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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Trump Abruptly Cancels Planned Summit With Kim Jong-un; Police: Flight MH-17 Downed By Russian-Owned Missile. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 24, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- Korea after he abruptly canceled a highly anticipated summit that was due to take place in Singapore. He
says any, quote, "foolish or reckless acts" by Pyongyang will be met with a fierce response.
Mr. Trump took many by surprise when he called off his meeting with Kim Jong-un planned for next month. The summit would have been unprecedented,
and President Trump has made it a top priority to convince North Korea to fully denuclearize.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington came to believe there was little chance of a successful outcome, but Mr. Trump is leaving the door
open to future talks. Listen to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If and when Kim Jong-un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am
waiting. In the meantime, our very strong sanctions, by far the strongest sanctions ever imposed and maximum pressure campaign will continue as it
has been continuing. But no matter what happens and what we do, we will never ever compromise the safety and security of the United States of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the news first broke in a letter released by the White House and signed by the president. We want to read some of the highlights for
you. It's addressed to his Excellency Kim Jong-un.
Mr. Trump writes, "We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a
summit long sought by both parties. I was very much looking forward to being there with you."
The letter goes on, "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is
inappropriate at this time to have this long-planned meeting. I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me and ultimately it is
only that dialogue that matters.
Someday I look very much forward to meeting you if you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to
call me or write." Sounds almost like a personal letter to a friend not to a dictator Mr. Trump once threatened with fire and fury.
Countries that had pinned their hopes on this summit like South Korea, of course, now left wondering what happens next.
Let's bring in senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson in Seoul and White House reporter, Kevin Liptak in Washington. So, what's the reaction
from Seoul? Because they've been in an emergency meeting now for several hours.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I believe it's broken that meeting and a statement was issued by the president's office
here where after this emergency meeting which was held around midnight, local time, President Moon of South Korea expressed regret and said it was
unfortunate that this summit had been cancelled.
But went on to say that, quote, "It's difficult to solve sensitive and difficult diplomatic problems with the current method of communication.
And he went on to say that he hopes there is more direct communication between these leaders and closer dialogue in the future.
I can't help but interpret this as a major blow to South Korea's Moon Jae- in, who on Tuesday was sitting side by side with President Trump in the oval office, in the White House arguing for him to please push forward with
the now cancelled summit in Singapore.
Really applauding President Trump saying he's the man of the hour. He's the man that can make history. He is the man who can make peace here on
the Korean Peninsula and now that, President Trump has taken a very big step backwards, certainly at least from the summit.
GORANI: Kevin Liptak, at the White House, why did this all go wrong so quickly?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER: Well, you certainly saw it in the president's letter, disappointment. Even sounding a little jilted.
Certainly, an abrupt end to what the president had hoped would be this major diplomatic breakthrough. Certainly, a legacy making item for him.
We're told the final decision was made today, Thursday at the White House. The president speaking with his top national security aides, but it had
been a couple of days, several days, in fact, the president's aides had grown increasingly skeptical and concerned that North Korea wasn't making
the commitments that they wanted to see them making ahead of this summit.
There were several messages that the U.S. attempted to get to North Korea that weren't responded to. There was a meeting that the North Koreans were
said to have with U.S. officials that the North Koreans just didn't appear at and all of this leading to growing skepticism here at the White House
that this meeting could take place in that environment -- Hala.
[15:05:00] And it started, it seemed to have started the deterioration of this new-found friendship or positive relationship between the two with
that National Security Adviser John Bolton interview on a Sunday talk show saying that perhaps North Korea could follow the Libya model.
And did agree to denuclearize and then its leader was eventually killed by rebels after western countries supported the opposition, but I wonder,
Ivan, what does do to the (inaudible) between North and South Korea now, this development?
WATSON: That's going to be a big question because of course that (inaudible) has suffered over the course of the last week where North Korea
last week -- it was exactly a week ago abruptly canceled high-level talks between North and South Korea citing complaints about joint U.S.-South
Korean air defense drills even though it had not criticized previous joint military exercises that had taken place just last month.
So, South Korea has been kind of telling us that they're trying to figure out why North suddenly was frustrated. I want to highlight, Hala, just
what a roller coaster this region has been on in just the last six to eight months.
We put a time line together to help viewers understand. It was just August of last year that President Trump was threatening North Korea with fire and
fury. Subsequently in September, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.
In November, it launched a missile and it said it could reach the U.S. Then fast forward to winter of 2018, this year and suddenly, you have
President Trump agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un makes his first foreign trip as leader of North Korea to China.
Mike Pompeo as CIA director visits North Korea and meets with Kim Jong-un and then by the end of last month, you have Kim Jong-un meeting the South
Korean President Moon Jae-in on the demilitarized zone.
And then the rapid developments of May as well starting with the second Pompeo visit to Pyongyang and suddenly ending with President Trump
cancelling the summit just weeks away from its planned date to take place in Singapore -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Ivan Watson. Kevin Liptak in Washington, D.C. as well, one of the reporters working on this developing
story and we'll keep in close touch with both of you.
CNN's Will Ripley is inside North Korea right now. He's there on a special trip to watch what Pyongyang calls the complete destruction of a nuclear
test site. Will spoke earlier from a moving train.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, we were just sitting kind of wrapping up the day. It's now late in the
evening here. We're on the train headed back to Wonsan after witnessing what the North Korean claims is the destruction of the nuclear site at
So, we were sitting around the table when I got the phone call and read out the letter from President Trump and I can tell you there was surreal sense
of shock amongst the people that I was sitting with.
The Korean officials, they didn't give any official comment, but immediately they got up and left, and they are now on the phone kind of
relaying the news up to the top. And imagine how they're feeling at this moment given the fact that they just blew up their nuclear site today as a
sign of their willingness to denuclearize.
And they were doing this to make a point ahead of the summit in Singapore on June 12th that was scheduled that until literally minutes ago, they
thought was still going to happen.
That said the North Koreans have said they were not going to wait for dialogue and they were infuriated by comments made by the vice president,
Mike Pence, before that President Trump's national security adviser, John Roberts talking about North Korea saying that North Korea could follow the
Of course, Gadhafi in Libya gave up his nuclear weapons and was overthrown by U.S.-backed rebels and died several years later and I think they are
unwilling to accept that here. The North Koreans have said that they're not going to beg for dialogue.
They have said they would be willing to walk away if they don't like what hearing from the United States. But the fact that they went through with
this trip, you know, they invited us in and we were kind of on hold for 24 hours.
I was frankly unsure if this was going to happen, but the trip did happen. We were taken to the nuclear site. We spent nine hours. We watched them
blow up three tunnels in the nuclear site and all of the buildings on the site as well.
And we don't have experts here to verify with us if this destruction is actually -- if it's absolute, if it means that the nuclear site is unusable
as the North Koreans claim, but they say, you know, they told us we're being transparent here.
We're showing you our nuclear site for the first time. We are blowing it up. We're willing to denuclearize. We are willing to talk to the United
States, but they don't want to be compared to Libya, a country whose government was overthrown after giving up its nuclear weapons.
[15:10:05] And that's why they felt they had to respond with that very strongly worded statement targeting the vice president, Mike Pence.
They've also targeted President Trump's national security adviser as well saying that they don't want him in Singapore.
They don't want anybody in Singapore. They feel he's going to disrespect them. But nonetheless, being inside this country just hours after they
have blown up the nuclear site and learning of this, it was a very awkward, uncomfortable moment, and we'll have to see what happens in the coming
hours and days on the ground here.
GORANI: All right. Will Ripley, this was a few hours ago. He was on a train. He just witnessed the destruction of some underground tunnels at
the Pyunggeri nuclear test site in North Korea. He was part of a group of reporters who were flown and put on a train for 10 hours to witness this
operation by the North Korean government. So, there is some sort of effort to continue to abide by the promises that were made in the lead up to this
summit that was cancelled.
Let's get some perspective now from former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. He's an expert on North Korea. He's the president of the Asia
Society. First of all, Kevin Rudd, we keep saying this was abrupt and people were surprised, but was it surprising, really, this cancellation?
KEVIN RUDD, FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: On balance, yes, because so much had been invested by both sides in terms of political and diplomatic
capital. However, at a strategic level, I think what we've had is the arrival this morning of almost a strategic reality check about the
definition of a single word, denuclearization.
And from our early discussions we know that's been the problem throughout, is capital d, denuclearization or small d denuclearization against a time
table overtime excluding or including certain elements. That's where this whole thing I believe has founded.
GORANI: So, where was the mistake made then? Plus, who's fault was it because you'll remember John Bolton's statement on the Libya model that
kind of started souring or poisoning the relationship between the two countries when it seemed they were on the right track?
RUDD: It depends how you conduct your diplomacy. If you're going to walk into a diplomatic negotiation with an agreed mutual ambiguity over the term
denuclearization, then you shake that tree as hard as you can to see what's going to fall out of it in terms of getting rid of the strategic level
nukes and maybe having a timetable to get rid of the intermediate or short- range nukes or a timetable to have a proper verification process.
The alternative is that you set the preconditions that it is comprehensive denuclearization, that is the removal of everything the North Korean's have
and that's what became explicit through the pronouncement of the Libya model over the last week or so.
So, the bottom line is I think the United States changed strategic track from leaving ambiguity about the definition of denuclearization to shake
that tree to see how much they could get and it rapidly it became very explicit and that's where you had frankly the encounter of a rock meeting
another very hard surface.
GORANI: But it sounds like in terms of -- sort of -- you know, is it because of inexperience. I want to bring in John Kirby to the
conversation, a military and diplomatic analyst for CNN, and a former spokesperson for the Pentagon.
I wonder, John Kirby, I mean, this is an experience, right? I mean, why make these statements in public when you know it could derail and it ended
up derailing a big important summit like this.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, one conspiracy theory there, Hala, could be that with the news
National Security Adviser John Bolton, they actually were cooling to the idea that he wasn't a big fan of moving this forward and one is to find a
way out. And so, you introduce as Mr. Rudd rightly said, you introduce some rhetoric in there to see what kind it shakes out and maybe gave them
the excuse that they needed to not have the meeting in the first place.
GORANI: But John Kirby, I think about 24 hours ago, you were saying you thought you were pretty sure it was going to go ahead.
KIRBY: Yes, the Korea experts that I have been talking to before talking to you all told me all signs are pointing to go and these are some experts
that are on the peninsula. Everything looked like it was on track. So, it was stunning to me.
GORANI: And Kevin Rudd, what happens now is the big question, is this revivable?
RUDD: That I think is the $6,000 question here. Three factors we have to bear in mind. What happens now on the U.S.-North Korea summit prospects
for the future? I think diplomacy for the foreseeable future has run its course.
The stakes now in politics land are just too high for the North Koreans to swallow sufficient pride to reenter the possibility of summit at this
[15:15:06] So that I think is the big one and if diplomacy is exhausted, you already saw from President Trump's language today that they are again
beginning to raise in the most general terms possible a military option.
And then there's a second set of consequences which you've already touched on, which is the U.S.-South Korea relationship domestically in South Korea,
this leaves President Moon in an awful position.
Secondly, the inter-Korean dialogue is now shattered. Thirdly, the tensions now between the blue house in Korea and White House in Washington
will be going through the roof. Finally, the third one, big one too is the U.S.-China relationship, and this is much broader.
Trump has already indicated that he partly blames the Chinese for a hardening in Kim Jong-un's position on denuclearization following Kim's
second visit to China a week or so ago. So, these three big consequences I think flow and frankly all of them add to net addition to instability
rather than the reverse.
GORANI: John Kirby, I mean, taken into account your experience in government, are you surprised that it appears as though South Korea was not
told beforehand by the United States that they were pulling out from this summit?
Because the blue house issued a statement saying it's very regrettable and unfortunate that the U.S.-N.K. summit will not be held on June 12th as
planned. It doesn't like they were given a heads up. They had an emergency meeting that lasted several hours that started at midnight local
KIRBY: Yes, in a normal administration, yes, I'd be astonished, but under this administration, I hate to say it, Hala, but no, I'm not. I'm not
surprised that this was another knee jerk reaction by the White House with no coordination or consultation with our South Korea allies, who as Mr.
Rudd rightly points out, had the most at stake here.
And this does help Kim's effort to want to drive a deeper wedge between the United States and South Korea and also frankly helps President Xi, who was
never all that comfortable with this summit to begin with because he didn't really have anything to do with setting it up, and he did want to pull Kim
Jong-un up under the cloak a little bit more.
So, the wedge between us and the South Koreans I think will get deeper and frankly, I think it only helps further isolate the United States from the
rest of the international community.
GORANI: And Kevin Rudd, last one to you, we went from zero to 60 and 60 to zero in just a matter of a few weeks. They were insulting each other on
Twitter, Little Rocket Man, you name it. Then it was mutual respect and a friendship summit planned in Singapore, and now we're back to square one.
I mean, why has it been so wild? Why have the moves been so wild up and down in this particular case?
RUDD: I think because midstream United States has probably changed strategy and the strategy was to have a summit going back to that famous
afternoon at the White House when the South Korean national security adviser arrived to brief the president on his discussions with Kim Jong-un.
President Trump came out and said, yup, let's do it, and that's what I describe as the open-ended shake the tree strategy, let's see what we can
get out of this and everything proceeded from that.
And then suddenly at 5 minutes to midnight we have a change in strategy, I think directed very much by John Bolton's recent arrival, which says we
need to (inaudible) prior to the event, define precisely what denuclearization means, hence the use of the Libyan language.
That's why we have been through this, but I worry if the White House concludes that diplomacy is now over because if diplomacy is now over --
GORANI: But why would they -- I don't understand why it's in their best interest? It seems chaotic on their part. This doesn't make the White
House look good. If this was the strategy from the beginning to see what - - you know, what shakes out of the tree, if they throw terms like full denuclearization or the Libya model around.
It just makes Donald Trump, who is basically almost giving himself the Nobel Peace Prize a few weeks ago look like someone who couldn't close a
RUDD: Well, the bottom line was, look, Trump, before is not a graduate of the Georgetown School of Diplomacy. This is not his field, but when he did
this and announced this thing back then from the White House that famous afternoon, all of us just sat back and said it is, what it is. He's going
to have a summit.
Let's wish him well and hope this produces real results. And look, to be fair to him, up until the events of the last week, it was trending in that
direction and I think may have even been some movement in Pyongyang and perhaps in Beijing about what this could actually produce.
But then you have a change in U.S. strategy and I think that very much coincides with the National Security Adviser Bolton's different hardline
view of what was ever realizable from this strategy in the first place given it was initiated before he came to the White House.
GORANI: All right. Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister, thanks very much and John Kirby as well. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
[15:20:08] And we were mentioning at the top of the program that North Korea has destroyed some tunnels at a nuclear plant. Later on, we will
discuss with an expert on North Korea what that means exactly and why they would continue doing that and whether or not it's significant.
Still to come tonight, as a legal team fights to save a teenager's life, CNN is learning new details about the struggle that unfolded when Noura
Hussein killed her husband. We're live in Sudan.
And new revelations against actor, Morgan Freeman, accused of inappropriate behavior with several women. A CNN investigation into this story later
this hour. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Investigators say the missile that down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 was fired from a launcher belonging to a specific Russian brigade,
the 53rd. And they are asking members of the public to help identify anyone involved in operating the missile system. Two hundred and ninety
eight people were killed when the plane was brought down in Eastern Ukraine in July 2014. Phil Black has more.
PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The challenge is for anyone trying to work out what happened MH-17 were
enormous. At the scene, we found a vast unsecured debris field in the middle of a war zone, wreckage, evidence, victims, personal belongings all
left lying in the fields of Eastern Ukraine.
(on camera): The remains of its crew and passengers are everywhere and yet there is no one here trying to work out what happened. No one here to take
responsibility for this.
(voice-over): Over the following weeks, the victims were recovered. Four months later, the wreckage was finally removed.
(on camera): This is part of the operation and you can see it's not a delicate one to collect the scattered debris of the aircraft.
(voice-over): As investigators pieced together what remained of MH-17, they found among the wreckage and within the bodies of the crew pieces of a
missile. They were compared to unfired missiles of the same tile.
One was detonated to study the force and nature of the blast. Investigators were in no doubt about what brought down the aircraft but
tracing its origins required meticulous forensic work.
They studied data from local phone channels, recordings of intercepted calls made and received by people traveling with a weapon, videos and
photos posted online, witness accounts and satellite images.
In 2016, the investigators said all of that allowed them to accurately plot the course of the convoy carrying the missile system which shutdown MH-17.
WILBERT PAULISSEN, HEAD OF THE DUTCH POLICE INVESTIGATION (through translator): This Buk was brought in from the territory of the Russian
Federation and after launch was subsequently returned to the Russian Federation territory.
[15:25:08] BLACK: Now the investigators have revealed the specific Russian military unit they believed the missile launch vehicle originated from, the
53rd Antiaircraft Missile Brigade.
Again, using online videos, they say they identified unique markings on the suspect launcher and tracked it's journey in a convoy from an area near the
Russian city of Kirsk (ph), home of the 53rd Brigade.
Investigators still haven't openly accused Russian military personnel, but they say they know a lot more than they're revealing about the rolls played
by specific individuals.
Now, they're appealing to hear from people, who can answer questions about the 53rd Brigade and the suspect launcher.
PAULISSEN: Who was part of the crew, what was the instruction given to them? Who as responsible for the operational deployment of this Buk Telar
on 17th, July, 2014?
BLACK: Russian has again denied any involvement, but investigators say they're getting close to identifying who was responsible for killing 298
innocent people, and their inquiries are leading at only one direction, deep into Russian territory. Phil Black, CNN London.
GORANI: All right. There you have it. Phil Black, thanks very much for that report. Still to come tonight, more on our breaking news as Trump
cancels his meeting with Kim Jong-un, and issues a new warning to North Korea.
Plus this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did your company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to President Trump's lawyer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're really pushing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Our Matthew Chance challenges a Russian oligarch over his company's payments to Donald Trump's attorney. More on that and President
Putin's meeting with France's President Macron in St. Petersburg next.
GORANI: What a difference a day makes? This time yesterday, the June 12th summit between the United States and North Korea was still happening. Now
President Donald Trump has called it off, and in a tone reminiscent of several months ago is promising to keep up sanctions over North Korea's
The Pentagon says if there any provocation by Pyongyang it's ready to respond. Why the abrupt change? We want to see and hear President Trump's
letter to Kim Jong-un in its entirety. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo read it to lawmakers today in Washington. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Dear Mr. Chairman, we greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent
negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long cited by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12th in Singapore. We
were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea but that to us is totally irrelevant.
I was very much looking forward to being there with you, sadly based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent
statement, I feel it is appropriate at this time to have this long planned meeting - or inappropriate, excuse me. I feel it is inappropriate at this
time to have this long planned meeting.
Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit for the good of both parties but to the determent of the world, will
not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to god they will never have to be used. I
felt that a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me and ultimately is only that dialogue that matters.
Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you, in the mean time, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their
families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. If you change your mind having to do with this important summit please do not
hesitate to call me or write.
The world and North Korea inparticular has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is
a truly sad moment in history. Sincerely yours, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: So where do things go from here? Bruce Klingner, is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and you used to be
with the CIA specializing in Korea. I want to first ask you, our reporter Will Ripley went to witness the destruction of some tunnels that the Chung
Gayree(ph) site. So North Korea is still going ahead with some of those promised moves and it's nuclear plants. What significance does this have?
What did they destroy exactly?
BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well at the nuclear test site they closed the addice(ph) or the openings to several
tunnels, not only those that had been used in the past which perhaps were no longer viable because after the H-bomb test it may have put it in danger
of further tests leaking radio active material. But as Kim Jong-un indicated there were two additional portals that were still viable and
those apparently were also closed through explosives.
GORANI: So is it significant that they went ahead and did this even though the rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea was deteriorating?
KLINGNER: I think the plan themselves would have been in place before they had received the letter from President Trump. And the President's letter
while it cited the most recent statement from North Korea which insulted Vice President Pence and talked about, we'd be willing to meet you either
in a meeting room or a nuclear show down.
I think the U.S. response was really a cumulative action based on a series of North Korean statements in the past two weeks. Not only insulting to
some U.S. officials but I think most significantly was won by senior official Kim Gay(ph) Quan which very publicly and very articulated the
North Korean view of denuclearization which is quite different from what the White House perceived it to be.
GORANI: But did anyone really believe in Mr. Trumps White House that North Korea would agree to fully denuclearize? First of all, why would it? It's
its card, it's the leverage that it has.
KLINGNER: Right, well I think Korea watchers sited the strong conditionality which was present in North Korean statements, including the
read of that the South Korean deligation who met with Kim Jong-un in March would have given to the President. And also more recent North Korean
statements showed that it seemed unlikely they would fully divest themselves of the arsenal.
That said, there had been hope by many including in the White House, that the combination of the maximum pressure, the threats of preventive attack,
as well as actions by the South Korean President, may have cumulative cause North Korea to change it's mind but there's reports that the Kim Gay(ph)
Quan statement caused a surprise and perhaps anger by the President as to how far away it turned out they were form what had seemed like an easier
GORANI: Do you think it was strategy or a mistake for John Bolton, the national security advisor, to say North Korea to follow a Libya model where
Libya did give up some of its nuclear arsenal and in the end western countries supported the rebels against Muammar Gaddafi.
KLINGNER: I think there's a bit of over emphasis on his statements and he was referring to the 2003 rapid divestures of the Libyan nuclear model.
People always so equated with 2011 over through of Gaddafi but the phraseology I think is not helpful but North Korea also really looks for
reasons for feel insulted.
Kim Jong-un has promised they would not critsize the - this years U.S. South Korean military exercise and then North Korea went ahead and did it.
So, the U.S. saw that as well as other actions as broken promises and had I think a cumulative impact on their decision to finally pull the plug on the
summit. President Trump I think has left the door open for eventual resumption of dialogue and perhaps even the summit.
GORANI: Well we'll see if it happens, Bruce Klingner thanks very much for joining us.
KLINGNER: Thank you.
GORANI: We appreciate your analysis. The Russian President Vladimir Putin says he appreciates European efforts to save the Iran deal. His comments
come as French President Emmanuel Macron visits Russia for talks, there the two men are.
The two day visit and it coincides with the St. Petersburg internal economic form and comes of European concern over Washington walking away
from the Iran deal and saying they want to salvage it. Matthew Chance is in St. Petersburg and joins me now. So what did both men talk about with
regards to the Iran deal? How do you salvage deal that the U.S. is walking away from?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN ANCHOR: Well as you say it's something of concern to both of these political leaders. They both want to see the Iran deal
preserved in whatever form it can be. Because they both see it as the best way of preventing that country from getting nuclear weapons and so that
scenario, a rare area, I have to say where the French and the Russian leaders overlap in terms of their views, in terms of their interest.
There's plenty for them to disagree about and we're told about this also discussed the issue of Syria, where of course Russia has been backing
Bashar al-Assad, France is opposed to his regime. And Ukraine where Russia annex Crimea in 2014, that's another assult point in the relationship.
So the emphasis was very much on the areas where they overlap, mainly that Iran deal after seeing what form that deal could be preserved without
participation of the United States.
GORANI: And now you pressed Viktor Vekselberg whose affiliate, American affiliate of a company that he had made big, big payments to the private
personal lawyer of the President of the United States, Donald Trump. You asked him what that money was paid for? I just want our viewers to see
that exchange for themselves and then I'll get you - then I'll ask you a question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Mr. Vekselberg, quick question from CNN.
VIKTOR VEKSELBERG: Thank you, not now.
CHANCE: Mr. Viktor why did your company pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to President Trumps lawyer?
VEKSELBERG: Not now. We really appreciate it, just later OK. Really appreciate it, I understand.
CHANCE: No I'm not.
VEKSELBERG: Yes, no no no, (inaudible).
CHANCE: Was it to buy access for the President?
VEKSELBERG: Please, later.
CHANCE: What did you get for the money?
VEKSELBERG: Please, later.
CHANCE: One important question, sir.
VEKSELBERG: (Inaudible), he'll tell everything.
CHANCE: What did the FBI question (inaudible):
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So when he said, please later, did you get a word later?
CHANCE: No and that's the thing you see, with people like Viktor Vekselberg or the other sort of extremely rich Russian individuals who have
been implicated in the allegations with of collusion with the United States, they don't want to talk about this on the record. They're not used
to being challenged, they are the own media organizations that count(ph) out to them or they refuse to speak to the independent media.
So, we have to sort of take these opportunities to try and at least put the questions to them. I mean largely we're not going very substantial answers
I accept that but at least we're asking those important questions. In terms of what we did get, well not very much, but Viktor Vekselberg has
emerged as this, one of the key figures in these allegations and collusion.
Because a company affiliated with his, he owns the company essentially in the United States, paid half a million dollars into the bank account of
Michael Cohen who's Trumps personal lawyer and there's not been any explanation as to what that money was used for, what he was paying for.
So, the suggestion has been that this along with other people that have paid money to Michael Cohen were paying for access to the President. As
you saw not something Viktor Vekselberg wanted to talk to us about.
GORANI: Matthew Chance in St. Petersburg, thanks very much. Now to the investigation into Russian influence in the U.S. election and a remarkable
feen(ph). Justice officials are holding the second of two closed door briefings for lawmakers this hour in the U.S. They're sharing secret
information about a confidential source used early in the probe. The first briefing was intended just for republicans but democrats demanded they be
included as well.
Now, among those sitting in for part of both meetings, getting this classified information was the White House attorney who is handling the
response to the probe. The briefings come after President Trump accused the FBI of placing a spy in his campaign. There is absolutely no proof of
Still to come tonight, just weeks before Saudi Arabia is due to lift its driving ban on woman, female activists have been put behind bars, some of
them incommunicado. More on those arrests next. And, new disturbing allegations against Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman. We'll bring you our
CNN investigation coming up.
GORANI: Breaking news coming into CNN. A course says disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to police. It's
over charges related to alleged sexual misconduct. This comes right on the heels of reports that federal prosecutors had started an investigation into
Since reports last year on his treatment of women, dozens of other women have publically accused Weinstein of misconduct. CNN has reached out to
Weinstein's attorney and publicist of more on this story as we get it. More on this breaking news story that Weinstein is expected to surrender to
police in New York.
Just weeks before Saudi Arabia is due to lift a driving ban for women, Amnesty International says the kingdom has released a veteran women's
rights campaigners but she was arrested along with a number of other female activists earlier this week. So, after giving all these signals that Saudi
Arabia was liberalizing, that it was allowing - finally allowing women to drive after having been the only country on Earth not to grant women that
right prominent activists were jailed.
Some of them incommunicado. Joining me to discuss that and women's rights more broadly in Saudi Arabia is Lina Khatib. She's the head of the Middle
East and North Africa programme at Chatham House. So, a handful have been released but others are still in jail. Now, a few months ago we made a big
splash about this.
I mean media all over the world picked up this story that Saudi Arabia was liberalizing. So what's going on now?
LINA KHATIB, HEAD OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAMME: It seems to me that the Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman does not want
women's right activists who are advocating for the ban to be lifted to take credit for the ban being lifted.
So, basically he wants to show that he is the one who is granting Saudi citizens right and it's not because of bottom up pressure on the Saudi
GORANI: I mean you had major newspapers, Al Jazirah, flyers plastered everywhere showing the pictures of these women with the word traitor, you
know. So, it's just wanting to send the message that they are basically betraying their own country?
KHATIB: Yes, absolutely. They have been accused of conspiring with foreign entities against Saudi interests. Now, we have to remember, this
is a country that can basically call for capital punishment for someone if they were found to have engaged in such behavior.
So this is a very serious charge and it is definitely causing a lot of Saudi women who are now abroad who might want to go back to Saudi Arabia
for example for the end of Ramadan which is coming up in three weeks or so, to be very concerned about their own safety.
GORANI: And, the prominent activists Manal al-Sharif wrote in the Washington Post, she said, "I was going to go back to Saudi Arabia to take
a road trip with my son, my 12 year old who lives in Saudi Arabia and now I'm not doing that anymore."
KHATIB: Yes, absolutely. I mean, she's not alone. People who especially have been living abroad are saying but we are engaged with foreign entities
all the time because we live abroad. We can't help it.
GORANI: The facts there (ph). Yes.
KHATIB: So, you know, what if this translates into an accusation.
GORANI: Right. And so, does this - what does this mean though? Does this mean that this - I mean this image, this kind of, I guess, PR campaign that
Saudi is liberalizing, is it all just for functury (ph) is it all for show or is there something deeper going on?
KHATIB: Well, unfortunately, it seems to me that on the one hand the Crown Prince with Vision 2030, his plan for economic liberalization and reforms
wants to present a progressive image of Saudi Arabia but at the same time he seems to want to first of all assert himself as the sole authority in
the country and second, perhaps, also send a message to kind of appease the conservatives in the country that are not happy about this reform.
GORANI: But I wonder could this have happened without his knowledge and support?
KHATIB: Definitely not. I mean, I spoke to, just yesterday, some people who know some of these female activists and they were very surprised. They
said there's no way these women could actually engage in any activity that would undermine Saudi Arabia. And a lot of people who are very supportive
of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman are saying OK if these accusations are true, then at least please make the accusations public with the evidence
public so that there is legal transparency around this case.
GORANI: But I wonder then why do it? I mean it's a group of women. One of them was 70 years old. I think it's the one who was - among those who
were released. Is it because there's concern that there may be some beginnings of a political, kind of, force there of organization, of people
KHATIB: I think the message is the Saudi society should not expect that activism in any way is going to result in any change in government policy.
I think this is the statement that is being sent. And unfortunately I will also say that the right for women to drive did not come through bottom up
pressure as much as it did through economic necessity on part of the government because it knows that without having women in the workforce and
in the public domain Saudi economy will suffer.
But that does not excuse this measure that, you know, has been implemented. It is if anything hurting the public relations campaign that Saudi Arabia
has worked very hard on in the last few months.
GORANI: Lina Khatib of Chatham House, as always, thanks so much for joining us on this important story. And staying in the region Egypt's
Security Forces have arrested a famous blogger and activist in a widening crackdown on descent there. Wael Abbas's sister tells CNN he was arrested
in the early hours of Wednesday.
Abbas was a leading voice during the Arab Spring in 2011. We interviewed him many times. He was one of the faces of the revolution back then and
he's continued to criticize human rights abuses in Egypt and it is believed he is currently in detention in Egypt. Check out our Facebook page,
Facebook.com/halagoranicinn for more.
And after the break, multiple women are accusing Hollywood heavyweight Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior. Up next, CNN's investigation.
(COMMERICAL BREAK) GORANI: Turning to Sudan now where a team of lawyers is filing an appeal on behalf of Noura Hussein. It's that teenage girl facing a death penalty
for killing the man she was forced to marry. Who then allegedly raped her. Her team is trying to save her life by providing new information to the
Nima Elbagir is in Sudan. She is the only international correspondent following Noura's story from Khartoum. We've been trying to get a hold of
her, of Nima. We've been unable to do so this hour. But she left us new details about the case earlier.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As if the original details weren't omplicated enough a Sudanese teenager convicted for the murder of a husband
that she says allowed his relatives to pin her down before he raped her. But now we're learning fresh testimony from the medical examiner.
Who says that he found indentations of teeth marks as part of a struggle it appears between her and her husband. Teeth marks in her shoulder. Also
slash marks to her hands that seems to match Noura's description of a grapple between herself and her husband of the knife that she then plunged
into his chest.
The worry activists tell us is that details will not make the appeal put forward by government appointed lawyers. They are concerned that these
details will not be part of the appeal put in front of the Sudanese appeals commissions and ultimately ending up in front of the high court.
GORANI: Nima Elbagir in Khartoum. Now to this, a "CNN" investigation has uncovered a pattern of alleged inappropriate behavior by legendary actor
Morgan Freeman. Both on set and at his production company Revelations Entertainment.
Joining me now "CNN's" Chloe Melas and An Phung Chloe and An Phung reported on this story. Thanks to both of you. Chloe What did you learn in the
course of your reporting about these allegations from multiple women?
CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there Hala. Well after a month long investigation 16 people shared their stories with "CNN". Several of them
said that Freeman made constant comments about their bodies and clothing choices.
Eight of them said that they were victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior by Freeman. Two of those eight said that they were subjected to
unwanted touching by him. And I want to share some of those stories that we were told.
One woman who was a production assistant on the movie "Going In Style" said that while filming in 2015 Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching of
her lower back. And comments about her figure on a near daily basis.
In another incident she say's that Freeman kept trying to lift her skirt and asking if she was wearing underwear. She says this incident took place
in front of his co-star Allen Arkin who allegedly told him to stop. He could not be reached for comment but Morgan Freeman issued this statement
after our story was published.
"Anyone who knows me or who has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intestinally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I
apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected. That was never my intent."
GORANI: Well An we learn this was not just on movie sets. We saw that on your reporting, was happening at his production company as well. What more
can you tell us?
AN PHUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's what's so alarming. Much of what's what is alleged was happing out in the open on movie and
sets in front of other actors and crew members. Some of it even happened when the camera's were rolling.
Three individuals who attended a birthday party thrown for Morgan Freeman on his production company, claimed that staffers were asked to stand in a
circle and Freeman allegedly walked up to the women. Looked them up and down, stood within an inch of their face before moving on to the next woman
in the circle. A source who was there said that there were quote sexual undertones to that exchange.
Another source claims he witnessed Freeman massage the shoulders of a young intern who appeared visibly uncomfortable by the touching. And another
female employee says he walked up to her on a set and asked "How do you feel about sexual harassment?"
When she appeared flustered by the question Freeman then turned to other people on the set and said. "See guys this is how you do it." The source
told us that she was stunned by that exchange.
GORANI: And Chloe allegations also coming - not just actresses and people on the set, but also from reporters, entertainment reporters who interacted
with Morgan Freeman.
MELAS: Yes, Hala you're exactly right. Well one of the women that An and I spoke to, her name is Tyra Martin she's a producer at WGN in Chicago.
She say's that over the course of a decade she interviewed Freeman multiple times. And that he always made sexually charged comments to her.
But it was always - she was always in on the joke is what she says. Except for one time she feels truly crossed the line. When he asked her not to
pull her skirt down as she stood up to leave an interview. Now it's unclear if that incident was ever caught on tape. But what we do have for
you Hala is an example of some of his behavior from another interview with Tyra.
Now she say's that she's not bothered by this particular instance, but what it is is an example of the behavior that we've heard from our other
sources. There's music underneath this clip. But it was not added by "CNN". Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYRA MARTIN, PRODUCER: Hi. How are you?
MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: I'm better now.
MARTIN: Awe thanks. I don't have any magic tricks. I kind of feel like -
FREEMAN: Yes you do.
MARTIN: I showed up for dinner with out anything.
FREEMAN: I wouldn't worry about that. It's got magic written all over you child.
MARTIN: Awe, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible)
MARTIN: Good medicine for a single girl.
FREEMAN: I'm single to.
MARTIN: Are you?
MARTIN: Are you enjoying bachelor life?
FREEMAN: I am enjoying bachelor life immensely, because I get to look at you and drool.
FREEMAN: (inaudible) no response to it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELAS: Well Hala the impetuses for this investigation was actually my own experience with Morgan Freeman at a junket last year for his movie "Going
In Style". As soon as I walked into the room to do the interview he began making sexually suggestive comments to me.
Now as an entertainment reporter for over a decade in the industry it was unlike anything really I've ever experienced. One of those comments that
he said to me was actually caught on tape.
In it he says "Boy do I wish I was there" while looking me up and down and I was six months pregnant at the time. His co-stars Allen Arkin and
Michael Caine look at him when Freeman makes this comment. And take a note of Freemans eyes in this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN ARKIN, ACTOR: One time I congratulated the woman on being pregnant and she wasn't. And so I've never done it again. After 50 years I've
never done it.
MELAS: You learned your lesson.
ARKIN: I learned my lesson.
FREEMAN: Boy do I wish I was there.
MELAS: This movie is -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELAS: You know I want to point out though that were comments made by him to me before and after that exchange. And they weren't caught on tape. We
reached out to Allen Arkin and Michael Cain his co-stars that you see there. And Arkin could not be reached for comment, and Cain declined to
PHUNG: And Hala what we have heard here is just a few of the allegations that we reported out in our story. You can read the full investigation on
GORANI: Certainly cnn.com go check it out with that exclusive reporting. Chloe Melas, and An Phung. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
MELAS: Thank you.
PHUNG: Thank you.
GORANI: That's going to do it for me. From London I'm Hala Gorani, "Quest Means Business is" up next.