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CONNECT THE WORLD

Trump Admits Meeting with Russians was Getting Info on Clinton; North Korea Hopeful for Second Trump Summit; U.S. Senator Rand Paul in Moscow but Refused to Talk About Election Meddling; Powerful Indonesia Earthquake Kills at Least 89; Iranian President to Respond to Trump in Address; Trump Fires Up His Base with Story-Telling Skills; California Fires Burn Area Larger that New York City; Iran Braces for Reimposed U.S. Sanctions; Bikers Weight in on Trump and Politics. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired August 6, 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] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta filling in for Becky Anderson. Good

to have you with us.

U.S. President Trump is out of the public eye today with no speaking engagements on the schedule. But a stunning admission on Twitter is giving

investigators in the Russia probe more than enough material to keep them busy. After months of disinformation and denials, Mr. Trump is now

admitting that his campaign was willing to accept information from Russians. Acknowledging that the goal of the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower

was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. His tweet says he is not concerned about possible consequences for his son, Donald Jr., who set up that

meeting. Sources close to the White House tell CNN quite the opposite. Mr. Trump also says the meeting was totally legal and went nowhere, but we

don't know if the Russians delivered on that promise of dirt or not. The only assurances we have come from Mr. Trump and his associates who continue

to change their story again and again.

Let's bring in White House reporter Stephen Collinson. Stephen, we hear this revolving version of stories continually from the President about this

Trump Tower meeting. It seems like he's digging himself a hole. When you consider the fact that he's been on Twitter that this meeting to get dirt

on Hillary Clinton from a foreign national was not -- was legal. I just want to bring up the election law which clearly states that it is illegal

to get contributions of any sort from a foreign national in the leadup to a federal election or federal campaign. Has he condemned his own son with

his tweet?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, Lynda, the President has spent the last two years insisting and knows that there's no collusion.

One way of looking at this tweet is to conclude the President has, in fact, said his campaign was willing to conspire with the Russians to get

political dirt on his opponent, Hillary Clinton. And it seems to be almost an admission.

What I think it shows is that the President is increasingly concerned about just what Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will conclude. It seems to

be that what this is, is an attempt to get out ahead of any report by Mueller to put it out there that this meeting was indeed primarily an

attempt to get some compromising information on Hillary Clinton.

A lot of people have already concluded that had fact from the evidence we've seen so far from Donald Trump Jr.'s e-mails, to various other sort of

bits of circumstantial evidence and it does change it when the President comes out. But I think what he's trying to argue is that this is normal

behavior, that there was nothing wrong with this and that he's trying to downplay and take the heat out of such allegations if Mueller comes forward

with them. And, of course, while he's worried about his son, the President probably doesn't have legal exposure himself unless it can be proven that

he knew about this meeting in advance. What could be worrying for him, that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said that he's prepared to

testify to Robert Mueller that Trump did it know about this meeting ahead of time. So, you can see how the walls seem to be closing in around Trump

and his close associates right now and that might explain quite a lot of the President's recent behavior.

KINKADE: Yes, he certainly sounds concerned even tweeting as recently as five or ten minutes ago about the Russia probe. If he continues to issue

these tweets potentially boxing himself in, could this even negate the need for Mueller to interview him?

COLLINSON: I think Mueller would like to interview him, just so that his investigation is as exhaustive as possible. Everything we know about the

special counsel and his career is that is the way he operates by the book. It's also, of course, the reason why testifying to Mueller voluntarily

would be such a risk for the President given the fact that he doesn't know exactly what Mueller knows already about the meeting and his own record of

misrepresentations and not telling the truth. If that were to happen to Mueller it could get him into, you know, the idea of perjury or obstruction

of justice.

The President's team seems to be giving signals they're getting towards the end of a process of deciding whether the President will testify to Mueller

if they decide not that won't be the case then we could get into a protracted legal battle if the special counsel tries to subpoena the

President.

[11:05:01] That could elongate this whole special counsel investigation by months.

KINKADE: Yes, that is fascinating. And especially in light of the fact that his own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said he doesn't think it's a good idea

for Donald Trump to be interviewed by Mueller. But we'll leave that aside for just a moment.

I want to turn to some developments on diplomacy with North Korea because CNN has learned Pyongyang believes there is a strong possibility of a

second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un sometime later this year. Interesting to note, Stephen, that President Trump even at his

rallies, his political rallies earlier this week, was saying that everything is going really well with North Korea and obviously, he's pretty

happy with how things are progressing despite the fact that the United Nations released a report last week saying that North Korea is not only

continuing with its nuclear missile program but the fact that it is increasing it.

COLLINSON: Right. I think the way we have to look at this is that the President believes that his summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore was a huge

success for him diplomatically, personally and politically. So, while the rest of the world may look at this objectively and question the outcome of

the first summit and question why there would be a need for a second one. Considering there didn't seem to have been any progress towards

denuclearization, I don't think the President evaluates it the same way.

I think the big concern from the U.S. side would be that it appears that Kim is trying to draw a wedge between the President -- who clearly wants to

go ahead and have the fanfare of another summit that has him striding across the world stage and the rest of his team which is far more skeptical

about what is going on. I think you've seen some pretty bitter exchanges between U.S. negotiators and North Korea in recent weeks. Even as Kim

Jong-un and the President have been exchanging letters. Given that that is the sort of evaluation that the President has for holding these summits I

think it's quite possible it could happen even though it doesn't seem a good idea to many other outside observers.

KINKADE: No, it certainly doesn't. All right, Stephen Collinson, always good to get your perspective on the White House and everything that's going

on there. Thanks so much.

Well, U.S. intelligence chiefs warned just days ago Russia pose as dire threat to American democracy. A prominent Republican Senator is in Moscow

right now meeting with Russian lawmakers including at least one who is currently under U.S. sanctions. Rand Paul says the talks are going so well

he's extending an invitation of his own. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I've traveled here to say that there are many Americans who want to have diplomacy, that want to have engagement.

I'm one of them and I'm excited to announce that we've invited members of the foreign relations committee to come and visit us in Washington and that

we will also try to arrange a meeting in a third country or neutral country as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: Our Frederik Pleitgen is live for us in Moscow with much more on this. And Fred, this wasn't an official meeting but it's certainly the

second time this month we've seen a U.S. delegation in Moscow. How is that invitation being received there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been received very well, as you can imagine, both in Russian media, as well as

by those by the Russian lawmakers who said that, look, they also believe that right now the relations between Russia and the United States are

obviously at a very difficult phase. But they also say that they believe for someone like Rand Paul is someone who is trying to improve the

relations and that certainly seems to be the message that while he's been giving them while he's been on his trip here.

It was interesting because after this meeting took place with the Federation Council, which is the upper House of Russian Parliament,

himself, Rand Paul and the head of the foreign relations committee of the Federal Counsel, Konstantin Kosach. They came out and they gave a short

press statement. And afterwards I asked Rand Paul whether or not in his meetings he had also brought up possible meddling in the upcoming 2018 mid-

term elections. And it was interesting the answer that he gave. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Senator, did you speak about election interference as well? Did that come up?

PAUL: We had general discussions about a lot of issues. And basically, we've decided that right now what we're trying to do is have dialogue. And

I don't think we solve issues other than -- see, our biggest issue right now is no dialogue. It isn't the issue at hand. The issue is that we

can't even have discussion of issues because we have no dialogue. So, we're not going to get into any of the differences other than we're trying

to agree to have dialogue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So, as you can see there not really a yes or a no answer but really, quite a long-winded response that Rand Paul gave. It was quite

interesting because afterwards, Lynda, the head of Russia's Foreign Relations Committee of the Federation Council, Konstantin Kosach, he

actually took on that question. I was speaking to him as well and he said that the Russians say that there was no meddling -- as they've been saying

the whole time -- in the 2016 election. And he also said that there would be no meddling in the 2018 elections either.

[11:10:00] So, it seemed clearly, obviously siding with there with Rand Paul. It really seemed as though this was a meeting that took place in a

very positive atmosphere which is something very rare, of course, between U.S. officials and Russian officials over the past two years since

President Trump's been in office.

KINKADE: It was an interesting answer by Rand Paul. Good that you got that question, Fred Pleitgen, good to have you with us from Moscow. Thanks

so much.

Well, in Indonesia the death toll has risen to nearly 100 after a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Lombok, not far from the

popular island of Bali. Kristie Lu Stout tells us the quake struck several popular tourist islands and vacationers are scrambling to get out while

crews work to find those being trapped under debris.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN, ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Death and devastation after the quake. Scores of people were inside this mosque in

north Lombok when it collapsed during Sunday's earthquake. It's one of many buildings on Lombok, Gili and Bali islands that crumbled as the ground

shook.

The National Board for Disaster Management says the rescuers desperately need heavy machinery as they're sifting through the rubble by hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): The quake happened around 8:00 p.m. after evening prayer. Lombok people who live near Mataram felt a

very big tremor. We anticipate there will be another quake. We don't know when it will happen. Maybe in the morning, afternoon, or at night. So, we

built this tent.

LU STOUT: In a race to find survivors, people worked overnight and often in darkness on the islands. At least one man was freed as volunteers

worked on getting a woman out. The islands are popular with tourists and by morning hundreds were waiting to be evacuated. There were chaotic

scenes as people tried to board boats. The only way off the island for such large crowds. And back on Lombok the Indonesian Red Cross is helping

to rescue the injured. It's been only a week since the last strong earthquake hit, and many people panicked.

HUSNI HUSNI, INDONESIAN RED CROSS: They ran out of the house and they were trying to be stay around the roadside because they were afraid of being

under the construction knowing that a week before that they were also hit by a strong earthquake and they experienced quite you know, damages around

the areas.

LU STOUT: Even on the island of Bali further away from the epicenter of the quake, buildings collapsed from the tremors. But is on Lombok where

the devastation is the most dire and the number of victims is expected to rise.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: And in Deli my colleague Kristie Lu Stout spoke with Tiffany Loh from the International Federation of the Red Cross in Lombok about what

people on the ground need right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIFFANY LOH, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS (audio): Indonesian Red Cross with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red

Cross Society, they've been working since the last earthquake struck a week ago and of course with the most recent one they've redeployed to provide

assistance in search and rescue, psycho/social support, emergency water needs, as well as shelter through the distribution of tarpaulins and health

and hygiene kits.

LU STOUT: We're reporting hundreds of people have been injured as a result of this earthquake. Let's talk about them. You know, when hospital

buildings are damaged, when the power grid is damaged now, how are the injured being cared for?

LOH: Correct. So, of course, the most fiercely serious will be provided care. There's still some access to healthcare through the national health

care system. However, what Indonesian Red Cross essentially are doing is their supporting with more of the triage of the -- how should I put this --

the less serious effects to provide (INAUDIBLE) emergency health care. They have doctors and nurses who in addition to their regular day jobs are

volunteering their hours after work to provide this help.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Still to come here at CONNECT THE WORLD. There are just hours left until the U.S. reimposes sanctions on Iran as the economy struggles.

We'll look at what this means to the Iranian people. Also --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR "THE WONDER LIST": Because you're a fan of the President, do you think he's doing a good job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's doing better than Obama did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: He's in Washington. But how do Donald Trump's supporters think he's faring? We are in his heartland later this hour.

[11:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KINKADE: Iranians taking to the streets over the weekend frustrated over the state of economy and what they see as widespread corruption in the

government. Protesters even chanted death to the dictator, a reference to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Those demonstrations come as the United States gets ready to impose the first batch of sanctions on Iran after Washington withdrew from the Iran

nuclear deal. We are waiting to hear from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responding to all of this in the coming hours.

President Trump announced the withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal back in May and gave companies 90 days to wind down contracts with Tehran.

Sanctions cover Iran's purchase of U.S. dollars as well as trade in gold, precious metals and automobiles. In November sanctions on Iran's oil will

take effect with the U.S. threatening financial measures against countries that import it. The European Union says it deeply regrets the move and

will work to protect European countries operating in Iran. But a number of planned international deals with Iran are already off the table. And as we

have seen Iranians are increasingly frustrated and angry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE (voice-over): In cities across the country sporadic protests against a buckling economy have often turned into anti-government

demonstrations. Magnifying the challenge to Iran's leaders as they face restored American sanctions.

HOLLY DAGRES, NONRESIDENT FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: What we're seeing is that a lot of the promises of investing in Iranian economy is now going to

be pulling back and the Iranian people are going to be feeling a lot of that withdraw.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

KINKADE: When the Trump administration pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal in May, it was months before sanctions would be reimposed. But the

unilateral decision had an almost immediate impact on multinational business. At least a dozen major foreign companies have already stopped

doing business with Iran.

DAGRES: Some of these companies are very familiar names for us, including Siemens, General Electric, Peugeot, and French Total in oil and gas.

KINKADE: With Europe leading the charge a number of global companies committed to invest in Iran when sanctions were first lifted in 2015.

[11:20:00] Aerospace giant's Boeing and Airbus struck multibillion-dollar deals selling jets to Iran Air. General Electric received millions of

dollars in orders from Iran in 2017 according to company filings.

Volkswagen announced that it would be selling cars in Iran for the first time in 17 years. For now, not only will American companies be restricted

from dealing with Iran, so will anyone that has business interests in the U.S. which is almost every multinational.

HEIKO MAAS, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We will not be able to compensate for everything that arises from companies pulling out of

Iran which feel their American business threatened by sanctions.

KINKADE: European leaders have -- despite best efforts to foster other trade channels, they can't force nervous investors to stay. Leaving Iran

with fewer reasons to continue with the nuclear pact. Iranians are already unhappy with slowed growth, rising unemployment, and soaring inflation. In

part because Iran's currency, the rial, is in free fall over U.S. sanction fears. Should the country return to what the supreme leader calls a

resistant economy, it may not bode well for citizens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KINKADE: Our emerging markets editor, John Defterios is looking at where these sanctions will hurt most. John, good to have you with us. We've

already seen the currency continue to plummet there, inflation high. Is this going to get worse?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNNMONEY EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, Lynda, I think the Following the Iranian rial is the best indicator, lead indicator, of the

trouble that we see in the Iranian economy. This is a correction that's taken place over the last 12 months. But accelerated from the time or just

ahead of the time that President Trump said he would pull out of the P5 plus one agreement. It's down better than 50 percent from the spring and

it's continued. We saw a plummet of better than 12 percent last week ahead of these snapback sanctions.

As a result, we've seen continued protests in the country since the end of 2017. Based on the spiraling cost of imported goods, the rising

unemployment -- particularly youth unemployment -- and also a shortage of water and power in certain cities around Iran. This is a clear indication

of a lack of foreign investment into infrastructure.

Now let's drill down into the sanctions we see being put back into the place by the United States. I think these are being underplayed by the

global community in particular when it comes to U.S. dollar trade. The U.S. is using the full force of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of

the United States, to try to limit trade of dollars for Iran, to isolate them from the global banking system. I see that they're targeting, as you

suggest your report, precious metals like gold and copper this will hit. The Iranians are also major players when it comes to the steel industry and

the auto sector. They're trying to stifle Iran from getting any of these supplies going forward.

And I think the European Union is trying to make some very clear promises here. We'll stay with Iran. We want the agreement to stay intact. But

the harsh reality is the European companies that have exposure to the United States into the capital markets and institutional investors invested

in those stocks cannot play in Iran. So, this will boil down to some other major emerging markets that remain engaged with Iran, and I'm thinking of

China, India, and Russia. Particularly when it comes to the oil sector going forward to see Iran stay afloat. These sanctions will definitely

hit. It could push them into recession in 2019. But in the meantime, are some members of the P5 plus 1 agreement going to stay intact with Tehran

and the answer is probably yes.

KINKADE: So, John, who takes the political heat for this? Does the buck stop with the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, and can we expect him to

offer any solutions when he speaks in the coming hours?

DEFTERIOS: Well, I think you make a terrific point here. Hassan Rouhani promised kind of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if they were

able to sign that 2015 agreement. And in fact, in 2016 the Iranian economy -- from a very low base I should add -- grew better than 12 percent. That

growth continued in 2017. We saw a slew in particular European companies move into this last of the great emerging markets of better than 80 million

consumers, companies like Siemens, Alston, Airbus, Peugeot, Renault. They all went into the market and they were promising to invest billions of

dollars into the infrastructure in Iran.

Again, going back to the realities of today with their exposure to the U.S. market they can't remain in the country. So, Hassan Rouhani is getting

criticized by the Iranian parliament right now. Why didn't you prepare society for these sanction that is are coming in place? That is a very

difficult task because of the weight of the U.S. economy. And there's a trifecta as we all know in Iran. It's the supreme leader controlling both

the military and the executive branch, if you will, with Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister, the more moderate factions.

[11:25:05] The hardliners have this opportunity to criticize those who signed on to the U.S. offering talks right now and the level of mistrust

between Tehran and Washington has never been higher. This will be difficult for President Rouhani going forward.

KINKADE: Yes, it certainly will be. In John, I just want to turn to Saudi Arabia. They don't have a problem with the U.S. right now, but rather

Canada. Kicking out the Canadian ambassador and freezing new trade deals. Of course, it comes after this tweet by Canada's foreign ministry calling

on the Kingdom to free civil rights activists from prison including Samar Badawi a prominent advocate for women's rights. Well, Riyadh has accused

Canada of interfering in its affairs. John, this seems like an awfully big response to what was simply a tweet.

DEFTERIOS: A very rapid response. That we would say, this is the heat turned up rather quickly. This is kind of a take no prisoners approach by

the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman. It is by far the largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa. It is one that's

opening up in its vision 2030 plan and they know the Canadians would like a bigger stake going forward in the development of this economy. The trade

between Canada and Saudi Arabia is small by any measure. It's about $3 billion a year.

But Canada is known as one that kind of takes the middle ground. Does not try to ruffle feathers. Going back a few years they had similar spats

within the UAE. Not on human rights but other issues with regards to visas and landing rights when it comes to Canada in the UAE. They were able to

settle it.

This new Crown Prince took issue with Chrystia Freeland, the foreign minister, because of that tweet and suggested that the Canadian ambassador

had to leave within 24 hours. And then we found out in the last 10 minutes they've taken additional steps. Speaking about the heat getting turned up

here, they plan to relocate 7,000 Saudi Arabian students on scholarship in Canada elsewhere. So, they're jacking up that heat rather quickly here.

Sources in Canada say they'd like to find a settlement and not have strained relations. But right now, the word from Riyadh is zero tolerance

from the tweets coming from Canada.

KINKADE: Yes, incredible to see that fallout. All right, John Defterios in London on to big regional stories. Thanks for your insight.

We're going to speak to an expert who says Trump has his eye on history and his legacy when it comes to Iran. Vali Nasr will join me later in the

show.

Live from Atlanta this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, as the President jets from rally to rally ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, we break

down Trump's power as a master storyteller with CNN's Brian Stelter. That's just ahead. Stay with us.

[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we got to stop it. We got to stop meddling. We got to stop everybody from attacking us. But

there are a lot. Russia's there. China's there. Hey, we're doing well with North Korea, but they're probably there. We got to stop everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: Donald Trump there firing up supporters in Ohio over the weekend with what's become a familiar refrain. And one we will probably keep

hearing. Mr. Trump ramps up his rallies with appearances. CNN's Brian Stelter has been busy breaking down Mr. Trump's story telling skills. He

writes, Trump's stories are often more fiction than fact. But the thing about a story like a novel or a drama is that it's not really meant to be

fact checked. The narrative is meant to make you feel. Brian Stelter joins me now. And Brian, what does he want people to feel? Because he

seems he's very good at fanning resentment.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES AND SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely and from a distance his rallies can seem very angry, very

hostile. Certainly, there's a lot of hostility toward the journalists in the back of the room. When you look at the faces of the people in the

crowds, they are smiling. They are joyous. And I think that's something we have to recognize in our analysis of what Trump is doing at these

rallies. He is presenting himself as the hero of his own story. He's presenting himself as a dragon slayer. And of course, he's also portraying

lots of villains, lots of enemies, journalists, Democrats, the deep state. You know, he has all of these sort of enemies, these heroes and villains in

the story he's telling. Now like you quoted me saying there this story is more fiction than fact. He tells awful lies. But those lies are in

service of a story. I just think sometimes in our political analysis of Trump we miss the emotional appeal that he has.

KINKADE: Yes, I mean that's why that base seems to stay so strong on him. When you mention the fiction, the lies, "The Washington Post" fact checks

all of his statements. They've been doing it since day one and they say since he became President he's made 4,229 false or misleading claims.

That's about seven a day every single day and it's up from five claims per day when that fact checking team started the project. What do you think is

behind this? Do you think President Trump thinks I'm going to get away with it, I'm going to continue with it?

STELTER: He does because among his most loyal supporters he can get away with it. The President portrays himself as the only truth teller out

there. He says polls are fake. He says reporters are fake. He says climate change might be fake. You know, he presents himself as the arbiter

of truth. And I think obviously most Americans do see through that. But there is a loyal base that beliefs him and doesn't believe outside

information. It is an ongoing problem for the U.S. and thus a problem for the world. And I think it's important to note, as you said, "The

Washington Post" is finding that the falsehoods are coming more frequently these days.

Now there's two reasons for that. One is he's having more rallies. This is Saturday's rally in Ohio where he repeated a lot of the lies he usually

tells. The more he speaks in public, the more falsehoods he's going to utter.

[11:35:00] The other big reason why the number of falsehoods is increasing is simply because his back is up against the wall. Yes, the economy is

booming. But the scandals and crises that surround his White House are intensifying. The Robert Mueller probe is intensifying. So, as a result,

the President feels he has to work even harder to keep these fictions up. And, like I said, he is telling a compelling story even though that story

is not really rooted in fact.

KINKADE: And, Brian, I want to turn to the Mueller probe for just a moment. Because some of the President's stories have continued to change.

Initially team Trump claimed that infamous Trump Tower meeting was primarily about Russian adoption. And then we see this tweet from the

President over the weekend admitting that it was indeed to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. He wrote this was a meeting to get information on an

opponent, totally legal. Apart from the fact that it's not legal because he was getting it from a foreign national. The question is, how long can

he keep this up before even his fans, even some of his base stop be leaving some of his stories?

STELTER: Well, he's very good at changing the subject, at getting people to talk about something else. You know, over the weekend attacking LeBron

James and our colleague Don Lemon. But these facts are very pesky. And at least most of the country I think it does recognizes something really fishy

happened at Trump Tower. I mean, were at the point now we can say there was an attempt to collude. And that's why we've seen a shift in the

President's defense to say collusion is not a crime. Rudy Giuliani has been out there saying collusion is not a crime. But it's actually the

wrong c-word to talk about. The better c-words are coordination and conspiracy.

Because ultimately this is about whether there was a conspiracy by members of the Trump team to work with entities aligned with Russia before election

day. All signs are pointing in that direction. It's kind of like there's a giant smoke fill in the air, right? We haven't quite found the fire yet

but there's a lot of smoke. And obviously, a lot of people are wondering if Robert Mueller is finding that fire.

KINKADE: And there is a lot of smoke indeed. Brian Stelter, good to have you with us. Always like your analysis. And for our viewers, they can get

more of Brian's analysis on CNN.com where he also digs into the rising phenomenon of a conspiracy theory group that believes Trump is secretly

saving the world.

Well, let's get you up to speed on other stories that are on our radar right now. At least three people are dead, nearly 70 injured after a gas

tanker exploded on an Italian highway. The blast happened in the city of Bologna after a collision on that road. Local police said two officers

were among the injured.

Six people have been arrested in connection with an apparent assassination attempt on Venezuela's President. The government says drones packed with

explosives detonated as Nicholas Maduro was speaking at a military parade Saturday evening. Venezuela's communications minister says the suspects

planned the attack at least six months ago.

After a wave of protests, the Bangladeshi cabinet has approved a new road safety law that would impose fines and jail time for reckless driving. It

now heads to parliament for final approval. Protesters have been demanding government action after a speeding bus ran over a group of children killing

two.

Indra Nooyi says she will step down as CEO of Pepsi. The 62-year-old is one of the most prominent women to lead a Fortune 500 company. Sales grew

80 percent during her 12-year tenure. She was behind Pepsi's transition to a greener, more environmentally aware company.

Wildfires ravaging California have grown to catastrophic proportions. The largest of 17 fires has nearly doubled in size over the weekend. The

Mendocino complex fire, as it's known, has burned an area larger than the entirety of New York City. It's so massive that teams of firefighters from

Australia and New Zealand are on their way to the U.S. to help stop the blaze. Meteorologist Chad Myers has more now from the weather center. And

so, we've got this international teams from Australia and New Zealand arriving as this place grows to become the fourth largest in the state's

history.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and there are so many fires that are burning and the firefighters that we have, 15,000 on the front lines,

they're stretched over so many miles of fire that it's impossible to catch every single one of these things. 100 major fires burning across the

Western U.S. why? Because it's been a drought there. Why? Because claimant change isn't putting down as much rain as it used to. Trees are

dead. Pine beetles are killing the trees out there. This is just a flash fire waiting to happen. That's what we've seen so far. Here's your ranch

fire. Thousands and thousands of hectares burned here. 1.1 thousand kilometers, square kilometers of land burned so far . And the forecast for

Ukiah is not very good, 36, 38, 39. Not any chance of rain whatsoever. And isn't the rainy season. We expect that.

[11:40:00] California technically has two fire seasons. One over the wild land that's north of Southern California. That's where we are right now

where the wildlands are burning. The national parks are burning. But homes are burning as well. And that's happening because people are putting

homes into areas that used to have trees. And the trees are still all around the homes and then the trees catch on fire and so does the house.

That's why this has been such a destructive season so far.

The area of the Carr fire burn area from Redding. It burned into the town of Redding before the firefighters could stop it from going any further to

the east. So, here we are we are, Carr fire, one of the most destructive now with over 1,600 homes destroyed. It's there. It's happening. It's

typical. This is what happens in California.

Now the next season is going to be a Santa Ana season when the wind blows here from the east across Santa Barbara into Los Angeles. That's when you

can get the fires that burn so many more structures because that's where Los Angeles is -- Lynda.

KINKADE: No good news. Chad Myers, all right, thanks so much.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come, more on one of our top stories as Donald Trump reimposes sanctions on Iran. We're going to break down

what happens next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta, filling if for Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Well, let's get back to one of our main stories this hour. The U.S. decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran after Washington withdrew from the

Iran nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is set to address the nation in just over an hour from now and the return of sanctions will be

high on his list. You might remember that many of these penalties against Iran were suspended after Tehran curbed it nuclear program following that

2015 deal. Now the Trump administration has pulled out of the agreement, its fate is in question. The number of major European countries that have

already pulled out Iran in anticipation of the sanctions despite planned EU measures aimed at mitigating their impact. Well, let's bring in Vali Nasr.

For more on this he joins me now from Washington. Good to have you on the program.

VALI NASR, DEAN, SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Thank you.

KINKADE: These sanctions are not going to just affect American companies but pretty much any multinational that has a base in America that was

operating in Iran. Gave us a sense of what this means for the Iran nuclear deal? Does it virtually kill it given that Iran will have no incentive to

stick to it?

[11:45:01] NASR: Well, it puts a lot of pressure on the deal because the economic benefits that Iran expected from the deal go down substantially.

But they don't go down necessarily to zero. Because there are still small and medium sized European companies, Russian companies, Chinese companies

that do not have exposure to the United States that probably will continue to do business with Iran. So, there's a very small incentive for Iran to

stay in the deal. But there is a lot of domestic pressure in Iran for it to leave the deal because there's an open question is that Iran has done

its part but it's not going to get the economic benefits that were promised to it.

KINKADE: It certainly won't. You can't imagine what's going through the minds of former U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and many others who

worked for years to get this Iran nuclear deal in place now only to see it pretty much dissolved. President Trump says he's open to meeting Iran with

no preconditions. Iran has rejected that flatly. At what point do you see that potentially happening?

NASR: I actually don't think Iran has rejected that. Individual Iranian officials have given their opinion, but there's no formal opinion given by

the government in Iran. So, the Iranians are basically debating and haven't made a clear position whether they will engage. The problem is

that if Iran were to accept President Trump's offer of talks, in effect, they would have to agree the nuclear deal is dead. And it's not ready to

do that yet because it still is engaged with the Europeans who are trying to save the deal. So, President Trump wants a completely new deal. He

doesn't want to talk about the old deal. The Iranians are still in the old deal. And if they accepted talk to President Trump in effect they will

kill the deal themselves.

KINKADE: What do you think -- how do you think President Rouhani is responding to this so far? Did he prepare for this months ago when

President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the deal?

NASR: I think so. I think they knew this moment was coming. In fact, the minute President Trump announced he's coming out of the deal most of the

economic shock impacted the Iranian economy right away. Many of the large companies announced way ahead of time that they will probably not renew

their engagement Iran or will cease their engagement because they knew the imposition of the sanctions were coming. So, Iran essentially has been

subject to the blow of reimposed sanctions already. Today's announcement is merely formalizing it and it will close down whatever economic

activities were still ongoing. I think President Rouhani's main task right now is to try to calm the Iranian public's anxiety, is to try to give them

a way forward about how Iran is going to manage the economic down turn. I think the Iranians are very anxious about what this means and they're going

look to him to give them some direction.

KINKADE: All right, we'll have to leave it there. Vali Nasr, always great to get your perspective. Thank you for joining us.

NASR: Thank you.

KINKADE: We're live from Atlanta. Still to come, why some staunch Trump supporters think he's cruising to further victory. We'll have that story

next.

[11:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KINKADE: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta, filling in for Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Well, it's been nearly two years since Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. Presidential election and we wanted to know if voters were still behind Mr.

Trump in the states that carried him to that victory. CNN's Bill Weir went to the world's largest motorcycle rally to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR "THE WONDER LIST" (voice-over): They rumble in from all points on the compass. And for one week each summer this little town

of 7,000 explodes to half a million. This is one city that looks nothing like the rest of America. You can go hours without seeing a person of

color. And Sturgis, a minority is a white guy on a foreign bike. There are no debates over gun control here or the ethics of the me-too movement.

And there is no doubt who is the leader of this pack.

(on camera): I bet you're a fan of the President? You think he's doing a good job?

JOHN SANDS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He's doing better than what Obama did.

WEIR (voice-over): This ghost rider reveals himself as John Sands, a postal worker who rides up from Kentucky each year and like so many I

talked to sees proof of Trump's brilliance in the booming economy.

ROD WOODRUFF, OWNER BUFFALO CHIP: What they'll tell you, it's the Trump bump. The economy is so good, people are feeling so good.

WEIR: Rod Woodruff is the owner of the sprawling Buffalo Chip, a Disneyland for bikers and says his campers have an average income of

$95,000 a year.

WOODRUFF: 70 some percent are homeowners in the United States.

WEIR: OK.

WOODRUFF: Lots of people own multiple motorcycles.

NYLA GRIFFITH, STURGIS BUFFALO CHIP: We have a tattoo parlor up here. We have food, pizza, anything you want. You have the free access crossroads.

WEIR (on camera): Right. Do you have your own jail?

GRIFFITH: No. We don't need one.

Weir: You don't need on.

(voice-over): Violence and arrests are incredibly rare for a crowd of this size. One reason is that most folks share the same values and those that

don't keep it to themselves.

MICHAEL LICHTER, MOTORCYCLE PHOTOGRAPHER AND CURATOR: What I see here in motorcycling is a microcosm for the whole country. And I get the feeling

sometimes that people that don't believe in what's going on is right and have become very quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there's a lot of hypocrisy going on in the country now. Because I just feel like everybody wants freedom and they

want rights but, god forbid, somebody disagree because then you'll get your head bitten off.

WEIR (on camera): A couple months back the President aimed his Twitter and trade war guns at Harley-Davidson. Even though they have a huge tax break

the company shut down a factory in Kansas City, laid off hundreds of workers and said because of the tariffs they'd have to start production in

a new country overseas. Which begs the question, is this the ultimate loyalty test for his base? Do these folks pledge allegiance to the

President or Harley-Davidson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have to go with what's going to make America better you know. And if Harley wants to choose to go somewhere

else, then I'll choose different bikes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally love the man. I think he's doing a wonderful job.

WEIR (voice-over): Despite the President's disdain for my profession, they could not be any nicer.

(on camera): Do I strike you as an enemy of the people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not whatsoever. We're sure glad to have you here.

WEIR (voice-over): But it's obvious that no amount of earnest reporting will change their minds.

(on camera): Because if you look at Russia and the Mueller investigation and there's a lot of red flags and dark clouds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's usually a lot of politicians but one they're picking on him because he's on the outside. If you look at the

Clintons, how come they can do things no one else can?

WEIR: I mean, I'm old enough to remember when the base loved Harley- Davidson and hated Russia. It seems like it's flipped a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's any reason for him to call him out or make him -- you know, you should try to be friendly with everyone.

If they don't want to be friends, then it's a whole other story.

WEIR: Even Vladimir Putin? Even a dictator? A murder?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He met with Kim Jong-un as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're fake news! We all know it.

WEIR: Touch me. Touch me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask our savior Donald J. Trump. He'll tell you.

WEIR (voice-over): Back downtown our presence sparks a debate between some Fox News fans from Texas and Bonnie from Nebraska.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't know what they're talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're an American too. Come on. Get on the other side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not true. I watch both.

WEIR: See?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go either way.

WEIR (voice-over): Which proves we now live in a media age where [11:55:00] people can choose their own facts.

I have a friend who is very much Fox. And I go, yes, I agree with you, no problem. Everybody has their own opinion.

WEIR (on camera): That's true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like (BEEP) Everybody has one.

WEIR: Just as long as they don't start shooting at each other. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.

WEIR (voice-over): But then the heckling is interrupted by a hero falling from the sky. Sergeant Dana Bowman, an Army Golden Knight who lost both

legs in a midair collision. He lands with old glory and just for a moment it feels like we are all in this together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

That's Bill Weir there with that report. Well, I'm Lynda Kinkade. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. From the team here in Atlanta and in Abu Dhabi and

London, thanks so much for joining us. I'll be back tomorrow. See you then.

END