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CONNECT THE WORLD
Trump Shifts Message and Tweets "Collusion is Not a Crime"; Trial Begins for Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort; Report Says Sexual Exploitation Endemic in Aid Sector; Manchester Bomber was Rescued from Libya by U.K. Royal Navy; Trump Says He will meet with Iran Anytime They Want with No Preconditions; Young Symbol of Palestinian Resistance is Released from an Israeli Prison; LeBron James Says Trump Uses Sport to Divide Us. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 31, 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] BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.
No collusion. For months and months, that's been Donald Trump's central defense against a criminal investigation. He slams as a witch hunt. But
now we're seeing a remarkable shift in messaging. As the U.S. President says collusion is not a crime. This tweet comes on the very same day the
first trial stemming from the Russia investigation gets under way. We'll have more on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in court just
ahead on the show. But first, CNN's Abby Phillip shows us how Mr. Trump and his personal attorney are shifting the goalposts as special counsel
Robert Mueller closes in.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): A White House official distancing the President's press team from his outside lawyer,
Rudy Giuliani, telling CNN they are not coordinating after Giuliani's aggressive and confusing media blitz. Since the start of the investigation
into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, to interfere in the 2016 election, the message from the President's team has
been the same --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is absolutely no collusion.
There was no collusion.
There's no collusion.
PHILLIP: But Monday, Giuliani appeared to open the door to a different line of defense.
RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I don't even know if that's a crime -- colluding about Russians. You start analyzing the crime. The
hacking is the crime.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CO-ANCHOR "NEW DAY": That certainly is the original problem.
GIULIANI: Well, the President didn't hack. them for hacking.
CAMEROTA: Of course not, that's the original problem.
GIULIANI: He didn't pay them for hacking.
PHILLIP: Giuliani also pushing back on allegations that then-candidate Trump knew in advance and approved his campaign's 2016 Trump Tower meeting
with Russians, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. A claim sources tell CNN that Mr. Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is willing to tell special
counsel Robert Mueller's investigators.
GIULIANI: We said there was a one-on-one meeting that Donald Junior came in and told him about the meeting was about to take place. Well, there are
two witnesses who say it didn't happen.
CAMEROTA: The President and his son.
PHILLIP: The President's lawyer also bringing up the possibility of another previously undisclosed meeting. Before then saying it did not
GIULIANI: There wasn't another meeting that has been leaked but hasn't been public yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
GIULIANI: That was a meeting an alleged meeting -- three days before. He says there was a meeting with Donald Jr., with Jared Kushner, with Paul
Manafort, with Gates and possibly two others, in which they, out of the presence of the President, discussed the meeting with the Russians. We
checked with their lawyers, the ones we could check with, which was for the six. That meeting never, ever took place. It didn't happen. It's a
figment of his imagination or he's lying.
PHILLIP: Giuliani telling CNN that reporters have been asking him questions about this alleged second meeting and he was trying to get ahead
of the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cohen, how are you today?
MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER LAWYER: Doing great. Yourself?
PHILLIP: President Trump ignoring multiple questions about Cohen and the Russia investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you feel betrayed by Michael Cohen, sir.
PHILLIP: Despite lashing out at Mueller over alleged conflicts of interest over the weekend, Giuliani conceding he was unaware of what the President
GIULIANI: I can't tell you, I'm not show exactly what the conflict is. I have a good idea what it is. It's one that would have kept me out of the
NOBILO: And Abby joins us now, live from Washington with more. Abby, I want to get your thoughts on this moving of the collusion goalposts. So,
Giuliani said that collusion is not a crime. A claim that's reinforced by the President. What do you make of that? And of course, even if collusion
isn't a crime, it's a fairly simple gateway, isn't it, to conspiracy?
PHILLIP: Yes, it seems very much like an attempt, Bianca, to muddy the waters around this central issue in this case. Giuliani saying later in a
subsequent interview that it's a classic legal argument. That the underlying crime that someone is accused of isn't actually a crime. But
even if they did it, even if it was, they didn't do it, so it doesn't matter. And that's basically what they're trying to say now.
But just two days ago President Trump was on Twitter, calling for Democrats to be investigated for what he says was collusion with Russians on their
end. That claim being one that is completely unsubstantiated by the way.
[11:05:00] But it just goes to show that the President and his lawyers were at one point saying that collusion was a problem and that it was a crime.
But that they didn't do it. And now they're trying to change their tune. It seems a pretty clear attempt to move the goal posts so that if this ever
comes to a question of whether there is evidence of collusion that they can simply claim that there is no crime at all.
NOBILO: And Abby, just now a question on the timing of all of this. Because, of course, it's coming as Trump's former campaign chief goes on
trial. Is there a sense that the White House is getting worried about Mueller getting too close to them?
PHILLIP: Well, interestingly, this Manafort trial could very well be a little bit of a relief for President Trump. In part because so much of the
trial has to do with Manafort's own financial dealings, his business dealings. What you've heard from White House aides, like Kellyanne Conway
speaking this morning in an interview, is that this has nothing to do with the President. And it may very well be the case that it has nothing to do
with the President in terms of Paul Manafort's own legal risk.
But what it does signifies is that the special counsel's investigation is going forward. That people are in fact getting caught up in it and this
case is progressing. It's really putting people in legal jeopardy. So, it keeps the issue at the forefront. Although for now, it seems that the
White House is right, that they might actually be correct that President Trump isn't directly implicated in this particular case, at least for now.
But we should also keep in mind. Paul Manafort was the President's campaign chairman and the White House aides are going to say that he played
a very narrow role in the campaign. But that's not true, frankly he was a senior aide in the Trump campaign for months. And he was only fired after
some of these dealings came to light. So, it's important to keep that in mind, especially as the trial comes to its very beginning this week --
NOBILO: Abby, thanks for following those developments for us, Abby Phillip there at the White House.
Well as we've just heard, the trial of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is now under way. And while it doesn't involve collusion
allegations or interference in U.S. elections, it's still a crucial test for the Russia investigation. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man who served for five months as Donald Trump's campaign chairman now faces 25
criminal charges in two separate cases in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Amounting to a maximum of 305 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Manafort lost his fight to move this week's trial away from Alexandria, Virginia -- which is just across the Potomac from Washington -- to Roanoke,
four hours outside the beltway.
Manafort faces 18 counts of bank and tax fraud in Virginia, where prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller's team have laid out nearly
500 pieces of evidence they plan to present. They'll include pictures of Manafort's five homes spanning from Manhattan to Virginia and other photos
documenting his once-lavish lifestyle. Filled with cars, high-end clothing and even a watch and other items from the self-proclaimed most expensive
store in the world, Bijan.
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Mr. Trump will be officially the nominee of the Republican Party. So, we're excited about that.
SCHNEIDER: Just one month after that announcement and Donald Trump clinching the Republican nomination, Paul Manafort was forced out. He left
the campaign in August 2016 amid questions about his past lobbying work for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government and the payments he received. More
than a year later, in late October 2017, the special counsel's team indicted Manafort. Charging him with hiding the money he made in Ukraine
to avoid paying taxes and then lying about his debt to secure new loans.
Manafort's lawyers have been fighting the charges for months on two fronts, in addition to the Virginia case, Manafort is charged with seven other
counts in Washington, D.C., including failing to register as a foreign agent. That trial is set to start in September. In June, the D.C.
district judge revoked Manafort's $10 million bail, which included house arrest and sent him to a jail two hours south of Washington. The judge
scolded Manafort after prosecutors said he contacted witnesses in his case and asked them to lie.
MANAFORT: I have no foreign clients now. I have no clients. I have one client, Donald Trump.
SCHNEIDER: The man who arguably ushered Donald Trump to the Republican nomination is now more recognizable for his mug shot. The trial will be
the first major spotlight for the special counsel's team that has already secured five guilty pleas, including Manafort's former deputy, Rick Gates
and former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. So far, special counsel Robert Mueller has brought 191 criminal charges against 32 people
and three companies as part of his investigation into Russian meddling and other matters that arise from that investigation.
(on camera): The jury selection in the Manafort case is slated to begin Tuesday and depending on how long that takes opening statements could be
under way later this week. Prospective jurors will fill out a 13-page questionnaire.
[11:10:00] Well, they'll be asked how much media coverage they've seen on the case since, of course, it's been reported on extensively. Jessica
Schneider, CNN, Washington.
NOBILO: Now to another big item on President Trump's plate -- Iran still hasn't formally responded to his offer to meet with his Iranian counterpart
at any time and without preconditions. Later on, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, set some conditions though. Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani,
today did blast the U.S. for pulling out of their nuclear deal. Mr. Rouhani called the move illegal.
So, I want to bring in our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson now to discuss this with us. Nic, this appears at least on the surface to
be a major change in tone from the President. Were you surprised? Or do you think it's consistent with his confidence and his ability to navigate a
meeting with any world leader on the world stage?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think we've also spent a surprise for President Trump because we never quite know
what he's going to say. So, I think you have to look at it in that view. Perhaps you know if you wanted to be very positive and believe that
President Trump does listen to key strategic advisers, he may have listened to what they said to him last week when he was doing all-caps tweets,
essentially threatening consequences to Iran, to Iranian officials and they were responding in kind to a degree. So, the rhetoric was right up there.
But it was pointed out that that was perhaps having a detrimental effect on what President Trump would really like to achieve which is to turn the
Iranian people against the Iranian leadership because there were street protests going on. So, perhaps he's tuned in that line of thinking. But
then when we hear secretary Pompeo walking it back again essentially saying, look, we'll meet. There are no preconditions, but these are
preconditions. The preconditions are no malign influence to get into real nuclear negotiation and treat your people with respect. I think we have to
understand perhaps President Trump is really doing what we see him doing so often, which is speaking out of turn with, from the way his advisers would
tell him to.
Yes, and there certainly is not a unity of messaging there. And Nic, Oman's foreign minister was in Washington last week. Here he is with the
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon. Now Oman's often seen as a mediator intentions evolving Iran. So, Nic, what could we make of the
timing of his visit here?
ROBERTSON: Yes, there was interesting. There were many reasons, obviously, to be talking with Oman. Oman's on the Gulf, the Iranians have
been essentially saying they might close down that narrow part of the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, they been threatening that. We've seen in Saudi
Arabia they've lost an oil tanker in the Red Sea they would blame on the Houthi who they say are backed by Iran. So, there's a real concern that
perhaps Iran would make good on its rhetoric to threaten international shipping and oil in the region there. And Oman would be a key partner in
that. But yes, Oman has played a key role when there were hostages being held in Iran, American hostages being held. They were released through
Oman, it was Oman that was the intermediary there.
But you know there are so many issues that could have been on the table at that meeting. It would be hard to know. But you could be sure Iranian
threats about the Gulf security in the Gulf of shipping would have been a topic.
NOBILO: And do you think that Trump might be rattled at all by the reports? For example, in the "Washington Post" about North Korea
potentially developing missiles, that the inability of his foreign policy, or diplomatic strategy to be working and he's trying something else here
ROBERTSON: You know, it's hard to see President Trump being rattled because he generally goes back, you know, to his campaign promises and the
things that he says he's going to deliver on. And the things that he knows resonates with his base. I think we would have to see more substantive
erroneous, egregious activity by North Korea, such as missile tests or a nuclear test, before essentially President Trump's Singapore summit with
Kim Jong-un would really blow up in his face. And it would be hard for him to, you know, essentially to put a good spin on that. But I think for the
time being we can expect him to try to spin this positively.
NOBILO: And to continue to claim somewhat of a victory. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for joining us.
Still to come tonight, a horrifying report accuses humanitarian aid workers of sexually exploiting the very people they're meant to help. Is the aid
sector finally having its me-too moment? We'll dig into that question in just a few moments.
[11:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NOBILO: Welcome back. A damning report by the U.K. parliament reveals the shocking extent of sexual exploitation in international aid. It accuses
aid agencies of turning a blind eye to abuse and harassment by their own workers against the very people that they're meant to be helping. Here's
some of the report's main finding.
Sex abuse by aid workers is endemic. Perpetrators easily move around within the sector. Abuses range from sexual comments to rape. Aid groups
are I aware of problems but failed to act.
CNN's Erin McLaughlin is following the story for us and has been really since February when we had the first reports of Oxfam staff and their
behavior during the earthquake in Haiti. Now what does this report tell us about the scale of the problem? What have you learned?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN: CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're still working to determine the scale. Many of these cases of abuse they believe are
actually underreported. And it's important to point out that this dates back to 2002 at least. So, this is a 16-year-old problem that up to this
point for the most part has gone unaddressed. And I put that to the chair of the committee, of the behind this report. And I asked him why is that?
Why are they waiting until now? He told me there's no good answer for that. But they're taking steps now.
He also emphasized though that the solution to this could take decades.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Out of one of the greatest natural disasters, one of the worst scandals in the history of global philanthropy the
revelation that Oxfam's country director in Haiti hosted sex parties with prostitutes while the country reeled from a devastating earthquake,
triggered headlines around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sexual abuse allegations.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: A growing scandal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Denies covering up accusations.
MCLAUGHLIN: And further revelations of sexual exploitation and abuse across the global charity sector. Six months on a new damning report by
the British Parliament. Warning the scandal is far from over.
STEPHEN TWIGG, CHAIRMAN, INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE: What our report sets out is a collective failure over a period of at least 16 years,
by the aid sector, to address sexual exploitation and abuse. Organizations have often put their own reputation ahead of the protection of children,
women and other victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse.
MCLAUGHLIN: Steven Twigg chaired the parliamentary committee which found sexual exploitation in the aid sector to be a quote, open secret. Noting
outrage is appropriate, but surprise is not. And that the aid sector has been aware of sexual exploitation and abuse by its own personnel for years.
[11:20:02] And that the reactive, patchy and sluggish response of the sector, has created an impression of complacency verging on complicity.
TWIGG: One of the most disturbing pieces of evidence we took was the suggestion that because very often humanitarian crises are chaotic
situations, with little regulation, predators will be attracted to working in the aid sector.
MCLAUGHLIN: The report calls out British charities, including Oxfam and Save the Children. Oxfam acknowledges the report makes for quote, painful
reading. In a statement saying we know we failed to protect vulnerable women in Haiti and we accept we should have reported more clearly at the
time. For that, we are truly sorry. We've made improvements since 2011 but recognize we have further to go.
In a statement Save the Children says, along with other charities, we've heard the wake-up call for the entire aid sector loud and clear.
A wake-up call that the problem is global. For example, it cites a 2018 report looking at abuse in Syria. Which found that quote, sexual
exploitation by humanitarian workers at distributions, was commonly cited by participants as a risk faced by women and girls trying to access aid.
TWIGG: They can't be left to one country. There's got to be buy-in from other countries.
MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): Do you see that buy-in?
TWIGG: I think there are some encouraging signs, but it's very early. It's very early. And if this is going to change, it's not going to change
in weeks or months or even years. It's going to take decades to really establish a system that works in every part of the world.
NOBILO: Paul Scully is a Conservative MP and part of the committee that published this report and he joins Erin and I now live in studio as well.
Thanks for being with us, Paul. Just before we get to what government action can be taken on this, Erin I know in your reporting you've been
speaking to a lot of NGOs who have said there isn't enough emphasis on prosecutions. What have they been telling you about what they're calling
MCLAUGHLIN: That's right, Bianca. We heard from the organization here. Their cries which works to fight sexual abuse against children. They
actually submitted written testimony to the parliamentary committee, to you, and they released a statement. They said this report doesn't go far
enough. They say that the, quote, report is welcomed as a good foundation to start. But perpetrators and enablers may still go free as prosecution
is not yet a priority. What do you say to that?
PAUL SCULLY, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Well actually, we raised this on many visits. We raised this within the report. We talked about the fact,
that we welcome the fact that the secretary-general of the U.N. is lifting any sense of diplomatic immunity for U.N. peace-keepers and U.N. aid
workers. We've talked about the fact that this needs to be reported back to host countries where appropriate. And that's not going to be
appropriate in every occasion. Because it might put the victim in more risk in certain countries, so you do have to have the balance right. But
we did look at it in the parliamentary report.
NOBILO: And Paul, we're talking about solutions, well ways to deal with problems that we know are already existing and have been as Erin says for
at least 16 years. But what can be done to be more proactive about this to insure people's safety going forward, who are being helped by aid agencies?
SCULLY: Well, I think there's a series of things that we need to do. We need to look at the aid agencies to actually do. So, we need to make sure
that the victims themselves, the beneficiaries of aid know their rights and know where to go. We need to make sure that the whistle blowers actually
are listened to. Are protected. We need to make sure that these NGOs have the budget actually to be able to address safeguarding. And we need to
make sure that we have some sort of enforcement to screen these people out. Because there are people moving from agency to agency in a predatory sort
of way. And we've suggested a global register, but that's the thing that actually will take time because it is incredibly complicated to introduce
when you try to do something over many, many countries.
NOBILO: And you talked about budgets, do you think that's going to be a challenge as well, trying to get adequate funding to implement the types of
solutions that we are discussing?
SCULLY: Well, what we said is that rather than just sort of hiding it away and worrying about bidding for money and just go for the lowest price, they
should actually have a line in the budget. When they're going to places like the World Bank, whatever agency, they should put a line in their
budget saying this is for safeguarding. So, make it virtue that they're actually putting in.
NOBILO: And the report points out this is a global problem. How do you get other countries on board?
Well, we've taken a really good strong line on this and they've putting more than the Secretary of State has been on the front -- right from the
off as soon as the scandal broke. We're hosting an international safeguarding summit in this country in London in October. That's a welcome
start. The Secretary of State has also said we are not going to put money into future projects until you can demonstrate you've got solid
safeguarding policies you're enforcing as well.
[11:25:02] And if it tends to take one of these countries that really leads in international aid. So, where we are making that forceful presentation,
I hope that other countries and other aid agencies and NGOs will follow.
NOBILO: Now Paul, two of the major British charities which are mentioned in this report that we're talking about have responded. Oxfam called the
report a painful read and Save the Children said the report was a wake-up call to the industry. Both said there working on systems to tackle this
internally as we've been talking about. And in a statement Save the Children also said and I quote, governments also have a role to play.
That's why we've called for legislation to make development charities a regulated sector under U.K. law.
So, is that something that the committee also plans to implement? How they're going to enforce this regulation?
SCULLY: Well, we also do have the charity commission that have been looking into it, because these are all charities, the charity commission
has got a really important role to play in this as well. As Erin said, this is something that's been going on for many, many years. We've had
wake-up calls before. Well we now need to make sure that we don't have another wake-up call. That we get something that's sustainable and
protects the most vulnerable people in the world, the beneficiaries of these NGOs.
NOBILO: Paul Scully, thank you for joining us with the insight into what the committee's been discussing. And Erin, thank you so much for your
Still to come, tonight it was an attack that horrified Britain in a way that few others have. Now incredible new details about the man behind it
all. Stay with us as we reveal them in a moment.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NOBILO: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Bianca Nobilo. Welcome back.
Remarkable new details are emerging now about the man who killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last year. It turns out that
Salman Abedi was among a group of British nationals evacuated from Libya by the Royal Navy during the Civil War in 2014. At the time the U.K.
government advised all British nationals to leave Libya because of the extreme levels of violence there. Our Nina dos Santos has been monitoring
this and joins us with more. Nina, we're learning startling new details here. And even the fact that the perpetrator was a subject of interest to
the security services. What have you learned?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was a subject of interest to the security services it seems up until one month, Bianca, before he was
rescued in that operation from Libya. Remember that this is a British-born individual, whose parents came from Libya. So, he had been back to Libya,
spent some time there. Obviously, the country's civil war degenerated. The security situation became incredibly precarious and he was one of more
than 100 British citizens who the Ministry of Defense confirms were evacuated from Tripoli by boat to Malta in 2014. Alongside his brother
now. I should point out his brother still remains in jail in Libya and the U.K. is seeking his extradition for links to the Manchester bombing attack.
And he's a suspect in that, too.
The real issue here was raised by this newspaper, the "Daily Mail." As you can see here it has described the rescue of Salman Abedi a number of months
before -- three years in fact before he went on to -- before he went on to commit the Manchester Arena bombing as a sickening quote, act of betrayal.
But as I said before, he was a British citizen. It seems though he was on the radar of authorities. He dropped off the radar for some reason, before
he was rescued. And then he actually traveled back towards Libya as well, Bianca, back in 2017. This newspaper headline and these details have
emerged also as a report into the intelligence services' handling of the Manchester attacks, the Westminster attacks has been released and that
concluded that given the information that was available to authorities at the time, vis-a-vis Salman Abedi, they're still comfortable that things
were handled properly -- Bianca.
NOBILO: And, Nina, given that the terror threat level in the U.K. remains at severe, do you think this raises a lot of questions now that we
understand the particular run-up to the attack about security and vetting and safety in the U.K.?
DOS SANTOS: Yes, well obviously the U.K. is on a heightened state of alert. Obviously, it's not on the most heightened state of alert. Meaning
that an attack was imminent. We had that for a number of months after, of course, the Westminster attacks and also the Manchester attacks as well,
Bianca. But remember that there are deemed to be potentially tens of thousands of people who are on watch lists in this country. In fact, the
EU's own watchdog for security said that they reckoned there could be up to 25,000 people who could have extremist tendencies coming back to the U.K.
And the whole question of how Salman Abedi's case has been handled, obviously, raises questions for the intelligence service at a time when
they're having to deal with the threat of people returning from conflict zones like Libya, also like Syria as well -- Bianca.
NOBILO: Nina dos Santos in London, thank you for following that story for us.
Now, let's connect you back to one of our biggest stories this hour. And even though it's Donald Trump 101, it's still a real head-scratcher.
Remember this -- just days ago, the American President barking a terrible warning at Iran through his favorite megaphone of all, Twitter. But that
was last week. And this was yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No precondition, no. If they want to meet, I'll meet. Any time they want. Any time they want. It's good for the country. Good for them,
good for us. And good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I'll meet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: An almost jaw-dropping change. But that's not all. Mr. Trump, about as clear as can be, right? No preconditions. Zero. Zip. Nada.
None. But then, another classic part of the Trump era, just hours later, his own hand-picked people totally contradicting him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The feeling is a demonstrated commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people,
reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it's worthwhile to enter a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the President
said he's prepared to sit down and have a conversation with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:35:00] So, no preconditions? Apart from Iran changing almost everything. Let's bring in Ellie Geranmayeh. An expert on Iran and the
world, working on it all day, every day as a senior fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations. Thank you very much for being with us.
Maybe if we could focus first on the reaction in Iran at the moment to this fairly confusing messaging coming out of the White House.
ELLIE GERANMAYEH, SENIOR POLICY FELLOW, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well first of all it's important to note that this isn't the
first offer from President Trump to talk to the Iranians. We know that a year ago in the United Nations General Assembly, Trump made a secret back-
channel offer to meet with the Iranian delegation or have representatives meet with one another. And he's repeatedly since basically exiting the
nuclear agreement with Iran, said that at some point he'll sit down and negotiate with his Iranian counterparts.
But this has been one of the most clear statements where he has said without preconditions, he would agree to talk to the Iranian government
officials. Now across the board in Iran over the last day, we've had rejection after rejection of this offer. Basically, to say in the current
environment of hostility and aggression and also right after Trump has violated and exited a nuclear agreement that was meant to be a conference
building between the two sides, it's not the right time to have these this type of diplomacy.
NOBILO: And obviously there are many powerful groups within the country. How are Trump's offers -- plural -- how have they been resonating with
them? Does everybody feel the same way towards Trump extending this olive branch? Or is it a more complicated picture than that?
GERANMAYEH: I think it's complicated. Every faction certainly has great question marks about the value of such a meeting happening with President
Trump, given the mixed messaging they've been given. And given the way he's treated his own allies over the last year and a half. But what we
know is that for example the more ideological and more hardline factions of the system reject any type of opening with the United States, particularly
in these conditions. And actually, Trump walking out from the nuclear agreement was a gift to them, because they can now say look the U.S. cannot
be trusted. Iran's supreme leader was right from day one. And it will not bear fruit for Iran to conduct these types of talks with the United States.
NOBILO: And that's a good point to jump off on actually. And Ellie, let's illustrate for our viewers how power is divvied up in Iran. And don't
worry if you can't get your head around all of this right away, everybody. It's quite complicated and that's what we're getting at. There are lots of
very powerful groups, all with very different ideas of what should happen. So, help take us inside the thinking inside Iran politically and on the
street in the wider population about Donald Trump and his offer here.
GERANMAYEH: Well look, the government is currently headed by a president that is relatively in the spectrum of leadership in Iran seen as a moderate
centrist figure. Now President Rouhani paved the way forward for the nuclear agreement under the former administration in the U.S. President
Obama, where there could be a win-win solution found for both sides. Where Iran could save face, restrict his nuclear program, but claim some certain
victories in terms of being able to enrich nuclear fissions on its own soil.
But now with the turn of tide on the Trump administration with the hostile words that we're seeing, with the type of words that we're seeing from his
advisers, including John Bolton, who is now in the White House. One of the long advocates of regime change in Iran. People across the spectrum and
the leadership are thinking twice about whether Trump's offer, even if it's genuine, to meet, can lead to anything tangible for Iran. And here that
camp that I refer to earlier, the more ideologically disposed or the ones that actually say Iran has to remain in this kind of anti-western stance,
they are shoring up points from the very actions of President Trump in terms of this aggressive policy, bringing in people who have advocate for
regime change and also walking out on a nuclear agreement that the moderate President Rouhani invested a lot of political capital in achieving.
NOBILO: Let's take a look at the changing relationship between the U.S. and Iran over the years which you paint a good picture of right there. So,
let's not forget that it was only in 2002 that George W. Bush declared Iran part of the so-called axis of evil. But six years later there was
progress when Mr. Bush for the first time sent an official to take part in nuclear negotiations, as you were just saying with Tehran, which were being
held in Geneva. Then in 2013, Barack Obama would be part of the highest- level contact between the U.S. and Iran in decades when he spoke to President Rouhani by telephone. That then of course paving the way for the
2015 nuclear deal. Which of course Donald Trump would later pull out of.
[11:40:00] How significant are the more recent developments in the context of the recent history? Do you think it's compromising the progress that's
been fairly hard-earned over the last few decades?
GERANMAYEH: Well look, the nuclear agreement, one of the biggest achievements of that was to start a process of confidence-building between
the United States and Iran. That process has been severely damaged, if not totally derailed by President Trump's actions. So, if he's serious about
meeting with the Iranian counterparts and the Iranian President, he needs to also learn how the politics of Iran would reflect on that and would have
a certain type of allergy to the aggressive tone that he's taking repeatedly on Iran. And also, if he is saying that they want to reach some
sort of a better or bigger deal with Iran. Then the Iranians also need to understand, well, what do they get out of it? Will there be full and final
sanctions easing for example? On that front, the Iranians are really unsure. Given the domestic backlash and domestic pressures, for example,
from Democrats and Republicans in Washington.
But also, from some of the U.S. regional allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, that are very, very hostile towards Iran across the board at the
moment. So again, if President Trump wants to meet, will Iran actually get anything tangible out of it? And that's a big question mark in Tehran at
NOBILO: It certainly is. Ellie Geranmayeh, thank you so much for joining us and for breaking down this very complicated regional tensions for us.
Let's get up you up to speed on some other stories that on our radar right now. At least 19 people are missing in northern California as massive
wildfires continue to burn across the region. The catastrophic Carr wildfire has claimed the lives of six people in the last week. The blaze
is so large and hot it's created its own weather system, making it even more difficult to predict.
In Indonesia, the last six hikers stranded on a volcano following Sunday's earthquake have been rescued. They were evacuated off the mountain by
helicopter this morning. The 6.4-magnitude quake unleashed landslides that trapped more than 600 hikers on Mount Rinjani.
Rising waters have forced more than 100,000 people from their homes in Myanmar. Heavy monsoon rains flooded villages in the central land,
southern parts of the country. Some residents were now stranded by fast- moving waters, many of the displaced have been relocated to monasteries and cyclone shelters.
And votes are being counted in Zimbabwe in the first election since former President Robert Mugabe was ousted after 37 years in power. Officials
report a higher voter turnout of about 70 percent. Results of Monday's general election are expected by the weekend.
And you can follow all the latest stories and much more on CNN.com, and if you don't have a lot of time, just log on and get a quick recap. The top
five headlines you need to know each day. Check it out on CNN.com.
Still to come this hour, the teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier last year has been released from prison, now Palestinian leaders are calling
Ahed Tamimi a model in their struggle for freedom. CNN sits down with her next.
[11:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NOBILO: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Bianca Nobilo. Welcome back.
After spending her 17th birthday in an Israeli prison, Ahed Tamimi is free. Returning home to a hero's welcome in the West Bank as a powerful symbol of
the Palestinian cause. CNN's Ian Lee sat down with Tamimi to talk to her about the future and her plans.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a life Ahed Tamimi couldn't have anticipated -- shooting to fame when she was 11. By
staring down Israeli soldiers, the young Palestinian was on a path to international prominence, but also prison. It was this video in late 2017,
of her hitting a soldier, that for Israel was the last straw. Moments before the incident, an Israeli soldier had shot her cousin in the head
with a rubber bullet, he survived.
(on camera): Do you regret hitting the soldier?
AHED TAMIMI (through translator): I believe that I didn't do something wrong, I didn't go to the soldier, the soldier came to my house. The
soldier forced me to do this. This is a normal reaction for what happened.
LEE (voice-over): Days later police raided the 16-year-old's home and arrested her. Israel's defense minister told reporters at the time whoever
goes wild during the day will be arrested at night. Her trial in an Israeli military court lasted months. It became a lightning rod for
criticism of the IDF and its treatment of Palestinian youth. Tamimi finally pled guilty to four charges of criminal acts where she disrupted an
IDF soldier and carried out incitement. She'd serve a total of eight months in prison. Released Sunday, Tamimi received a hero's homecoming.
But the teenager who became a Palestinian icon first wanted pistachio ice cream.
TAMIMI (through translator): It's a wonderful feeling. I haven't eaten ice cream in a long time. It's a wonderful feeling that I hope all the
female prisoners are released and can eat ice cream.
LEE: Israeli officials were mute about her release. Tamimi celebrated her 17th birthday in prison and graduated high school. She said she learned
patience and studied human rights. All the while, her notoriety only grew.
(on camera): How do you feel that you're now a symbol of the Palestinian cause?
TAMIMI (through translator): Of course, it makes me happy and so proud that I succeed to deliver the message of prisoners of my homeland and
nation. God willing, I will succeed to deliver the message that Palestinians are suffering because of occupation.
LEE (voice-over): Now free, her message is of Palestinian unity and hasn't ruled out a career in politics. But one step at a time.
TAMIMI (through translator): In the future I'll register for university and study law and someday I want to be a famous lawyer to defend my
LEE: The world and Palestinian society will watch Ahed Tamimi closely. So, too, will Israeli authorities as she's currently on parole. Ian Lee,
CNN, in Nabi Salih the West Bank.
NOBILO: Still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, basketball superstar, LeBron James, gets political and he has a lot to say. His thoughts on President
Trump, after this break.
[11:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NOBILO: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD I'm Bianca Nobilo, welcome back.
Earlier this year, some of the leading basketball players in the United States were told to shut up and dribble and stay out of politics. Well,
LeBron James has never been one to stay quiet. The superstar just opened a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio for at-risk children. James
is doing his part to make the world a better place. But says he would never sit down and talk to President Trump about it. He tells CNN's Don
LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: For me when I did go to school, and when I was playing little league sports, being around kids and being around
people to have fun and kind of speak the same language as you, it allows you to kind of escape away from the drugs and the violence and the gunshots
and the things that go on everyday basis. And that's what we're here for right now. That's why I'm opening had school to be able to get these kids'
mind away from and their body away from, we've even made the hours of being in school longer from 8:00 to instead of 3:00, to 5:00.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Yes, we say, that's a long time.
JAMES: Yes, we want them here. You know, so, we can let them know not only do we want you here. But we really do care. We really do care about
what happens with you.
LEMON: Are athletics important to these kids? Do you think it's their minds right now?
JAMES: No, I think both. I think, I think athletics are important, but also their mind. Think both. I think it just plays, it brings, when
you're part of sports and you're part of your -- it brings so much camaraderie and so much fun. You know, we are in a position right now in
America, more important where this whole, this race thing is taken over. You know and because -- one, because I believe our President is kind of
trying to divide us. But I think --
LEMON: Kind of?
JAMES: Yes. He is, he is, I don't want to say, "kind of." He's dividing us. And what I noticed over the last few months, that he's kind of used
sport to kind of divide us and that's something that I can't relate to. Because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone
white. You know, and I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them and they got an opportunity to learn about me and we became very good
friends and I was like, oh wow, this is all because of sports. And sports has never been something that divides people. It's always been something
that brings someone together.
LEMON: You tweeted about when Steph Curry -- you know, he called him -- you called him a bum. Because he, but Steph had already said I'm not going
to White House.
JAMES: He already said he wasn't going he tried to use it after that to say after that, well, you're not invited. Well, you can't uninvite me to
something I've already said I'm not going to go to. And we all know Steph Curry, model citizen. Great kid, come from a great background. Great
LEMON: Great father.
JAMES: -- great father and so many different kids. So many kids, white, black, Hispanic, all different races, love what he's doing and rightfully
so. There's no reason for anyone to ever attack him you know, I felt that.
LEMON: Dude whenever there's something like he's in trouble. He can't wiggle his way out of something. He'll bring up the national anthem thing
in kneeling or standing. Do you think he uses black athletes as a scapegoat?
JAMES: At times, at times. And more often than not. I believe he uses anything that's popular to try to negate people from thinking about the
positive things that they could actually be doing and try to just get our minds to not be sharp as possible right then. Just to either from kneeling
from football players kneeling. Look at Kaepernick, who was a protest something that he believed in. And he did it in the most calm fashion
[11:55:00] LEMON: Respectful.
JAMES: Very respectful. He did all his due diligence. He was knowledgeable about it and everyone knew why he did it. You look at all
the NFL players that are still kneeling and things of that nature. You look at Steph, you look at Marshawn Lynch. You look at all of these
instances where he's trying to divide our sport, but at the end of the day, sport is the reason why we all come together.
NOBILO: In today's parting shots, we all know that Lionel Messi is one of the best football players in the world. But have you ever wondered why
he's quite so good? This video might give you a clue. It's Messi running rings around his dog. Hulk, the giant mastiff was rendered powerless and
totally at Messi's mercy. Now where have we seen that before? Messi will soon be running with the big dogs again at Barcelona and giving Hulk a
Dogs may not dominate the pitch, but they are winning over the internet. Head over to our website to see why they're overtaking our traditionally
feline overlords, much as it pains me to say that. And check out CONNECT THE WORLD's Facebook page. That's Facebook.com/CNNConnect. I'm Bianca
Nobilo. That was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching.