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Lavrov: Russia will Absolutely Expel British Diplomats; Prime Minister Theresa May: U.K. Holds Russia Culpable for Despicable Attack; Trump Cites the U.S. Does Not Have Trade Deficit with Canada; Diplomats in a State of Confusion Over Message from Washington; Senator Rand Paul Says He'll Oppose Pompeo and Haspel Nominations; Christiane Amanpour's New Series Sex and Love Around the World Debuts on Saturday. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 15, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, Russia's Foreign Minister warns retaliation is coming and soon after the United Kingdom announced it is expelling 23 Russian diplomats.

The British brain -- blame, excuse me, the British blamed -- say that ten times fast -- Russia for the poisoning of an ex-Russian double agent and his daughter.

I want to get straight to Nic Robertson with the very latest from London, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Theresa May, British Prime Minister has been to Salisbury today, 12 days after the incident began to show her respect to the people of the town, and to show her support for the first responders and emergency officials who were -- who were the first in line of duty there to try and help the Skripals, the father and daughter who were poisoned.

The police officers are still in hospital suffering the effects of the nerve agent as well. So Theresa May showing her support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: We do hold Russia culpable for this brazen act and despicable act that's taken place on the streets of what is such a remarkable city, where people come and visit and to enjoy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And she isn't the only British official that's out today giving strong speeches. We've heard from the Secretary of Defense today who said that Russia is ripping up the international rules book.

This is as he was announcing that $67 million will be given to Britain's Porton Down; that's their chemical weapons research facility to better prepare the country to withstand this sort of situation in the future.

He also mentioned -- we also understand from the Ministry of Defense that another several thousand British troops will be inoculated against anthrax -- not because the government believes there's a threat from anthrax, but it just shows that the government is concerned about these types of agents and having Britain's professionals in a best possible position to defend their work against them, John.

BERMAN: All right, Nic Robertson for us outside 10 Downing Street. Nic, thank you so much. Back here now, we do have some breaking news -- all right, the president just made an interesting statement, interesting because it's not true.

Let me read this aloud for you. "We do not have a trade deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries, some of them massive. PM Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn't like saying that Canada has a surplus versus the U.S. negotiating.

But they do, they almost all do and that's how I know." All right, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans, you were just here, we had to bring you back very quickly because --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Because the president is wrong. The United States has a surplus with Canada. And what does that mean?

[09:35:00] That means we sell more to Canada than Canada buys from us. And these are the government's own statistics. You can look at the U.S. trade representative office and the Commerce Department.

I'm going to read the Commerce Department numbers. The overall trade surplus the United States has with Canada is $2.77 billion. That's from last year.

In goods, the U.S. imports more from Canada than it sells -- in goods. I'm talking about lumber and steel, heavy -- raw materials for heavy manufacturing in the United States.

On services though, we sell almost $26 billion surplus to them. So, when you put it all together, that is a surplus overall in goods and services with a very big surplus in services.

Services is like -- think media, technology --

BERMAN: Yes --

ROMANS: Financial. So, the president feels like he's getting a raw deal from Canada as he's talking with them about renegotiating NAFTA and about these steel tariffs.

But the facts don't bear that out. The facts are the facts. And there is a surplus. United States runs a surplus with Canada.

The president, you know, for two years now, he sees countries that have surpluses are the winners, countries who have deficits are the losers.

He said the United States is a loser. And that's fundamentally where he's coming from.

BERMAN: Look, and you can make the argument if you want the trade deficits are bad, economists will argue that back and forth.

What you can't do is come out and say something that's not true --

ROMANS: Right --

BERMAN: Now, I hear people suggesting this. They're like, well, look, when we're talking about just goods --

ROMANS: Right --

BERMAN: If we're talking about just goods, you know, there is a deficit with Canada. The problem with that, though is that's not what the economy is.

ROMANS: It's not, and the United States is more and more becoming a service-based economy. That's what we're good at and that's what the other countries are importing from us.

So if you just want to say we have a deficit in lumber, then say that.

BERMAN: Right --

ROMANS: If you want to say we have a deficit in steel, say that, and talk about the targeted ways in which you want to fix that if you think it needs to be fixed. But overall, we run -- we run a surplus with Canada. We just do.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thank you very much for coming on here and saying that, you know, white is white, black is black, day is day and water is wet.

All right, it is no secret how Rex Tillerson was fired, it was on Twitter. So why were U.S. diplomats told not to tweet or post about it?

[09:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Brand new this morning. Some American diplomats are saying they are surprised by what they call bizarre guidance from Washington over the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Our Michelle Kosinski broke this story, she joins us now. So Michelle, what were they told?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: We know after Secretary Tillerson was fired, I mean, through his spokesperson, he claims he found out via tweet that morning after the president tweeted it.

So right after that, the undersecretary for public affairs put out a statement saying that Tillerson was unaware of the reason why he was fired, that he hadn't spoken to the president, among other things.

And then that undersecretary named Steve Goldstein tweeted that out. Shortly after that, U.S. diplomats around the world got this guidance from Washington, from the State Department via e-mail, telling them to freeze further amplification of content that features Secretary Tillerson until he could give his own statement later in the day.

So according to a senior State Department official, they were just told by Washington to hold off tweeting or retweeting or posting anything about that statement that came out and was already circulating around the world via the press until they heard from this secretary himself.

But multiple diplomats around the world that we talked to told us that they found this to be really bizarre. And this was an official statement that came from a State Department undersecretary.

Nobody at the State Department was disputing that account or pulling it or saying it was wrong, but they were told not to tweet about it.

So, we're hearing some diplomats who said that that was bizarre. They kind of understood where it was coming from because that Undersecretary, Steve Goldstein, it turns out his account directly conflicted with the explanation that the White House gave.

The White House says that Tillerson was notified of his firing three days earlier, and then that Undersecretary Steve Goldstein was fired.

So, one official in Washington told us, you know, this is not what you do in this country. Those words were clearly coming from Secretary Tillerson in that original statement, and they don't understand why they were told not to even retweet it. John --

BERMAN: The people who work for the State Department being told not to disseminate statements from the State Department --

KOSINSKI: From the State Department.

BERMAN: Michelle Kosinski, thank you very much. I want to bring in CNN counter-terrorism expert Phil Mudd. Phil, you're pretty no- nonsense guy.

So, I have to imagine the guidance like this, you know, being told not to put out a statement from the State Department, you know, this sits well with you?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Look, this is a humorous moment and a very difficult week in Washington D.C.

We know what's going on here, John. How many times do you show up in a dinner party with friends and a couple shows up that continues their fight at the table.

You don't air your dirty laundry in public. Look, I understand why diplomats retweeted this, if I got this guidance when I was in government -- one reason I'm not in government anymore, the first thing I would have done is retweet it.

But obviously what's happening here is the White House and the State Department are trying to say -- hey, overseas, please don't air our dirty laundry. In the era of social media though, too late now. It was out.

BERMAN: Yes, in this case, dirty laundry is the official State Department --

MUDD: Yes --

BERMAN: Position though, and these people overseas actually work for the State Department, and granted they work for the American government.

MUDD: Yes --

BERMAN: But it is interesting and they're getting mixed signals, and I am sure they are flat out just confused right now. Let's bring it back home.

The new nominee to lead the CIA with Mike Pompeo. The president wants him going -- to stay, Gina Haspel -- Rand Paul says he's going to oppose her.

John McCain has come out with statements questioning the nomination because of her role with enhanced interrogation techniques, waterboarding what some people consider torture back during the Bush administration.

[09:45:00] Do you have a strong reaction to this, Phil?

MUDD: Sure, they ought to talk to their members, both Republicans and Democrats who were briefed on this program by people including me.

I went down to Congress and spoke to them in 2002, 2003 and beyond. The American people have collective amnesia here and they don't like to hear it.

Those who represent American values, that is the president, the vice president of the United States, elected by the American people, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, not only were told about this, but the CIA was directed to do this by the president.

The CIA then went to other people who respect American values, the Department of Justice and said do that -- does this comply with U.S. law because it can't be the CIA being the only ones interpreting law.

President, vice president, Democrats, Republicans, Department of Justice said, this not only complies with the law but we represent the American people and we want you to do this.

And people today in this country are now saying Gina Haspel is responsible. Nonsense, John, we were responsible, we ought to own up to it.

BERMAN: All right, and I understand. I mean, you have a specific view about all of this --

MUDD: Yes, I do --

BERMAN: And you were right in the middle of it. You were right in the --

MUDD: Yes --

BERMAN: Middle of it. And I appreciate that. You do also appreciate how controversial it is --

MUDD: Yes, sure.

BERMAN: And understand -- very quickly, just yes or no. Gina Haspel, do you see her as a less political future director than Mike Pompeo?

MUDD: Yes, A-plus. She's tough and she'll speak the truth. Which is why I believe I'm not sure how long she'll stay on because she's going to tell the president what it is.

BERMAN: All right Phil Mudd, telling us what it is according to Phil Mudd, I appreciate it, Phil --

MUDD: Yes --

BERMAN: Thanks so much. All right, in some places it is not as talked about, and others it's right in front of you. What does love and sex look like around the world? CNN's Christiane Amanpour with a preview of her new series next.

[09:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: By covering the globe like you have not seen before on CNN. This Saturday, we are launching a new six-part series called "SEX & LOVE AROUND THE WORLD".

Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour gets personal with total strangers about relationships and intimacy, beginning with a stop in Tokyo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Women are no longer willing to take the place that society has imposed on them. They don't all want to be the perfect daughter who grows up to be the perfect house wife and a massive shift is under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, good, we're going to get some drinks now. You can loosen up a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --

(LAUGHTER)

AMANPOUR: I've come to meet a group of friends at their regular hangout where they gather to dish on their lives and their loves. Ladies, let's talk about sex. How is sex?

(LAUGHTER)

Do you think men here, the people who you're dating and your husband and your partners, do they care about your happiness, about your emotional and your physical satisfaction?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right, Christiane Amanpour joins me now to talk about sex. Words I might have never thought I would say. But to that end, Christiane, because seriously, I mean, people know you, this is not standing amidst bombs in Sarajevo, this is something very different, why?

AMANPOUR: And yet, it is the flip side of those extreme experiences that I've had and that I've reported on about the human condition. You just mentioned, you know, the battle for survival, the battle to keep their head up in the worst possible instances.

And that's what made me want to know what the other side of their life was. I started by worrying about Syrian refugees coming out of Syria under a hail of bombs and gunfire.

How do they keep their personal lives? How do they keep their intimacy? How do they relate sexually to their husbands? How do they have talks, really important talks with their girls who are now rushing out to new -- to new dangers and the unknown?

So it started there, and then I decided, well, why don't I explore this part of the human condition with people all over the world who we're not used to talking to, and I'm not used to talking to about these things.

But it was so eye opening and you saw what I found was that women and young girls, particularly the younger generation now, are really seeking their own independence in this realm.

They don't want to be told or dictated to by the family, by society --

BERMAN: Yes --

AMANPOUR: About their most personal urges and needs which --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Discussion, really --

AMANPOUR: Yes --

BERMAN: In most parts of the world, particularly in Japan, they had that --

AMANPOUR: Yes --

BERMAN: Discussion in Japan like you just did there -- AMANPOUR: Or anywhere, in the Middle East, in Asia, wherever it might

be, Africa --

BERMAN: What surprised you most?

AMANPOUR: What surprised me most was that younger women are really trying to change this dynamic. Want to be able to choose their own partner, not have arranged marriages forced on them, which is the norm in all of these societies that I visited.

What surprised me most was the frankness and the eagerness with which these young women and all the women wanted to talk to me. And, you know, we never know.

I was, you know, shy and awkward at the beginning having these conversations and I thought, my goodness, what if I go out there and nobody wants to talk to me on camera about these things and I found just the opposite.

And it's very poignant and it's very human and it's completely different. We have not seen this side of sex, love and intimacy on television ever.

Whenever anybody goes out, a magazine show, whatever, to do these kinds of reports, it's always about porn, the sex industry, women as victims. And I found the opposite, women as agents of their own change.

BERMAN: And this is life too, I mean --

AMANPOUR: Yes, this is life --

BERMAN: You know, this is life, all right. Christiane Amanpour, I cannot wait to see this, thank you so much --

AMANPOUR: Thank you, John --

BERMAN: For joining us. Not often we get to have a discussion like this --

AMANPOUR: That's right --

BERMAN: With everything else going on, I really appreciate it.

[09:55:00] Christiane Amanpour, "SEX & LOVE AROUND THE WORLD", it begins Saturday night 10:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

All right, bracing for more turnover, maybe some new departures, maybe forced departures at the White House. Is Jeff Sessions at the top of the list?

New CNN reporting that the president still hasn't dropped the idea of firing his attorney general. We're following it all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone, I'm John Berman. This morning as President Trump hints he will fire or shift more senior staffers and cabinet members, we are about to see many of them and hear from them as well as Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, they will all appear in front of camera.