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CONNECT THE WORLD
Trump Changes Story About Payment to Porn Star; Child Labor Found in Cobalt Trade; Giuliani Says North Korea to Free Three U.S. Citizens; Russia, U.N. Urge U.S. to Stay in Iran Nuclear Deal; Britain to Continue Investigating Cambridge Analytica; Saudi Sports Chairman Postpones Answers on Qatar Ethics Questions; Kanye West Says Slavery Sounds Like a Choice. Aired 11-12n ET
Aired May 3, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: The President and the porn star. The story of a hush money payment changes again. All the details. Plus, could
they be coming home? Source say these Americans detained in North Korea might be released imminently. We're live in Seoul for that. Also, car
companies pledge change after a CNN investigation uncovers child labor in cobalt minds.
Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta.
The White House has a lot of explaining to do after a stunning reversal over the payment of hush money to a porn star. President Donald Trump is
appearing in public this hour for the first time since changing his story that he knew nothing about the payments to Stormy Daniels. He's due at a
prayer meeting in Washington any time now. In a series of full tweets and full of hello legalese, Mr. Trump backed up the bomb shell dropped by one
of his new attorneys Rudy Giuliani last night. The bottom line is he was personally involved in the payments as MJ Lee now explains.
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani admitting President Trump repaid Michael Cohen for the hush money given to
porn star Stormy just days before the 2016 election.
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FOX NEWS: So, they funneled it through the law firm.
GIULIANI: Funneled it through the law firm and the President repaid it.
LEE: Giuliani's remarks directing contradicting President Trump's own words last month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know.
LEE: In March Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, also said the President was unaware of the payment
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I've had conversations with the President about this. There was no knowledge of any payments from the
President and he's denied all of these allegations.
LEE: Despite this Giuliani telling "The Washington Post" that Mr. Trump was well aware he was eventually going to disclose that the president did
in fact pay Daniels. Giuliani suggesting the President did not know the specifics of the payment until recently, but that Cohen's monthly retainer
was intended to take care of these kinds of situations.
GIULIANI: When I heard Cohen's retainer of $35,000, when he was doing no work for the President. I said that's how he's repaying it. With a little
profit and a little margin for paying taxes for Michael.
LEE: Back in February Cohen released this carefully worded statement claiming that neither the Trump organization nor the Trump campaign was a
party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment.
Notably missing President Trump's name. Giuliani also showcasing Mr. Trump's aggressive new posture towards the special counsel.
GIULIANI: You can't possibly -- you can possibly not feel as a citizen of the world that his negotiations with North Korea are much more significant
than this totally garbage investigation.
LEE: Revealing that the odds are the President will not sit down with Mueller and that Mueller's team has rejected submitting written answers to
GIULIANI: Jay and I will insist that they're going to have to treat him the same way as Clinton, two and a half hours we end we walk out. Give us
your questions in advance.
LEE: The White House announcing that another lawyer is leaving. Ty Cobb departing just weeks after John Dow. Emmett Flood who represented Bill
Clinton during his impeachment proceedings is joining the team. A source tells CNN that Cobb has been clashing with the President in recent weeks
over his public attacks on the Mueller probe which he advised against. Giuliani also slamming former FBI director James Comey and giving this new
rationale for why the President fired him.
GIULIANI: He fired Comey because Comey would not, among other things say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. He's entitled to that.
LEE: Last May President Trump gave this explanation for Comey's firing.
TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey.
And in fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.
CURNOW: Now the revelation about the porn star's payment comes a few weeks after the FBI raided Michael Cohen's office. Stormy Daniels' attorney
suggests it's no coincidence that Mr. Trump is now changing his story and explains how the President's reimbursements could land him in legal
trouble. Take a listen.
[11:05:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: If they structured it in a way to avoid detection or in an effort to make it appear to be something
that it was not, namely a retainer payment as opposed to $130,000 reimbursement. That may involve money laundering depending on how it was
What you're seeing here is that Rudy Giuliani was sent out there to hang a lantern on this in an effort to get out in front of it. Because they know
that we were about to get to the bottom of it and/or the information was ultimately going to be disclosed because it was obtained by way of FBI
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: We're joined now by White House reporter, Stephen Collinson, to help us break this all down. I don't know if you can break it down,
Stephen. It's involving presidents and porn stars on the day the President is praying. It's kind of confusing for a lot of people. But does it
matter politically for Mr. Trump? Because he's just admitted to lying to the nation. Is there a consequence to that?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. The bar for Donald Trump seems to be a lot lower than it would be for any previous president.
I mean, the fact that he stood on Air Force One a few weeks ago and told reporters that he had no idea about this payment to Stormy Daniels and no
idea where the money came from. Now seems to be completely contradicted by Rudy Giuliani. Donald Trump's famous base is solid and around 40 percent
whatever happens. And that I think is if there is a strategy from this kind of farcical changing of stories that we're seeing from the President
and Giuliani, perhaps that's got something to do with it.
But the bottom line here is that the law doesn't care about Donald Trump's political position, his base and how loyal those people are. What we're
seeing now is that the presidency is becoming embroiled in parallel legal nightmares and the mechanics of the law are going ahead on the Russia
collusion investigation, the Stormy Daniels issue, and other issues and there's not much the President can do about them, not withstanding these
public exhibitions by his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
CURNOW: And we're seeing live pictures as you're talking of this prayer meeting. People gathering in the Rose Garden. Just tell us, Rudy
Giuliani, besides everything else he came out with last night did he also muddy the water around issues of money laundering?
COLLINSON: It's a question of campaign finance law, and I think what Giuliani was trying to argue is what the President was doing was
reimbursing Michael Cohen. This was a private transaction and had nothing to do with campaigns and therefore couldn't be seen as a campaign
contribution and infringing campaign finance law.
If that was his intention to muddy it, it might have work. He may have gotten the President in more trouble. Because if the President was
effectively being loaned money by Michael Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels before the election so the story didn't come out and damage the Trump
campaign and the President didn't record those expenditures in his campaign finance filings. He himself could be liable.
So, the question of whether this is an infringement of the law, how the money was moved around is a complex legal one. But it's clear that
Giuliani if he was trying to get the President out of trouble in this interview last night got him further in trouble not just on the Stormy
Daniels issue, by the way, but on the whole issue of why James Comey was fired, the FBI director by the President.
CURNOW: Indeed. And that in itself will probably be a focus for Mr. Mueller of their special investigation. Now let's also talk about storm
troopers. Because Rudy Giuliani insisted or kind of alluded to the fact that the FBI officials that went into Michael Cohen's office in New York
were storm troopers. Just the use of that word in this presidency is controversial. But also explains something that is strange. Because Mr.
Giuliani is a law enforcement officer himself and basically these men were doing what the law asked them to do.
COLLINSON: Right. And when we are talking about this raid on Michael Cohen's hotel room, his offices and his home, he's already told CNN in an
interview with Don Lemon that the investigation and the search was carried out meticulously and courteously by these FBI officers.
Now what we're seeing of course, is that Giuliani is adopting this language that the right has been using and the President has been using, and indeed
the President has been using, this marshal loaded language, storm troopers. The President wants compared some of the intelligence agencies of the
United States to Nazis. And that's all part of this effort to discredit law enforcement, to say that the President is being unfairly targeted to
build a whole cult of suspicion around any idea of any of these investigations. What it does in the end, though, I think it overly
politicizes this legal sort of drama that going on.
[11:10:03] And that does have the possibility of damaging America's democratic and judicial institutions long after long after Donald Trump's
no longer president.
CURNOW: Stephen Collinson always good to speak to you. Thanks so much for us there in Washington. As Stephen was talking let's look at these live
pictures. You're seeing them of the Rose Garden. It is a National Day of Prayer. All of this taking place at the White House while the President is
embroiled in more controversy a porn star and hush payments.
Let's listen in for a minute.
OK, so talk about Rudy Giuliani. He also spoke out on North Korea this morning. Stating that U.S. citizens detained there will be freed today.
Now an official with knowledge of current negotiations says the release of all of these men is quote imminent. The timing couldn't be more
significant with a historic meeting between the leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald expected in the next few weeks. So, Alexandra Field joins
us now from Seoul in South Korea. What else are you hearing about this, particularly the timing?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, it certainly isn't clear why Rudy Giuliani would be the one to announce this or to peg it to today.
Certainly, the White House hasn't made an official statement to that effect. Instead they have said that the release of these hostages would go
a long way toward creating goodwill in advance of this summit. Anyone who's watching North Korea knows that this would be the kind of moment
during which you could release these three hostages as a sort of good faith measure before Kim Jung-un and President Donald Trump's sit down with one
The administration has made it very clear that they are pushing strongly for the release of these three detainees. Although they consider it an
entirely separate issue from that of denuclearization which will of course be the topic of the summit.
So, could release really be coming soon? Well the President in just the last day has tweeted that people should quote-unquote stay tuned. He's
also referenced the fact that the previous administration, meaning the Obama administration, wasn't able to get these three hostages freed. Of
course, we should point out that only one of the men was taken in detention back in 2015 when President Obama was in Oval Office. The other two were
taken in 2017.
But again, the President does say stay tuned. As it suggests a development is coming. On top of that you've got this source telling CNN -- someone
who is familiar with the negotiations -- that the plan to release these hostages was hatched some two months ago when the North Korean foreign
minister traveled to Sweden and proposed the idea. At that time though he was told that U.S. officials would consider that a totally separate matter.
Again, from the topic of denuclearization.
We have heard from the son of one of those detainees, the son of Tony Kim. He says he has been given no indication of any imminent release. However,
he says that he remains hopeful. Certainly, that's the sentiment that these families are feeling. They are living a real nightmare, Robyn, and
they are hoping that this is the right moment politically and diplomatically where they could see some action, they could see some
moment. But certainly, they won't trust any of what they are hearing until they see their loved ones stepping off the plane -- Robyn.
CURNOW: In Seoul, thanks very much for that update. Alexandra Field, thanks.
Now to the countdown over the Iran nuclear deal. One Iranian official warns if the U.S. pulls out so will Iran. In the Foreign Minister says
Tehran isn't willing to change the accord.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Bluster or threats won't get the U.S. a new deal. Particularly as it is not honoring the deal it
has already made. Relying on cartoonish allegations, rehashed from more than a decade ago and tested by the IAEA. To make a case for nixing the
deal has fooled no one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: The Trump administration has just nine days to decide whether to continue to wave sanctions against Iran which would effectively renew the
deal. International pressure is growing on Mr. Trump to stay in the deal. Nic Robertson joins us now with the latest and also what we're seeing a lot
of frustration from the Iranians -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We are. Also coming from the international community. The world's sort of top diplomat, if you
will. The U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres was here in London just late yesterday visiting with Prime Minister Theresa May. It's not
clear if they discussed precisely the nature of the discussion about the JCPOA. Of the nine days deadline before President Trump has to decide
whether or not to give those key waivers.
But it is clear in an interview with him following that meeting with Theresa May that he is very worried about the situation right now. He said
that the Middle East is in a very dangerous situation, very precarious situation. That people should avoid making changes and causing disruptions
right now because of that precarious nature. And he went on to say that the deal as it is right now should not be scrapped unless there's a good
alternative in place ready to go. So, from his perspective that we are in very troubling, very dangerous position.
[11:15:00] He's been on the record as saying, to put it in context here if you will, that the war in Syria right now is in danger of significant
escalation and a confrontation between Israel and Iran. So, if you will push Iran into a corner or for Iran to make good on some of the statements
it's making now essentially is implying that's very bad. And we heard from the Iranian ambassador to Britain just yesterday talk with our Christiane
Amanpour, saying that if the United States pulls out of the deal that effectively the deal is dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAMID BAEIDINEJAD, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.K.: When the United States is out of the deal, it means that there is no deal left.
The consequence would be that Iran would, in fact, would be ready to go back to the previous situation.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: That means enriching uranium at a vast speed and capacity.
BAEIDINEJAD: It could be enriching uranium. It could be redefining our cooperation with the agency, and some other activities that are under
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: You know the adherence of the JCPOA deal those that still believe in it still say right now that this is the best way to keep Iran in
line and checked on whatever its nuclear ambitions might be. So, there is real concern, broad concern, not just at the U.N. and not just in Tehran
but among European leaders too. Remember Britain, France, Germany were co- signatories to JCPOA. So, a lot of concern right now -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK, thanks for that. Nic Robertson there in London.
So, there's a lot more ahead this hour including CNN discovers children mining cobalt a key element in car batteries. And now big-name automakers
say they are taking action to stop it.
CURNOW: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.
On World Press Freedom Day, it's fitting that our next story is a stark reminder of how important on the ground reporting is and the impact it can
[11:20:04] Well our CNN Freedom Project as you all know shines a light on modern day slavery and efforts to fight it around the world. And in our
latest report, Nima Elbagir, Dominique van Heerden and Alex Platt found evidence of child labor in the cobalt mines of Congo. There has been swift
reaction to CNN's investigation. More on all of that after this clip. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christian and his friends are digging 20 meters down, taking turns at 24-
hour shifts. There's no light and little oxygen, but what they bring up is precious.
This is the start of the supply chain leading all the way from this makeshift mine to your luxury battery powered car. The sacks are full of
cobalt ore, a crucial component in lithium ion batteries set to power the coming green energy revolution, but at what cost?
There is growing evidence that cobalt supply chain uses child labor. Companies say they are working hard to verify the source of all their hand-
mined artisanal cobalt but that it's a difficult task.
We're here to follow the supply chain and see if we can do it for them. Before we set out, even the local governor warns us to expect to see
children at work. We arrive at the Musonoi river mine where the cobalt ore is washed to grind it down. Although we've been given permission to film
here, as soon as they see us, officials begin to scare the children away.
Not all of them though are fast enough. Some work on. One young boy staggers under his load. His friend sees the camera and he drops his sack.
They've clearly been warned.
A mining ministry official spots this boy carrying cobalt has been captured by our cameras. His response is brutal. Later we ask him why he struck
the child. He refused to answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Now, as Nima noted, cobalt is a key component of mobile phone batteries and electric cars and carmaker Daimler has since announced a
major audit of its supply chains after CNN's report. The company says it has explicitly forbidden child labor for years but admits it's difficult to
verify the source of its cobalt. Well it says it'll work with 1,500 suppliers worldwide to stop any violations.
Now before a team left the Democratic Republic of Congo Nima spoke to the provincial governor about what CNN found. And he blamed interference and
aggression at the mining sites on suspicions among the local populations that foreigners and NGOs are trying to bring down President Kabila's
government and said their goal is for no children to be working in mines. But that progress is overshadowed by a high level of poverty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD MUYEJ, GOVERNOR OF LUALABA PROVINCE (through translator): We have nothing to hide. What we really want is goodwill. When we make an effort,
we would like to be treated fairly. Given that important cobalt production is situated in the Congo it will not be easy to skirt the issue. You and
we must work together to make the issue of traceability transparent and to make the sites safe and regularized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Nima joins us now live from London. Nima good to see you. So, just talk us through what you discovered about the certification process
and also what you saw at one mining cooperative that's considered a model for ethical mining.
ELBAGIR: This was the Kasulo cooperative. It's run by one of the major international suppliers of artisanal cobalt. And the intent really there
was to show I guess what most manufacturers believe is the case across the board. That there is certification. That there are fences and security at
the location to keep out children. But really first of all what it amplifies was what happens at every other site we had visited. Where you
get nothing of the sort. In this mine really only makes up about 25 percent of the artisanal cobalt that comes out of the Congo.
Where is the rest coming from? Well, the rest is tainted. And even at Kasulo the very same people who are responsible for making sure that the
cobalt in Kasulo were child labor free, were part and parcel of the same entity, the ministry of mining, that you saw in that piece, Robyn, trying
to hide child labor from us and intimidating the children.
CURNOW: Let us talk about these companies, Tesla, Fiat, Chrysler and others. They actually admit in their U.S. financial filings that their
supply chain was too complicated to be able to guarantee that it was child labor free. But the crucial thing is here, they didn't mention that to
ELBAGIR: Absolutely. That really was one of the things that struck us the most. That we had to really dig, and it was only in that legally liable,
liability documentation that they filed with the U.S. federal government that they acknowledged this. Why don't you and I as consumers know this?
And often, for example, with Tesla, we were going back to them and saying you're telling us that you believe that your cobalt is child labor free 100
percent. And yet in this filing you are acknowledging due to the complexity of your supply chain you can guarantee it. So, which is it. At
that point they decided they didn't want to comment any further.
But it gives you a real window into the maze that consumers have to try and navigate. Hopefully with Daimler's move towards at least a greater level
of transparency. We don't know what will happen when they audit but at least for now they are committing to transparency. That other car
companies are going to follow suit.
CURNOW: OK. Great stuff, thanks so much, Nima.
Amnesty International's Mark Dummett has been leading the group's investigation into this. Earlier he told CNN Talk that big multinationals
lack the will to act not the means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK DUMMETT, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: If -- you know, imagine there's a car manufacturer which has sourced and bought a faulty product that goes into
the car. They will trace back, you know, the source of that fault and, you know, how it entered their supply chain. They could do this if they want
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: So, see some great reporting there from Nima and CNN and of course, you can also see it beautifully laid out online. Check out our
digital team's work on CNN.com. It's certainly a complex and important story.
In still ahead the company at the heart of the Facebook data scandal is shutting up shop. We'll take a look at the rise and dramatic fall of
Cambridge Analytica next.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CURNOW: You are watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.
British authorities say they will continue investigating a controversial data firm with ties to the 2016 Trump campaign, even though it is shutting
down. Most people hadn't even heard of Cambridge Analytica a year ago but now the company set off a major firestorm after allegedly misused the
personal information of millions and millions of people on Facebook without their knowing it. So, this may be the end of Cambridge Analytica as we
know it, but the controversy is far from over. Phil Black is following all of this. Hi, Phil. Why is it not over?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, it's because it may take life in another form. We'll get to that in a moment. Let's start with,
however, simply the announcement. The fact that Cambridge Analytica has decided to wind things up finally. And it's done so with a fairly angry
and bitter statement in which it blames what it describes as unfairly negative press conference for destroying its business.
It says it was vilified unfairly for practices that it said are legal and common practice when it comes to online ads both in the business world and
politics as well. Let's take a closer look at the statement. Here's a quote.
Precisely they said, despite Cambridge Analytica's unwavering confidence that its employees had acted ethically and lawfully -- the siege of media
coverage has driven away virtually all of the company's customers and suppliers.
Essentially the company has decided that its brand is beyond repair. Now perhaps not a surprise because here in the U.K. there are two ongoing
investigations into Cambridge Analytica. How it came by tens of millions of Facebook users' information and what it did with it.
One of those investigations is in the hands of a parliamentary committee which has said Cambridge Analytica must not be allowed to destroy data as
it goes through the process of winding up the company.
The other investigation and it is both civil and criminal and is being undertaken by the government regulator, the information commissioner. It
says it will continue to pursue individuals and directors even though the company no longer exists. And interestingly it says it will keep a special
eye, close eye on any successor companies through inspections and audits.
Now what it's talking about there with successor companies is the theory or perhaps the suspicion that Cambridge Analytica by winding up is simply
going to relaunch under a new name, a new brand, a rebranding exercise, if you like. And perhaps there some reason to think that. Because records
here -- company records in the U.K. -- show that key executives and investors that are heavily involved in Cambridge Analytica have been in the
process of setting up a new company in recent weeks and months. Its name is Emma Data and it describes its purpose officially on the company listing
as data processing, hosting and related activities -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK, thanks for that update, Phil Black there in London. I am Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta. And this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Much more to
come. It's a packed hour, you're with CNN.
[11:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CURNOW: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining us.
Saudi Arabia's economy is getting a boost in the athletic arena as it gears up to participate in some of the world's biggest sporting events. World
racing stars made their debut in the Saudi right on Friday. And later this year the country will kick off the World Cup in tournament opener against
Russia. Becky Anderson spoke to the man helping to drive this change.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR, CONNECT THE WORLD: We are at the King Abdula Sports City stadium where a couple of days ago the atmosphere was quite
different. It is quiet tonight. But when WWE's inaugural greatest Royal rumble event was held here I believe the atmosphere was electric.
TURKI AL-SHEIKH, HEAD, SAUDI ARABIA GENERAL SPORTS AUTHORITY (through translator): The rumors that we wouldn't be able to hold international
events such as this, however, the event was historic. Anyone who saw it on TV was unable to imagine that it took place outside the U.S.
ANDERSON: Many people including women, of course, which very much speaks to the new vision for women's inclusion across a myriad of spaces, not
least as part of the audience here. How important was that?
AL-SHEIKH: Women make up half of society. And as part of the vision Prince Mohammad bin Salman has issued guidelines for us and ensure that we
pay attention to the women's aspect and give them all the rights. Which we can say have come a little late but have come at the right time.
ANDERSON: There has been some disappointment then by the worldwide audience that women weren't actually on the card. Will that change going
AL-SHEIKH: We're moving forward, and we don't want anything to hinder our progress or to be taken as an excuse for delaying that progress while
taking into consideration our traditions and culture and our religion Islam.
ANDERSON: An event then full of star power and also a little controversy. A moment in time when Iranian and Saudi wrestlers met each other. Politics
abound in this region. Was that stage?
AL-SHEIKH: This is a very normal thing. WWE usually corresponds to timely events. We remember in 1990 when we saw wrestlers from Iraq during the
Gulf War. And in the 80s when we saw wrestlers from the Soviet Union and Iran fight against American wrestlers. This is part of the suspense that
ANDERSON: The Saudi's football team will be going to the World Cup in Russia. What will success look like to you?
AL-SHEIKH: We will work our hardest to achieve positive results and to raise the profile of Saudi football. This is the fifth time for us. We're
no strangers to the World Cup. We've been away for a while but we're capable of playing a beautiful game against Russia.
ANDERSON: Critics say that you intervene too much in the way that the team is run. What's your response to that?
AL-SHEIKH: This is illegitimate, and I do not intervene at all. There's a football federation and a team which does everything. If I was asked to
help them then I help. And I support my country's national team.
ANDERSON: You were also criticized quite heavily around the region for your comment about the Egyptian player Mo Salah. I've interviewed him
recently. You will be playing Egypt during the World Cup qualifying stage. You said, for example, the Saudi team would be better off if he wasn't
playing. What did you mean by that?
AL-SHEIKH: When it comes to twitter I speak as a fan not as a minister. When I commented on the Saudi team it was because of excitement. I may
make mistakes and I might be right. And I might be harsh in some of the terms I use. But when it comes to Mohamed Salah he's a great Arab player
and has allowed us to lift our heads high as Arabs. I am a fan. But what I wish is he wouldn't play against our team during that match.
[11:40:00] I want to miss him in this match just this much.
ANDERSON: You called for Qatar to be stripped of hosting the 2022 World Cup if it is found guilty of ethics violations. Have you seen any proof?
AL-SHEIKH: I will postpone my answer to September. We're focused right now on our national team and the World Cup in Russia.
ANDERSON: On the bid for 2026, in a tweet earlier this year you said Morocco was mistaken not to side with Saudi Arabia in the Qatar crisis,
implying your country would not vote for Morocco's bid to host the World Cup. What exactly is your position, sir?
AL-SHEIKH: We seek the best interest of Saudi Arabia. We haven't decided on a position yet. But the interest of Saudi Arabia comes first. The U.S.
is an ally and one of the strongest and greatest allies for us as we are to them in the Middle East. Let me tell you something, one of the World Cups
I enjoyed the most was in 1994 in the U.S. and there is an unbroken record for number of attendees there and it saw the best results for the Saudi
ANDERSON: You're telling me you're going to support the U.S., Mexico, Canada bid.
AL-SHEIKH: You're smart Becky. And you can read between the lines.
ANDERSON: Do you genuinely care about Saudis and sport?
AL-SHEIKH: Of course. We were asleep for 15 years, Becky. But now we've been awoken like a Saudi genie and we'll achieve results that will astonish
CURNOW: Live from Atlanta, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Much more to come in this packed hour. You are with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANYE WEST, RAPPER: George Bush doesn't care about black people.
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I resent it. It's not true.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Kanye is thinking about running for speaker of the House. It couldn't get any stranger.
TRUMP: He goes around saying Trump is my all-time hero. He says it to everybody. So, Kanye West I love him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Bush, Obama, now Trump, so superstar rapper Kanye West has a long history of wading into politics and race in America. But his recent
comments bring together both and they are just jaw dropping. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANYE WEST, RAPPER: You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years. That sounds like a choice. Like you was there for 400 years.
[11:45:00] And it's all, you all. You know, like it's we're mentally in prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: After that a reporter at TMZ leapt up to jump in and his words now echoed by many. Let's play them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN LATHAN, REPORTER, TMZ: I actually don't think you're thinking anything. I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of
thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because Kanye, you're entitle toured opinion. You're entitled to believe whatever you want. But
there's fact in real world and real-life consequence behind everything that you just said.
The rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that's come from the 400 years of
slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I'm appalled. And brother, I'm unbelievably hurt by the
fact that you have morphed into something to me that's not real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Really some strong stuff. Let's talk more about this with K Douglas. Your also known as special K. And your cohost of a hip-hop show,
basically called the Rickey Smiley Morning Show.
K. DOUGLAS, COHOST, RICKEY SMILEY MORNING SHOW: Perhaps you'll want to show controversy right away.
CURNOW: Well fabulous. I do want to get your take on all of this. You know, what is your reaction and what have you heard from fans?
DOUGLAS: OK. For our listeners and we reach about probably 6 million listeners in the hip-hop community across the country. For our listeners
the reaction to Kanye's comments was mostly negative. I'll be honest with you. Because when you say that slavery was a choice regardless of what you
put in front of that or what you put behind it people are going to focus on the most explosive part of your statement. OK.
People don't listen in terms of nuance. They hear it in black-and-white. And when you have the time of footprint, the vast cultural music footprint
that Kanye West has you have a responsibility to choose your words carefully. Because if you take another person of another minority group
let's say a native American, they wouldn't say after all those years was a choice. If you take a person from of the Jewish community, they wouldn't
say that holocaust was a choice.
So why would Kanye get a pass by saying that slavery was a choice. His words were hurtful. His words were disrespectful. And regardless of what
he meant by it, like I said, people listen in black and white not in nuance terms. From a political standpoint you put yourself in a position to be
used as a political prop by a person who many in the community that made you a celebrity, that made you a star, that supported from you day one view
as if not hostile at the very least indifferent to our community. So why would you expect to get anything but a negative backlash when you put
yourself out there like that.
CURNOW: And with that point in particular Donald Trump and Kanye West seem to have a friendship. We've seen Kanye wear "Make America Great" hats. In
fact, in a new song he actually defends their friendship. I want to play some of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEST, RAP SONG: I never ever stop fighting for the people. Actually, wearing the hat is showing people that we equal.
You got to see the vantage point of the people, what makes you feel equal makes them feel evil.
See that's the problem with this damnation, all Blacks got to be Democrats -- man we ain't made it off the plantation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: What do you make of those lyrics? I mean, he's got a point. I mean, you're allowed to be black and vote for Donald Trump.
DOUGLAS: You are. But what you're not allowed to do in the eyes of the community, you're not allowed to, once again, align yourself with somebody
who is indifferent to the needs of the people who made you a star.
You know, we got a President that didn't feel it was necessary to reach out to James Shaw Jr. The hero of the Waffle House situation a couple of weeks
ago. But you quick to jump on Kanye West when he says something that you think makes you look good in the eyes of people who like Kanye West. But
prior to that you don't seem to have any interest in the people who look like Kanye West. For Kanye to say that we don't have to be Democrat. I
hear that those. Those are all right-wing talking points that your giving legs to and you basically have made a mockery of yourself. And you're not
going to be allowed to do that and get away with it. It's just not going to fly. It's not going to fly.
CURNOW: And I mean, your point is taken because a lot of rappers are really pouring cold water over all of these comments. I just want to bring
some of them up. Meek Mill posting a very colorful rip to the old Kanye. He's obviously quoting with lyrics.
I feel pressure, under more scrutiny and what I do. Act more stupidly.
Is there a since? Do you think this is the final straw here?
DOUGLAS: For Kanye West?
DOUGLAS: I mean, I don't think it's my place to say what the final straw is. I just do believe that Kanye needs understand. He needs to have
somebody, and if you're listening Kanye, if you're watching, you need to have somebody and let you know that with this particular individual, this
particular person that occupies the White House right now, I think that there's ample evidence that every relationship he has is transactional.
[11:50:00] So, you're not just all of a sudden friend with this guy because had you not --
CURNOW: You didn't say his name.
DOUGLAS: Well, OK, 45. You are not friends with this guy no more than I'm friends with this guy. But if I went out and said something on a national
platform that made him look good he'd probably would reach out the me. Because every relationship is transactional. What can you do for me? What
can you do to further my cause? What can you do to make me look good in the eyes of people that I may not look good in front of now. And then once
I get what I need from you then I have no more use for you. So, Kanye, I would suggest that next time you choose your words more carefully. It's
not up to me to say whether your career is over. Or whether this is the last straw. I don't know. I've been a fan. Not so much right now. I can
support you when you basically go out like that.
CURNOW: Do you think this is all just a bit of a media ploy in many ways to get more attention, to get more mileage even if it's controversial.
He's married to a Kardashian for goodness sake. Isn't this part of the whole plan?
DOUGLAS: I mean, it's probably part of the whole marketing machine on some level, I'm sure. But once again, what Kanye West has to realize is that
when you have that responsibility, when you have that platform every word you say is going to be -- I have a big platform. We have a big platform on
the Rickey Smiley Morning Show. We speak to 6 million, 7 million people of every single day. We have to watch our words carefully. Because like I
said, people are going to hear the most controversial, or the most explosive, the most divisive thing you say and they're going to run with
And so, you have to deal with the consequences of that. So, yes, do I think it's part of a bigger media manipulation machine? Of course, it is.
Everything is. But I just think it's unfortunate for him that he put himself in the middle of that and allowed him to be used like I said as a
CURNOW: It's fascinating talking to you. Thank you so much for giving us your perspective.
DOUGLAS: Well. Thank you for having me here.
CURNOW: Fantastic speaking to you.
Before we go also another important point. Today is World Press Freedom Day a time to celebrate the free press and remember journalists who have
risked their lives just doing their job. Well, CNN's Fari Sevenzo talked to one journalist in Ethiopia who spent years behind bars for just doing
FARI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For months now, Ethiopia has been engulfed in a state of emergency. Protests were met with a government
crackdown and thousands fled across the border into Kenya. Under public pressure hundreds of prisoners were released from Ethiopia's notorious
Kaliti prison. The Prime Minister resigned. Some of the jailed were journalists including this man who served seven years on charges of
terrorism because he wrote about the Arab Spring.
As the world marks Press Freedom Day it is impossible to overstate just how harsh Africa's media terrain can be. The Committee to Protect Journalists,
CPJ, estimate that there are 61 journalists in jail in Africa for their journalism. And says Ethiopia is tied with Congo as fourth worst jailer of
journalists in the world. Ethiopia's new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has plans to expand political freedoms. But there still a state of emergency
and hundreds of political prisoners remain in jail.
CNN caught up with Eskinder Nega in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi after his final release.
ESKINDER NEGA, JOURNALIST AND ACTIVIST: I was the only dissident bloke at that time from Ethiopia. And that put me in the limelight.
SEVENZO (on camera): When they rearrested you what was going through your mine? Did you think, oh my God not another seven years.
NEGA: The possibility that there would be that this would be a long imprisonment to have to come up in our minds. But had we panicked? No, we
did not panic. Were we embittered? No, we were not embittered. Why? Because every country has to pay the price to get democracy.
SEVENZO: You were telling me earlier that your wife is a journalist. That your son was born in prison.
NEGA: He was born in prison. There is no way that I could think of only about my immediate family. The nation goes on in our part of our family.
This is how my wife sees the situation. We have a responsibility to the nation.
SEVENZO: How do you see the states of press freedom in Africa at the moment?
NEGA: It would be a mistake to seek an island of liberty by fighting specifically for freedom of expression. Democracy is possible in Africa.
Where democracy exists, there is the ideal environment for journalists to work. So, let's work on democracy first. The price has to be paid to
attain democracy, to get to democracy. If I am the one who has pay that price so be it.
SEVENZO: And what is their price? Would you be willing to die for these beliefs?
NEGA: Unquestionably. We yearn for freedom. And I think this is common to all humanity. And until we get that freedom we shall not rest.
SEVENZO: Fari Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.
[11:55:00] CURNOW: And thanks so much to Fari for that story. Such an important story because it is so key. Around the world I think there are
more journalists who are arrested and detained and essentially focused on countries like Turkey and China and Egypt that makes it really hard for
them to do their jobs. It also, let's not forget America where there's certainly been a lot of focus on the role of the press. Follow all of that
and much more on our Facebook page. It is Facebook.com/CNNconnect.
I'm Robyn Curnow and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks so much for watching.