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New York Attorney General Resigns Over Assault Allegations; Trump Rallies Behind IA Pick Ahead of Senate Showdown; President Trump to Announce Decision on Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 8, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- in 2014. He went to your wedding. You know the man. What is your response to this?

CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER SPEAKER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: I'm shocked. If you said to me, pick someone in political life in New York who would have done this, I would never have said Eric Schneiderman. Now that said, given what has come out, given the incredible specifics, the consistency of the women, the bravery of the women, there is no doubt in my mind that I didn't know Eric Schneiderman at all. And not only should he be resigned, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

HARLOW: People should know you run Women in Need.

QUINN: Yes.

HARLOW: Also in New York City which helps those women in the most need in this city. So much of your time is spent protecting women.

QUINN: And we see, you know, one of the main reasons women end up in our shelter and in our services is because of domestic violence.

HARLOW: Yes.

QUINN: And that fear that his victims -- the survivors talked about is pervasive in all people who are survivors of domestic violence. And, you know, one of the things about batterers, they're dynamite actors. They can make it seem like they are two people and clearly Eric Schneiderman did that well and what he did and how he was a fraud to all of us, those of us who were his friends and those of us who were his supporters, is really just disgusting and just beyond disheartening.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, the allegations are stunning, the hypocrisy is breathtaking.

QUINN: Unbelievable.

BERMAN: Kevin Madden, there is also sort of a larger bigger picture political angle here, which is that if you follow progressives on Twitter or on some cable stations here, you know Eric Schneiderman was sort of the great white hope in investigating President Trump. If the president, you know, halted the Mueller investigation or pardons anyone, people are looking to Eric Schneiderman to take up some of these cases and maybe go after the president from state law. You know, is this a setback for foes of the president, do you think?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because I think whoever moves into this position is going to -- the folks who want to take this position over, the New York attorney general position, they're going to be fighting each other to show just how tough -- how tough they are on this particular issue and I think holding the president and others accountable.

The thing that I found breathtaking about this was the speed with which it happened. In the space of three hours last night, you had revelation, resignation. But I also think the Democratic Party is making a concerted effort, at least in this instance, to take the moral high ground, which is they're going to be able to criticize others, hold others accountable, and hold their -- people in their own party accountable because they do believe this is one of the things that is going to help them draw a contrast in their criticism of this president.

HARLOW: Ronan Farrow, one of the reporters who broke this story last night, broke two stories in -- two important stories in the space of 48 hours, so yea for journalism on this front. But part of the piece that stood out to us, one of Schneiderman's ex-girlfriend, Tanya Selvaratnam, told several friends about the abuse. Here's what she says they said in response. "A number of them advised her to keep her story to herself arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose. She described this response as heartbreaking."

What do you think? As former Democrat in politics, what do you make of that?

QUINN: Well, it is heartbreaking. It's infuriating. It's enraging. No one is above the law. And you don't get to be a batterer at home and a champion for women when you're outside of your home. And what you're doing, hypocritically saying and passing all these laws, it makes what you're doing at home worse, not something that you should be protected for. We heard a somewhat similar refrain around Al Franken. But obviously the Schneiderman charges are, you know, horrendous.

So I think any Democrat who is thinking that, snap out of it. This is violence. This is domestic violence. This is abuse. No one deserves to be supported by anyone. Nonetheless leading Democrats if that's what you're doing. And as a party, we have depth and breadth and we're not so pathetic that we have to stand by batterers because they have decent public face.

BERMAN: Kevin Madden, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. sort of spiking the football in the end zone here with tweets, you know, gloating over the fact that this happened to Eric Schneiderman. Is that a good look?

MADDEN: No. I think this is not exactly the terrain they want to be fighting on. I'll just leave it at that. There's not much more -- you know, we shouldn't overanalyze this either. I think a lot of what Christine says speaks from the heart. And I think this is a time for those with this platform to do exactly that. The same side of it, this is not a time to be trying to play those type of politics.

BERMAN: Kevin Madden, Christine Quinn, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thank you.

QUINN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Gina Haspel, the president's pick to head the CIA is on Capitol Hill this morning, looking to win over some undecided members of Congress before her confirmation hearing tomorrow. How will she hold up to the toughest questioning about torture tactics? We'll talk to someone who has known her for two decades and worked with her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:38:53] BERMAN: The president's pick to lead the CIA back on Capitol Hill this morning. Gina Haspel meeting with key senators before her confirmation hearing which will happen tomorrow morning.

HARLOW: The president tweeting his support for her again this morning, saying she will be tough on terror, but it is exactly that. Her record dealing with suspected terrorists while at the CIA, running a black ops site which has many senators demanding more information.

With us now is Rollie Flynn, she's worked with Haspel for decades and is a 30-year veteran of the CIA where she served as executive director of the CIA's counterterrorism center.

Thank you for being here.

ROLLIE FLYNN, WORKED WITH GINA HASPEL AT CIA: Thanks. Glad to be here.

HARLOW: For two decades you worked alongside Gina Haspel at the CIA and so many people, including many members of the Senate know what they argue is too little about her. And they have many, many questions that they will pose at the confirmation hearing tomorrow.

You described her as someone with a spine of steal. What should we know about her?

FLYNN: I think that's exactly right. She does have a spine of steel. She's an exceptionally hardworking professional, smart person. And she's the kind of person who can do the right thing.

[10:40:03] She is very ethical. She's also an incredibly nice person. Thoroughly experienced. I think she's the most experienced at least in overseas clandestine operations, most experienced director we've had since -- or will have since Bill Colby back in the '70s. We've had career analysts be CIA director, but it has been a long time since we've had someone with her kind of experience in foreign operations.

BERMAN: You know many of the questions surround her role in the early 2000s, running the black site in Thailand, where waterboarding took place, also in 2005 the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes which dealt with many of the same issues there. And she's going to be asked about this in an oversight setting, which is the right place to ask these questions.

If the question is posed, would you do it again, how do you think she would respond?

FLYNN: I -- you know, I can't speak for her. But I think it is important to understand, and this has been said before, that she was not an architect of that program. She was a midlevel official carrying out orders. In terms of how she will respond to that question, I've only seen the media reports and in those media reports she says she won't let that happen again.

HARLOW: Right.

FLYNN: I have to take her at the word.

HARLOW: The Gina Haspel you knew and know, why do you think she offered to withdraw herself from the nomination as late as Friday?

FLYNN: Again, I've only seen the media reports. I don't know if that really happened. But if it did, it rings true to me because Gina Haspel is the very kind of selfless person who if she thought that her nomination would undermine the CIA or cause the CIA any kind of damage, she would do the right thing and withdraw her name. That is so like Gina Haspel.

BERMAN: I mean, you see what is going on in this country. You see what's going on in Washington with the partisanship dividing the government, the members of Congress right now. Where does Gina Haspel, do you think, fit into that? How do you think she will respond to that partisanship?

FLYNN: Well, first of all, Gina Haspel is completely apolitical as are pretty much all of the CIA officers I ever worked with. I'd say 95 percent of the people I worked with I hadn't a clue whether they were Republicans or Democrats. And I think that's true -- absolutely true of Gina Haspel. I could not tell you whether she has a party affiliation. I think she will do what the CIA has always done. It is speaking truth to power, regardless of what the policy is, we let the facts stand.

HARLOW: Rollie Flynn, thank you very much for your time.

FLYNN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Could just be hours away now from a new global nuclear order. This as one official tells CNN President Trump will allow sanctions to go forward on Iran, marking the first step, really the major step from withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:35] HARLOW: In just hours, President Trump is expected to announce that the U.S. will begin the process of pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. What will this mean tomorrow morning? Joining us now Matthew Crane, deputy director at the Scowcroft Center

for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, also Anthony Cordesman is with us, Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Study.

Gentlemen, nice to have you both here. And Matthew, let me begin with you, your argument is, look, this is a deal that is untenable. This is a bad deal. It sounds a lot like what the administration is saying. That it needs to be renegotiated. The questions, though, is, is it realistic at all that Iran would be party to a renegotiated deal?

MATTHEW KROENIG, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, the Iranians have said that they won't be party to any kind of deal.

HARLOW: Right.

KROENIG: But they also said in the past that they'd be unwilling to put limits on their nuclear program. But when they're put under severe international pressure, they show that they were willing to put limits on the program. So the current deal as you point out, the limits all expire over time. And so just continuing with the current deal will leave us in a very bad place, so we need to either fix it or nix it as some have said.

BERMAN: So nix it, as some have said, Tony, what does that mean for tomorrow, for next week if all of a sudden, you know, President Trump announces that the sanctions will go back in place? What does the world look like in a month?

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, BURKE CHAIR IN STRATEGY AT THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think it's very difficult to know until we hear exactly what he says. He doesn't have to impose sanctions immediately. He can create a 60-day window and put pressure on the Europeans. But the key issue here is going to be what do our allies do?

It's the three European countries, the 5 plus 1 that basically are doing the negotiating with Iran, not us. And if they don't join us and the EU doesn't join us in the sanctions immediately we have a confrontation with Europe over banking, financial transactions and all their relations with Iran.

Iran can also partially react. It can take a whole wide range of measures and try to put pressure on the U.S. as well as work with Russia, China, and European states. So this is an open game and at 2:00, we'll find out exactly how it starts.

[10:50:01] HARLOW: Matthew, if the president does stop waving the sanctions and begin the process of the U.S. pulling out, it is hard to find someone that does not think that Iran would restart its nuclear program, restart the enrichment, et cetera.

If it does that, the big concern is a Middle East arms race. Right? You have Saudi Arabia that has said, look, if Iran restarts its program, we will do the same. Isn't that a great concern for the region and to the United States?

KROENIG: Well, we've already got the problem of a regional arms race with this deal. Saudi Arabia has said that it will match whatever nuclear capabilities Iran has.

HARLOW: Right.

KROENIG: And is beginning -- well, that's with the deal in place. Saudi Arabia is looking --

HARLOW: But doesn't --

(CROSSTALK)

KROENIG: -- at Iran's capabilities already.

HARLOW: Would this not at the least accelerate it?

KROENIG: I don't think so. The purpose of renegotiating the deal or getting a better deal is to stop Iran's nuclear program, not to let it proceed. So if the Trump administration pulls out, then they need to have a very comprehensive strategy for what comes next. I haven't seen that yet, but the goal would be to increase the economic political military pressure on Iran to get a deal that eliminates this nuclear threat, not just kicks the can down the road a few years, which is what the current deal does.

BERMAN: Tony, how do you think Iran is going to respond to all of this?

CORDESMAN: Well, it's already said that it's going to take strong action, basically go back and restore the enrichment capabilities it had before the agreement was signed. It has not said it is going to go on to a nuclear weapons effort, which it may or may not do. And it can do it in a lot of different ways from something that is very overt and public, which would be a dramatic reversal of its position to something covert.

I think it's important to note, too, that technically the agreement does not expire. It basically says indefinitely that Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons.

HARLOW: Right.

CORDESMAN: And it complies for the IAEA inspection. So this is a critical issue in time. The other one that I think people are forgetting is this is only one of three threats. Iran has already stepped up its missile testing program. It is steadily improving its capability to attack tankers, oil shipments, all shipping in the Gulf, and it's steadily expanding its influence outside the region, outside the immediate borders.

So we're talking about a much broader issue than simply the Iranian nuclear program and when it comes to this arms race, it has gotten a lot of publicity, but so far it is relatively limited. Could it get a lot worse very quickly? Yes. In all four areas. BERMAN: Matthew Kroenig, Anthony Cordesman, thanks so much for being

with us again.

HARLOW: Thank you.

BERMAN: The president's announcement at 2:00 today. As you can see, CNN will bring special live coverage.

Dozens of homes destroyed in Hawaii, this as volcanic activity seems to have subsided at least a bit temporarily. The state's governor warning the threat not over yet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:57:37] BERMAN: All right. Just a short time ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan commented on two issues that had really hanging over the speaker of the House over the last several days. Number one, the House chaplain back at work now. This is after Speaker Ryan actually asked him to leave and he resigned and un-resigned. Also the speaker commenting on the feud between House Republicans and the Justice Department over documents that House Republicans want in the Russia investigation. Listen to the speaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Absolutely, Father Pat and I had a good cup of coffee this morning. We talked about how to improve the services going forward. We're going to keep talking to make sure that we can -- I think we can ultimately make improvements so that everyone has access to the pastoral services they're looking for. And so we had a good meeting this morning, we're going to keep talking and I feel good about where things are.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you supportive of Devin Nunes' push to hold Sessions in contempt?

RYAN: I haven't spoken to him about it. So we have not discussed this. We expect the administration to comply with our document requests as a matter of form for the executive branch and our legislative branch oversight. So I haven't spoken with Devin about this. We have a thorough process we go through. But we clearly expect the administration to honor our document requests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Expect the administration to honor our document requests, seems like the speaker is siding there with those who want those documents and maybe those who want to hold the attorney general in contempt.

In Hawaii, volcanic activity has calmed down on the big island. But officials warn that lava and toxic gas still threaten residents. Look at this time lapse video. Lava flowing across a road, burning up a car there. Dozens of homes have been destroyed. Hawaii's governor says the eruptions are likely to continue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DAVID IGE, HAWAII: It is definitely a relaxation to some extent, but I think everyone has been through a volcanic eruption before and they know that it's temporary. And the geologists expect that the eruption will continue. There are signs that it is not over yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Officials are warning people to stay away after two people were arrested ignoring roadblocks.

HARLOW: Gas prices are expected to jump this summer, making it the most expensive driving season in years. It's because of the rising cost of crude. Right now oil prices up 1 percent overnight, close to $70 a barrel. It's mainly due to expectations that President Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Iran of course is a big oil exporter. New sanctions would lessen the supply in the market. That announcement comes 2:00 p.m. today.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts now.