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The U.S. to Reimpose Sanctions on Iran Tonight; E.U. Says Deeply Regrets the Re-Imposition of Sanctions Against Iran; Trump Changes His Story Again on Trump Tower Meeting; Drone Attack on President Maduro of Venezuela; Maduro Claims A Right Wing of Columbia Responsible for Drone Attack; Trump Admits Goal of Trump Tower Meeting Was Getting Info on Clinton; Russia Taps Action Star For Diplomatic Role; Bikers Weigh in on Trump and Politics; Saudi Arabia's State Airline Suspends Toronto Flights; Extreme Heat Fueling Flames, Misery In Portugal & Spain. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 6, 2018 - 15:00:00   ET


[15:00:00] CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN London. I'm Clarissa Ward in for Hala Gorani. Tonight, Iran's

president says the U.S. will regret re-imposing sanctions just hours before the first batch of punitive measures goes into affect, also ahead, Donald

Trump's story changes again. The U.S. president admits that a Trump Tower meeting with the Russians was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. And how an

assassination plot in Venezuela unfolded on live TV, complete with explosive laden drones.

The fallout from the U.S. pulling out of the Iran deal is about to get very, very real. In the next few hours, sanctions against Iran go back

into effect. They are going to hit Iran's purchase of U.S. dollars as well as trade in gold, precious metals and automobiles. And in November,

sanctions on Iran's oil sector will also take effect. The White House says these sanctions are meant to change the regime's behavior not topple

leaders in Tehran. President Trump also says he's willing to meet the Iranian leadership with no preconditions. In the last few hours Iran's

President Hassan Rouhani has responded saying if there's sincerity from the U.S., then Iran is open to dialogue. But he also had a warning about

proposing talks while ordering those sanctions. Take a listen.


HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT, IRAN (through translator): If someone is willing to use a knife against an opponent, stabs that opponent while

simultaneously saying that we wish to establish a dialogue and converse with one another, the first requirement is for them to extract the knife

from the body of that opponent before establishing dialogue. So, I think their aim here is to sew doubt within the mind of the Iranian nation. As

well as use that to somehow their advantage in the upcoming congressional elections, it's a psychological warfare against the people of Iran.


WARD: Let's get more on this. We're joined now by Fred Pleitgen who joins me from Moscow and John Defterios here on set with me. Both of them of

course have done extensive reporting from Tehran. But Fred, I want to start with you, you listened to all of Rouhani's comments there. What do

you make of the speech? What do you think the messages for President Trump?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think Hassan Rouhani is trying to show strength in the face of these new sanctions,

Clarissa. And he is trying to show that the Iranians will be unfazed by them. It's unclear whether or not that's the case.

It was quite interesting for him to say that he's also willing to go into negotiations without any sort of preconditions and say that he believed

that the U.S. would regret putting these sanctions on Iran. But then he added a little something where he said in order to make the U.S. regret it,

all of Iranians had to stand together, that included the government and clergy and military as well. Of course, we know there are deep divisions

in Iranian politics, in Iranian society, between the hard liners and moderates, and between the military and the civilian parts of the society.

So, getting all of that together is very different, it's very difficult. One of the things we've been seeing in Iran over the past couple of weeks

is these protests, still quite fledgling but still widespread, a lot of people dissatisfied with the economic situation. You have the sanctions on

top of that and john will talk more about the economic impact they'll have, even if they don't have a major economic impact, the fact that after a

nuclear agreement was signed, after so many people were hopeful in Iran, that the economic situation would get better, now to see the sanctions come

back into place, certainly a tough blow for many Iranians who are already unhappy with their economic situation, Clarissa.

WARD: So, John, just -- where does this leave the people of Iran? How devastating is -- are these sanctions? What is the impact going to be?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: The mere rhetoric that Donald Trump was using before he pulled out of the agreement knocked the wind out

of the economy, that's the reality. We have the sanctions rolling in at midnight and this will be the new reality for the economy. The best

barometer, the lead indicator was taking place in Iran has to be the Rial. In April ahead of the May announcement, you saw the currency fall 50

percent to today, even last week single day sell off of 12 percent. It's telling us there's fear in the economy right now.

[15:05:00] I thought fs interesting what President Rouhani was suggesting, we're getting stabbed by the U.S. president and then he wants to pull out

the knife and call for dialogue. He says it's dirty business but said that the rhetoric from Donald Trump as of late has been toned down. Now, let's

take a look at the sanctions you were asking about. Many have downplayed this first wave of the sanctions, that's a mistake because the federal

reserve, the central bank will come down very hard on the ability for Iran to trade in U.S.

dollars. This will suffocate the economy and limit their ability to trade in gold and other precious metals like copper. Iran is a huge player when

it comes to the industrial sector. Steel and autos, trying to block the ability for Iran to take in parts to keep the sectors going. And finally

here, that second wave of sanctions that Fred was hinting --

WARD: The oil sanctions.

DEFTERIOS: They produce about four million barrels a day. 2.5 million barrels of those go out to the export market. It's very likely these

sanctions will knock about a million barrels a day. What they added since the sanctions were lifted will likely be knocked out. We have to watch

very carefully what the other emerging markets that are signatory to the agreement like China and Russia do, I would add India to the list as a

major importer of Iranian fuel and the pressure coming from Washington.

WARD: John, what happens in all of this? You're saying that Russia will get on the bandwagon and China. Where are the Europeans in all of this?

They said they want to respect the Iran agreement but are they going to do it when push comes to shove?

DEFTERIOS: It's a terrific question, we have the nice platitudes from the European Union a joint statement saying we back Tehran and want to keep the

agreement alive. Then we have the business realities on the ground. The major industrial giants from Europe that decided to go in, Siemens,

Peugeot, Renault, Alstom, they were the first movers signing billions of dollars of contracts.

The CEO of Siemens told me after Donald Trump's announcement in May we have the values of the company and then we have the business realities and we

have to balance out the two. You read between the lines and the fifth of the business comes from United States and raise money in the capital

markets on Wall Street and have institutional investors into their stock. They cannot go into Iran. We'll have this tug of war between the European

companies that can't go in, and the American companies can't go in. The major emerging markets are not on good ground with Washington today. I'm

thinking of China and Russia in particular. Will they stay in the game? I think it's likely they will do so. They have major investments in the oil

and gas sector and Iran has vast reserves, about 18 percent of natural gas and half of that when it comes to oil. It's a big market that has been

starved for capital.

WARD: Thanks for breaking it down for us. Now to help us put it all into perspective, we're joined by Jason Rizaian. He is a CNN global affairs

analyst with extensive knowledge of Iran and joins me from Washington. I want to start out by talking about these comments that we heard from

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying that sanctions could be rolled back if we saw what he called Iran undergoing quote, enormous change, a lot of

people speculating that this is a not so subtle nod potentially to regime change. Is that your sense, that the purpose of these sanctions, re-

imposing these sanctions is to ins gate regime change in Iran?

JASON RIZAIAN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: If we look back to Secretary Pompeo's statement in the speech he gave back in may when he sort of

outlined 12 points, things that Iran needed to do, behavior they needed to change in order to secure a more normalized relationship with the United

States, seems like a nonstarter. To folks I'm talking to in Washington, the sense is that while nobody wants to come out and says we're looking to

topple this regime, it seems very much as though that's the end goal. The only problem is it doesn't seem like there's a real plan beyond the

sanctions for that right now.

WARD: And you've lived under these sanctions yourself as have the Iranians. I mean, they survived them before. What is to indicate -- why

does the Trump administration even have a sense that reinstating these sanctions is going to have an effect in terms of regime change when

previously it didn't have that effect. What's your sense of how the Iranians are likely to respond to the sanctions?

RIZAIAN: If you look back to the sanctions that the Obama administration put forward in 2012 and 2013, the idea was we're going to sanction them to

the point that the Iranian economy suffers so much that the regime will be forced to negotiate.

[15:10:00] And there were incentives for the Iranians. You know, you curtail your program and we'll lift the sanctions. So, there's no real

incentive this time around other than we're going to take our hand off of your neck that we're trying to choke. So, I think that they are trying to

exacerbate a lot of legitimate discontent and so there's no real incentive this time around other than we're going to take our hand off of your neck

that we're trying to choke.

So, I think that they are trying to exacerbate a lot of legitimate discontent and people's livelihoods and quality of life have been

diminishing year on year for quite a long time now. And people are tired of the situation that they are living in. But unfortunately, it doesn't

seem to me that the U.S. approach really is taking into consideration the aspirations necessarily or the burden, the very heavy burden that the

Iranian people are going to have to pay with these sanctions.

WARD: I don't know if you heard our reporter Fred Pleitgen, talked about the protest movement, really too early to call it a movement. But we have

seen these sporadic but fairly widespread protests. How much power does this movement have? Is it likely to be emboldened by the sanctions?

RIZAIAN: Look, I would hasten to call it a movement yet. I think that there are a lot of different things -- I know there are a lot of different

things people are protesting right now. There are obviously very clear economic concerns that people are protesting. There are water shortages

and electricity shortage, pollution problems. There are women protesting the forced hijab. These are different forms of discontent, different thing

that people are aspiring to change in their lives. But I don't see those ending any time soon and don't see the regime doing anything to kind of

placate those demands at this point. I imagine the protest will grow but to compare it to what was going on in 2009 after the election there and the

protest that happened after that, which was much more of an organized movement, I don't see any signs that these are like that.

WARD: And so, what happens to President Rouhani in all of this. He's been trying to walk a tight rope almost, pleasing both the people he was

negotiating with in the West but also more hardline elements within Iran. Is his job or his future in jeopardy with the pressure of these sanctions?

RIZAIAN: He's been called before parliament to answer questions about why the economy hasn't done better since the nuclear deal was signed two years

ago. And I think he's set to do that tomorrow. I do think his future is sort of wobbly and he's talking much more like a hard-line regime member

than he has in a long time. Remember he is one of the founding members of this system. He's been there since the beginning. And I think that the

issue right now is the very legitimate and real desires of people haven't been met. He's made comments in his speech tonight that how can you expect

me not to have a change of tone when we're being treated so unfairly by the United States. Well, there's something to that but at the end of the day,

he has a job to do and that's to satisfy the needs and wants of the people of this country. And for over five years, he's been unable to do that.

WARD: All right, Jason, we'll continue to watch the story closely. Thanks for joining us.

RIZAIAN: Thank you.

WARD: U.S. President Trump is back on Twitter today, weighing in on a number of subjects but it's what he said over the weekend that is still

making headlines. After months of disinformation and denials about a 2016 meeting in Trump tower with Russians, Mr. Trump acknowledge that the goal

was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. He tweeted he's not concern about possible consequences for what his son Donald Jr. who set up the meeting

did. But sources tell CNN that the opposite is true, an earlier tweet touched off a firestorm of a very different sort when Mr. Trump attacked

NBA superstar Lebron James prompting swift and fierce backlash.

Well, first let's talk more about that meeting at Trump Tower. Mr. Trump says it went nowhere. But the fact is we don't know if the Russians

delivered on the promise dirt or not. Here with me now to discuss it all is White House Reporter, Stephen Collinson, I feel like I'm having trouble

keeping it all straight in my mind. First this was a meeting about adoption, president Trump wasn't there, didn't know about it. Now he

admits it wasn't about adoption, it was about getting dirt on Clinton but he still wasn't there and still didn't know about it. Did I get it right

and if so why is he exchanging his story now?

[15:45:00] STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, there's been a catalog of misrepresentation, not just from the president

but his son, Donald Trump Jr. About the purpose of this meeting, from the first moment that we learned that it happened. And it's gone on over the

last year. I think what's really interesting about this is it seems that the president is trying to get out of any conclusions of the Special

Counsel Robert Mueller will draw about this meeting. He argues here that it's completely legal and normal for a campaign to solicit dirt on their

political opponents.

That is true in one sense but in this case, it may not be relevant because it is against U.S. law for a campaign to meet with a foreign power and get

something of value that they can use in their campaign. You can argue clearly that what the Trump people thought they were getting from the

Russians was going to help them in their campaign against Hillary Clinton. And as to the question of whether the Russians did indeed hand something

over, for Donald Trump Jr.'s perspective, he was in the meeting. That may be immaterial, any offense here would be one of conspiracy. And it doesn't

matter whether there was something produced from the meeting in that sense for it to be potentially a criminal offense. So, I think that's one reason

perhaps why the president is increasingly concerned about the implications of Mueller's conclusions, whatever they are, for his son.

WARD: To make matters even more confusing, he then went on and tweeted it was -- that he was quoting, "Fox and Friends," a Fox News morning show,

saying that the Democrats were guilty of collusion. This was after though he had said that collusion isn't a crime. So, it's a little bit difficult

it seems to sort of try to glean what exactly the president's strategy is here if indeed this is a strategy?

COLLINSON: I think to some extent the confusion is the strategy. The president is trying to sort of -- over almost impossible for anyone to make

an educated assumption about what happens. And the effect of that would be, once Mueller does come forward with his conclusions, that if they are

incriminating for the president and those around him, he's almost discounted it. He's arguing that none of this was illegal. This is what

everybody does. There's nothing that he did or the people who were in his campaign did that know no other campaign would have done. It looks to me a

lot like a strategy of trying to devalue the ultimate impact of the Mueller report.

Of course, for the president, he doesn't necessarily have to worry about the criminal implications himself because it's very unlikely a sitting U.S.

president will be indicted. He's conducting a political campaign because the people sit in judgment of him, if Mueller decides there are any

impeachable offenses, are Republicans in the house of representatives. So, he's trying to shape public opinion about the probe ahead of its report.

The big danger of course will be if Democrats win the House of Representatives in the midterm elections in November, they are much likely

to move towards impeachment proceedings or other sanctions of the president than the current Republican house of representatives.

WARD: And Steven, I have to ask you quickly about this other tweet over the weekend, NBA superstar Lebron James was being interviewed by Don Lemon

and the president had not so choice words for both of them but it ended up back firing, did it not?

COLLINSON: Right, this is a long running feud between Lebron James and the president. The president criticized Lebron James after he opened up a

school for disadvantaged youngsters in his home state of Ohio. The First Lady Melania Trump came out with a tweet basically saying to the effect of,

Lebron James is doing good work and even offered to go and visit the school. This is not first time we've seen a split emerge between the first

lady publicly and positions that the president has taken and indeed Ivanka Trump said she didn't see press as the enemy of the people. Some of

president trumps other close advisors Kellyanne Conway for example have made similar sort of comments. You're seeing here the way in which some of

the president's comments make people very close to him somewhat uncomfortable and they are in a difficult political position and it's the

choice everyone who works for Trump has to face. Do they sort of subsume their own morality and views sort of to the tsunami of the president tweet

storms and opinions?

[14:20:00] WARD: Interesting to see them speaking out though. Thank you so much. Still to come tonight, paradise islands turn into disaster zones.

The race to find survivors after another deadly earthquake strikes some of Indonesia's most pristine areas. Plus, what really happened over the skies

in Venezuela. We'll delve deeper into what the government said could have been a massacre.


WARD: It is after 3:00 a.m. in Indonesia where many are spending a second night in the streets following a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake. 98 are

confirmed dead in the quake which struck several popular holiday islands. Kristie Lu Stout has more.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: 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 are 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's going to happen. Maybe in the morning, afternoon or night. So,

we built this tent.


LU STOUT: In a race to find survivors, people worked overnight and often in darkness on the Gili 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 the Lombok, the Indonesia Red

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


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

the construction knowing that a week before that, they were also hit by strong earthquake and they experienced quite -- damages around the areas.


LU STOUT: Even on the island of Bali, further way from the epicenter of the quake buildings collapsed from the tremors, but it is on Lombok where

the devastation is the most dire and number of victims is expected to rise. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN.

[15:55:00] WARD: Venezuela's top prosecutor says an apparent drone attack on President Maduro over the weekend was an attempted massacre and says

authorities have identified the mastermind and the attack is being treated as terrorism with international ties. Patrick Oppmann shows us how it


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the kind of meticulously stage- managed event Venezuelans see all the time, Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro live on TV praising the country's armed forces

while vowing to turn around the oil rich nation's economy. The speech abruptly veers off script. The camera cuts away from Maduro as soldiers

and officials scatter in every direction. Seemingly running for their lives. Witness Manuel Berdin describe what he saw.


MANUEL BERDIN, WITNESS TO DRONE EXPLOSION (through translator): We heard the first explosion. I remember thinking I thought it could be fireworks

but there was another debt nation that was very strong. We looked out the window and we saw how the officers began to run, vehicles began to move

rapidly and we saw the smoke column.


OPPMANN: Maduro and other high-ranking members of his government escaped without harm. Venezuela officials say seven soldiers were injured in the

blast. Maduro was a target of an assassination plot using drones that carried explosives.


JORGE RODRIGUEZ, VENEZUELAN VP FOR COMMUNICATIONS: we heard the explosions that corresponded to the drones. Various drones that had explosives that

detonated close to the parade.


OPPMANN: If confirmed it would appear to be the first time a head of state has been targeted by assassins with a drone and the most serious plot

against Maduro until now. In 2017 rogue police officer, Oscar Perez, led an attack on the government throwing grenades at the supreme court from a

helicopter. Perez called on the military to rise up and instead in January, following a shoot out he was killed by Maduro's forces.

President's supporters say he was executed after he put down his weapons. Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela is in free fall.

A former bus driver Maduro took over from his mentor, Hugo Chavez, in 2013 managing to turn the already ailing economy to one now barely on life

support with record inflation and worthless currency.

Critics say official corruption and incompetence have all about wrecked the once booming south America nation and hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans

have fled to neighboring countries, heightening tensions in the region. Maduro claimed the president of Colombia a key U.S. ally was behind the

drone attack.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA: This was an attempt to kill me. They have tried to kill me today. And I'm not doubting that everything

signals that right, ultraright and Venezuela ultraright in the name of Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attempt. I have no doubt.


OPPMANN: Colombia has denied any involvement in the plot. But the mystery attack will likely deepen the fear and paranoia that surround Nicolas

Maduro as Venezuela's president tries to keep his grasp on power. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

WARD: So, this certainly was bizarre and mysterious on many levels. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon is in Caracas with more on what people are

saying there. You can't look online without seeing all these conspiracy theories that are being put out there, people saying that Maduro or people

who supported him orchestrated this. That a place into his hands. What are people saying there? What's your understanding of what happened?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, exactly. Clarissa, you can't look online and speak with two people either without hearing about the

conspiracy theories or these arguments. And that gives an idea of how polarized this country is after years of government by Maduro and the very

violent waves of protest that we're seeing here for more than four months last year. Right now, the supporters of Nicolas Maduro are saying there

was an alleged -- there was an assassination attempt against the president of Venezuela and the president of another foreign sovereign country

Colombia. The president of Colombia was the mastermind of these assassination plots.

The opposers and critics of Maduro are referring to conspiracy theories and saying President Maduro claimed many times in the past that he was the

target of assassination plots or coup attempt and that this is just another inside job by the government taking as an excuse to try to steam roll

further laws and regulations in Venezuela. One thing I want to point out to you, the latest inflation figures that have been released today for

example, prices here in Venezuela double every 26 days.

In less than a month you'll pay exactly the double of what you're paid at the beginning of the month. And yesterday as I was traveling around and

turning across Venezuela to try to report news, the people were gathering trying to buy water and food and trying to get public transportation. They

were not really paying attention or the average person was not paying attention because too busy trying to get to the end of the month. It's a

social economic collapse that can't take the mind out of it for average Venezuelans.

Ward: Do you think people are getting angry with the government for what's happening? Do they blame Maduro?

Pozzebon: There's definitely a great amount of people that do blame Maduro and also the government that has been in charge for the past 19 years.

Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, the predecessor. Maduro still has a good support base and Maduro has been able to attach more people to his rule by

giving free handouts of food, subsidized goods, food, especially. And there is also an atmosphere of fear intention in Caracas, not many people

are willing to retake the streets in demonstration after last year, more than 130 people lost their lives in four months of intense clashes right

here in the middle of Caracas, Clarissa. So there's definitely anger but there's also frustration and fear.

WARD: Horrific situation. Stefano Pozzebon, thank you so much for joining us from Caracas.

Still to come tonight, Donald Trump says a 2016 meeting with Russians in Trump Tower was totally legal and went nowhere. So, why has the story

about it changed again and again? We'll have the answer, maybe.


WARD: Back now to one of our top stories, Donald Trump's admission that his campaign was willing to accept help from Russia to defeat Hillary

Clinton. Sources tell CNN the U.S. president is now being advised to stop tweeting about a 2016 meeting with Russians and Trump Tower. He

acknowledged over the weekend that the goal was to get dirt on Clinton, but insisted it was "totally legal" adding that getting information on an

opponent is done all the time in politics.

What's not done all the time is meeting with a foreign adversary to get that information. Sources tell CNN, Mr. Trump is now worried about

possible legal consequences for his son, Donald, Jr., who set up that meeting.

Let's bring in CNN Legal Analyst, Michael Zeldin. He was a special assistant to Robert Mueller at the U.S. Justice Department. Thank you so

much for joining us on the program.

Help us to understand here. Legally speaking, the admission that the purpose of the meeting was indeed to try to get dirt on Trump's opponent,

what impact does that have if any legally?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The law around financial contributions by foreign nationals is pretty straightforward. American candidate's

campaigns cannot receive things of value from foreign nationals contributed to them. So when the president said they had this meeting, it was a

meeting in which they were to receive something of value, memoranda, presumably from the Russians and the lawyer who represented the Russians.

That was a thing of value.

[15:35:02] So in a sense one can argue that the admission that they went there receive a thing of value to be donated to them by a foreign national

was a violation of American law.

Similarly, if there was a group of people coordinating their efforts to receive that information and have that impact the outcome of the election.

That would be a separate crime of conspiracy to violate the federal laws involving free and fair elections in the United States.

So theatrically, that admission by the president was that of two crimes. Now, whether they'd be prosecuted is a very fact dependent. But that's why

we're in such a brouhaha today.

WARD: So even if -- because what Trump has argued is that they didn't actually receive any information, that his son set up this meeting for the

purpose of gaining the information but the information wasn't forthcoming. There was no information there. Does that change anything if -- so even if

the intent was to receive it, he didn't actually receive it, ergo, is it still legally problematic?

ZELDIN: It is still legally problematic and equally so. That is the law that governs the contributions by foreign nationals says, you cannot

attempt to receive it. You cannot solicit it. And it makes no difference as a matter of law whether you actually receive something.

Now, of course, in this case the reporting on what was received is not straightforward, but there is "New York Times" reporting from long ago

which said the attorney, Veselnitskaya, who led the meeting for the Russian team did in fact provide a memorandum to them on information related to the

Ziff Brothers and their investments in the Hillary Clinton campaign. So that may be considered opposition research which is surely a thing of


And therefore, even if they didn't get it or they actually got it, it makes no difference under the U.S. law. It's all the same and it's still a


WARD: But to this issue of collusion, specifically, we also saw the president tweeting last week that collusion is not a crime. Is that simply

he has factually incorrect in making that assertion?

ZELDIN: Well, collusion is used here in America as a shorthand for coordination or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and foreign

nationals. So if he says technically collusion is not in the United States code, that's correct. If he thinks that the coordinating with foreign

nationals or conspiring with foreign nationals is not a crime, he's mistaken. And this is that illegal conspiracy and that illegal

coordination that we've just talked about which is under the microscope of Robert Mueller.

WARD: And to what extent do you think Robert Mueller and the special counsel will be going over these tweets, which normally would not be

playing a major role in such a huge event but in this case, seem to be a legitimate part of the investigation and the inquiry.

ZELDIN: Right. The tweets I think are -- go more to the question of whether the president is in any way trying to obstruct justice, tamper with

a witness, shape false narrative. It's not so much a question of whether they -- it proves coordination or conspiracy but rather what follow on

steps were taken to interfere with the Mueller investigation.

And so those tweets will be part of a mosaic of information that Mueller will look at to see whether in composite they amount to obstruction of

justice or witness tampering. And that's a long way down the road still.

WARD: All right. Well, it's certainly likely to be an interesting road, Michael Zeldin. Thank you so much for joining us.

He's a notorious tough guy on the big screen but Steven Seagal's latest assignment could be his toughest role yet. Matthew Chance tell us how he's

been recruited by Russia to advance diplomacy with the United States.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's made a career out of a prowess in the martial arts, turning numerous direct to video movies -- and his

trademark violence. But Steven Seagal's latest role has a Russian diplomat seems strangely out of character.

"I'm deeply honored and humbled to have been appointed as a special representative of the Russian foreign ministry in charge of Russian and

American humanitarian ties." The actor said in a tweet. "I hope we can strive for peace, harmony, and positive results in the world. I take this

honor very seriously," he added.

But it's unclear how many others will. Seagal's appointment stems from a longstanding relationship he's cultivated with Russia's real-life tough

guys president, Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader himself, a judo black belt awarding the U.S. martial artist a passport in 2016 after Seagal has

relentlessly lobbied, according to Russian officials.

[15:40:20] Seagal has also been an outspoken supporter of Russian policy, like its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, taking to the stage there in

2014 in a charity concert that which he hinted at his possible diplomatic role.

STEVEN SEAGAL, AMERICAN ACTOR: My greatest desire is to bring Russia and America together. It always has been and music is the language of the

Gods. It's the one language that all people understand. It's one language that bring all people together.

REGINA SIMONS, ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM BY STEVEN SEAGAL: My name is Regina Simons. I first met Steven Seagal when I was --

CHANCE: Seagal has come under scrutiny for more than just his political views. Earlier this year, two women came forward to voice claims the actor

had sexually assaulted them in the 1990s, allegedly when one was 17 and the other 18. Seagal's lawyer said the actor denied the allegations, calling

them false and a disservice to women who are victimized because of real predators in the film industry.

And Seagal's criticism of that film industry doesn't stop at its treatment of women. In 2007, the actor made anti-Semitic remarks about movie

producers at the Buddhist conference in southern Russia.

SEAGAL: The people who finance the movies, none of them are Buddhist, they are in fact Jewish people. These people are not interested in anyone's


CHANCE: In recent years, Seagal has been pictured showing interest in an array of authoritarian figures, eating carrots with President Lukashenko of

Belarus, dubbed, the last dictator in Europe, and hanging out with Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Chechnya, accused by human rights groups

of committing appalling abuses.

The Russian foreign ministry likens Seagal's new role to that of a U.N. Goodwill ambassador but it's uncertain how much goodwill the appointments

will generate. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


WARD: Still to come tonight.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But you're a fan of the president, you think he's doing a good job?

JOHN SANDS, POSTAL WORKER, LEXINGTON KENTUCKY: Well, he's doing a lot better than Obama did.


WARD: CNN goes right into the heart of Trump country where half a million bikers gather every year. Hear their opinions on politics, the economy and

the president, coming up.


WARD: There are few things that evoke a feeling of Americana more than a group of bikers riding through the country's Midwest, the stars and stripes

fluttering behind them.

[15:45:04] Well, in one South Dakota town, they come in their hundreds of thousands for a huge rally. And the leader of their pack is unmistakable,

Donald J. Trump. Bill Weir went along for the ride.


WEIR (voice-over): They rumble in from all points on a compass, and for one week each summer, this little town of 7,000 explodes to half a million.

But this is one city that looks nothing like the rest of America. You can go hours without seeing a person of color. In Sturgis, a minority is a

White guy on a foreign bike.

There are no debates over gun control here or the ethics of the MeToo movement. And there is no doubt who is the leader of this pack.

But you're you a fan of the President, you think he's doing a good job?

SANDS: Well, he's doing a lot better than Obama did.

WEIR: 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, he sees

proof of Trump's brilliance in the booming economy.

ROD WOODRUFF, PRESIDENT AND CEO, STURGIS BUFFALO CHIP: What they'll tell you is, they'll say, you know, 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: Seventy-five percent are homeowners in the United States.


WOODRUFF: Lots of people own multiple motorcycles.

NYLA GRIFFITH, MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS, STURGIS BUFFALO CHIP: We have a tattoo parlor up here. We've got food, pizza, anything you want at the

free access crossroads.

WEIR: Very good.


WEIR: Do you have your own jail?


GRIFFITH: No. We don't need one.

WEIR: You don't need one, huh?

WEIR: 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, PHOTOGRAPHER: 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 as right 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 with you because, then, you'll get your head bitten off.

WEIR: A couple of months back, the President aimed his Twitter and trade war guns at Harley-Davidson.

Even though they got 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 county 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?

MARK HALVERSON, BIKER, GREAT BEND, KANSAS: Hell, I'm going to have to, you know, 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 to buy different bikes.

JAMES BAKALICH, BIKER, LIGHTHOUSE POINT, FLORIDA: I personally love the man. I think he's doing a wonderful job.

WEIR: Despite the President's disdain for my profession, they could not be nicer.

WEIR: Do I strike you as an enemy of the people?

BAKALICH: Not whatsoever.

WEIR: OK, good.


BAKALICH: And we're sure glad to have you here.

WEIR: But it's obvious that no amount of earnest reporting will change their minds.

WEIR: Because if you look at Russia and the Mueller investigation, and there's a lot of red flags and dark clouds.

HALVERSON: Well, that's usually pretty loud of politicians, but I wonder if they're picking on him because he's now on the outside. I mean, if you

look at the Clintons, how come they can do things and no one else can?

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

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

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

WEIR: Even Vladimir Putin, even a dictator, a murderer?

BAKALICH: Well, he met with Kim Jong-un as well.

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



WEIR: Touch me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask our lawyers.

WEIR: Touch me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask our lawyers, baby. Donald J. Trump.



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

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



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're un-American here. You're on the other side.


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

WEIR: See?


WEIR: Which proves we now live in a media age where people can choose their own facts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a friend who is very much Fox, and I go, mm- hmm, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with you, no problem. Everybody has their own opinion. It's like --

WEIR: That's true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like (BLEEP) everybody has one.

WEIR: As long as we don't start shooting at each other, right?


WEIR: 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.


WARD: Saudi Arabia's state airline is now suspending flights in and out of Toronto as the dispute deepens. Earlier, the Saudi government announced it

is kicking out the Canadian ambassador as well as thousands of Canadian students and freezing new trade deals with Canada.

[15:50:02] The dispute started when Canada's foreign ministry called on the king and to free civil rights activists from prison, including women's

rights advocate, Samar Badawi. Riyadh says is going on misleading information and should not be interfering in its affairs.

And three people were killed when a tanker full of gasoline blew up in Italy. Watch this carefully as trucks go down a highway, in the city of

Bologna. The truck was rear-ended and one of the vehicles exploded. We can see that thick black smoke. Moments later, there was a secondary

explosion and an even bigger fire ball. Wow, look at that. More than 60 people were injured and some of them seriously burned.

Still more to come tonight including intense and deadly heat around the globe. We're in Europe looking at what's next for a continent on fire.


WARD: Things are getting desperate down under. Australian farmers are weathering the country's worst drought in more than half a century. The

government is offering hundreds of millions in drought relief funding, the latest aid packages aimed at farmers, but some funds will also support

community groups and mental health initiatives as the heat brings desperation as well as devastation.

And here in Europe, a deadly trail of fire from blazes in Spain, Sweden, Greece, to record-breaking temperatures in Portugal. Europe is burning up.

The Portuguese weather service says three of the four highest ever nationwide average temperatures have been set in the past week.

Ian lee has been following the relentless heat across the continent.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A wall of flame rages on the Spanish Portuguese border. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze fueled by

drought and hot air from Africa. Aircraft struggle to keep the flames at bay. All the while, residents keep watch, ready to flee as the inferno

moves closer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have the cars ready. We always have everything ready like extinguishers, hoses, anything to be

ready to act.

LEE: Portuguese authorities already evacuated two villages seeking to prevent more deaths after two massive fires killed dozens last year.

Europe is in the grips of an extreme heat wave. Sparking wildfires from Greece to Sweden. The continent is experiencing near record-breaking

temperatures. Some places soaring to 47 degrees Celsius. Just shy of the record 48 set in Athens in 1977. The beach offers little relief to those

escaping the heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's very hot. During the trip yesterday, the temperature didn't fall below 43 degrees Celsius, completely


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The more water you drink, the better. I'll try to stay in the shade and avoid the sun because if it

reaches that temperature, I can't imagine what it's like in Alentejo.

LEE: Mother Nature is set to give firefighters and beachgoers a break, as forecasters predict that the temperatures will drop by Wednesday.

Ian Lee, CNN, Paris.


WARD: And the heat wave is not set to let up so what does that mean for the continent? Meteorologist, Tom Sater is live for us from the CNN

Weather Center.

Tom, when is it going to break? Ian said Wednesday. What do you think?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: For some, it might even be a little sooner, Clarissa, but we're not going to get a break from the drought for many

areas. You mentioned Australia. I mean, farmers in Germany too more on that. It's taken a toll not just on human life but on power grids around

the area. You were talking about the average temperatures across Portugal and, of course, benchmark year is 2003. But on August 1st, the 3rd and the

4th, there you have your places. It's just stifling.

[15:55:02] But we're going to start to see a little bit of a break here in the next 24 hours. Twenty-six all-time record set temperatures. That's

out of 96 reporting stations, 44 is now the new record high in Lisbon and overall for Portugal, the record was 47.4. Earlier models last week,

wanting to give us 50, 51.

Thank goodness we backed down on that, if you want to call that backing down. But still, we're starting to see. Look at this, 20s, Porto. Now

Cordoba is missing probably about 39 or 40, Barcelona, 31.

But notice the colors of green sliding in here. The heat will slide to the south, a little respite from the heat. It's going to slide into northern

Africa, but it's also going to slide into Central Europe. So even though the numbers look good on the coast of Portugal, you're going to have to

wait until Wednesday or Thursday, as you notice in Barcelona.

Notice the colors of green in the northwest, across Central Europe into Scandinavia, nice little cool spell moves down with slightly cooler air.

That's good news for those that are still battling the heat up to the north.

But it comes with little rainfall. You were talking about the aid package in Australia. Well, now German farmers are looking at one billion euros or

asking for drought aid there. It's the worst drought in 60 years. This goes on and on.

In the U.S., look at all these states with extreme drought, even exceptional drought, the number of large fires is now up to 100. We're

going in the wrong direction.

Over the weekend a new fire, it's called the Mendocino Complex. It's both of these fires together spread and now scorched more land than the size of

New York City with all its boroughs. It's now the second largest fire in California history behind number one, which was just one year ago. So

there's heat everywhere, Clarissa, four continents even Australia reported their warmest July on record. It should be their coolest. Hopefully a new

season will come soon and change some of these statistics. That good.

WARD: Let's hope so. Tom Sater, thank you so much.

And finally, tonight, it's a story best left for movies.






WARD: A snake on the loose in London. However, it became a scary reality on Saturday. This boa constrictor was spotted having a snack on a busy

East London Street. We don't know how he got there or where he came from. One theory is that he's an escaped pet or worst that he was deliberately

dumped and left to roam. The RSPCA took the snake to a wildlife center saying the situation was more dangerous for the animals than the onlookers.

Stay with CNN, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.



[16:00:58] RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Closing bell ringing on Wall Street. Dow is up, the other markets are up (INAUDIBLE) ringing the

closing bell, because of the 46th anniversary since founding.