti-government protests. The head of the country's revolutionary guard says they're all but over. Let's get

the view from Tehran. Eric Randall is the deputy bureau chief for AFP in Tehran, Fred Pleitgen is also no stranger to the country, and he joins us

from London. Eric good to speak to you, the revolutionary guard's say it's all over. What's happening today? What do you make of what's playing out

there?

ERIC RANDALL, DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF IN AFP IN TEHRAN: Seems like a relatively fair assessment. It's very difficult for us to get information

from the provinces, but we've seen much less activity on social media overtime. In Tehran there a very heavy police presence all over the city,

revolutionary guards and riot police, but no reports and no signs of unrest last night at least.

CURNOW: Ok. And Fred, from your point of view, know you've been in Iran number of times, what do you make of this? If this is over, what next?

And how was this momentum lost?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I not sure that the momentum was lost. That is the big question is whether or

not the momentum is actually lost. It certainly does seem to be the case there's fewer demonstrations. However this is a grassroots movement. I

think one of the things you're seeing from a lot of politicians there in Iran whether they're reformists or even more hard line politicians is

they're saying we need to understand that there is a problem in this country. They do blame countries like the U.S. for instigating some of the

protests that were going on. They're also acknowledging that yes, they do have economic issues, especially in the provinces that they haven't solved

yet. Many of those are about the fact that a lot of people are quite frankly poor. But even more of that is about the fact that you have a very

young, very well-educated population that doesn't necessarily see a future perspective. People want better jobs. They want foreign investment in the

country. That is also something Rouhani might have oversold the benefits of the nuclear deal that Iran has with the U.S. and other countries. There

are a lot of issues that I think the Iranians are saying we need to deal with these issues. Otherwise protests like this could come back very soon,

Robyn.

CURNOW: There in Tehran there wasn't as much street activity as there were in these sort of regional areas. Why was that?

RANDALL: It's a difficult one to tell. I think part of the reason is it cause everybody by surprise. No one saw this coming. There are often

economic protests on a very small scale all the time actually. But nothing like this. Not for a very long time. I think it caught people off guard.

People were suspicious about where it was coming from. They were getting messages from the government this is being directed from outside.

That put them off a little bit. The violence put them off a little bit. Some that I talked to certainly shared the economic burdens and shared the

frustrations but they are put off by the violence. The other thing is they remember the crackdown in 2009. They know that if they go out in the

streets at some stage, if gets out of hand the revolutionary guards are going to get called in and you don't want to be on the streets when that

happens.

CURNOW: You are there from Tehran, Eric Randall, we appreciate it. And also Fred Pleitgen coming to us from London, thank you.

We're also tracking a major warming trend on the Caribbean peninsula. North and South Korea having making contact on a special hotline that is

been dormant for nearly two years. Five calls have gone back and forth so far. Paula Hancocks report on this significant breakthrough.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Somewhere in the border village is a hotline in a settlement that spans both North and South Korea within the

DMZ, one of the most heavily guarded borders on earth. The communications channel, a political lifeline between the two Koreas that are still

technically at war. This view from the South Korean side, the green phone to call the north, the red to receive calls from the north. Different time

zones for each state above the phone, half an hour divides the neighbors and a sign that reads north direct phone.

[10:25:03] The buildings on either side of the border where the phones are located are only about 18 meters away from each other. South Korea says

the first two channels were connected in 1971 and they now have 33 different communication channels, but North Korea haven't responded to them

since February, 2016. The South Koreans say they have two officers who called every day at 9:00 a.m. When they got to work and then at 4:00 p.m.

just before they left work and they sat by the phone all day in case it rang.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a matter of who initiates what. It's that they get a positive dynamic going. The two are sending positive signals

back and forth and they're creating momentum which can lead to some breakthroughs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: The hotline is sparking some interest most notably for its apparent use of Windows XP. South Korean officials decline to comment on

that, but it is simply a means to an end. Paula Hancocks CNN Seoul.

(END VIDEO)

CURNOW: Thanks to Paula. Fascinating stuff. We've also just learned that U.S. President Donald Trump a South Korean President Moon Jae-in have

agreed not to host joint military drills during the Olympics. That is according to statements from South Korea. Let's get some insight on the

north/south divide from Will Ripley who's traveled to North Korea 17 times. Will joins us from Seoul. Just the latest information about no military

drills during the Olympics and five phone calls back and forth. What do you make of all these positive developments particularly from the North

Korean point of view?

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: From the North Korea point of view reopening the hotline, I suppose it's a positive sign though they

haven't said much in those five phone calls, they were testing the line in three of them. The north just told the south they didn't have any new

information to report. Discussions are expected a perhaps in-person meetings as early as next week about North Korea sending a delegation to

the winter Olympics in Pyongyang. This is something South Korea wants very badly. They think if North Koreans have Olympians participating in the

games, then there is less of the chance of destabilizing activity like a ballistic missile test or nuclear test. And so the fact that United States

and South Korea have now agreed not to hold joint drills during the games. As was just released within the last hour or so after that phone call

between the two Presidents, again, this is both countries not wanting to give North Korea and leader Kim Jong-un, any reason, any excuse to do

something that could scare people away from this extremely important international event.

Of course President Trump weighing in on twitter taking credit unsurprisingly for all of this. He said, quote, with all of the failed

experts weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now, if I wasn't

firm, strong, and willing to commit our total might against the north? Fools. But talks are a good thing.

In China the government in Beijing also saying that they support this potential thought and inter-Korean relations, but elsewhere in the region

of Japan. The Prime Minister Shinzo Abe much more skeptical about the current security situation. He told reporters in Tokyo today, the danger

facing his country is the worst since World War II and they need to bolster their defenses against North Korea's growing missile program. There is

U.S. Intelligence released to CNN and other media outlets indicating a potential ballistic missile launch possibly in the coming days even though

here in South Korea they made a point today to say they have not been indications of a potential launch although they have acknowledged that

North Korea they could launch a missile at any moment taking many people by surprise.

Bottom line here, South Korea hoping for smooth sailing over the next 35 days leading up to the winter Olympics and hoping that this hotline

reopening will lead to more talks and potential -- more progress down the road although there is certainly a lot of skepticism given what we have

seen over the past decades where there have been times where there are discussions only to see the situation further deteriorate.

CURNOW: And the timing, why now? Again, from the North Korean perspective.

RIPLEY: Well, North Korea is now in the New Year, they have said pretty close if not having completed the development of their nuclear program even

though Kim Jong-un says he wants more nuclear development and more weapons development in 2018. And the fact is that the sanctions are being enforced

as far as what we're being told by China and others, by the United States and South Korea. Ships have been seized. Oil exports to North Korea have

been reduced dramatically. Even when I was in the country just a little over a month ago I didn't see any noticeable impact from those sanctions,

at some point the north will undoubtedly feel the squeeze if round after round of sanctions are enforced. By sending a delegation to the Olympics,

this is Kim Jong-un being able to tell his people that he's working towards peace even well also violating international law by testing these missiles

and by testing nuclear weapons to be able to tell his people that he's making progress on all fronts even if they may start to be feeling the

impact of the sanctions on their -- on their quality of life.

But again, at least from what I've been able to observe in the country, no noticeable impact on the surface, and North Korea held huge New Year's

celebrations, fire works trying to make it seem as if they're moving forward with no problems despite the mounting international pressure.

CURNOW: OK, valuable, rare insight. Thanks so much. Great to have you on the show. Will Ripley there from Seoul, thank you.

Up next, we're going to go back to Iran where we look at how a government born through evolution may know exactly how to quash uprisings, but for how

long? We will ask an expert, that's next -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World with me, Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. Now, back to that bomb shell book that claims to

pull back the curse on the Trump campaign and the current White House.

Steve Bannon was once Donald Trump's right hand man but excerpts from Michael Wolff's new book which is called, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump

White House.

[10:35:00] This book has certainly sparked a war of words between the U.S. president and his former chief strategist, more than that, some legal

threats, too. But who exactly is Wolff and just how credible is he? Brian Stelter joins us now from New York. Brian, hello.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi.

CURNOW: Who is Michael Wolff -- for our international audience. And I think the -- yes, the big question is, how credible is this book?

STELTER: You know, he's a media columnist, a long-time media reporter, occasional entrepreneur, certainly a very controversial figure in the

journalism world.

Someone who breaks a lot of news, wins a lot of scoops, gets a lot of access to high profile people. But also is sometimes accused of cutting

corners, maybe playing a little too fast and loose with some of his reporting and some of his quotes.

Wolff is known for books about Rupert Murdoch, for the dot com world, and other subjects. This was his entree into the political sphere and he

decided to right about Trump partly because Trump was a media fixture.

You know, a reality TV star. As a result, the two men had a relationship going back years. So, Wolff cozies up to Trump and White House aids this

time last year.

He won an unprecedented degree of access into the White House, partly by writing flattery pieces about Steve Bannon and by going on shows like mine

on CNN and criticizing the media for being too critical of Trump.

So, really what Wolff was doing, would say into the White House, I'm your friend, I'm on your side, the media is beating up on you but I'm on your

side. Well now, you will later hear...

(CROSSTALK)

CURNOW: They learned the hard way on that one.

STELTER: That's right. That's right. Maybe that was very clever on Wolff's part. Maybe it was conniving. Maybe it was two-faced. Whatever

you want to call it, he scored some incredible material.

CURNOW: Yes.

STELTER: Some really shocking quotes, we should be clear, we don't know that all of it is true. We know there are few details that are definitely

wrong in the book but there's also a lot of on the record quotes that have not been denied and there's reports that he may even have some tapes to

back up the interviews.

CURNOW: OK. So, that's also interesting and even if he does or doesn't have tapes, I mean -- and you talk about this incredible access.

And he says he just plunked himself down on a west wing couch. This also gain points to the chaos surrounding this White House. He just seemed to

have access because nobody kind of said no.

STELTER: Nobody looked around and asked what are you doing here, why are you here, who are you seeing, are you supposed to be here.

You could kind of imagine given all the stories about White House dysfunction, really a White House in crisis mode, that it would be possible

for someone to get a meeting with Steve Bannon and hang out in the west wing after work.

Makes you wonder where the secret service was, makes you wonder where are the White House press people were and makes you wonder where Sean Spicer

was at the time. But certainly Wolff did have an amiable degree of access.

Other reporters have confirmed that and described seeing him at the White House many times last year. All of that did change however over the summer

when John Kelly came in as chief of staff and Steve Bannon was ousted.

Wolff by his own account said he had a lot less access after that point. But he's able to describe what it was like in the early days at the Trump

administration.

I think the subtitle of the book could be, it was even worse than we thought -- meaning it was even more chaotic than we originally thought.

CURNOW: Yes, I think the headline in the Hollywood reporter piece was, you can't make this, beep, up which I think also points at it. That was

Michael Wolff's article I might say.

STELTER: Yes, right. That's right.

CURNOW: Also, I mean, he was brought -- he had the confidence of the president or those around him. And he's now bitten them certainly. What

does this tell us about the president and also how he deals with information, how Trump throws information around loosely?

STELTER: Well, we think about this as Trump having friends and enemies. He sees many members of the media as enemies. But he also has friends in

the media, like Sean Hannity.

And then Trump clearly viewed Michael Wolff as a friend as well, someone who could be trusted, someone who wasn't going to burn him. Maybe now he's

rethinking that.

But this -- the accounts or the excerpts from the book so far, do portray a president who does not read much of anything, who does not consume

information the way past due as presidents had.

But one of the most shocking details of the book, it's affirming what CNN and The New York Times and other outlets have previously reported. The

president gets a lot of information from Fox News, does not read the detail briefings that are provided to him.

Of course that's troubling and I guess the questions about his fitness. But now what we are seeing in the last few hours here is President Trump

trying to stop the book, actually trying to stop the publication of the book.

I just received a message from his personal attorney, Charles Harder who sent a letter last hour to the publisher and to Michael Wolff saying cease

and desist. Do not publish the book.

Now look, that's a legal threat. The publisher certainly is not going to abide, I'm sure. The publisher will still go ahead and release this book

on Tuesday when it's due to out in book stores.

But we now see Trump belatedly trying to extinguish the book, extinguish the interest in the book, months after he allowed Wolff inside.

CURNOW: Yes, I mean -- is not that they weren't prepared for it as many other White Houses. They would have made their talking points.

STELTER: Right.

CURNOW: They would be taken by surprise. What also interests me here is this Murdoch angle, how Trump seems to idolize Rupert Murdoch.

[10:40:03] And how that relationship is playing out currently and also what Rupert Murdoch currently thinks of Mr. Trump.

STELTER: Yes, Murdoch is quoted in the book in talking about Trump in disparaging ways, calling him an idiot. Now, we've asked 21st Century Fox

for comment for Murdoch. He's not denying the quotes. He's also not confirming the quotes.

He's is just not commenting using the filling that he is not denying all of the criticism that he levels at Trump in this new Michael Wolff book. You

remember during the campaign and Murdoch was pretty critical of Trump.

But then the two men warmed up to each other. Murdoch had an alliance of mutual interest with Trump. And Fox News is a booster of President Trump

on a daily basis.

But apparently behind the scenes, Murdoch has still been quite skeptical, quite critical of the president, maybe thinks of him as a buffoon or as a

cartoon character.

That's something that could cause strains in this really important relationship. You know, if you don't have Fox News on your side and you're

President Trump, you may be in an even tougher position going forward.

CURNOW: Yes, and he paints a picture of a very isolated president.

STELTER: That's the over arching story I think, yes.

CURNOW: It certainly is, yes. Brian Stelter -- and it's also hitting Amazon rating, I think it's number one selling book.

STELTER: Number one.

CURNOW: And it's not even out...

STELTER: And by the way, this season -- it's this letter, it's only going it higher, and it's like thinking possible, right?

CURNOW: Certainly. Brian Stelter, always good to get your comments. Keep warm. I see it's freezing cold and snowing there in New York.

STELTER: Yes, thank you.

CURNOW: Wow.

STELTER: Thanks.

CURNOW: OK. So, we also know that Late Night comedians in the U.S. are having a field day here, poking fun at this controversial book and also

about the inner workings that come out allegedly of this Trump White House. Here's what host Jimmy Kimmel had to say about the expose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: This book paints a very unflattering picture. He sprays his hair with just for men and Ivanka

makes fun of him for it? He's constantly leaking information about himself and then demanding to know who leaked the information?

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: He didn't want to win the presidency and was horrified when he did. Melania cried. We all cried, really.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Well, lots more on Connect the World. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: You're watching Connect the World with me, Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for joining us. Now a dangerous winter storm is really bringing

heavy snow and hurricane force winds to the northeastern U.S.

And not to mention also, chilling, bone freezing temperatures, take a look at these pictures. Forecasters are calling this storm a bomb cyclone. It

happens on a cyclone. Has a significant and rapid drop in atmospheric pressure over a short period of time.

Now, it push north, the storm dumped snow on cities that rarely experience winter conditions, like this, like South Carolina, Charleston and Savannah

in Georgia. And as well, it is also certainly causing headaches all over the east coast. Jennifer Gray looks at how people are handling it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[10:45:00] JENNIFER GRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A powerful winter storm inching its way up the eastern seaboard. Residents from Virginia to Maine,

cleaning out grocery shelves and preparing to hunker down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are in a panic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are packed in there. The lines are unbelievable.

GRAY: Plow crews and salt trucks readying to work overtime to clear the snow before the deep freeze sets in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be all hands on deck.

GRAY: The storm moving north after walloping the southeast. This was the view from space as the winter storm barreled through. Florida seeing its

first measurable snowfall in nearly 30 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazing. I've never seen this much snow here.

GRAY: Icy conditions causing thousands in the state to lose power. In Georgia, a state of emergency declared in the coastal counties.

Officials helping drivers stuck on dangerous slick roads. Snow blanketing palm trees, frozen water fountains and historic sculptures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit different than what we're used to. We're used to hurricanes, and that kind of thing, not ice storms.

GRAY: In South Carolina, records snow, some parts of the state accumulating up to 6 inches. White out conditions making road travel

treacherous. The winter blast also wicking havoc in airports with thousands of flights canceled along the coast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here I am watching the beautiful snow as my grandchildren wait for me to come and visit them.

GRAY: Some southerners, making the most of the rare snowfall, having a little fun, going dog sledding and tubing down neighborhood streets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: So many excited children in the south seeing snow for the first time. It's wonderful. And still to come, we're going to put our reporters

out there. They're out there in the cold bringing you the latest.

That's next. And then also, all of a sudden tense international diplomacy is now less about the size of armies and more about the size of buttons.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. And just before the break, a few moments ago, we

showed you some incredible images of this powerful storm that is barreling up the east coast.

Well, for the latest on this storm, I want to cross to CNN's Athena Jones in New York, and Nick Valencia in Charleston, South Carolina. And, Nick,

to you first. Not often we see snow in Charleston.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a very unfamiliar scene here for the residents and the tourists for that matter. It was just a short time

ago that a cruise ship just docked here from -- on its way from Baltimore, Maryland with a lot of people seeing snow here in Charleston for the very

first time. The last time this city got this much snow was 1989.

[10:50:00] Twenty-eight years ago and it was a near record for the city. About 5 inches of snow falling, the record here is 6 inches. So if they

would have surpassed that, it would have been a record breaking day.

And there was a period yesterday afternoon where we thought that was going to happen. It was falling about an inch per hour. We wanted to give you

some perspective here because it is so atypical and so unusual.

We have our CNN drone operator J.P. J.P., want to put us up in the sky here and give us a little bit perspective for our audience here.

A lot of snow-covered roofs here, roads that are extremely, extremely hazardous, for as fun as this was for a lot of the residents here, city

officials warning that it's still very, very dangerous out on those roads.

We learned that first hand earlier this morning. I took a little bit of a spill getting out of the car because the roads are just so slick and icy.

But the good news in all of this, Robyn, is that it is warming up.

It was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this morning. The temperature is about six degrees warmer now. It's not expected to get above freezing

until later this afternoon. That will help with all these snow to sort of melt it away and clear those roads.

But right now, officials are very concerned about black ice on the roadways. The good news though in all of this is that there were no

fatalities as a result of this winter storm. Just a lot of snow here left on the ground in Charleston, places not used to getting this much at all.

Robyn.

CURNOW: No, it's not. Thanks to you and J.P. Great pictures there from the drone. And, Athena, to you there in New York -- I mean we know New

York at this time of the year is certainly not comfortable weather, but this is pretty bad.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. That's right and we've seen the weather conditions, the visibility conditions and the road conditions

getting worse every hour as the snow piles up.

And in fact, the wind is blowing the snow sideways and basically a 90 degree angle. We're right on Long Island Sound. I'm not sure if you can

see some of the conditions we're witnessing outside.

Now New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just declared a state of emergency for Westchester County, New York City and Long Island because quote, the

situation has continued to deteriorate. And in fact, they are now expecting a bit more snow than was forecast only a few hours ago.

Nine to 12 inches on Long Island, four inches to eight inches in Westchester County, just north of the city and six to 10 inches in New

York, and as I mentioned, very, very bad conditions.

Officials have warned folks to stay off the roads as much as possible, to use mass transit if you have to get around. We are seeing snow plows out.

There are thousands of workers out on 12-hour shifts to help keep the roads clear, to help keep New Yorkers safe. But these are very, very hazardous

conditions.

And we're talking about this word we've heard a lot, bombogenesis. That is the weather phenomenon that is bringing on this bomb cyclone with near

hurricane force winds. Forty, 50, 60 miles per hour winds and higher, all up and down the coast. So, very, very bad conditions. Back to you.

CURNOW: Athena, thanks so much, and to you Nick Valencia. And I think what's also important to note is that these winds are really going to

concern authorities and they're really worried their power lines are going to go down. So we'll keep an eye on that. Thanks you, guys. I hope

they've managed to keep a little warm.

Now as we've seen this week, there is a new international diplomatic tactic at play and it's all about buttons. As Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And here you thought button size only mattered in sewing. Now the president is tweeting about how his nuclear

button is much bigger and more powerful than Kim Jong-un's.

KIMMEL: We have two maniacs with nuclear warheads bragging about who has the bigger button.

MOOS: One journalist called it a button measuring contest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How big is your button?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Button size and button performance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all about who's got the bigger button.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.

MOOS: When it comes to big buttons...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was easy.

MOOS: ... the one on President Trump's desk can't compare, but he uses this tiny one to order diet cokes, not nuclear strikes. The so-called

football carries everything needed to launch a nuclear attack. It's obvious size matters to President Trump. From his I.Q...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guarantee my I.Q. is much higher than any of these people.

MOOS: To his tax cut.

TRUMP: This is the largest tax cut.

MOOS: To his hands.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands. If they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.

MOOS: Cher referred to President Trump and Kim Jong-un tweeting, they're probably both the size of Tom Thumb. When it comes to bragging about the

size of your nuclear button, it might be wise to button it. And even if the button's huge, that doesn't mean a leader will press the right one as

we saw in Monsters versus Aliens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That button launches all of our nuclear missile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, then which button gets me a latte?

MOOS: Make that a diet coke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other one, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[10:55:00] CURNOW: Thanks to, Jeanne Moos, for that. And time to click another important button, this one taking you of course to our Facebook

page. That's facebook.com/cnnconnect.

I'm Robyn Curnow. And that was Connect the World. From the team here in Atlanta, in London, in the shows home in Abu Dhabi and all of our reporters

around the world, thanks so much for watching.

The news continues here. iDesk is up next. And stick around for that. Until then, we're going to leave you with these images of the big freeze

here in the U.S.

END