Return to Transcripts main page
HALA GORANI TONIGHT
U.K. Home Secretary: Use Of Nerve Agent "Brazen And Reckless"; U.K. And Russia's Past Spy Showdowns; Marina Litvinenko Reacts To Salisbury Poisoning; Source: Trump Angry At Sanders Over Porn Star Story; Trump: We're Going To Be Fair, Flexible With New Tariffs; Aired 3-3:22p ET
Aired March 8, 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, British police say more than 20 people were exposed to a nerve agent that was meant to kill an ex-Russian spy and are being treated.
We'll look at that story.
Also, ahead, despite resistance, Donald Trump will sign a proclamation on new trade tariffs this hour. We'll bring you that live.
And a creepy laugh in the middle of the night, not something users thought they were signing up for more with their Amazon Alexa. More on what's
behind this glitch.
It was brazen and it was cool, some of the angry words being used by the highest members of Britain's government following that nerve agent attack
on a former Russian spy in Salisbury.
And we're getting more details on this bizarre spy story, 21 people have received some form of treatment for exposure to nerve agent. Only Sergei
Skripal and his daughter and one police officer remain in the hospital and that police officer has been identified today. He is Detective Sergeant
Nick Bailey and there is a picture of him and he is in serious condition.
Let's get more on this, Phil Black is on the scene in Salisbury. Nick Paton Walsh joins me from New Scotland Yard in London. Phil, I want to
start with you there. Twenty one people treated for exposure to some sort of nerve agent, but they're not in hospital. What more do we know about
how they were -- they came into contact with this poison?
PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, it is proof that the nerve agent as it was deployed was not a precise weapon.
That there was a wider threat to more people here than just two people who the police believed were the intended targets.
As you said 21 people treated for some sort of exposure. It seems that for most of them the exposure was certainly a lot less than those people who
have been seriously hurt by it. Of course, Sergei and Julia Skripal, they are still in hospital. They are still in critical condition.
You were talking about Detective Sgt. Nick Bailey, he is the office, one of the first people on the scene. He was described as seriously ill
yesterday. We believe he's still in pretty rough shape, but he's getting better. He is awake.
He is talking. He was visited by chief constable today and is said to be improving. The rest of the 21, including multiple officers, again first
responders, they have been released from hospital, so we don't have the precise details of how they are doing, but they have received treatment of
It was the goblet today that's confirmed that they determined a nerve agent had been used through sample testing at a secure facility. The Defense
Science and Technology Lab at (inaudible), which is not far from here.
From that they say they have determined that they know what this is. It is rare, but they are not specifically revealing what that agent is just yet -
GORANI: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, the latest on the investigation. Are police getting any closer to finding out who was behind this attempted
or these attempted murders?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Phil said, they know exactly what the agent is and that much will narrow down exactly
who could have provided it as a murder weapon, which state may ultimately behind this.
But today we've really seen the British government tried to give away as little information about a fast-moving investigation as it possibly can
while it's also seeming informed and under controlled situation that has many Britons deeply troubled.
WALSH (voice-over): A flurry of activity at the home of Sergei Srkipal while he and his daughter remain in critical condition including the
policeman who first rushed to their aid improving. The task for British officials this day appearing in control but keeping the investigation
AMBER RUDD, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: The use of a nerve agent on U.K. soil is a brazen and reckless act. This was attempted murder in the most cruel
and public ways. People are right to want to know who to hold to account. But if we are to be rigorous in this investigation, we must avoid
speculation and allow the police to carry on their investigation.
WALSH (on camera): For now, that means waiting to point the finger at the likely sophisticated power that could provide such a murder weapon. They
know behind me exactly what is. The investigation gathering details faster than they are willing to publicize. But advancing too given the broad
British suspicion that Russia was ultimately behind it and thinks can get away with it are demands that any British response has teeth.
(voice-over): And even European officials tasked with giving Britain a rough ride over Brexit said European strength was in unity and that should
be clear consequences for Russian authorities.
[15:05:04] But as the Skripals fight for their lives, what can Britain carried on the world stage by internal turmoil actually do? Russia's
wealth and its wealthy have flooded in London once marveled actors Moscow on the Thames, and now just more plainly accepted as where rich Russians
keep their valuables.
OLIVER BULLOUGH, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Close friends of Putin have children have a lot of property in West London and their deputy prime
minister has a flat just on the embankment just down at the House of Commons. So, yes, I mean, that's a lot of sort of very high-ranking
Russian people who bought property, but it's not just property.
They like to educate their children here. They like to have their business decisions adjudicated by English courts. They like to send their children
to English universities. So, there are broad spectrum service provider for oligarchs.
WALSH: Pressure will mount since the facts emerge through a clear response upon the Kremlin's moneyed elite to the damage done to thee seemingly
ordinary Russians life in Salisbury.
WALSH: Now as we learn more about the life of Sergei Skripal, Hala, one small tidbit that may prove seminal may prove frankly irrelevant
(inaudible). The man who Russian state media, the FSB claims in fact, recruited Sergei Skripal to work for MI-6.
Well, there's a man of the same name who actually lives in the same town of Salisbury. It may not be the same person, but certainly as we continue to
look in Sergei Skripal's world looks increasingly complex and of course, kind of grows here in the U.K. for answers and possibly retribution of some
degree -- Hala.
GORANI: Yes. And Phil, one quick last question, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, are they still in critical condition? Are they conscious?
What's the situation there regarding their health right now?
BLACK: We have no further update from what we were told and that is that yes, they are still critical, Hala. So, we can only assume that they are
fighting for their lives. They are the people who clearly suffered a major exposure, the most exposure to the nerve agents itself and so they are a
long way from being out of the woods just yet.
GORANI: Well, thanks very much for that, Phil Black in Salisbury, Nick Paton Walsh is at New Scotland Yard in London.
The Russian Embassy in London says it hasn't received substantive details about the case, which it said was rather worrying. Russia has been denying
any involvement from the beginning. If a link to Moscow were proved, it could affect relations between Russia and the U.K.
As Fred Pleitgen explains it wouldn't be the first time there was a spy showdown between the two nations.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter were poisoned and
fell ill, fighting for their lives, some were quick to point the finger at Russia. Moscow immediately denying the allegations.
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN: This campaign clearly shows the made-up story and we can only call it a provocation to
make our relations even worse with the country.
PLEITGEN: A policeman who arrived on scene also exposed and hospitalized. So far nothing is proof that Sergei Skripal's story was part of a larger
spying showdown between Britain and Russia that continue even after the Cold War ended.
Skripal (inaudible) an officer in Russia's military intelligence service was arrested in 2004 and later convicted of passing on information to
(on camera): Sergei Skripal's case was so high profile that Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, which is headquartered right here on
Moscow's Lubyanka Square even made a film about the arrest and the betrayal they say Skripal committed.
(voice-over): There was more, in 2006, Britain embarrassing had to admit that its intelligence service, the MI-6 had planted a fake rock in Moscow
embedded with a transmitter where agents dropped off information after the Russians uncovers a plot.
JONATHAN POWELL, FORMER DOWNING STREET CHIEF OF STAFF: They had this (inaudible) rights. Clearly, they have known about sometime to be saving
it up for a political purpose.
PLEITGEN: Also, in 2006, former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned and died slowly and painfully in London. His green tea spiked
with a radioactive isotope polonium 210. From his deathbed, he blamed Vladimir Putin.
British investigators concluded only Russia could have manufactured the substance and that the mission must have been greenlighted by the Kremlin,
which Russia called nonsense to this day.
Sergei Skripal was released from a Russian prison in 2010 as part of a Russian-U.S. spy exchange. He'd been leading a low-profile life in England
until now. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.
GORANI: Well, CNN has spoken with the widow of Alexander Litvinenko who you heard about there in Fred's report. Nic Robertson spoke with Marina
Litvinenko about her reaction to this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARINA LITVINENKO, ALEXANDER LITVINENKO'S WIDOW: When we finished our public (inaudible) and first things what they say why, why I tried to do
this is so hard. I say I don't like anymore, anytime it might happen again in rich soil.
[15:10:11] This all what we provided might stop people to do this.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And you say that the British government should send out all those type of operatives, Russian
operatives out of the U.K.
LITVINENKO: Exactly. (Inaudible) did not happened and now when we are talking about protection, about safeties, it looks British government can't
ROBERTSON: They can't provide it?
LITVINENKO: They can't and now it's a big issue. If you accept people who are asking for political asylum.
ROBERTSON: Like Sergei.
LITVINENKO: Like Sergei, like (inaudible) and you know, there have many people in the U.K. in the same reason and now how need to feel after what
happened to this man. Only insecure and very unsafe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: As she makes that point, she says, well, if you think you're going to get protection and you think you are able to live openly after having an
estimation perhaps of the Kremlin wrong the state of Russia that you may not feel that way anymore after what happened.
This is the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, Marina. Litvinenko was killed, you'll remember in 2006 in London.
Now as I mentioned at the top of the hour, we are just a few minutes away from an announcement in Washington that could affect the trade around the
world and really, really people around the world are listening to this one.
Donald Trump is expected to unveil his decision on tariffs and some have warned it could start a global trade war. The president gave some hints
earlier about what he will sign saying that for now he'll stick with the original plan to tax steel and aluminum imports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: -- sticking with 10 and 25 initially, I'll have a right to go up or down depending on the
country and I'll have a right to dropout countries or add countries. We just want fairness because we have not been treated fairly by other
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And that is a familiar refrain coming from the president both during the campaign and since his election that the United States is just a
getting a raw deal with the rest of the world when it comes to trade and some of the numbers and figures certainly don't always match up to fact,
but it is playing well with some of the people who support him.
Mr. Trump, as you saw there, calm and collected in the cabinet meeting, but a source is telling CNN he is seizing over an admission by his White House
spokesperson yesterday. Sarah Sanders acknowledged the existence of the hush agreement meant to quiet porn star who is suing Mr. Trump, and it
doesn't end there.
Let's details on all these developments from Jeremy Diamond. He's live at the White House. And we are expecting, by the way, this event, this
tariffs event with Donald Trump to begin at 3:30 Eastern, which is in 18 minutes time.
But in the meantime, let's talk a little bit about what the expectation is. Will there be an announcement of new tariffs or will it be the signing of
some sort of symbolic document?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, at this point, the White House has updated that schedule and it does say that the president is
expected to actually sign those tariff proclamations stemming from that 232 Trade Promotion Authority.
You know, this has been a pretty chaotic scene at the White House over the last week. A lot of uncertainty even among those White House officials who
have been working closely on this matter.
You know, the president was clearly eager to get these tariffs out the door, particularly because in a few days he's going to be heading to the
rustbelt of Pittsburgh for a political rally.
But yes, it does appear that the indications right now, at least, or that the president will actually be signing that document and also it appears
that there will be potential carveouts for certain countries, most notably Mexico and Canada, the U.S.'s two neighbors to the north and south.
And critically partners in the NAFTA free trade agreement, which the Trump administration is currently negotiating. They amount to about a quarter of
the U.S. steel imports, for example, so this is a significant move if that does indeed happen.
That was not the Trump administration's position just a few days ago when the president's trade advisor, Peter Navarro, took to the Sunday shows to
say that he did not expect any countries to be excluded from these tariffs.
So, clearly there has been some shifting as we've seen this uproar unfold across Washington on Wall Street and among foreign allies.
KEILAR: But, look, the E.U. is saying we are going to retaliate and not just retaliate against any product, but quintessential American products,
Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levis jeans, Bourbon. This could create a global trade war and most Americans according to a recent poll don't want
this trade war to happen for obvious reasons. Why is the president doing this?
DIAMOND: Yes. Well, ultimately, it will come back to consumers, right, if there is that kind of a trade war. And so, the president may then begin
rethinking some of his moves, but you know, this is not surprising. This is something that the president has talked about for not just months but
[15:15:06] If there's one issue on which he has been consistent throughout his business and political career, it is this issue of trade and steel was
one of those talking points on the campaign trail in 2016.
The president even then talking about this possibility of imposing these tariffs. He does believe it will play well with some of these
manufacturing workers who turned out for him in the 2016 election.
And beyond that, he really does feel like the United States steel and aluminum industries, which have been slumping in recent years need a little
bit of help to get back on the board and so the administration using this national security rationale to get that done.
GORANI: Well, they've had protectionist help for many, many years in the past and that really hasn't helped much, and people will argue this will
actually make products made in the United States more expensive.
It could affect jobs in other industries, but while all of this is going on and against the backdrop of this very heated debate over tariffs, there are
reports and a source telling CNN that the president is actually furious with his press secretary for having acknowledged to reporters that there
was -- that there was hush money paid to a porn star to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump.
DIAMOND: You know, the White House has really tried over the last several months as this story has kind of built to a crescendo to avoid these
questions about Stormy Daniels and about this alleged hush agreements that took place between Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.
And really Michael Cohen representing, of course, the president of the United States Donald Trump, the White House has successfully avoided those
questions up until yesterday really when Stormy Daniels filed this lawsuit in court against the president bringing the matter right on the doorstep of
the White House here.
And Sarah Sanders struggled really to respond to some of that yesterday, but you know, we have seen the president repeatedly get upset with staffers
over their handling of certain communications or their defense of him.
But really, this comes back to the president himself. It is not an easy position for Sarah Sanders to be put in to be, responding and try and
deflect really, as some of these allegations that the president is facing.
Particularly if the president is privately telling her that he had nothing to do with it. Even though it's becoming increasingly clear that he
GORANI: But is there worry in the White House that the Stormy Daniels thing could become a problem because she's coming out. She is saying she
doesn't believe this confidentiality agreement is valid because it was never countersigned. Is there a worry here if she has texts or pictures or
whatever, stuff like that?
DIAMOND: Yes. There are certainly is. I mean, listen, this is not the first allegation with regards to the president's, you know, conduct with
women or affairs or anything of that sort that the president has faced before.
He has managed to deflect those in the past. What's a little bit different here is that this lawsuit could put Michael Cohen in a very difficult
position. He will either have to say the president knew nothing about this agreement and could face being disbarred and perhaps face a campaign
violation for making an in-kind contribution or he says that, yes, indeed I did act on the president's behalf and he knew about it and then that
becomes a political problem for the White House.
So, either way, this is not looking very good for this White House, not for Michael Cohen, not for the president and certainly this is not the
beginning -- this is not the end of this story so far.
GORANI: Yes. Something tells me we'll hear again from Stormy Daniels. Thanks very much, Jeremy Diamond live at the White House. We'll have a lot
more on what the president is expected to do in about 12 minutes time, 12, 13 minutes.
And by the way, this administration has been on time usually, sometimes even earlier than scheduled, as opposed to the Obama administration where
they were sometimes longer delays and this is something we pay close attention to because it is something that we have to figure out in the
order of stories that we bring you every evening.
So, in about 10, 12 minutes' time, we'll hear from this. And this is a topic that, as I mentioned at the top of the hour is extremely interesting
to everyone around the world because a big trade war impacts literally everyone.
The E.U. and China not very happy about what is expected to happen in the next 15 minutes or so. We're going to take a quick break on CNN. Stay
(Simulcast with CNN US)