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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
U.K., Germany, France And U.S. Condemn Attack On Ex-Spy; Lavrov: Russia Will Expel British Diplomats; U.K. Prime Minister: Russia Used Military-Grade Nerve Agent; Mayor: One Dead, Eight Vehicles Trapped In Bridge Collapse; Thousands Flee Syria's Besieged Eastern Ghouta. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 15, 2018 - 16:00 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, the west hits out at Russia as European leaders rebuke the Russian government over a former spy's poisoning, the United States slaps sanctions
of its own for election meddling.
Also, seven years of hell, a war that seems to have no end. We take a look at the horrific conflict in Syria on yet another grim anniversary.
And we are keeping our eye on a developing story in the United States as a bridge collapses at a university in Miami. Weill have a live report on the
Now, let's start with our top story. Tensions between Moscow and the west are reaching new heights today as the Kremlin faces international pushback
on two big issues. First, there is the ongoing fallout over the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.
Today, the U.K., U.S., Germany and France issued a joint statement. They condemned that attack in Salisbury. And the U.S. president, Donald Trump
weighed in on Russia's actions. Here's what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it. Something that should never ever
happened, and we are taking it very seriously, as I think are many others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So, the president is saying it certainly looks like Russia is behind it. That support likely welcomed by the British prime minister,
Theresa May. She visited Salisbury today earlier where Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent about 11, 12 days ago now.
It comes a day after she announced she's kicking 23 Russian diplomats out of the country as punishment. Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov,
said they'll do the same. He didn't say when prompting some pretty tough words from the U.K. defense secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAVIN WILLIAMSON, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is absolutely atrocious and outrageous what Russia did in Salisbury. We have responded to that.
Frankly, Russia should go away and should shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: In addition to all of this, the U.S. is now slapping sweeping sanctions on Russia for U.S. election meddling. The Trump administration
is finally imposing the new punishments a month a half after the deadline set by Congress. So, this was something that was legally voted on.
Let's bring in our team, CNN senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski is at the U.S. State Department, senior international
correspondent, Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow, and our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson joins me here in the studio in London.
Fred in Moscow first, obviously, the Russians are unhappy. They say they're going to retaliate, but I do wonder, with the U.S. and the U.K. and
this joint statement now, are they starting to feel the heat in Moscow?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they're feeling the heat, but at the same time, I think that they are not
budging down to it, if you will. The Russians are saying that they are going to retaliate against these U.S. sanctions.
It was quite interesting to see earlier today that the Russians actually came out with a news (inaudible) about these U.S. sanctions before the
Treasury even announced them. So, they are taking it very seriously.
They came out only minutes afterwards and said, first of all, they were absolutely calm in the face of these sanctions being placed on them by the
U.S. Treasury, but they are already working on countermeasures to retaliate against the U.S.
And they say those will come very soon. Now, it seems as though to us right now, the Russian Foreign Ministry must be working in overdrive
because they are obviously working on these countermeasures against the U.S.
And at the same time, they still haven't announced what exactly they're going to do to retaliate against the Brits as well, where they say there's
going to be measures against the Brits.
They say they're going to expel some diplomats as well as the Brits are kicking out 23 Russian diplomats, but they haven't announced exactly what
they are going to do. Sergey Lavrov said there's going to be diplomats that are going to get kicked out.
They didn't say how many. They said it might actually be more than 23. That number, of course, that the Brits have kicked out, but it still is
unclear when that's going to be announced.
What we do know, though, Hala, that it's going to be announced by President Vladimir Putin and the Russians intend to inform the Brits before they
actually make it public, but so far none of that has happened.
And it's been now I think over 24 hours since Theresa May was in British parliament and announced the British side of the measures against Russia
and the Russians said they would respond fairly quickly.
They haven't done so yet. So, truly unclear what's behind the delay, if it is one, of the Russians actually coming out and saying what exactly they
want to do in retaliation.
[16:05:09] So, I do think they're feeling the heat, but they are remaining defiant. It was interesting also to hear that earlier today them saying
that they believe that the allies of U.K. are standing with the U.K. for ideological reasons, the Russian said, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Michelle Kosinski, you are actually in the D.C. bureau not at the State Department, but you've been following, of course,
everything coming out of the administration, and finally these sanctions impose on individuals and entities for meddling in the U.S. election. Why
now? Because this could have happened weeks ago.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, finally with a capital "f" is the operatives word here and that's a big part of
many of the responses that are coming out today especially from Democrats, who have been trying to push the administration to do something and asking
them repeatedly why haven't you done anything?
I mean, there is this legislation passed under which these sanctions lie in part and that was past eight months ago overwhelmingly by the U.S.
Congress. Why did they pass that? A big part of it was to make sure that this administration punished Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential
And so, at the very least acknowledged that this happened and try to prevent it from happening in the future. I mean, there is a real material
aspect to this, but there's also something symbolic and important in the acknowledgement that we have not heard unequivocally from the U.S.
president even to this day.
So, it was striking especially get on a call with senior administration officials and hear them spell this out in no uncertain terms that Russia
meddled in the U.S. election. It concerns us. It disturbs us.
Here's what we're doing about it. We are sanctioning all these people, the funder of the Russian troll factory, Russian intelligence, the people who
created these online personas. You know, there was no mention of this being done to try to help Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Nothing political like that was mentioned, but they did end up saying, you know, this is just the beginning and they are going to target Russians who
are responsible not only for the meddling, but also, they went further -- there's been Russian intrusion into the U.S. energy system.
These officials say the Russians have since been kicked out of that, but that's something that they will target Russia for in the future as well as
other cyber-attacks -- Hala.
GORANI: Sure, absolutely. Michelle, you said we haven't heard from the president specifically on this, but today interestingly, we did hear him
comment about the attack on that former spy, Sergei Skripal saying it certainly looks like Russia is buying the attack.
And I want to get Nic Robertson's take on this because now we have a unified statement from the U.K.'s allies, France, Germany. Now we're
hearing also from the president and the national security adviser, as well. We heard from the departing secretary of state. I mean, so you're starting
to hear a chorus of voices pointing fingers at Russia.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: And there's come about fairly quickly. I mean, since Monday, Theresa May said that it most likely
looks like Russia and Wednesday she laid out what actions she was taking, and by Thursday morning, you have this joint statement coming from the
White House, 10 Downing Street. Germany on it as well.
The French president is signing up to it. So, this was quite swift diplomatic action. It looks like she only had a short space of time to
sort of build a coalition of support, but the thing is these governments recognize perhaps what their electorates don't recognize.
And really, it's come home to the people in Britain that Russia is a bad actor and we just heard from the White House this evening that it's up to
President Putin whether he chooses to be a bad actor or a good actor.
They are coming to realize that Russia is a bad actor because he's acting on their streets. You know, what it's done in Syria, Ukraine annexing
Crimea, a slightly abstract to electorates in France, Germany, and Britain.
But this is for a realist to come home to roost so that gives political leaders like Theresa May and others really some strength to stand up here
and that's what she's doing --
GORANI: But the question is, is this going to hurt the Russians because we were speaking with Fred earlier in the day. I mean, we're talking about
something rather symbolic at this stage. They're not sectorial sanctions. This is really, really, I mean, if you like, quote/unquote, "the nuclear
option" and that's never been used.
ROBERTSON: It hasn't. They could do more and perhaps with international support they may do things that can have a stronger bite and give greater
effect to Russia. What will affect President Putin the most is to undermine his economy because if his economy is not running well people in
Russia will start to question his leadership.
He's not near that. He's just about to go through elections. I think what we are seeing is him steady the ship to get through the elections at the
weekend and then he may reveal precisely what he plans to do, and he'll have a six-year window in which to do that.
GORANI: Nic Robertson, thanks very much. Michelle Kosinski in D.C. and Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, thanks so much to all of you for joining us on
this breaking news story.
[16:10:05] Now the U.K. says the poison used in the Salisbury attack was Novichok. It's an extremely rare nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union
in the 1980s. Moscow is questioning why the U.K. has not sent them samples.
Ambassador Alexander is Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. And he joins me live
from The Hague in the Netherlands.
Ambassador, first of all, the U.K. has said it will sent samples to the organization that you are a representative to the OPCW. Why doesn't that
satisfy you? The fact that they are sending a sample to a credible, reputable organization for testing.
AMBASSADOR ALEXANDER SHULGIN, RUSSIAN PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE IN THE OPCW: First of all, thank you for having me to be your guest. Let me give you my
take here from The Hague, from the OPCW. To start with, I should say that time and again we are seeing that Russia has nothing to do with this
incident that occurred on March the 4th in Salisbury.
We suggested to our British partners to drop this (inaudible) rhetoric to give up on all kind of ultimatums because Russia is not a country to be
presented with ultimatums. Instead we suggested to abide by the chemical weapons convention to which both Russia and the United Kingdom are part of.
We suggested that under this convention our British partners requests and direct consultations with Russia. Russia is supposed to provide necessary
explanations just as soon as possible, but not longer than 10 days after the request.
GORANI: But if they are sending -- maybe they don't trust -- if I can just jump in Ambassador, maybe the U.K. would rather send a sample to the OPCW
and not to Russia where maybe it doesn't necessarily trust authorities and testing facilities there for being completely forthcoming. That could be
one of the reasons.
SHULGIN: We see absolutely no problem with the British sending their samples to the OPCW. We will just welcome the engagement of the OPCW. But
let me finish what I have been saying about our proposal.
So, we suggested to treat this question onto the chemical convention, which (inaudible) these direct consultations. We want them that we are ready to
talk, but we need to be presented, to be given hard evidence including the samples of the material they got at the place of the tragedy.
But, we also warned them should they fail to produce any evidence, we will have to draw the conclusion that these, to put it mildly, unsubstantiated
claims and then it will be a matter of defamation when we speak about defamation (inaudible) people to be held accountable.
GORANI: I get it, but why -- if I can just jump in because I'd just like to get a few questions in. Why, if the U.K. didn't firmly believe based on
evidence that it has that Russia, or a Russian entity was somehow involved? Would it be now in its best interest to point the finger at your country?
It has its own problem now in the U.K. so why? It defies logic.
SHULGIN: Yesterday they bluntly rejected our proposal saying that they will not be engaged in Russia, in dialogue and consultations. Obviously,
they think that we don't deserve to be seen as (inaudible). They treat us with disdain, arrogance and I just heard the Defense Ministry of the United
Kingdom saying something to the effect that Russians should go away and shutdown.
[16:15:10] Is it a polite manner to speak? Is it or isn't it?
GORANI: Well, I will say from the Russian end, we you heard you say in a statement today that our British colleagues should save their propaganda
perverse and (inaudible) for their unenlightened domestic audience. So, with respect, the insults are being hurled both ways in both directions.
There is a lot of heated talk in both camps. Yes?
SHULGIN: If I may tell you something, just asking us to believe, to trust them saying, you don't need to be worried, be cool, trust us. But why
should we trust them like this without any hard evidence? May I just take another 2 minutes, maybe?
GORANI: I would also like to ask you a few questions, and I get your point about feeling like from the British side there is lack of respect and that
they don't treat you as (inaudible), but essentially you now have a chorus of voices, not just the U.K., but also from the president of the United
States, Donald Trump, saying it is certainly looks like Russia is behind it.
And I guess when people follow the details of this story and they believe the British claim that this is a certain type of nerve agent that was
developed during the Soviet era that might still be present somehow available in Russia today, they think, well, where else did it come from?
What other country can handle this type of weapon? You're an expert. Can you answer that question? The skeptical and people who are asking that
question, who else but Russia?
SHULGIN: Well, the answer could be divided in two parts. First, we, the Russians, we are concerned by the investigation, not lesser, but maybe even
more with our British partners. (Inaudible) Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Colonel Skripal, she's a Russian citizen who lives in Moscow usually.
So, just in this respect, the Russian side is interested, concerned by this investigation. We are first and foremost interested in shedding light,
establishing the truth about what has happened in Salisbury.
Well, you just mentioned to an agent, another agent. You may remember that Theresa May identified, thanks to her experts, this nerve agent is one of a
whole range of new agents called under the common name Novichok.
In this respect, let me just to make a point, there has never been any kind of research and development program under this name Novichok in the Russian
Federation, but in 1992, the then president, Russian (inaudible) stopped all development and research activities regarding the Russian military
GORANI: Ambassador, I need to be completely transparent with you. We are going to lose our satellite connection with you in 30 seconds. So, I'm
glad we got an opportunity to hear the two-part there component to your answer, but we are going to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining
us, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, who is the ambassador to the OPCW, joining us from The Hague. We appreciate your time this evening.
Now to a breaking news story from Miami, Florida, where a bridge has collapsed at Florida International University. Miami-Dade's mayor told our
affiliate, WFOR, that at least one person has died. You are seeing these dramatic aerial shots, by the way.
Another six people have been taken to the hospital. He also said there are eight vehicles trapped underneath the rubble, and you can see this walkway
was just unveiled. Unclear if it was being used yet, but the entire thing collapsed on the road below.
[16:20:05] The bridge span was just installed this past weekend and the irony of all irony, it was designed as a safer way for students to cross
the busy multi-lane highway. CNN crews are headed to the scene as I speak, and our government regulation correspondent is gathering information.
We'll bring you news as it develops throughout the hour.
A lot more to come this evening, an exodus from hell on earth. Civilians flee Eastern Ghouta in droves that as the Syrian war hits another tragic
GORANI: Four hundred thousand people killed according to a top U.N. official. More than five and a half million people have fled their own
country and now a new number for Syria's bloody civil war, seven. That's how many years the carnage has been going on.
And there is no end in sight. In Eastern Ghouta, thousands of civilians are said to be fleeing the rebel-held suburb of Damascus picking up
whatever belonging they can, escaping on foot.
These images were broadcast on state television. It's an exodus that comes hours after reports say air strikes intensified overnight. These are
people, by the way, who are going to government-controlled areas. They've been in a rebel-held enclave for years.
They have their kids strapped to their chests and whatever they can carry on their backs and they have no idea what the future holds for them.
CNN's Ben Wedeman has been covering this for conflict since it began, and he joins me live from Beirut -- Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, according to state television, Syrian state television as many 10,000 people fled the
area called Hamoria in the Eastern Ghouta, and they were chaotic scenes, as you said, many people just walking with what they could carry.
And what's interesting is that the international committee for the Red Cross which normally helps in these situations was unaware of this exodus
and there was no coordination whatsoever.
As has occurred for instance at the end of 2016 when the eastern part of Aleppo fell to government forces. Now earlier this week, the government
forces backed by the Russians had managed to split the Eastern Ghouta into three separate rebel-controlled (inaudible).
And what we've seen is an intensification of the bombardment of those three areas. This ironically after on the 24th of February, the U.N. Security
Council voted unanimously in favor of a humanitarian ceasefire in the area.
But of course, the Russians and the Syrians had excepted from that ceasefire would be terrorist organizations and essentially, they have not
relented in their pounding of the Eastern Ghouta since then.
[16:25:08] Now earlier today, the U.N. was able to get in 25 trucks containing food for about 26,000 people in the town of Duma, which is the
largest town in the Eastern Ghouta, but 26,000 people is a drop in the bucket of the nearly 400,000 people wo have been living under siege in that
area for years now -- Hala.
GORANI: I'd like to know what happens to the civilians who are fleeing Eastern Ghouta now. They're going to government-held areas, where? Will
they be safe? What is the future holds for them? Can they ever return to their homes?
WEDEMAN: Well, we were monitoring broadcast from the area by pro-Syrian tv channels and they were interviewing senior Syrian officials who were on the
scene who were saying that they will provide shelter, food, assistance, medical care for those who are leaving, and they were encouraging everybody
to leave those areas until the military operation is over.
Now they also broadcasted lots of interviews with some of the people fleeing who claimed that they have been held against their will by the
factions that are in control of the Eastern Ghouta.
Now there have been reports, for instance, in other instances in Eastern Aleppo, for instance, that many of those who fled the area ended up either
being forced to serve in the military if they were of military age or simply disappearing, but we can't rule out the possibility that many of
these people were indeed held against their will in those areas controlled by the rebels -- Hala.
GORANI: And this is the 7th anniversary of the war and there is a lot of desperation, I think for people who care about Syria, about the conflict
that they don't see an end in sight. Is there any reason for hope?
WEDEMAN: I wouldn't call hope. There's the possibility that this current phase of the war in Syria maybe in its final phases in the sense that those
areas controlled by the rebels apart from the Kurds and ISIS are slowly being squeezed and we may within the coming months or years see the
reassertion of Syrian government control in those areas.
But let's not forget that there are a lot of foreign troops in Syria, Russian, American, Turkish, Iranian, Lebanese, Hezbollah and the Israelis
are also involved having carried out dozens, perhaps over a hundred air strikes in the country.
So, this phase is over, but all of those foreign forces are there and what we are seeing is that they are coming in ever-closer contact with the
possibility of conflict between them in addition to the conflicts between the Syrians themselves -- Hala.
GORANI: Ben, thanks very much. Ben Wedeman is live in Beirut on this sad anniversary. Still to come tonight, British allies stand firm with Prime
Minister Theresa May as she continues to blame Russia for an attack on a former spy. I asked NATO's chief about his organization's response. Is
this an attack on all?
And crossing Trump's red line, the U.S. special counsel slaps a subpoena on the Trump Organization. We are live in Washington.
[16:30:07] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: We don't want a new Cold War, that's what the secretary general of NATO is saying about those
escalating tensions between western countries and Russia. I spoke to Jens Stoltenberg just a short time ago about the nerve gas attack in Salisbury
that Britain's Prime Minister is blaming on Russia. And as we've been telling you today, British allies have rallied around the U.K. So I asked
Mr. Stoltenberg, what will NATO's response be?
JENS STOLTENBERG, SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO: We are responding by expressing strong political support to the United Kingdom, making sure that
the UK is not alone. Second, allies have stated (INAUDIBLE) that they're ready to provide support to the ongoing investigations in the station in
Salisbury. But most importantly is that we are responding to what we see as a (INAUDIBLE) behavior by Russia, starting with illegal annexation
Crimea, destabilization in Eastern Ukraine, cyberattacks attempts to undermine our democratic institutions and to this (INAUDIBLE) behavior NATO
is responding by implementing the biggest reinforcement (INAUDIBLE) end of the Cold War.
GORANI: So you believe Russia is behind this nerve agent attack on British soil?
STOLTENBERG: This nerve agent is produce by Russia and we have no reason to doubt the findings of the United Kingdom and they are clear in their
conclusions and we call on Russia to answer all the questions which United Kingdom has asked. And also welcome the fact that the United Kingdom has
(INAUDIBLE) that they will work closely with the organization which is responsible for the chemical weapons --
GORANI: Russia is saying, "We're being accused of attacking one of our citizens in England with a weapon of mass destruction and the UK s not
sharing that sample with us. In other words, we have no way to defend ourselves against this accusation." How do you respond to that?
STOLTENBERG: The UK has made it clear that they will share samples with the OPCW which is the organization responsible for the ban treaty --
banning chemical weapons. This is a nerve agent. The first time ever used on NATO territory, since the alliance was founded and the nerve agent which
is produced -- a Russian produced agent. So this is extremely serious and we have absolutely no reason to doubt their findings and the conclusions of
GORANI: So, I think everyone would agree with you that this is extremely serious. And if it is your belief that Russia is behind it, based on the
findings of U.K. authorities, then NATO needs to -- do you believe consider this an attack on one of its member states? IN other words, that this is
an attack on all NATO member country?
STOLTENBERG: This is not an attack which triggers Article Five. Meaning our collective defense cycle --
GORANI: Why not though? Why not? This is the weapon of mass destruction. If it had been more potent, and used in a bigger quantity, it could have
STOLTENBERG: Well, I think we -- how to respond and a firm -- and strong way, but at the same time, it's important to respond in a measured and
proportionate way. And there has been no call for Article Five because that will not be a proportionate response.
GORANI: You said, we don't want a new Cold War. It's unclear how else you could describe what's going on. You yourself said that Russia could be
behind, election interference, that potentially it is behind a very dangerous and serious attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British
soil. They've been accused of poisoning another Russian citizen, Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive material in (INAUDIBLE) if this is not a new
Cold War, what would you call it?
[16:35:03] STOLTENBERG: I won't call it a Cold War because we don't have the same kind of military blocks. The (INAUDIBLE) doesn't exists anymore,
the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore, and we don't have the same kind of logical consultation we have di in the Cold War.
But we see the relationship between NATO and Russia which has deteriorated over the last years, because of Russia's more assertive behavior and
because of Russia's aggressive actions, for instance, against Ukraine. My message is that NATO will continue to pursue what we call a dual track
approach to Russia, meaning strong deterrence, strong defense, combined with political dialog, because Russia is our neighbor, Russia is a state,
so we continue to strive for more constructive relationship with Russia and we continue to work for arms control.
GORANI: And that was Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO. This nerve agent attack took place in a quite British city of Salisbury.
Theresa May was there today. She wanted to see for herself how the community was impacted.
Melissa Bell was there when she arrived.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It took more than a week and a half, but on Thursday, Theresa May visited Salisbury for the first time since Sergei
and Yulia Skripal were found slumped on a bench in the town center.
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF UNITED KINGDOM: Obviously there's still work to do on the investigation by the police, but we're actually looking
at the future now and what we can do to help in Salisbury.
BELL: For now though, all source free as hearing is what Theresa May has been telling the rest of the world since Monday that Russia is to blame.
MAY: We will not tolerate the threat to life of British people and others on British soil from the Russian government.
BELL: What remains less clear nearly two weeks on is precisely how and where the nerve agent was administer to the father and daughter. A number
of locations in Salisbury, including the restaurant where they had lunch remain cordoned off, but only have to go on for now is the time running.
This is Sergei Skripal on the morning of March 4th. By 1:40 p.m. that day, he and his daughter arrived in the Sainsbury's upper level car park in the
center of Salisbury. From there, they went on to the Bishop's Mill pub for a drink before heading to Zizzi restaurant at approximately 2:20 p.m. By
4:15, emergency services received a call that that police officers here to the churchyard where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found on a bench.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a covert and deniable operation. So it's no surprise to me that this broad down we had no arrest. Now, if you look at
the arrest that this length for time off to the terrorist attacks in London, last year, we had 23 arrested after Manchester, 21 and 12 in the
London and Westminster. This just shows the complexity of the attack, and also the fact that it was a very professional tradecraft hit by
professional hit man.
BELL: But for the people of Salisbury, the cordons and the questions remain, even as the city has become the focus of an international crisis.
MAY: This has had an impact on so many businesses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the people that live here.
BELL: But Theresa May's visit to Salisbury was brief. After speaking to local businesses and to first responders, the prime minister returned to
London and to the diplomatic storm.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Salisbury.
GORANI: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump organization to turn over documents including some related to dealings with
Russia. According to a source familiar with the matter. Now, this would be that the first known time that Mueller has requested documents directly
related to president's businesses.
Steven Collinson is in Washington. So Stephen, do we know what these documents are? And do they predate the campaign itself?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know exactly what these documents are. The details of the subpoena are unavailable. But what it
seems to indicate is clearly that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking at documents that do predate the campaign. And that is something that
really it's going to get into Donald Trump's head.
Last year in an interview with the New York Times, he said that if Mueller were to look into his business dealings, beyond Russia, he would consider
that crossing a redline and hat of course sparked also as a speculation about whether the president would try to fire Mueller effectively creating
a constitutional crisis. So although we don't know the details of exactly what these documents are and why Mueller has specifically requested them.
I think it's clear that what is this going to do is not just further enraged the president about the scope of this investigation, but also
dashes hopes that it's going to end any time soon.
GORANI: Because on the Republican side, and the president even tweeted, they're trying to send a message that this whole thing is over.
[16:40:54] COLLINSON: Right. The house intelligence committee, the Republican side of that issued a report basically this week saying there
was no collusion. And even casting doubts on the idea that the Russian intervention in the U.S. elections was designed to hurt Hillary Clinton and
benefit Donald Trump. The White House of course has seized on matters evidence that this needs to win. But to be fair, that was a partisan
investigation in a Republican-led House of Representatives, but really doesn't have the scope or the credibility of the Mueller investigation.
So even though there are other congressional probes into what happened in 2016 taking place, I think most people in Washington, given the
polarization of American politics, given the toxicity of this Russia issue which is dominating Washington thing that only when Mueller finally gets
the end of his probe will we really see what went on and whether the White House and the president have any culpability.
GORANI: But quickly when you say, we don't know what these documents are, if they predates the campaign, and they might be documents that detail or
recorded business dealings or business trips, or whatever. I mean, why would Robert Mueller be interested in those types of documents, the Trump
organization business side of things?
COLLINSON: I think we can assume that he's looking to see whether anybody in Russia has information that could be used to comprise Donald Trump, to
see whether from Trump's point of view there was a motive either to collude with Russia, to prevent some kind of compromising activity during election
or whether there's something that the president wants to cover up, which would lead him to try and obstruct the investigation into his dealings with
So I think it's all the question of motive and that's, I think, what Mueller is probably trying to establish.
GORANI: Thank you very much, Stephen Collinson, live in Washington.
North Korea and the United States are a tiny step closer to holding talks. The Korean foreign minister arrived in Stockholm a few hours ago to meet
with his Swedish counterpart. They're expected to discuss preparations for that possible meeting between the North Korean and American leaders, Kim
Jong-un and Donald Trump. Sweden has long represented U.S. interest and North Korea and could end hosting the momentous summit.
Check out our Facebook page for more of our show's content, facebook.com/halagoranicnn and find me on Twitter, @HalaGorani.
It was an act of teenage defiance that sparked the war in Syria. Seven years later, we talked to one of the young men involved in the initial
GORANI: We've been closely looking at the ongoing Syrian war seven years after the violence started. In fact, rarely a day goes by that we don't
cover the story unfolding in Syria. I spoke with Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. He recently met with young Syrians living
an exile in Lebanon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:45:07] FILIPPO GRANDI, HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, UNITED NATIONS: If we give up people like that little child who does all does the war and
is death from birth and has nan injury, has an arm missing because of war, even they will not get protection and relief. So if we give up, even that
is lost and we cannot lose the last thread of humanity in these situations. But there is one good thing in all of this. And that is that there are
countries like Lebanon that still host refugees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Lebanon and Turkey and Jordan as well. It's easy to lose track of how we got to this place from the very, very beginning. CNN's Jomana
Karadsheh looks back at how this tragic war started.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It might be hard to believe this is how it all started, peaceful protest demanding freedom and dignity, even
harder to believe why it all started.
It was an act of teenage defiance, five 14-year-old boys did the unthinkable, they spray painted anti-regime graffiti on their school's
MOUAWIYA SYASNEH, SYRIAN RESIDENT (through translator): My friends and I used to stand on the corner of our school and the police officer would
prevent us from moving freely. We saw the demonstrations in Tunisia and the Egypt where they were granting freedom and done with the regime, so we
wrote on the walls too.
KARADSHEH: Muawiya Syasneh was one of the 15 boys rounded up by the security forces in the city of Daraa. Their families protested, demanding
SYASNEH: They took me up 4:00 a.m. during the dawn prayers, I was asleep. They woke me up, handcuffed me. They told my parents they will bring me
back. It was a terrifying feeling. They took us to the police station where they tortured and beat us. They also broke my friend's fingers.
KARADSHEH: As protest spread across the country, they were met with bullets. Violence escalated and the country slowly descend into the
seemingly endless civil war. The streets of Daraa's old city where it all began now stands scarred. Years of battle s have left this destroyed
southern city split between the regime and opposition fighters. Daraa seems an abandoned city. Half its population is believed to have fled the
war. Syasneh is now another boy of Syria's lost generation going to university a distant dream for this rebel fighter who lost his father to
If he could turn back time, he says he would spray paint that graffiti again.
SYASNEH: I don't regret what I did because we're only calling for freedom. It is the regime that turned it into a war, destroyed the nation and killed
KARADSHEH: How it all started a chapter for the history books. Now, it's hard to imagine how it all ends.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Hama.
GORANI: Fawaz Gerges joins me now with more analysis on Syria. He's professor of international relations and chair of contemporary Middle East
studies at the London School of Economics. And he has just written -- you've just -- this has just come out. And you get my copy so I can't
wait. But this looks like a book -- you're saying this is a 10-project, "Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash that Shaped the Middle
I want to get to Syria in a moment. But first, the clash that shaped the Middle East. Always there is conflict and two forces or many forces
opposing each other getting us to where we are today.
FAWAZ GERGES, LEBANESE-AMERICAN ACADEMIC AND AUTHOR WITH EXPERTISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST: I mean, yes, this is the -- I mean, in the last s60 or 70
years, it made the ideological clash between secular leaning nationalist and Islamist. And what you're seeing Egypt and Syria and Libya and other
places, really, this particular clash keeps basically -- I mean, unfolding before our eyes, even though, I mean, there are multiple clashes as well,
sectarianism, regionalism, and of course the great powers.
GORANI: But it's almost as if the Arab world is going now to its formative decades that Europe went through before. Its wars of religion and the
formations of nation's states in Europe, this hasn't happened in the Arab world yet.
GERGES: Truly, what's happening in the Arab world, Hala, is not unique. We're living in this particular moment. What we are seeing is that state
reconstruction before our eyes. So I have multiple forces trying to really basically fight for supremacy and for influence, so you have the Islamist,
you have the nationalist, you have the religious forces, you have social struggles, and in fact, the Arab Spring uprisings of which Syria now in the
battlefield is basically a product of this particular struggle between people who are sparred or justice freedom and dignity and for basically
authoritarian regimes who want to maintain the status quo.
[16:50:12] GORANI: There are some people, and I disagree with them. They say, the Middle East, the way society has organized and breaks down the
tribalism, the sectarian, does it makes it impossible for democracy through democracy to take hold?
GERGES: You know, Hala, if you look at the European state system, I mean, think about how long it took Europe 300 years, 1648, the birth of the
state, nation state till 1948. The end of World War II. And think what transpired in Europe, 1648 and the peace of West Valley and the end of
World War II, culminating in the great describe and world history --
GORANI: Fifty million build two generations. The Middle East -- there is nothing weak about the Middle East. What the Middle East is trying to --
remember, we're not talking about colonialism, post-colonialism, the Cold War, so the Middle East has been very unfortunate because you have multiple
powers, basically you are vying for influence and these resources.
GORANI: But we are in 2018 and the world is still standing by and outside actors are not finding the political will to end it, because of the
political will were there, it would end this conflict. It would. Also, we're supposed to be more evolved.
GERGES: Absolutely. I mean, I think what you're seeing now the tragedy of the Middle East, is that the Middle East is imploding. As a result of
deepening authoritarianism, massive economic mismanagement and repeated and intense intervention by the great powers. No one is interested in the
Middle East now. Europe is what they're looking because it's looking -- it have some order, even (INAUDIBLE) is retrenching after the Iraq war.
And guess what, now the bloody dictators and the geostrategic powers, Turkey and Iran are trying to divide -- and Russia, of course, trying to
divide this -- and trying to divide this calls among themselves. So what's happening in Syria is that the Syrian people had been basically at the
mercy of the geostrategic struggles in the region and globally as well.
GORANI: So, let's end on this question. What's next for Syria?
GERGES: Sadly, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Syria. My take on it, it's going to take between five and 10 years for the Syrian
conflict to really find a way out. The reason why? Because you have now - - it's an existential struggle between Assad and the opposition, even though the opposition has been questioned. You have also Turkey, you have
Iran, you have Russia, multiple players. This complicate the situation and in light of non-mutual forces to try to mediate, you can imagine more
bloodshed in Syria, sadly.
GORANI: I mean, many people agree with you on that one, unfortunately. Fawaz Gerges, "Making the Arab World." Is it out?
GERGES: Yes, this week.
GORANI: Just this week. Congratulations. The work of the decade. I have your book. I have (INAUDIBLE) book on Syria. So I have about thousand
pages. But I'm going to read it with pleasure. I'll wait for my copy. Thank you so much, Farwan.
I want to bring you an update on the breaking news out of Miami, Florida where a bridge has collapsed at the Florida International University in
Miami. Officials have just been briefing the media. The mayor says at least one person died as a result. And police say another eight people
were taken to the hospital. Eight vehicles are trapped underneath the rubbles. So that means search and rescue operations are ongoing. We're
going to update you on this story as it develops. Stay with us.
[16:55:06] GORANI: And finally, CNN has been bringing you stories of young scientists, entrepreneurs, and inventors, who we are calling Tomorrow's
Heroes. Today, we meet a young man determine to combat Alzheimer's disease. Sanjay Gupta has his story.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Imagine not being able to recognize your own parents, your partner, even your children. Alzheimer's
disease can rob you of the most precious parts of your life. Well, "Tomorrow's Hero" Krtin Nithiyanandam is developing a brand new solution to
help diagnose the disease early in an attempt to stop it from progression.
KRTIN NITHIYANANDAM, BRITISH SCIENTIST: I suppose I've always been interested in medicine. Alzheimer's disease in particular drew me because
it's debilitating disease that gets progressively worse with age. But it's notorious for the fact that there are no drugs to stop or even slow down
Krtin Nithiyanandam. I'm 17 years old. And I'm a student at Sutton Grammar School.
Advanced in medicine are making treatments more likely to be possible in the future, but one area we're still lacking in is effective early
diagnosis. So that's where I want to really step in.
My research involved creating a special antibody which is specific to two different proteins as opposed to one, like most standard antibodies. And
this antibody can cross into the brain, be detected on an MRI and near- infrared scan. And you can quantify the presence of this toxic protein in the brain.
Yes, so I think we just take off the Fc region. And what was really interesting about this test was the protein it's trying to quantify is
presence after a decade before the onset of symptoms and we believe it to be the most neurotoxic form of this protein. But by accident, when the
antibody complex binds to this protein, it stops this toxic protein from entering cells, so it unintentionally increase cell life in the process of
diagnosis. So it has a potential to act as a simultaneous diagnostic and therapeutic agents.
One of the most notorious things about science is you can think something works, but when you test it out, it doesn't do what you expect it to do.
There's a lot of experiments that don't go to plan because either you've messed up the concentrations of the quantities or just because your theory
is wrong from the beginning. But when something does work, it's just a yes moment. You fist bump yourself inside.
We don't want to live in a world full of disease and illness. It's a great feeling that you're contributing into something that could be important one
GORANI: All right. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching tonight. We'll have a lot more on our breaking news on the subpoena that the Mueller
investigation has issued to the Trump organization as well as all the latest business news headlines with Richard Quest, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS"
is up after the break. Stay with us.