Return to Transcripts main page
HALA GORANI TONIGHT
White House Slams Book As "Tabloid Gossip"; New Book Makes Explosive Allegations About White House; Trump Takes Credit For Possible Thaw On Korean Peninsula; Iran Accuses U.S. Of Using Twitter To Meddle In Its Affairs; Dow Hits 25,000 Milestone. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired January 4, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone live from CNN London. I`m Hala Gorani.
Tonight, a bizarre scene at the White House. The Trump administration attempts to change the subject as questions swirl about explosive
allegations in a new book. We`ll have the details.
Also, the U.S. president seems to take credit for diplomatic progress on the Korean Peninsula. I will ask former chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
about Donald Trump`s communications strategy.
And feeling the freeze, literally record snowfall and deadly cold slams into the American east coast. We are live in Boston.
Now factional wars in the west wing, staffers who lack faith in their leader, and a president with no real sense of purpose. More explosive
allegations are emerging today from that tell-all book that everyone is talking about.
But the White House is fighting back once again. Just a short time ago, Donald Trump`s press secretary blasted the book due out next week saying it
contains disgraceful and laughable falsehoods.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are numerous mistakes, but I will not waste my time or the country`s time going page by page
talking about a book that is complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip because it is sad, pathetic. Our administration, our focus is going
to be on moving the country forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, in other developments, Mr. Trump`s personal attorney has issued a cease and desist letter to the book`s author and the publisher.
The attorney is also threatening to sue Steve Bannon, Mr. Trump`s former right-hand man, who is quoted extensively in the book and quoted as saying
a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian attorney in June 2016 was, quote, "treasonous."
The threats didn`t stop the book`s author from writing a new article out today called "My year inside Trump`s insane White House."
Let`s bring in White House reporter, Jeremy Diamond, and Matthew Chance in Moscow to react there to some of what is contained in the book regarding
Vladimir Putin and the Russia investigation.
I want to start with you, Jeremy. This appearance by the president over video link at the start of the press briefing was unusual.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, it certainly was unusual to see the president on a video screen when really the oval office is just a
few steps in this direction over here. The president could have very well come in here for the first time to the White House press briefing room
because he hasn`t done that yet.
And taken questions while making this announcement touting the fact that many companies are giving bonuses to their employees because of the tax
reform bill that the president was able to get through Congress. But instead he chose to appear by video screen. No need for questions in that
GORANI: All right. Let`s just listen to this. It happened minutes ago in the briefing room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: We have a message from a special guest that I would like to share with you. I will ask you to tune into the screens and then I will
continue from there.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you for being with us today, the historic tax cut I signed into law just two weeks
ago before Christmas is already delivering major economic gains. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are seeing larger paychecks, bigger bonuses, and
higher pension contribution, and it is all because of the tax cuts and the tax reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And Jeremy, this is obviously an attempt to kind of refocus the discussion back to economic gains that the country has made, et cetera.
Pretty much all of the questions were still linked to that book, that explosive book that contains many allegations about dysfunction in the
DIAMOND: That`s right. This was an attempt by the White House to try to steer the discussion in another direction. That obviously did not quite
work because most of this briefing today was about once again this explosive new book about the inner workings of the White House, the
president, how he has approached the job in his first year in office.
And a lot of it was pushback from the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders against the quotes by Steve Bannon and other former White House
officials in this book. And against Michael Wolff, the author of this book whom Sanders pretty much dismissed today.
Part of that criticism frankly is a little disingenuous because of the fact that Michael Wolff had so much access here at the White House. Sanders
tried to claim that many requests for information were dismissed and denied from Michael Wolff.
But the fact of the matter is that Wolff spent a lot of time here in the west wing on a pass that was authorized by White House officials and spent
a lot of hours speaking with those White House officials and that is how he was able to put this picture together of the first year of the White House.
GORANI: We`ll have a little bit later in the program more on the author of the book with our Brian Stelter. But Matthew Chance, to you in Moscow,
there is a line in the book that Donald Trump as a private citizen obviously before he was elected president really wanted to get on Vladimir
Putin`s good side and that in the book the president, Vladimir Putin, could not give a bleep about Donald Trump. You know President Vladimir Putin.
Does that ring true to you?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it does, actually. A lot of the things that Steve Bannon has been quoted as saying
in this book do have that ring of truth about them. This line in particular that Donald Trump repeatedly as a private citizen came to
He certainly did that the last time in 2013 to oversee staging of Ms. Universe competition. He tried to do business deals, build Trump Tower,
tried to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. All the evidence points to the idea that he failed to do any of those things.
He certainly failed to have a face-to-face meeting as far as we are aware with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. I think the simple explanation
for that is that from a Kremlin point of view Donald Trump was at that time a second-rate property developer from the United States, as one of many
sorts of rich businessmen that were stomping the trail to try do business in Russia.
Obviously, the situation has transformed and as Donald Trump became the eminent candidate for the Republican Party last year to the presidency the
Russians have been much more careful to try and court him.
GORANI: And any reaction, official reaction at all to some of the many elements there outlined and allegations in the book regarding the meeting
that happened in Trump Tower or anything related to Vladimir Putin?
CHANCE: Well, in terms of the revelations from the book or the perspective from the book, we haven`t had any reaction. Part of the reason for that is
that it is a public holiday here in Russia. I think another part of it is there is a sort of frustration growing over several months among Russian
officials as these allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump team.
In the past repeatedly the Kremlin has said this is a witch hunt and fake news. They`ve adopted the same kind of terminology as the White House has
adopted when it comes to this.
And they said there is no collusion that`s taking place between the Russians and Trump, and that`s the line I`m expecting to hear from them
again when they finally do comment on these latest revelations.
GORANI: All right. Our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance in Moscow. Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thanks to both of you for
joining us here.
President Trump also seems to be taking credit for the apparent warming trend between North and South Korea. Today, he tweeted that North and
South Korea wouldn`t be talking if he hadn`t been firm, strong and, quote, "willing to commit the total might of the U.S. against the North."
President Trump spoke to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a half hour by phone. The two leaders have agreed not to hold military drills during
the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea.
This is I guess important because it angers North Korea, these U.S./South Korea joint military drills, perhaps an attempt to kind of lower the
tension in that part of the world.
Let`s talk more about President Trump`s forays into foreign policy this week, many of them on Twitter. I`m joined now from Monterey, California by
Admiral Mike Mullen. He is the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral, thanks for being with us.
When you first read that tweet by the president bragging about the size of the U.S.`s nuclear button in response to Kim Jong-un, what went through
ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I think it continued the rhetoric that has existed between the two leaders for many
months now and from my perspective it heightens the danger each time they do that. It`s very difficult to figure out what each is going to do.
I worry a great deal about Kim Jong-un. He`s an unpredictable leader. He has a lethal family legacy to uphold. He has been on a rapid path to
develop these weapons. I think sooner rather than later we will be able to mate up a nuclear war head with an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic
missile, that could hit anywhere in the United States. He clearly wants to do that and on our side the rhetoric seems to be continuously inflammatory
GORANI: But does it alarm you? I know over the weekend you said we are closer than ever to nuclear confrontation in the Korean Peninsula?
[15:10:12] MULLEN: I mean, certainly with respect to nuclear weapons I have been alarmed and I remain alarmed. Until it looks like there is a
consistent amount of change to ease the tensions, if you will, that this might be possible.
These weapons haven`t been used for many, many decades. People really don`t know the devastation that they can create and the tens of millions
that will die if we use them. It is really important to get them off the table, which is why the focus on getting them off that peninsula is really
critical and not resulting in the opposite that if the North gets them the South may get them. Japan is talking about obtaining nuclear weapons or
manufacturing their own, et cetera, which would --
GORANI: Is it your belief that the president is being irresponsible by tweeting things like my nuclear button is bigger than his as someone who
held the position that you did for so many years?
MULLEN: I think actually one of the things that has happened clearly is he has achieved -- our president has achieved great focus on this issue. I
think in the administration they call it maximum pressure. Any military option is incredibly difficult. I think the longer term the proof will be
in the pudding whether in fact President Trump succeeds. I just think it is very dangerous --
GORANI: Do you think it is possible this could be a good strategy in the end it sounds like?
MULLEN: Clearly, his public strategy for sure. I`m not on the inside so I can`t tell you what is going on privately. I was encouraged today when I
heard that the exercises will be suspended. I think that is a step in the right direction to potentially ease tensions.
I know the North is asking to -- the North appears to be moving to try to participate in the Winter Olympic games and that there are now talks
between the North and the South. All of which I think potentially has some positive upside, but all of which will also require I think in the long
term the involvement of the United States.
GORANI: I guess as far as international leaders are concerned, they listen to the president and read the president`s tweets and they have one of two
reactions. Either they say he is being over the top, this is how he wants to stir the pot so let`s not believe what he is saying.
He is going overboard for effect or they will believe him and be incredibly alarmed and start making plans for potential military confrontation. So,
there is no good scenario here. Is there when it comes to the president`s communications strategy?
MULLEN: There`s never been many good scenarios with respect to North Korea. As I try to judge on what is going on, I try to look at what China
is doing in terms of their actions because I think without China not much will happen in a positive direction.
I also try to listen to Secretary Jim Mattis speak on this issue whose words have been focused rightly so on the diplomatic solution and certainly
while prepared to go to use military force that would be his last choice.
So, that`s how I kind of try to measure progress here. It just very difficult to sort out publicly when the two leaders and particularly our
president is out there constantly. I would share the concern that international leaders have of how to read this. There is great uncertainty
in terms of what is meant and what will really happen.
GORANI: In terms of Iran, the president tweeted a few days ago that he supported the demonstrators, that this is proof that the regime has not
delivered, that they are -- the people in the streets across Iran and not just Tehran, but in a much more widespread fashion are protesting against
economic inequality, poverty and joblessness.
Before minister of Iran tweeted this. He says, "The president has an odd way of showing his respect for Iranians saying that rather than helping
Iranians the president is depriving them of economic dividends from the Iran nuclear deal and banning them from visiting the U.S. saying that
essentially he is issuing petty insults on the name of the Persian Gulf.
Best of all, helping them by depriving them of the economic dividends. What do you make of the Iran situation?
MULLEN: Well, I think most of the Iranian situation is of their own making, and I think the leadership in that country is now certainly being
put on notice at a minimum by their own people that the current situation can`t be sustained.
[15:15:07] It`s ironic in a way that President Rouhani, who is relatively speaking a moderate in that country, is being attacked so vociferously
because he hasn`t improved the economy as he said he would because they aren`t creating the kind of jobs.
I think the young people in that country, a tremendous youth bulge, 60 percent of the country is under 35 years old, some number like that. They
don`t see much of a future. I think that`s reflective of what happens in repressive governments. I think the United States needs to --
GORANI: What should the U.S. do? Go ahead.
MULLEN: I think the United States needs to support people who are looking for freedom, looking for a better future. And I think that`s important for
all of us on both sides of the aisle at this particular point in time with respect to Iran at this particular point in time with respect to Iran, who
still sponsored state terrorism, who does a lot of bad things in the region and internationally.
So, I`m very supportive of the people of Iran in that regard and I hope that their lives will be improved through this protest, and that the
constraints or oppression that they live under is eased.
GORANI: Yes. I think many people would share that desire, but they will look at the United States and say, why is the U.S. condemning the Iranian
government or regime and yet they`re doing huge amounts of business with other governments and autocracies in the Middle East, selling weaponry to
all sorts of governments that are far from being Democratic. There`s a credibility issue there, isn`t there?
MULLEN: I think when you talk about the Middle East, you do talk about an area that is full of those kinds of conflicting focuses. We have friends
in the Middle East. That doesn`t mean we agree with everything that they do.
But I think it is important we sustain those friendships and relationships and not cut them off. I think to cut off those relationships it`s almost
cutting off our nose to spite our face. That doesn`t mean we can`t bring pressure on other countries to change what they`re doing in certain
I just don`t think it`s an absolutely black and white situation. Anybody that`s operated in the Middle East knows that`s not the case. I think it`s
important for the United States and our allies to stay engaged and to continue to try to support the kind of freedom, if you will, that the young
Iranians are seeking right now.
GORANI: All right. Admiral Mike Mullen, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, thanks for joining us on CNN. Appreciate your time, sir. Thank
you for being with us.
MULLEN: Thank you, Hala.
More to come this evening, he says he virtually had a semi-permanent seat on the west wing couch allowing him to write an explosive tell-all about
the Trump administration. How did that happen? A closer look at the author behind "Fire and Fury."
Plus, Wall Street is full steam ahead. We`ll get the latest on yet another record breaking day for American markets.
GORANI: Let return now to our top story, a book on the Trump White House that`s creating a fire storm of controversy. Not only are the allegations
extraordinary, but so was the apparent access given to the author, Michael Wolff.
Some background on Wolff, he`s an award-winning journalist who has written for prestigious outlets over the years, but his work has been
controversial. A 2008 biography on Rupert Murdoch enraged the media baron.
Wolff says that Donald Trump liked an article he did on the then candidate in the summer of 2016, which led him to pitch a fly on the wall type book
to Mr. Trump, who granted him White House access.
Some parts of the book are already being dispute raising questions about Wolff`s credibility, but Wolff reportedly has taint dozens of hours of them
that could back up his claims.
Let`s bring in our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. First of all, the report that there are tapes, I mean, this is -- this would be very
important, because if there are any accusations that he built a narrative around things he heard, bits and pieces of conversation in the hallway,
that could put that to rest.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed. This -- the idea of tapes or other corroborating evidence, it would also help explain
why the publisher is willing to put the book out. You turn in a manuscript then you have an editor who reviews it. You also have a lawyer usually who
goes over it and wants to know the sources.
So, the existence of tapes would help explain why Wolff was able to publish all of this through the publishing house, Henry Holt. That`s one of the
biggest publishing houses in the world. They are having a great week. This book went from 50,000 on Amazon to number one on Amazon.
They may be even trying to move the release date up a little bit in order to get it out a couple of days early. The president`s personal attorney is
trying to get this book stopped. They sent a letter earlier today to the publisher with a cease and desist order. So far, the publisher is not
commenting on that, but I think we can say this book will come out sooner rather than later much to Trump chagrin.
GORANI: Right. Explain to our viewers because Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, said nobody heard of this guy before today. That`s obviously
not true for people who read some of the high-profile publications like "New York Magazine," "Vanity Fair," et cetera. This is what Sarah Sanders
had to say about the access Michael Wolff said he had to the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn`t this White House give Michael Wolff all the access that he wanted?
SANDERS: Absolutely not. In fact, there are probably more than 30 requests for access to information from Michael Wolff that were repeatedly
denied, including within that at least two dozen requests of him asking to have an interview with the president, which he never did. He never
discussed this book with the president.
To me, that would be the most important voice that you could have if you were looking to write a book about an individual would be to have some time
with him. He never did. He was repeatedly denied that. I think because we saw him for what he was and there was no reason to waste the president
of the United States` time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So, the White House is pushing back very hard, Brian.
STELTER: No surprise that the reporter wanted even more access and couldn`t get it. That`s the gist of what Sanders is saying, and it makes
perfect sense especially after John Kelly came in, Reince Priebus was out, Wolff had a harder time getting access.
He said that. He is about to go on a book tour. We will hear more about how this happened. Sanders is trying to suggest that Wolff did not have
unfettered access he claims he had. What we know is that a lot of reporters saw him in the west wing this time last year.
We`re confused, why is Michael Wolff here so often? It was for this book. He was able to win the trust or the access to White House aides by going
out on tv, bashing other journalists, saying the media was being too critical of Trump.
He was cozying up to the White House sources, earning their trust, giving them a lot of time, getting interviewing. The fact he didn`t actually
interviews president is a minor detail given he spent so much time with Steve Bannon and other top officials.
GORANI: He has come under criticism before.
STELTER: Definitely. Michael Wolff is very controversial. He has very sharp claws. He gets into lots of fights with lots of people, including me
in the past. This is a man who gets a lot of scoops, a lot of access but has been accused of playing fast and loose.
Sometimes describing things in grand ways that aren`t what they appear to be. I have been reading excerpts from the book. There are several
relatively minor but real factual mistakes in the excerpts that have come out.
[11:25:04] However, what we heard from Washington sources is the book generally describes something we have been hearing about for months, the
chaos, dysfunction in the White House. That rings true to the reporters who have been living this every day.
Certainly, you look at the amount of turnover, the questions about Trump`s fitness for office, this is something that is getting louder and louder.
The book is only raising the alarms further.
GORANI: All right. Brian Stelter, thanks so much.
The markets aren`t fussed over the White House drama. The Dow hit 25,000 today, a record high. The gains extend an eye-popping run for Wall Street,
which has surged over the last year due to growth in the U.S. economy and it didn`t take Mr. Trump long to react tweeting, "Dow just crashes through
25,000. Congrats. Big cuts in unnecessary regulations continuing."
Richard Quest is live in New York with that. Is the president justified in taking credit for this amazing Dow run?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Yes, I think you have to say he is to a large extent because it`s not just the 25,000 obviously
you are aware that the percentage rise from 24 to 25 gets lower each time it goes -- the number gets higher.
You have to take it as from the election. The market has put on 7,000 points. Nearly 30 odd percent has been gained on the Dow and other indexes
since the election of Donald Trump. That is on the back of the tax reform promise, which was then delivered, the deregulation.
You know, Hala, while we are looking at books and talking about what may be happening in the White House and west wing and international warfare, the
reality is that cabinet departments and the president are deregulating vast chunks of the U.S. economy.
GORANI: Corporations love it. Fewer regulations mean fewer obstacles in the way of business.
QUEST: Absolutely. It can be telcos, oil companies, chemical companies, the farming industry. There`s an entire raft of industries, the banking
industry. The short answer, does this -- do these gains have legs? Yes. Is it justified? Yes. Will it continue? That we don`t know.
GORANI: Also, here is the thing. A lot of Americans don`t own stocks. Wage inequality is still a huge problem. Wage growth is a huge problem.
The difference in the gap between the highest earners and lowest earners continues to widen. These problems that the American and many developed
economies still exists. This is just a nice, fancy number for people who own shares.
QUEST: Which to be fair is a large number of people. I think you are forgetting, of course, the 401(k), the pension funds, the way in which --
another thing, I`m going to take you on this. If a company is doing well, eventually the hope is it pays better wages. Also, it will employ more
GORANI: That`s not always the case. That`s not always the case.
QUEST: I can see where our debate is going in 2018.
GORANI: I cannot wait to speak more about this with you. I know, Richard, obviously, you will cover this on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" at the top of the
hour. We will tune in. Thanks so much, Richard. See you soon.
QUEST: Thank you.
GORANI: A quick break. Still to come, more on our top story, Donald Trump`s lawyers now demanding that a publisher stop a controversial book
along with an apology and protraction. Can the president do that? The legal answer is next.
This is the scene in Boston right now. Take a look. A dangerous winter storm bringing blizzard conditions and flooding oddly to the northeastern
U.S. wild weather once again coming up.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Donald Trump is taking legal action after bombshell allegations made against him in the new book, "Fire
His attorneys have sent author Michael Wolff and his publisher what`s called a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the book which is due to
release in full next Tuesday be pulled from publication.
The president is also threatening to sue Steve Bannon, his former strategist. He received a letter that reads in part, "his actions of
communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims, including defamation by libel and slander
and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent."
Here to tell us whether any of this could actually stand up in court, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson is live in New
So, first of all, explain what cease-and-desist means. They`ve sent this order both to the publisher, the author and one of the most quoted men in
the book, Steve Bannon.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, they did. Always good to see you.
Look, here`s the reality. Cease-and-desist essentially means to stop, right? (INAUDIBLE) term, we don`t want publication, we don`t want this to
be released and, therefore, we`re giving you notice that we`ll take legal action if we do.
Now, it`s not an order. Orders only can come from a judge. It`s simply notice that we intend to seek and take legal action should you move forward
My suspicion is that publication will ensue and this book will be out in no time.
GORANI: OK. So, does the publisher need to take this seriously? Do they just ignore it? What are the chances this might end up then in court and
potentially costing the publisher a lot of money and certainly creating a lot of grief for them?
JACKSON: Sure. So, there are a couple of ways to view this. First of all, anything that you receive from an attorney, I`d always advise to take
seriously. The issue becomes whether it has merit or whether it doesn`t.
So, let`s examine the publisher. The publisher, what really is your objective? Your objective as a publisher is to print something that has
the most reliable information it possibly can. In the event it doesn`t, you subject yourself from any liability.
So, from a publisher`s point of view, the publisher`s position is, look, I spoke with a number of people, I vetted my sources, I believe this
information to be accurate, I`m letting it out there.
I don`t think Trump`s issue, while it is as to the publisher, but the issue is really as to Bannon and people who were giving this information.
And so, they have two different things. One is as to the publisher, who is just publishing what people have told him, and apparently there`s
information in tapes to backup the content of what`s in the book.
And the other issue the Trump team is as to Bannon and their information, Hala, is that you should be speaking. A, you have a confidentiality
agreement with the boss (ph) and, B, the disparagement clause, and you`re violating those things.
So, there`s two tracks. That, notwithstanding, the publisher is simply doing their job and releasing a book with information they deem to be
GORANI: Right. But Bannon signed that confidentiality agreement during the campaign. He spoke to Michael Wolff, the journalist, while he was in
the White House and, therefore, a federal employee. So, does that confidentiality agreement extend beyond the time he spent within the
JACKSON: Well, here`s the reality. Any agreement or any contract is subject to its terms. And so, therefore, in order to answer that question,
I really would have to examine the contract and see what it says.
Obviously, something as to a campaign would be as to the campaign. When you officially take office, that would be subject to something else.
[15:35:00] But it`s very difficult, Hala, to prevent people from talking. And so, your remedy, that is the relief that the Trump people are seeking,
the issue is between them and Steve Bannon. The publisher is simply introducing information, which was freely and voluntarily given to them and
they certainly have a right and obligation to do that. And Steve Bannon has an obligation under the First Amendment to speak and give his thoughts
and give his opinions.
If it`s going to subject him or cost him money, well, that`s subject to the terms and provisions that are in the specific agreement that he had with
Trump and the Trump team.
GORANI: And this gets me to my next question. It`s not like, in the book, Steve Bannon is leaking classified information. He`s just giving - from
what I`ve read and I`ve read very long excerpts from it.
These are his thoughts, his observations about the time he spent in the White House and during the campaign. Is there a distinction legally
between your impressions and saying something that could be seen as a breach of a confidentiality agreement?
JACKSON: Well, it`s a wonderful question. And so, breaking it down briefly, here is what it comes down to. A person has a right to their
opinions. And opinions can be expressed and shared. And as you know, they often are and people do share their opinions. That`s one thing. And those
opinions are protected every day under our Constitution.
Another matter, though, would be saying things that are knowingly false. So, if a person says something that is not merely an opinion, but runs into
the realm of a factual falsehood, now that individual is in trouble and that`s something that puts objective to a lawsuit based upon what we call
defamation, which is a falsehood which impugns the reputation of someone else.
And so, there`s a clear distinction between saying something factually incorrect, right, and just expressing your opinion as well as many people
may not like those opinions of your expression. So, absolutely, there`s a distinction between the two.
GORANI: And very quickly, you think this is going to court?
JACKSON: If it does go to court, I suspect that it`ll be knocked out quite quickly. I think the publisher has a right to publish this book. I don`t
think there`s any chance that that publication will be stopped or halted.
As to whether Steve Bannon ultimately has to pay a price in monetary damages to Trump and the team, well, that`s another matter. And that`s
something that they very well may or may not prevail on depending upon what the contract says.
But the book, I look forward to reading it, and not just excerpts, the actual book itself.
GORANI: Right. It`s out next week. Joey Jackson, thanks very much for joining us.
And I believe today is a snow day for you. So, enjoy that as well.
Now, a former White House communication director says part of the book are nonsense. Anthony Scaramucci talked to CNN`s Chris Cuomo today.
You may remember, Scaramucci didn`t even last two weeks on the job after an expletive-laced rant that involved Steve Bannon. He`s apparently still not
a Bannon fan based on this today.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think what Steve did, if everything has been said about Steve and he`s talking
like that, I think it`s absolutely ridiculous and he should walk it back.
CUOMO: He`s had opportunities, but he hasn`t. He says he supports the president.
SCARAMUCCI: Unfortunately, I was very honest about him. I said the truth six months ago what he was like as a person.
CUOMO: You think he`s disloyal?
SCARAMUCCI: I think he`s for Steve. At the end of the day, what I said, taking out the expletives, he`s for Steve, we are for the president. If
you love your country, President Donald J. Trump is our president, let`s go out and help him. I am not for myself. I said that in that interview,
unfortunately, which got picked up on that recorded phone line. But I was there to serve the president. OK?
CUOMO: Why was Bannon there?
SCARAMUCCI: I think the president wanted to reward him for a job well done during the campaign, but I think he diverged from the president and he
started focusing on his own brand. I mean, that`s very damaging. It wasn`t the right thing to do.
CUOMO: The 11 days of Anthony Scaramucci. He talks about you. He says you`re a minor figure in the New York financial world, quite a ridiculous
one. This is Wolff. Overnight, you would become Jared and Ivanka`s solution. Is that true? Did Jared and Ivanka put you in the White House?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, it`s probably true that I`m minor and ridiculous. But I don`t think that that`s true. I had the conversation directly with the
president about going into the White House.
CUOMO: Why? Why did they want you there?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think -
CUOMO: Because he says you`re from New York, you`re good on TV, they hired you to replace Priebus and Bannon who were trying to take over the White
House. Was that the dynamic?
SCARAMUCCI: I didn`t see that at all. In my conversation with the president, I said there were a few things we could do to help reshape his
communications strategy, and I would be very happy to help him do that, if he had an interest in that. He said he did.
One of the other things he charged me with was to see if I could not only help with the communication strategy, but we have to put down some of the
internecine fighting and the leaking that was going on inside the system.
GORANI: Anthony Scaramucci there. A dangerous winter storm is bringing heavy snow and hurricane force winds to the northeastern US. More than 13
million people are under a blizzard warning.
Forecasters are calling the storm a bomb cyclone. It happens when a cyclone has a significant and rapid drop in pressure over a short period of
[15:40:10] New York`s mayor issued a weather emergency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: What`s quite clear is this is a serious, serious storm between the very low temperature, the strong winds,
the driving snow, everyone should take this one very seriously and take precautions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Now, before it pushed north, the storm dumped snow on cities that rarely experienced winter conditions like Charleston, South Carolina and
Nearly, 30 percent of the US population has endured freezing or below freezing temperatures this week.
Alison Kosik joins me now live from Boston, all bundled up. Tell us what`s it like and speak what the situation is like there. But how bad will it
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I think worst is over, talking about snow falling. It has been snowing all day, Hala.
When all is said and done with the snow fall, it`s expected to be anywhere from 30 to 45 centimeters. But this really hasn`t only been a snow storm.
There have been wind gusts of up to 40 to 70 miles an hour.
This has also turned into a flooding situation. Now, the flood has receded. But I want to show you where we are. We are about 100 yards or
50 yards actually from Boston Harbor. And down there, you see all of those emergency vehicles. They are actually blocking the road because early
today, during high tide, the tide gauge at Boston harbor reached 15 feet, which actually sets a record or meets a record that was set in 1978 during
the blizzard then.
So, that 15-foot tide happened right at high tide, right during the worst - during
GORANI: I think - yes, we lost comms there with Alison Kosik, but you got the idea there. Just very dramatic winter weather, not just in Boston, but
in other parts of the country, including in Georgia and South Carolina. We even saw flurries of snow even further south than that.
Now, coastal communities from the south to New England are getting hammered by the storm as well. Earlier, CNN`s Brynn Gingras spoke to Richard Quest
about the conditions where she is.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We`ve got intense blizzard conditions. We`re Scituate in Massachusetts, Richard, which is about an hour outside of
Boston. And you can see, I`m getting pelted right now with ice.
All the ice, if we turn the camera, is coming off of this harbor here in Scituate. Look at those waves, Richard. I mean, they are really crashing
in. And, really, most of this water is just filled with ice.
About five or ten-minute drives from here is a little bit of a hook in the land. And that`s where some of these waves are actually even moving into
some of the streets where people live here in Scituate.
Of course, you can imagine, officials have said, evacuate if you can, just while this storm bears down on them because the major concern is that super
moon, all of us were admiring that super moon earlier this week, but that has caused higher tides than what they usually get. So, that`s the concern
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": And they`re calling this the bomb cyclone or something similar. The weather bomb cyclone because of
this confluence of meteorological phenomenon that happen. Are you at the worst of it now? Or are they are expecting things to get even worse as the
day goes on?
GINGRAS: Unfortunately, we are starting at the worst of it because the high tide is expected to come in at about 12:30 and where it`s about little
after 12 right now.
But you can see not even these boats. I mean, Richard, these are 50-foot long boats tied up next to each other. And the sound is just eerie as
they`re crashing up against each other and into the dock.
We saw a bunch of fisherman coming out here adding these extra thick ropes to bring these boats, to secure them down. But it`s a little precarious in
that situation, seeing how well they`ll do.
But this is a fisherman area. They say they`re used to this. But this seems pretty bad as some of them admitted to me today.
GORANI: All right. You needed the ski goggles for that one for sure.
Don`t get - don`t forget, I should say. You can get all the latest news interviews and announcements on our Facebook page,
Facebook.com/HalaGoraniCNN and check out my Twitter feed @HalaGorani.
Still to come, a party with a very specific guest list. Why Nikki Haley invited these diplomats to a friends of the US event. Stay with us.
[15:46:50] GORANI: Couple of headlines just into CNN about the US government`s plans. First, the treasury has announced sanctions against
five Iran-based entities that Washington says are involved in Iran`s ballistic missile program.
Meanwhile, the US is suspending security assistance to Pakistan until the government there "takes decisive action" against terror groups according to
the State Department.
You`ll remember a few weeks ago when the UN voted on a resolution rejecting the United States` decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel.
The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was less than pleased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: The United States will remember this day, in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the
very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world`s largest
contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to
use our influence for their benefit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. To all those who supported the resolution, Nikki Haley was saying, we have a long memory. Very few voted against it, 9 countries
to be exact, 35 abstained.
And those who did were invited to a friends of the US party hosted by Ambassador Haley. Let`s go live to New York. Our senior UN correspondent
Richard Roth joins me.
So, talk to us about this friends of the US party.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The media was also not invited in. That may not be that surprising. A rather exclusive guest
list, even though the US in affect lost during the resolution wars inside the General Assembly and the Security Council, in total, 65 countries are
eligible to be there.
A dozen or so, including those that didn`t vote either way, abstained or vote with the US, the guests were shown a videotape of US President Trump
where he praised their actions and saying duly noted and appreciated. December 21 will be an important date and thank you to all of you for
standing with the United States.
Nikki Haley, the US host of the event, later tweeted out pictures and told the guests who did gather around. "It`s easy for friends to be with you in
the good times, but it`s the friends who are with you during the challenging times that will never be forgotten."
Outside, the US mission for the UN, across the street from the UN, which is where I work, rather cold before the blizzard, many diplomats were
diplomatic. And they didn`t want to get too descriptive of how they felt being at this event.
The happiest diplomat was Israel`s ambassador. And I also spoke with the Hungarian ambassador who represented most of the guests there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANNY DANON, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Ambassador Haley is here to make a change and to show the UN the right way. And I think, tonight, it
is the right decision to show the UN ambassador that when they stand with the real value of the US, the US will stand with them. We appreciate that.
And I think in the future we will see more countries joining the leadership of the US.
KATALIN BOGYAY, HUNGARIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: This is always a privilege and joy if you`re invited by a fellow ambassador of yours. This is the
culture of the UN, so I`m very happy to attend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:50:08] ROTH: One ambassador and a diplomat on the Security Council said - who did not vote the US way, said, oh, was that party tonight,
yesterday, and also Ukraine in effect voted against the US on this Middle East issue in the Security Council, but then abstained in the General
assembly. That was enough to get an invitation.
Not the average type of party on the diplomatic circuit at the UN, Hala.
GORANI: But we heard from Nikki Haley there, obviously, a threat with regards to contributing financially to the UN, a threat directed also at
countries that voted in support of this resolution condemning the United States` decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Is there concern there that the US might start punishing those who didn`t go its way?
ROTH: I don`t know if it`s concern. I think they`ve all been on high alert from the very first moments when Ambassador Haley entered the UN a
year ago and said for those who are not with us, we`ll be taking names.
I don`t think it`s changed, but I do think the threat of financial cuts back to the Palestinians or the Pakistanis. People are on guard. We`re
going to have to see how these future votes play out. This may not be the last the friends of the US party. Maybe the guest list will either shrink
or will go up depending on how big the threat is.
GORANI: Richard Roth, thanks very much, joining us from the UN.
More to come, including a brazen robbery in one of the world`s best-known museums and it happened in broad daylight. We`ll be right back.
GORANI: If you`re one of the millions of people who visit Venice each year, you`ll know this building as The Doge`s Palace. Well, they got a
number of visitors they really didn`t want on Wednesday.
Thieves entered the building in broad daylight before brazenly making off with a selection of Indian jewelry that came from the Qatari royal
Barbie Nadeau has the latest. She`s in Rome. So, how did they manage to steal these jewels?
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That is the big question. And investigators are certainly scratching their heads. Actually, not just who
did it, but how on earth they did it.
This was about 10 o`clock in the morning on Wednesday. The museum had been open since 08:30. The last day of this particular exhibit. And two
thieves, as we understand from the investigators, walks up to an alarmed case, did a couple of maneuvers, somehow opened the case, as the police
chief says, like a tin can and were able to grab a handful of jewelry before the alarm went off.
And what`s most troubling to the investigators is that there was a delay between when that box was breached and when the alarm went off. So, they
are trying to understand if the thieves had the technological capability to do that, if they were perhaps working with someone who may have had that
But they say they`ve got four solid leads. They won`t say who they are. They won`t tell us based on the surveillance tape, whether they`re men or
women, but we understand there were two of them. And in that minute time between when they breached the case and when the alarm went off, they were
able to just melt into the crowd and escape the building.
And, absolutely, shocking to anyone that has a museum in Venice and surprising to anyone who was in the museum at the time that didn`t actually
see what was going on right in front of them, Hala.
GORANI: So, there were visitors. How much were the jewels worth that they stole?
[15:55:01] NADEAU: Well, this is another question, definite question. The whole collection was said to be worth millions and they grabbed a handful
that they said was worth up to 1 million. But they`re not giving a lot of these details.
The investigators also said that it was very unlikely that the thieves would be able to resell these pieces as whole pieces of jewelry. There was
a broach and some earrings. And, in fact, they would probably disassemble them and sell these precious gems piece by piece.
But they`re being very vague right now because they don`t want to tip off the thieves. They don`t want to show their cards. Obviously, it`s a
little bit late to be vigilant, I would say, at this particular museum. But they`re doing their best right now to play catch-up and find these
GORANI: All right. Barbie Nadeau, thanks very much. Sounds like something out of a heist movie.
Some breaking news. The publisher of the Michael Wolff book "Fire and Fury" initially was going to publish this explosive tell-all on Tuesday.
Well, the publisher has just said that they are moving up the release date for this Wolff book to tomorrow.
This is a report from our Brian Stelter. "The publisher of Michael Wolff`s book is telling CNN that it will go on sale tomorrow. Due to the
unprecedented demand, we`re moving the on-sale date for all formats of "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff to Friday, January 5 at 9 AM Eastern from
the current on-sale date of Tuesday, January 9.
Of course, there was a lot of controversy and pushback from the White House following the release of excerpts of the book. We heard from Sarah Sanders
as well today that the author, in fact, didn`t have the kind of access that he claimed he did and then the personal lawyer for Donald Trump issued - he
sent this letter to both the publisher and the author and Steve Bannon, the former strategist of President Donald Trump, who is extensively quoted
throughout the book.
These are all legal actions there by the Trump White House, trying to put a lid on this, but a lot of the details are out already and the book is
published tomorrow, not Tuesday.
I`m Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. Stay with CNN. "Quest Means Business" is next.